Redshirts, In ARC Form

I mentioned in my con report that I had received an ARC of Redshirts, my upcoming novel; for those of you who are for some reason skeptical about that (why? why?) here it is on my desk. And before you ask, no, it has not been licked. That was a one-time thing, people.

I think most of you know that ARC is an acronym for Advance Reader Copy, which is the version of the book publishers give to reviewers and booksellers so they can do their respective evaluations. It’s the text of the book, prior to a final sweep for text errors and possibly a few edits. The ARCs of The Ghost Brigades, for example, was missing a sentence or two from the final page.

In addition to the text of the novel, the ARC also often lets booksellers and other interested parties (including the author him or herself) know what the promotion and marketing plans for the book are. As an example, here’s the plan for Redshirts:

I knew most of this, although a couple of things were a surprise to me. Hey! I’m gonna do Redshirt podcasts! Well, okay. It could be fun. Also, consider this the announcement that yes, I will be doing a book tour this year, almost certainly in June, which is when the book is out. No, I don’t know which cities, and if you tell me “you should come to [insert city here]!” I’ll do what I usually do, which is to say, that would be fantastic but it’s not up to me, since I go where they tell me. I’ll also note that these noted marketing plans aren’t everything; between now and the release date I may have a few surprises for you.

That’s all very nice, you say, but what I really want is an ARC. Well, if you’re a reviewer you can request one from Tor; they’re putting together a list. My own set of ARCs is at this point entirely claimed, except for one. Which I will probably give away here… after I devise some nefarious contest that pits all of you against each other in a bloody fray BWA HA HA HAH HA HAH HA.

Sorry, I really need to stop typing when my id takes over. Point is: Yes, I’ll do a giveaway here at some point. Be vigilant.

42 thoughts on “Redshirts, In ARC Form

  1. Thck Tchk Boom! Me and my shotgun are already clearing out the other contestants. You may as well be prepared to give that one to me this time.

  2. Hey! I have the same computer *and* telephone as Hugo-winning author John Scalzi! Apparently all I need now is a Blue Yeti microphone and I’m ON MY WAY TO SUCCESS AND GLORY!

  3. Hmmm…. well since the book is entitled Redshirts I would assume the contest would have something to do with random death. Maybe something on the most creative way to kill off a character? Or would some Amok Time battling be more appropriate. (With the proper theme music of course!)

  4. While I would have to say that Tor is by far my favourite SF publisher, I absolutely love the fact you can buy eARC’s from Baen’s online book store. You should go down there and twist a few arms so we all can shell out the extra $$ to read it early… ;-)

  5. John, if I get that last ARC then I promise, promise, promise that when I finally catch up with you at a book-signing, or a con, or Viable Paradise or whatever that I WILL NOT KISS YOU

    Shall I send you the address, then?

  6. Why oh why do they insist on charging Canadians 25% more even though our dollar’s worth more than yours half the time???

    Well, I’m sure it will be worth it.

  7. I also really want the ARC of Redshirts. Warning to my competition – I can play 4 whole chords on the ukulele and I once wrote (but sadly, did not publish) an academic paper on Star Trek. Quake in fear, and retreat now before you face humiliation and defeat, for unless Scalzi does something beyond my power to influence, like giving the ARC to the most skilled potter, or to a randomly-selected poster, I will employ all my powers and do everything within the realm of reason to win the ARC, and you will be sad, and will just have to wait until the book is out to read it.

  8. @ellen I wrote an academic paper on Star Trek! Actually, two. One was on race and Star Trek and the other was on gender in Star Trek… the latter was better…

  9. Scalzi: The science fiction/fantasy and *EDUCATION* media? I’ve read almost all your stuff (decided to work through the original Fuzzy books before I get to yours), but — I hope I put this diplomatically — I don’t see your work as really being educational. I can’t think of many lessons from your work except “Don’t Fuck with the Consu” which is hard to apply to my daily routine.

    I trust I’m missing something here about the logic of the marketing plan.

  10. I once opened an academic speech about the use of language in Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura by talking about How Much For Just The Planet?. I was very happy with that.

  11. I’m hoping that the contest will be something I’m good at this time, and that it won’t all happen while I’m away for the day! (I seem to have sucky luck on that.) Sonnets! Feghoots! Linguistic analysis of teenage slang! (Well, if you make it that one you might as well make it Talking With Half A Tongue or just Being Xopher. So no.)

