Review Copy Revenue Stream Moves Above Ground

By Neal Comment

Thanks to a reader tip just before the holiday weekend, we learned that Barbara Passel Franchi, creator of the mystery-themed website Reviewing the Evidence, is selling review copies to make ends meet. She’s got a long list of titles available, with paperbacks for as low as $3 and hardcovers and ARCs going for $10.

michelle-moran.jpgThe only thing remarkable about Franchi’s actions, though, is that she’s being so upfront about the sales, when most reviewers who make a little extra with their reading material either visit their local used bookstores or rely on the semi-anonymity of sites like eBay. And though many authors and publishing insiders profess frustration at such commerce, especially when high-profile books are involved, others have adopted a more laissez-faire attitude towards the situation. When Patricia Wood found an auction featuring a galley of her forthcoming novel, Lottery, for example, she laughed it off: “If you buy this ARC and love my book,” she blogged, “you can send it to me and I will personally sign it!” Michelle Moran (left) actually started bidding on the ARC for her historical novel, Nefertiti, when it popped up online. “The bidding war was short, but in the end, triumphant,” she emailed last week. “Just as I placed my bid for $30 and began feeling really sorry for myself, the auction was canceled.” (The Lottery auction met a similar fate.) So how does Moran feel about the risk of unpolished work floating around the readerly biosphere? “I will now be fanatically editing all passes of my manuscript,” she quips, “especially the first pass that will become the ARC.”

DISCUSS: What’s the right thing to do when it comes to ARCs and review copies?