Writer Wednesdays

Writer Wednesday – ARC vs. Galley

Over the last twelve years of publishing, I’ve come to find out that many people use different terminology for the same thing. Maybe it’s regional, but I’ve grown to accept that even after years I still have a lot to learn. Recently, I heard the term “galley” copy used instead of ARC. So in classic Cyan LeBlanc form, I hunted down the difference between the two because we all should be using the same terminology in the publishing business–which I wasn’t.

This past month, I released what I called my ARCs, “advanced reader copies” of my upcoming book, Mastering The Art of Female Cookery and learned that I had classified it incorrectly. What I had sent out to readers was not an ARC but a galley.

A galley is a book that is nearly completed. It’s not a finalized version, but it’s close enough to send to readers for promotional purposes. Galley copies are a version of your book that comes right before the final proofreading. In my case, I had finished my editor’s proposed changes after a round of developmental and line editing, but sent out copies of the book before she had finished the final proofreading. What I did wrong was classify it as an ARC.

An ARC is the advanced copy that is ready for print. This has gone through the final proofreading, been formatted, and has received the author’s final approval. It’s the same version the reader would get if they purchased the book at a store.

Why send out free books in the first place? Galley copies are great when you are looking for some editorial reviews, quotes for your cover (blurbs), or social media content before the book is released. These people should have a strong connection to your work and you should be confident they will actually read the book, but most of the time, they will not be reviewing on Amazon or public forums.

With advanced reader copies, an author may want to send out finished versions of the book to bloggers, booktokers, and other people in hopes for a review on Goodreads or Amazon. These are public reviews and these readers expect the book to be finished. Reviewers can be ruthless, so you need to show your best work to these people. It’s helpful to note that only about 10% of people (or less) will actually leave a review from an ARC. So if you limit your ARC list to 10-20 people, you may only get 1-2 reviews, unless you have curated that list with a fine-toothed comb. Ultimately, you want as many reviews as possible within the first week of a book’s release.

Sending ARCs is a balance game you have to play. You can offer as many free books as you would like, but if 90% of your reader base takes the eBook for free, you are left with only about 10% in sales revenue. If you limit too much, when the book is released you might not engage new buyers who have never heard of you without reviews.

When I sent out a call for Mastering The Art of Female Cookery, I set my limit at 100 “galley” copies, though I classified them as ARCs. I promoted the free version of the book to my newsletter subscribers, as well as reader groups on Facebook. Once my 100 copies were accepted, I closed the offer. The book is scheduled to be released on 5/31, and I am already at ten early reviews. I will definitely pass my 10% average by release date.

As you get ready to schedule your release, work with your publisher on both galley versions and ARC versions, as both are equally important.

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