    MVS 10:10 am: No Latin scholar here, but I’m pretty sure you mean ‘ave’ (hail) rather than ‘vale’ (farewell).

  12. @ The Pathetic Earthling:
    Getting students to read is sort of a part of education. If you can get them to read something other than (or at least in addition to) vampire books, that’s a good thing.

  13. Even now, I’m attempting to mentally teleport the book to my location.

    All I’m recieving is the odor of Coke Zero. Therefore, the copy of the book has been moved, and John has cracked open his 42nd can of the day.

  14. Heal, you have the wrong subject for that sentence. Writers can influence, but don’t make, those decisions.

    To speculate (only) why: John’s name has better recognition, and is thus a bigger selling point, than the title. I know that any book with his name on it makes me want to read it. In fact I have read books by him, because they were by him, that I rejected reading years before because they sounded dumb (and they were NOT dumb, as it turned out). Redshirts is a fairly appealing title to someone like me (I was specially allowed to stay up to watch the very first broadcast episode of Star Trek), but many more people know and honor the name of Scalzi.

  15. “The ARCs of The Ghost Brigades, for example, was missing a sentence or two from the final page.”

    Heh, That reminded me of the movie ‘Bedazzled’, where one of Satan’s plans to torment mankind was to remove the final page from mystery novels.

  16. Heal:

    “Of course you have your name twelve inches larger then the actual title of the book; no surprise there.”

    As Xopher cogently notes, I’m not the one doing that; it’s the publisher.

    Aside from that, are you kidding me? I’m supposed to feel bad that my publisher believes people will buy my book on my name alone? I’m gonna give that proposition exactly the sort of consideration it deserves.

  17. John, you’d probably give it less if you’d just read Heal’s comments on the teenage writing thread. He’s mostly having the typical reaction of a teenager to a partial and/or superficial reading of that, and taking it out on you here as well.

  18. Is there chance Redshirts will have a audiobook version? I travel/work a bunch so having a audio version of a good book is great. BTW, I am listening to Fuzzy Nation now and loving it!

  19. “Aside from that, are you kidding me? I’m supposed to feel bad that my publisher believes people will buy my book on my name alone?”

    I get it – business is business – but this is not the kind of cover that I’m going to be impressed with; just not a fan of seeing an author’s name having prominence over the title and art.

  20. You didn’t get to be a ‘big name’ author by accident. I’ll be disappointed if I don’t like the book; wasn’t intending to slam it. I specifically enjoy book design – just not the initial peak at this one.

  21. @Inez Hogan:
    I get it – business is business – but this is not the kind of cover that I’m going to be impressed with; just not a fan of seeing an author’s name having prominence over the title and art.

    Well, yes – business is business. It’s very bad business indeed if a publisher sends out ARCs that don’t grab – and hold – the attention of editors and store buyers who already have a mountain of uncorrected proofs, press releases and catalogues on their desks. If Tor have determined that out host’s name is more likely to catch a browser’s eye – and open their wallet – than a geeky pop culture reference of a title, then damn right they should emphasize the former. Otherwise, the marketing and design folks who are paid to think about such things need to have a tragic accident on an away mission. Preferably while wearing a properly branded red shirt. :)

  22. Ha! As for all those who dare compete against me, I have but this to say:

    Omnes relinquite spes, o vos intrantes!

    (That quote was over the front door of my high school– yeah, that’s it, that’s the ticket….)

  23. For a novel like Redshirts, how many review copies will a publisher typically give away? (I’m not angling for a free book–just curious how things work.)

    Good luck with the book, BTW. I enjoyed reading Old Man’s War and will likely give this one a try as well.

  24. Having this book would be good. I’ve got two nurses at work who wear red shirts and black pants on a fairly regular basis. It’ll be good to have more jokes other than variations of “Don’t beam down to the planet, ensign.”
    They usually look at me quite confused. Although, most people do that with my sci-fi related jokes…
    (In all seriousness, I’m looking forward to the book. It seems like it’ll be a lot of fun.)

  25. Haven’t been lurking here in much too long, obviously. Just was cruising Amazon for an old story that a friend had read on her Kindle in preparation for testing out a used iPad. Found the listing for Redshirts. Laughed out loud in the middle of my office. Now I have to wait *three months* before I can buy it for the library??
    Keep rocking, dear sir.

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