Friday, February 20, 2009

Definitions for the Perplexed: Galleys

Once upon a time, printers used printing presses that really pressed a sheet of paper against rows of inked type. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, google it.) The individually-cast letters of the alphabet, made out of lead, were carefully set in rows to make the words and sentences and paragraphs that would be printed.

These rows of loose type were arranged in a wide, shallow, wooden box called a galley, after the wide, flat sailing vessels.

It is from this antique way of printing that we inherit several terms, galley among them. (Also leading, the space between lines of type, and kerning, the space between letters.)

Nowadays when we say galley we mean the first earnest effort (ie, not the cast-off) of the designer to lay out the text and illustration of a book.

Galleys are printed out for routing among the publisher's staff on the designers' office printer. The color is not great. There are typos. The designer has forgotten to add the author's bio on the back flap. The copyeditor hasn't gotten her hands on it yet. Etc.

Now we reach a crossroads.

The editorial, design, and production team will continue on with three or four rounds of galleys to gradually fix all the errors, omissions, and disagreements before sending the book to the printer.

The marketing team, though, will grab the very first layouts --if it is a novel-- and whisk it off to a printer to produce ARCs (advance reading copies).

10 comments:

ae said...

Timely post. I was just listening to a novelist acquaintance of mine explaining this to our hairdresser. Literally, minutes ago. The hairdresser was utterly fascinated. I, on the other hand, hid in my crossword puzzle. :)

Angie said...

Thanks! I always wondered when it was in the process that the ARC's got printed.

Lis\'Anne said...

Thank you! That's the first in-depth explanation I've read for both galleys and arcs. :-)

literaticat said...

(And booksellers often use ARC and galley interchangeably to refer to those advance copies.)

fakefrenchie said...

I noticed you wrote:
(ie, not the cast-off)

I have always thought that it was "i.e.,", at least in scientific publications. Is their a rule for this?

Editorial Anonymous said...

Oh yes, if I wanted to be very correct, I would write "i.e.".

It stands for the latin "id est" which means "that is".

I just dislike the extra space those periods take up, especially in combination with a comma. This blog is conversational, so I don't stand too much on ceremony here.

BuffySquirrel said...

I think the publishers want the ARCs to fall apart, rather than be passed or sold on with all those errors extant :D.

Just the other day, I checked in a bookshop to see if the author of a book I read in ARC had taken mine and others' advice about removing a reference to helium being inflammable. Yep, looks like they did! lol

fakefrenchie said...

I wasn't snarking. Really. I'm a freelance editor of scientific research articles, and I correct this at least 100 times a day. So I thought: Ack! I've got that wrong. Thanks for the info.

fakefrenchie said...

BTW, in my original post, "their" should be "there". Sheesh.

Editorial Anonymous said...

No no, you didn't sound snarky.