Tuesday, May 25, 2010


As I've said before, there are many steps in the making of a book. First is the actual writing, then I send it to my editor, who sends me notes, and I make changes. Then it gets sent to a copy editor, who makes changes and suggestions and points out inconsistencies and the like. I then make changes based on that. And then I get the page proofs, the pages that have been typeset and this is the stage where it actually looks as it will in the book. I wrote about this previously.

The problem with the page proofs are that they are merely proofs, and there are still mistakes and typos to be found, but at this point it's considered minor.

Now it's those page proofs that will make up what's called the Advanced Reading Copy, or ARC. It's a bound copy that looks like a book, but it doesn't have the nice cover, just a brown cover, sort of like you'd covered it with a supermarket bag like we used to cover textbooks in high school. On this cover is the title, the author's name and the warning that these are UNCORRECTED PROOFS and it's against the law to sell this copy. Of course people don't listen and they invariably show up on eBay.

That said, I got my ARCs for DRIVEN TO INK today. I was surprised, since my editor had told me that they no longer would do ARCs for any books except the first in a series. Which is why they didn't do any for PRETTY IN INK. But I was pleased to see they decided to do ARCs for DRIVEN. Until I remembered.

I'd sent my editor 24 pages back with corrections noted on them. The majority of those were minor errors and typos. But there were three things that really stuck out.

First was that they spelled my last name wrong on every even page. If you open a book, you'll see the author's name on the top of those pages, the title of the book on the opposite page. Well, my name was spelled wrong.

But that was nothing compared to the fact that the last line of the book wasn't there. I mean, not there at all. Missing. Gone. And without that last line, everything on the last two pages of the book does not make any sense.

I found the last line, though. It was two pages later, as the title of the next Tattoo Shop Mystery. Now I could perhaps see how that could happen, but as long as there were no review copies going out, I wasn't bothered by it so much. Because it was going to be fixed for the final book.

But now, now that there are ARCs and they are going to be send to reviewers, I'm a bit concerned. What will the reviewers think when they reach the end? They will be wondering what that tattoo says, a tattoo that isn't "just a tattoo." And they clearly will not be saying that they're looking forward to the next in the series, INK FLAMINGOS. Because INK FLAMINGOS is nowhere to be found.

Have you ever reached the end of a book and wondered if there's a last line missing? If you've missed something along the way?


Lou said...

Sound like a new copy editor is needed...

Peg Brantley said...

As someone who once reviewed an ARC from time to time, I understood it wasn't always the authors decision (like never) to send them out. My guess is you'll be fine, because so many reviewers don't seem to read the whole thing, as horrible as that sounds.

And yeah . . . what Lou said.

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

That is horrific. I recently read a novel where I snagged four typos. I mean, I know I'm as guilty as the next on typos, but FOUR?


cindy.maher said...

Oh man, this has to be maddening!

Karen Olson said...

Lou, more like a new typesetter. Or, better yet, let's use technology and have the typesetter take the copy edited Word document and transfer it to a template for page proofs.

Thanks, Peg. That's sort of what my editor said.

KJS, I always find typos. Some books more than others. But usually one or two.

Cindy, yes, but I'm becoming resigned to it.

Anonymous said...

Wow...sounds like the missing ink for real! Having said that, I LOVE (and collect) ARCs, even occasionally purchasing them on eBay. (Gasp!) This one sounds like it'll be a collector's item for sure... ;-)


Chris said...

If I knew there was something missing, it would bug me. I read Hush Hush as an ARC and then the book came out. People were saying the end was changed so I had to find out how. It would make me crazy! But it turns out the changes were very small.

You could always send your reviewers a note saying, "Do not open until the end."