Friday, 20 August 2010

SHADOWS ON THE MOON ARCS

I had some really exciting news last week, but I kept it to myself because I wanted a little time to digest it. Back when my editor sent me a preliminary version of the Shadows on the Moon cover art (ssoooo pretty! Can't wait to share it with you guys), she also told me that they were going to be printing a small number of proof copies, otherwise known as Advanced Reader Copies, or ARCS, this September.

Now, for those of you who are scratching your heads over why this is exciting: let me 'splain.

In the US, pretty much every new book that comes out (especially in the YA field) will have thousands of ARCS printed as a matter of course. These get handed out like candy at book conventions (for example BEA), showered among book reviewing journals (like The Horn Book) and book bloggers (like The Story Siren), and sent to teachers and librarians. The author themselves might be given a up to a hundred copies to distribute to friends and family and for any publicity efforts of their own. Unless a book is 'embargoed' like the last Harry Potter books, or like Cassandra Clare's upcoming City of Fallen Angels, ARCS for it are everywhere.

Not so in the UK.

I've often seen mini (and not so mini) debates spring up about why the UK and US book blogging scenes are so different. There are very few blogs dedicated to reviewing only YA books in the UK, and even fewer young adults running their own blogs, while there is a vibrant and thriving young book reviewing community in the US. I believe the main reason for this is that hardly any YA books in the UK get an ARC printing before publication. I mean, hardly ANY. If UK bloggers do manage to get hold of an ARC of something, normally it's from a US publisher.

There are many reasons for this, including the fact that in the UK librarians don't get nearly the recognition or budgets they deserve (so no one bothers to try and woo them with ARCs) that most schools don't have their own libraries or a specialised children's librarian (so that what is a lucrative market in the US is more or less nonexistent in the UK, and again, publishers don't need to woo teachers and librarians), and that most YA books come out straight into paperback here anyway.

So take it from me that for a book being published in the UK in a paperback edition, as mine is, ARCS are rare and special. They only print a few - so few that I can expect to get maybe two or three copies, just as a courtesy - and these are distributed not to reviewing journals or bloggers or librarians but to 'movers and shakers' in the industry, foreign publishing companies, people who can create that all important 'buzz' that authors would chew their own arms off for. And because the smaller a print run is, the more expensive it is, taking this step is a Big Deal in terms of the publisher's investment in your book.

The Swan Kingdom didn't get an ARC run. Neither did Daughter of the Flames. That Shadows on the Moon is being treated differently says that my publisher has a lot of faith in it - that they believe in the story, and believe that getting the book out there really WILL create the all-important buzz.

Thinking about this makes me feel a little bit sick, a lot nervous, and very excited. I always knew in my heart of hearts that Shadows was a Big Deal for me as a writer - that it changed me and challenged me like nothing else I've ever written. Then it won the Sasakawa Prize before it was even finished, and I started to think that it might be a Big Deal in other ways, and for other people. I'm sending out daily prayers to the Writing Gods that I'm right, not just because, you know, it's nice to be able to eat, but also because I want to share this story. I want to invite people into the Moonlit Lands and show them my heroine, Suzume's world. I want them to love it - or even hate it - so long as it moves them.

Ah, well. Fingers crossed.

18 comments:

Christina T said...

That is fantastic news! I had no idea that ARCs were such a rare think in the UK. I look forward to reading your book when it is published in the States.

chelleyreads said...

that is great news! i too wasn't aware that ARCs are rare in the UK. i'm so happy for you :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Yep - the way the UK and US YA markets operate is so different that it really takes some getting used to. I used to read American authors blogs and be wild with envy when they posted pictures of two or three whole boxes of ARCs that had arrived for them! In fact, I probably still will be, since my mum is sure to swoop down and steal at least one of my precious advance copies from me, leaving me with only one or two...

Sara said...

Aw, Zoe! Congrats!! I can't wait until SHADOWS makes its way to the US... :))

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, Sara. You're going to have to wait a bit longer there - I think the earliest Candlewick is likely to release the book will be mid-2012 (I know, I know - but what I think makes no difference!). It might even be later.

BUT! I will of course be hosting giveaways here of the UK version of the book, and anyone who's really desperate to read it could order it through British Amazon. I recently ordered the US version of Shiver from American Amazon (I wanted the good cover), and it cost me about £11 - $17 including shipping. Which isn't bad.

kehs said...

Your new book is right on the top of my wish list, Zoe. I can't wait for yet another great read from you.

Zoë Marriott said...

Thank you, Kehs! I may not be able to spare an ARC, but I'll definitely save an author copy for Ruby the One Girl Focus Group.

Alex Mullarky said...

Oh man. I wish I had one :| Please let us all know as soon as it's available for pre-order!

