I am the first to admit I am not a professional reviewer. I didn’t go to school or take a class on it. I’m definitely an outsider to the publishing industry. What I know about it comes from reading blogs and talking to editors and authors so I generally try to not question publicity matters.
For example, a few months ago I was sent an uncorrected advanced proof. It was bound and printed on regular paper and about the size of a trade paperback. I actually don’t mind these bound, un fancy copies because I figure they are cheaper to produce and I don’t feel guilty about tossing them when I am done with a review (as I try to buy the books that I want to keep and re-read in e form).
This particular uncorrected advanced proof looked like a line edited manuscript. It had strike throughs and suggested rewrites and proofing marks. I was unable to read the book. I’ve mocked up a page from Jane Eyre to give you an example of what it looked like as I don’t want to embarrass the author or the publishing house.
When I decided the book was unreadable, I kind of laughed about it, shared it with the other DA folks and let it go. It didn’t bother me as it wasn’t a book that I was really anticipating and because I am grateful for getting free books. It wasn’t a big enough deal to me to rock the boat and lodge a complaint. What would be the purpose, I asked myself.
I mentioned it casually on the blog one day and it prompted a personal email from an author indicating that some publishing houses from the editors to the publicists have done this in the past. I wondered if it was standard and whether professional reviewers should overlook these issues in reading the book and ultimately reviewing it.
I’m debating whether to bring this up to the publicity department. I don’t want to be considered a complainer because, as I said previously, it is a privilege to receive ARCs. I understand that. However, if it is in the authors’ best interest to have these issues brought to the attention of a publicity department, I would do so. What’s your opinion on this? Should reviewers overlook the state of the ARC? Should publicity be contacted? Is it even a big deal?