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September 08, 2007


Bill Peschel

My introduction to the bizarro world of publishing was back in the mid-90s when I took over the newspaper's book page. HarperCollins would make sure they would send us their catalog, and made equally sure they would never send the requested review copies.


This exact scenario happened to me last month with my September column, too - this after repeated requests, and the book would have been a perfect fit for said column. Oh well.

Cameron Hughes

This happened to me with Charlie Huston's The Shotgun Rule. I personally talked to the guy at Random House, called him, and tnen never got the book. I would have liked to have written about it, but I just have too much I need to cover


Hmm, I hope they got my message at Penguin. :)

Jeff Cohen

David: PLEASE tell me the ARC got there...

David J. Montgomery

Jeff, yes, I got the book. :)

Jon Jordan

We run into this an awful lot. Publishers don't quite understand the idea of lead time.

I had an author email me in November a couple years ago and ask us to review his book which came out in June. I was already working on January. The worst part was that we had talked before the book came out and I made very clear he should make sure to get a book to us.

And I love getting catalogs and then never being able to get the books. Or maybe a postcard telling me the book is out even though we never saw a copy.


Very informative post, David -- definitely makes you want to check in with your publicist more often. :)

PJ Parrish

Depressing but not surprising. The same thing happens for awards. Publishers neglect sending in books to the Edgars, Thrillers, etc. One year when Kelly and I were judging best first novel for Shamuses, we were surprised that a highly touted (and Edgar winner!) didn't get sent in. Much later, we were asked by the author if we had gotten it and we said no. The author confronted the publisher who said it was sent. Classic covering their ass. But it was the author who lost out.

Dana Kaye

Thanks for touching on this; too often authors send me books months after their release. One guy even e-mailed me to ask if he could send me an ARC, to which I said fine, and it didn't arrive in my mailbox until 3 months later. Timing is everything.


Sadly, ARCs are expensive, and as we publishers print fewer and fewer the distro list gets shorter. Often we fight to do more on first novels or nonfiction we feel would get good word of mouth, and a more established author (whom we think will stay at a certain level) might get only a handful for key accounts and top reviewers.

If we publishers got more feedback from those who receive (or don't receive) ARCs and galleys, it would help us fight for more copies the next time. Make sure your concern goes to the right person. Is an assistant who messed up the mailing going to pass along your complaint? Tell your editor!

Also, sometimes we feel as if we are mailing into a black hole, and don't want to see these precious copies on eBay or at the Strand. And help us find some assistants willing to pop these babies into jiffy bags! Most of the best assistants want to work in editorial or publicity.


This cuts both ways you know. We are a small independent publisher with (relatively) short print runs. We allow for a number of ARCs but, to be honest, get very fed up with the poor and frequently arrogant response of the potential recipients.
If we send ARCs 'unsolicited' we know they'll just be binned, we never get them returned as unwanted or even acknowledged (wanted or otherwise). If we send out catalogues/AIs/press releases to elicit requests for ARCs we also get no response or even acknowledgement.
Mainstream media are the worst, genre publications are a bit better, and freelance reviewers who write for both print and online publications are the only ones who seem to have any manners at all.
It's difficult enough as a small press to get noticed by newspaper/magazine reviewers anyway, but when you get treated so shabbily and rudely you feel like you should stop bothering to engage with these media dinosaurs.
As far as I can tell, if your author doesn't have the same agent/publisher/friends as the reviewer and you're not promoting a guaranteed bestseller from a large publishing house your book has no chance of being reviewed.


One acknowledges that our life is expensive, however people need money for various issues and not every one earns big sums money. Thence to get some personal loans or sba loan would be good solution.

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David J. Montgomery is a writer and critic specializing in books and publishing. He is an emeritus columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and The Daily Beast, and has also written for USA Today, the Washington Post, and other fine publications. A former professor of History, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two daughters.

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