Demystifying publishing jargon: “galleys”

If anyone had mentioned galleys to me a year ago, I would have thought of ancient ships powered by oarsmen, Ben-Hur style. But one year is a long time. Now I know better.

In the publishing world, galleys, or uncorrected proofs, or advance reading copies, or ARCs, are created by the publisher months before the final printing and release of the book. They are sent to reviewers, booksellers, bloggers and other people crucial to the critical and commercial success of the book. A few stray typos may remain in galleys, and they are bound like paperbacks, though the cover is similar to that of the final book. Some may become collector’s items. They are after all “pre-first” editions.

Here is the full cover of the galleys of Mistress of the Revolution. They were printed in September 2007 though the release date is March 13, 2008. Please note the writing on the red band in front. It may not be legible because I had to shrink the image, but take my word for it. It says: ADVANCED UNCORRECTED PROOF-NOT FOR SALE. Sure enough, within weeks, galleys of my novel were circulating on various online sites. This happens to all galleys.

Some publishers, bookstores and authors are unhappy over this practice, quite understandably, because they think of the missed sales of the real book. Some, on the contrary, consider it free publicity…

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21 Comments to “Demystifying publishing jargon: “galleys””

  1. Julie Doughty says:

    Hi Catherine,

    Great idea to demystify publishing jargon! Here’s my understanding of the meaning of those terms:

    GALLEY – the first version of the book that is typeset. These loose pages – sometimes also called first pass proofs – are sent to the author for review and also to proofreaders to find typos.

    BOUND GALLEY – a bound up version of the galley with a plain jacket. These are found in enormous piles at magazine offices and on bookseller desks.

    ARC – “ADVANCE READER’S COPY” – a bound galley with a fancy printed cover, meaning the publisher has invested a bit more cash to make it look special to the reviewer and bookseller so that it stands out of the pile.

    Great blog, BTW!

  2. Catherine Delors says:

    Wow! A visit from my editor. Thanks for the clarification, Julie.

    And to think that Penguin invested a bit more cash to make my galleys look pretty! You’ll make me blush…

  3. A week of joys: Mistress printed, selected as Editors’ Choice Title by Historical Novels Review

    I was on the phone with my Mom this morning when the bell to my apartment rang. It was the FedEx guy. I did not know what to expect and opened the package. Surprise! Two final copies of Mistress of the Revolution, sent my Julie Doughty, my editor at Dutton. Not galleys. Final copies, the very same as the ones coming to a bookstore near you on March 13.My fingers caressed for the first time the cover. The printer did a beautiful job: there is a sort of antique patina overlaying the Fragonard painting I picked last May. …

  4. A week of joys: Mistress printed, selected as Editors’ Choice Title by Historical Novels Review

    I was on the phone with my Mom this morning when the bell to my apartment rang. It was the FedEx guy. I did not know what to expect and opened the package. Surprise! Two final copies of Mistress of the Revolution, sent my Julie Doughty, my editor at Dutton. Not galleys. Final copies, the very same as the ones coming to a bookstore near you on March 13.My fingers caressed for the first time the cover. The printer did a beautiful job: there is a sort of antique patina overlaying the Fragonard painting I picked last May. …

  5. A week of joys: Mistress printed, selected as Editors’ Choice Title by Historical Novels Review

    I was on the phone with my Mom this morning when the bell to my apartment rang. It was the FedEx guy. I did not know what to expect and opened the package. Surprise! Two final copies of Mistress of the Revolution, sent my Julie Doughty, my editor at Dutton. Not galleys. Final copies, the very same as the ones coming to a bookstore near you on March 13.My fingers caressed for the first time the cover. The printer did a beautiful job: there is a sort of antique patina overlaying the Fragonard painting I picked last May. …

  6. A week of joys: Mistress printed, selected as Editors’ Choice Title by Historical Novels Review

    I was on the phone with my Mom this morning when the bell to my apartment rang. It was the FedEx guy. I did not know what to expect and opened the package. Surprise! Two final copies of Mistress of the Revolution, sent my Julie Doughty, my editor at Dutton. Not galleys. Final copies, the very same as the ones coming to a bookstore near you on March 13.My fingers caressed for the first time the cover. The printer did a beautiful job: there is a sort of antique patina overlaying the Fragonard painting I picked last May. …

  7. A week of joys: Mistress printed, selected as Editors’ Choice Title by Historical Novels Review

    I was on the phone with my Mom this morning when the bell to my apartment rang. It was the FedEx guy. I did not know what to expect and opened the package. Surprise! Two final copies of Mistress of the Revolution, sent my Julie Doughty, my editor at Dutton. Not galleys. Final copies, the very same as the ones coming to a bookstore near you on March 13.My fingers caressed for the first time the cover. The printer did a beautiful job: there is a sort of antique patina overlaying the Fragonard painting I picked last May. …