Zoë Marriott said...

I will, don't worry!

Saya said...

This is wonderful news for you! But I can't decide whether or not this is good news for me XD The thing that gets me about ARCs is that you get it sooner - I'd happily buy the books but I just want them NOW. Which is what made me drool like a soggy baby over getting Linger about 4 months in advance of its release from the US, and Artemis Fowl about a month in advance here.

ARCs for the public aren't really the done thing here, but uncorrected proofs that go around on the literary circuits have been around for a long time, right? I have a friend who used to work in Ottakar's (before it was WS XD) who regularly had proof copies and even ended up having her review featured on the back of one such. Another friend who used to work at Penguin had the same.

...but what DIDN'T happen, in all of my 6 years working for one of the best library consortia in the country, was any kind of patronage from the publishing industry on a human level. It's like the library circuit and publishing world are independent from each other. Which is weird.

Totally unrelatedly, I recently watched 'You've Got Mail' and you know at the end, when Meg Ryan is telling those people in the film version of Waterstones about Ballet Shoes? That is how I feel. Both about my lengthy library stint and my bookshop, and to this day, I can't control the urge to tell people the things they want to know that the staff of either library or bookshop clearly have no clue about.

As I said, totally unrelated >_>

Zoë Marriott said...

I've been known to buy ARCs of books I was really desperate to get hold of, so I know what you mean. But those were nearly always books from US publishers, just because *every* book seems to get ARCs in the US. Uncorrected proofs are usually only produced for Big Deal books in the UK, the ones that everyone's talking about, and, as you say, you need to be someone with a bit of influence - like your Ottakar's friend, who must have been a 'mover' in the company to get her review on the cover of the actual book - to get your hands on one.

Ha ha - I know what you mean about You've Got Mail. I've often freaked out visitors to my local bookshops by breaking in on their conversations and shoving books at them. 'Don't buy that! Buy this!' and not JUST for my own books, either.

Saya said...

I'm in two minds about ARCs - I think selling them contravenes their regulations (i.e. it's illegal), and it's very very much true that ARCs are a privilege, and yet, if I could buy one of certain books I really really wanted, I'm not sure I wouldn't. Until I started blogging (this time), I had no idea that there was such a big ol' world of FREE BOOKS out there.

My Ottakar's friend was not actually a big cheese at all - just an ordinary assistant, and she was wildly chuffed to be featured on it (book called 'Skin', if I remember rightly)...then again, the influence part probably came with Ottakar's.

I wish we had stuff like BEA here...I mean, that is like my own personal version of heaven. I would go every year and geek out like the drooling book geek that I am. And not just for YA, because a lot of YA is, frankly, trash.

Speaking of your books, I saw the Swan Kingdom in my local Oxfam the other day. If I hadn't already bought one (way back when it came out, tyvm), I would've bought it.

Zoë Marriott said...

I buy ARCs without compunction, because I always, always go out and buy the official version when it's available, to support the author. I'm a book magpie. When I really love a book, and can afford it, I usually buy multiple copies anyway, so I can give them away to friends.

Gawd yes, if they did BEA I would save up all year to be able to go! And probably put my back out hauling all the books home.

Oh dear! TSK as a charity shop offering. Not sure how I feel about that...

Saya said...

Feel good. Because people like me pick up some of their best finds - books they've been looking for for YEARS - there and specifically wait until there is a lovely copy of it. I think I picked up about half of my Pratchetts and Ffordes there, as well as countless Puffin Classics. I have the feeling that it's a young lady close in age to moving all her teenage reads out because maybe she is moving, or maybe she doesn't read anymore. So now someone who might not normally be able to afford books (that was me until I was 16 with my first job)(the library one, incidentally) can buy it and love it and keep it forever.

Because wouldn't you rather your book lived in a house where it was well-loved and well-read, rather than being all alone on a cold shelf in a loveless unread collection?

Zoë Marriott said...

Certainly I hope someone picks it up and loves it - but in order for that to happen, someone else has to have discarded it. Which is what gives you, as a writer, the queasy feeling. I'm a book keeper, and if I like a book at all, it stays with me. So when I think of my book in a charity shop I think, 'Oh no! Someone hated it!'

Saya said...

They lacked taste. Let that console you. Now it is going to MEET ITS DESTINY - and you shall fear not, nor shall you grieve.

Anonymous said...

Woah, that is quite a process, I suppose I never gave it much thought because my impatience to read the book, and focused on having to wait the extended time for said books release. While I still am on the edge of my seat waiting for the releases, I now understand why it takes so long.

I am really looking forward to reading your next books =D

Jess =)

Zoë Marriott said...

Thank you, Jess. I'll keep blogging about the book's progress towards publication; maybe that'll make the wait go faster.

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