The Terrifying Nature of ARC Reviews

Publishing is crazy. As a reader, all I saw was the finished product. I knew that it had come from somewhere, that some writer had cooked up the idea in their head and then put the words to page, and that somewhere along the way other people had done magical, mysterious stuff to it. But I didn’t fuss about the details.

Now I’ve seen behind the curtain, and as stated above, it is CRAZY. There are so many steps. My book has passed through so many hands. It’s been edited, re-edited, proofread, formatted, proofed again, sent to the printer, combed through, tweaked, and finally sent to print. Right now, a giant box of paperbacks is on its way to me, and the ebook version is patiently waiting on several servers for the calendar to roll over to March 3.

Hopefully, the book is as close to perfect as it possibly can be. But you know what’s scary? Back there, somewhere in the middle of all the proofreading and formatting and tweaking, something called an ARC was sent out to a whole bunch of people.

No, not that kind of ark.

No, not that kind of ark.

ARC stands for “Advance Reader Copy” or sometimes “Advance Review Copy.” They might also be called galleys or uncorrected proofs. And what’s completely terrifying about them is that publishers send them out to reviewers so that they can be… well, reviewed. Graded. JUDGED.

The idea is that these reviewers can get their hands on the book well in advance of the release, usually around 2 months early, so that they have time to read it and write up an honest review to be posted on or shortly after the book’s release date. These reviews help buyers decide, early on, if the book is worth their time and money.

Side note: if you happen to read Donn's Hill -- or any other book, really -- please consider leaving a review on Goodreads and/or the website for the bookstore/online retailer where you bought the book. Whether you loved it or hated it, a review really helps authors get their books in front of more readers.

Anyway, you’d think that after sending my book to dozens upon dozens of agents and editors, that I’d be used to the idea of strangers reading and judging my book. But this… this is different. The agents and editors were just gatekeepers, there to decide if they wanted to be part of getting this book to the end of the road, and the end of the road is where the readers live. 

So this is it. The final gauntlet. On Friday, my book will be available for sale. Some reviews are already up on Goodreads (!!!) but Friday is when most ARC readers will post, and even more than that, when actual regular readers will (hopefully) start reading Donn’s Hill and later leave reviews about it. 

It’s terrifying.

Wish me luck!