Today I was asked about on sales dates, and that sort of surprised me. It's something I've dealt with for so long that I assume everyone knows what they are.
An on sale date is the date in which every retailer should have the books in their store. So, we'll use a March Midnight Ink release as an example. November Hunt by Jess Lourey has a March 8th on sale date. Last weekend a customer purchased November Hunt at a Barnes and Noble here in the Twin Cities. I understand some indie stores had them sooner. Today they began shipping from Amazon. Why did it take Amazon longer? Probably because of the freight time from Minnesota to the Amazon warehouse along with their internal process for receiving and stocking books.
Now, let's say Jess is a big time author like J.K. Rowling or Janet Evanovich. Then as a publisher, we would impose a lay down date. A lay down date is a set in stone date for which a store can start selling a book. It's why there are midnight release parties. This levels the playing field for all retailers. Often Publishers require stores to sign an agreement not to violate a lay down date and if the store violates that policy, they could face serious penalties.
Uncorrected galley proof/Advanced reading copy (ARC) - are bound copies of a manuscript that are sent out to reviewers and booksellers about six months before the book is actually published. These are unedited copies that are supposed to used for garnering reviews and pre-publication buzz. There are some folks who sell ARCs. They can be highly collectible. The problem with ARCs in the hands of general readers is that they don't understand that the version they are reading has not been edited and may contain many errors.
Are there other publishing terms you would like explained? Or maybe I wasn't clear on the ones above? Ask away, I am here to help!
Our March 2012 releases :)