Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel

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How I Make ARCs
from Allen Matthews "PHA"

ARCs are Advance Reading Copies that publishers distribute to book reviewers and book stores. They vary in quality from very crude to very slick. The best of them could pass for trade paper backs. Since my wife, Alex Matthews, is published by a small press with a very limited budget for promotion, I decided to make my own ARCs.

Her manuscripts run from 90,000 to 100,000 words, but I always format them to about 300 pages by playing with font size and margins.

Making an ARC involves four steps: 1) Formatting the manuscript into book form and making copies, 2) Building the body of the ARC, 3) Making covers and 4) Attaching covers and trimming.

FORMATTING

We use MS Word as our word processor. First, I make each chapter of the ms a new section. I add a new section in front of the text for a title page and all the other stuff that goes in front of "Once upon a time...". Next, I format headers. I set it up so the first page of each section (the first page of each section) has no header. Then, I format even page headers to have the page number on the left and the book title centered and odd numbered pages with the page number on the right and the author name centered.

A paragraph format that works for me is single spacing, right justified, and using 16 point type and one inch margins left and right. (Editor's note: 16 point type will be reduced printing.)

Now, Iím ready to print a master to take to the copy shop. I will print on 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper in landscape mode so I have two pages up, side by side. In order to format this, I use a utility called ďClickBookĒ. This utility takes the output of a word processor and formats booklets or pamphlets. Since I have a duplex option on my printer I can print both sides of the page on one pass. If you donít have a duplex, ClickBook will print one side of the paper and then instruct you to put the output back in your paper in tray for the second pass.

At this point, I have one copy of the body of an ARC. The layout is such that, if I would lay the stack of pages in front of me, I would have the cover page on my right and the last page of the book on my left. If I were to cut the stack down the middle and fold it in, I would have all the pages of a book in order. This is my master copy. My wifeís books run about 300 pages in ARC form, so I have about 75 pages (four book pages per one piece of paper.)

I phone copy shops for the best price on two sided photocopying. It usually costs me about $3.00 per ARC.

BUILDING THE BODY (of an ARC)

When I get copies back from the copy shop, I check them very carefully. High speed copy machines can screw up a lot of copies very quickly. Some people who work in copy shops get careless. I have found pages out of order, reversed, and rotated. I donít want to spend hours of my time shuffling pages around. When I point out problems, they re-run the job because they donít want to spend hours of their time shuffling pages around.

The first step of body building is to do some serious paper cutting and this requires a serious paper cutter. I use a Martin Yale model 0-12 paper cutter that cost about $500. (This is a lot of money and you only need it for a few hours. You might try to borrow one from an art school.) It can cut a stack of paper up to about 1 1/2 inches thick.

I build a stack of four ARCs. I have a package of colored cover stock and a ream of white paper. I start the stack with one piece of cover stock and two pages of white paper. Then, I put down one ARC, two pieces of paper, two pieces of cover stock, and two more pieces of paper. I rotate the second ARC by 180 degrees and place it on the stack. I continue until I have four ARCs with white paper and cover stock between them.

I jog the stack and make it all as even as I can, then cut it. I now have two stacks. Each stack has four half books, separated by a bunch of white pages and cover stock. It is time to assemble books. From these two stacks, I make one stack. In the new stack I have one or two pieces of cover stock, a couple of white pages, a complete book in the right order, two more white pages, and a couple of pieces of cover stock, repeated four times.

Now itís time to start gluing. I jog the stack to make it as even as possible and put it on my work bench ≠ overhanging the edge by 1/2 inch. I put a brick on top to hold it in place. The part overhanging will become the spine of the book. I use a bookbinding glue, but white Elmers glue should work fine. Paint one layer of glue on the edge and let it dry for an hour. Paint a second layer of glue and let it dry over night.

The next day, I reinforce the spine of the ARC. I cut five small slots down the stack of four ARCs. I use a band saw, but you could use a small hand saw. For the next step I use book binders string and buckram. You could probably use any kind of string. I cut pieces of string a little longer than the thickness of the stack and put one in each slot. I paint the set with a layer of glue, making sure each piece of string is soaked. Then, I cut buckram about an inch larger than the stack of ARCís, put it on and paint another layer of glue. I let it dry over night. The next day, the stack gets a final layer of glue.

On the fourth day, I separate and clean up the ARC bodies. I use a utility knife to cut the ARCs apart, cut off the cover stock, and cut off stray bits of glue.

MAKING COVERS

For covers, start with legal size (8 1/2 by 14) cover stock. Use your computer printer to print the outside and inside. The cover can as simple as white stock with black lettering stating the title and author or as fancy as your ink jet (or color laser) printer can produce.

ATTACHING COVERS AND TRIMMING

Determine where you will want to fold the cover and mark those places on the inside. Score the fold line by using a ruler and running a dry ball point pen down the line. (I use a bone folder, but a dry ball point pen should work fine.)

To attach the cover to the body of the ARC, use half-inch two-sided mounting tape. After the cover is attached I do a finishing touch. I open the front cover, flat out, and put a strip of all purpose white tape on the seam between the cover and the body. I repeat this at the back cover.

The last step is using the paper cutter to trim the edges.


 

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