  8. A week of joys: Mistress printed, selected as Editors’ Choice Title by Historical Novels Review

    I was on the phone with my Mom this morning when the bell to my apartment rang. It was the FedEx guy. I did not know what to expect and opened the package. Surprise! Two final copies of Mistress of the Revolution, sent my Julie Doughty, my editor at Dutton. Not galleys. Final copies, the very same as the ones coming to a bookstore near you on March 13.My fingers caressed for the first time the cover. The printer did a beautiful job: there is a sort of antique patina overlaying the Fragonard painting I picked last May. …

  9. A week of joys: Mistress printed, selected as Editors’ Choice Title by Historical Novels Review

    I was on the phone with my Mom this morning when the bell to my apartment rang. It was the FedEx guy. I did not know what to expect and opened the package. Surprise! Two final copies of Mistress of the Revolution, sent my Julie Doughty, my editor at Dutton. Not galleys. Final copies, the very same as the ones coming to a bookstore near you on March 13.My fingers caressed for the first time the cover. The printer did a beautiful job: there is a sort of antique patina overlaying the Fragonard painting I picked last May. …

  10. A week of joys: Mistress printed, selected as Editors’ Choice Title by Historical Novels Review

    I was on the phone with my Mom this morning when the bell to my apartment rang. It was the FedEx guy. I did not know what to expect and opened the package. Surprise! Two final copies of Mistress of the Revolution, sent my Julie Doughty, my editor at Dutton. Not galleys. Final copies, the very same as the ones coming to a bookstore near you on March 13.My fingers caressed for the first time the cover. The printer did a beautiful job: there is a sort of antique patina overlaying the Fragonard painting I picked last May. …

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  13. Giveaway: win a free copy of Mistress of the Revolution!

    When I posted on galleys, some of you asked why I was not giving away a few copies. The answer was simple: the galleys of Mistress of the Revolution were long gone already. They had all been sent by Dutton, my publisher, to reviewers and other people who could help spread the good word about the novel.But now the final copies are printed, and I decided to hold this giveaway at Loaded Questions, Kelly Hewitt’s blog. So stay tuned for more details from Kelly and me! …

  14. A week of joys: Mistress printed, selected as Editors’ Choice Title by Historical Novels Review

    I was on the phone with my Mom this morning when the bell to my apartment rang. It was the FedEx guy. I did not know what to expect and opened the package. Surprise! Two final copies of Mistress of the Revolution, sent my Julie Doughty, my editor at Dutton. Not galleys. Final copies, the very same as the ones coming to a bookstore near you on March 13.My fingers caressed for the first time the cover. The printer did a beautiful job: there is a sort of antique patina overlaying the Fragonard painting I picked last May. …

  15. What I did (and am still doing) to promote Mistress of the Revolution

    Please remember my book signing (with champagne!) at Dutton’s tonight at 7 pm. Dutton’s Brentwood11975 San Vicente Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90049310-476-6263Also, I was interviewed by Paperback Writer.Finally, here is an article of mine, titled What I did to promote Mistress of the Revolution, that was just published by Book Marketing Buzz. When I wrote it a few weeks ago, I knew that I would be reviewed by Associated Press, but I had no idea that the reviewer there would call Mistress of the Revolution “a contender for one of the best reads of the year.” That was a …

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  20. What I did (and am still doing) to promote Mistress of the Revolution

    Please remember my book signing (with champagne!) at Dutton’s tonight at 7 pm. Dutton’s Brentwood11975 San Vicente Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90049310-476-6263Also, I was interviewed by Paperback Writer.Finally, here is an article of mine, titled What I did to promote Mistress of the Revolution, that was just published by Book Marketing Buzz. When I wrote it a few weeks ago, I knew that I would be reviewed by Associated Press, but I had no idea that the reviewer there would call Mistress of the Revolution “a contender for one of the best reads of the year.” That was a …

  21. Giveaway: win a free copy of Mistress of the Revolution!

    When I posted on galleys, some of you asked why I was not giving away a few copies. The answer was simple: the galleys of Mistress of the Revolution were long gone already. They had all been sent by Dutton, my publisher, to reviewers and other people who could help spread the good word about the novel.But now the final copies are printed, and I decided to hold this giveaway at Loaded Questions, Kelly Hewitt’s blog. So stay tuned for more details from Kelly and me! …