Quoting from an uncorrected proof
February 21, 2015 8:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm writing a review of an as-yet-to-be-released novel and I'm not quite sure what my responsibilities are. There are a couple of small complications.

I'm writing a book review for a website (I'm unpaid) and I'm working from an uncorrected proof. On the front, it says "Please do not quote for publication without checking the finished book." The review will come out before the book itself, so there's no way for me to do this. Does that mean I can't use any quotes from the novel? Or can I add a disclaimer of some sort? Additional wrinkle: the book has already been published in England and is visible on Amazon so I could do an unofficial check on any quotes, although there wouldn't be a guarantee they'd be identical. I also have the publicist's email so I could check quotes with him, but I'd only do this if it's common practice.

Just curious what the general etiquette is around this. Book reviews without any quotes seem kind of lazy to me, but I won't include them if it'd be shady of me. I'm emailing my editor but it's the weekend and I'd like to finish this up today.

posted by pretentious illiterate to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
Ask the publicist. Generally, it means what it says - don't publish quotes from the book before the book is published, because the text might change. Since this is already available in the UK, they might be using finished files, but the publicist will know for sure.

Also, it's generally more helpful for a review to come out AFTER a book is published, so that it's available for people to purchase. That's what I expected and requested of bloggers when I sent out books for review.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:44 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Eh, I read reviews of as-yet-unpubished books all the time, so I find them valuable. Otherwise I agree with PM.

I would think that if you can check your quotes against the UK version that would be good enough.

I have a lot of uncorrected proofs and some of them have entire sections removed for publication, so it is essential to check.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:49 AM on February 21, 2015

Do not use quotes in the review without ensuring that there's no more work to be done on the proofs. Think of it this way: if you quote this text on the webiste you will effectively be publishing text before it is ready to be published, as explicitly stated in the good-faith "Do Not Quote" directive on the front. If someone published my own text in a review before I had a chance to correct my proofs, and it happened to be a section I was changing in some way, I would be unhappy.
(True anecdote: my uncorrected proofs once mistakenly had been typeset as "two-headed boy" before I could correct it to my intention, "tow-headed boy." That would have interesting, quoted in a review.)
posted by third rail at 9:37 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

You're probably better off just not using any quotes at all under these circumstances.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:57 AM on February 21, 2015

Best answer: Hi, author here with uncorrected proofs out in the world. Please contact the publicist (their e-mail address should be on the back cover of the ARC) to ask if they can compare a quote to the final.

It's really important to do this because so much can still change after ARCs are printed. Titles get changed. POVs have been known to be changed. I know a friend who changed the gender of a character after ARCs. I rewrote the final four chapters of a book that had already gone out in review copies.

If the publicist doesn't answer you, you may be able to find the author online (try Twitter.) The company may be slow to answer you. But I promise, given a chance to verify a fact about their book in review, an author will reply quickly!
posted by headspace at 10:03 AM on February 21, 2015

Response by poster: This is super useful. I thought maybe uncorrected proofs mostly just meant "there might still be typos or grammar errors here, please don't hold it against us," and since the passage I was going to quote (admiringly) is error-free, it wasn't a big deal- but if there's that much potential for change between versions, I'll hold off on quoting unless I can get confirmation from the publicist or author. Thanks!
posted by pretentious illiterate at 10:09 AM on February 21, 2015

I used to do book reviews, usually from proofs, and in addition to not quoting the work directly, my client included a standard disclaimer indicating exactly what the review was based on, be it an advance copy or a specific edition of the book.

Assuming you're writing this for your own publication, you could just throw in a mention at the beginning or the end that your review is based on an uncorrected proof.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:01 AM on February 21, 2015

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