Photo: Damon Young

HOLY SHIT!

What happened?

IS THAT WHAT I THINK I’M SEEING?

Is what what you think you’re seeing?

YOUR BOOK IS OUT MY NIGGA! YOUR BOOK IS OUT MY NIGGA! YOUR BOOK IS OUT MY NIGGA!

No, it’s not. Not yet at least. (Also, chill with the nigga chants. We don’t know each other like that. I don’t even know if you’re black.)

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So that’s not a picture of your book?

Yes and no.

I’m confused now.

Just “now?”

You have jokes.

I have time.

So if it’s not really your book, what is it?

What you’re looking at are called galleys. A galley is a bound and uncorrected proof that’s usually produced months before the book is released.

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What’s the purpose of these?

They can be used for copyediting and proofing. But mostly they’re sent out to media people, book reviewers, and anyone else who might assist with the sales of the book. This is how reviews of the book exist before it’s even officially released. This is also how blurbs are created.

Blurbs?

Blurbs are the quotes of praise that often appear on a book’s front and back covers. If, for instance, I want Oprah to blurb my book, I’d send her a galley, she’d read it and send back a blurb (“What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker is the Jesus of books,”) and when the book is released in March, this quote would appear on the cover.

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I would assume that sending galleys out to media people also helps with the book’s buzz.

Definitely! If you get it in the right hands—and, of course, if it’s a good book—the galley will create buzz and drive sales.

I see. Are there any other differences between the galley and the book?

A few. When What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker is released in March, it will be a hardcover. The galley is a paperback. Also, the color on the cover of the galley is a bit duller than it will be on the final cover, the back cover is a bit wordier, and, most importantly, the actual content hasn’t been finalized yet.

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So the book isn’t done yet?

Well, it’s 99.9999999 percent done. But let’s say I read the proof and see an adverb or something I want removed or a sentence I want altered. I’ll make that suggestion to the editing team, and when the book is released, that adverb will be gone and that sentence will be altered. Ultimately, a galley is a dress rehearsal for the book.

Alright. Now that you’ve explained things, I’m calm again.

Wait! You can still be excited! This is an important part of the process, and it was really cool going to a marketing meeting at Harper Collins yesterday and being presented with the galley. This thing that I’ve been working on for two years is now a thing that exists in the world. A thing that’s been in my head is now a thing I can actually hold. As you can see in the pic below, I was verklempt.

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Photo: Tanya McKinnon

I think we have different definitions of verklempt.

You might be right.

So ... um ... can I get a galley? 

I don’t know you like that, remember, so probably not. But you can preorder!

Unless, of course, this is Oprah. Are you Oprah?

No.

OK.