Book Design, Self Publishing Your Book

What are Galleys (ARCs) & What are they good for?

What are book galleys? Let’s ask good ol’ Wiki for a straight up definition:

Proofreading and copyediting

Galleys are primarily created by publishers for proofreading and copyediting purposes to send to the author and editor for a final fact check and seal of approval. The content of galleys generally can’t be changed, but small details such as spelling mistakes or typos that are picked up can be.

Promotion and reviews

They are also used for promotional purposes and reviews – and this is their primary purpose for us self-pubbers. We want feedback in the form of blurbs, endorsements and book reviews so that we can build buzz around the launch. Using galleys is a great way of doing this well in advance of publication without having to rush the cover design and typesetting process. Since reviewers and blurbers generally take a couple of months to get back to us, this is an efficient way of working.

Above: Galley’s from Doug Gordon’s ‘The Engaged Groom’. Doug was kind enough to endorse my own wedding planning book!
Galleys are AKA Advance Readers Copy/ Advance Review Copy/ (ARC) as well as Advanced Uncorrected Proof, but ARC’s tend to be slightly more polished – basically a final copy with a makeshift book cover to cut down on printing costs. 
Compare Doug Gordon’s ARCs (above) to the final version:
If you plan to make galleys then here’s what you need to know.

How to make a galley

Galleys are black and white and unformatted – basically just your manuscript (imagine a printed out PDF) – and do not include typesetting, illustrations or layout. They should however follow these basic rules:
+  They should have ‘Galley’ printed on the front and back covers
+ The cover page should state ‘Uncorrected Proof. Galley Copy Only. Do not quote without prior permission from the publisher’.
+ A galley insert sheet should be taped inside. Written on this – Backmatter, Appendices, Index (to show what is to be added at a later date.)
+ Galleys should already have been edited (but not yet proofread)
+ Unless the book is an illustration or photography book, illustrations should not be included, but the pages that they are going to be featured should be indicated.
+ They should be clipped together/ stapled/occasionally bound (this can be done at Kinko’s and other printing shops)
+ Galleys should be sent to blurbers and reviewers around 3-4 months in advance of publication
+ Accompanying the galleys should be a sheet of paper including the following information:
  • Authors name
  • Publication date (Intended – Month/ Year)
  • ISBN (If you already have one)
  • Price
  • Trim size
  • Hard or soft cover?
  • If the book includes illustrations, how many?
  • Number of pages
  • Name/ contact info of publisher (or yourself) – include phone number AND email
  • A brief description of the book including but not limited to: intended audience and synopsis
  • Author bio including credentials and other books published.
  • Send a cover letter with the galley.

Other Tips

+ Your galleys should look somewhat professional. They don’t need to be expensive or fancy, but a few details can help make them look more appealing. I printed mine from my computer and printer at home, and then used a nice clip and folder to “bind” it.
+ Send your galleys to review publications that accept self-published books. Most review sites ask to receive the galleys 3-6 months in advance of the publication date. (For a list of publications that accept self published books for review, see here).

Who to send the Galleys to?

+ Potential blurbers (make sure you have asked them first. To read how I landed my blurbers, see this post.)
+ Review publications (see above)
+ A proofreader, for fact checking and final editing.
+ Traditional publishers make upwards of 25 copies to send out to media folk and review publications. Self publishers will need fewer copies. (In my case I sent out 5 copies for blurbers, 4 to reviewers and 1 to the Midwest Book Review).

How much will making galleys cost you?

+ This depends on how you go about it. I printed out my 250 page book 10 times (1 ink cartridge = $20), spent around $20 at Office Depot on clips, folders and envelopes, and then sent them out domestically at a cost of $4 each. So… making printing and sending the galleys cost roughly $80.

Is printing galleys worth it?

It landed me 4 blurbs from fairly well-known writers and wedding folk and 2 online reviews, though I didn’t make it into the Midwest Book Review. I have used the blurbs several times over and the online reviews sent plenty of traffic my way. So I think it was worth the cost, though if you are trying to stick to a low budget, this is a step you could skip. I would however recommend that even after your final edits, you hire a proofreader to catch any last minute mistakes. In my opinion it can mean the difference between a good book and a great book.