What’s a Galley Copy and Why Can’t I Eat There?

23 Jan


So you have written a book and you have sent it in and a publisher somewhere has said, “Sure I’ll take a chance on you”. You sent your entire manuscript and after what seems like an enormously long time you get this package in the mail. Inside the package is a mockup of your book. The copy is flimsy and there is no cover but the book is all there in all its glory. You get excited and show everyone, maybe even let a few people read one of the copies. After reading one your friends come to you and ask if you realize how many mistakes are in that copy….your heart falls. You are thinking that your book is going to be crap when it hits the stores and it will be…if you don’t use that galley copy as it was meant.

First let me explain the concept of a “galley copy”. Galleys are your book in book form. The point of a galley copy is so that the writer (you) can go over it and make any corrections. Now let me be clear here…you can make corrections to spelling, punctuation, that sort of thing but not to the story itself. The galley copy is not to rewrite your story; it is only so that you can correct obvious typesetting issues. If you read the galley copy and decide that the story really is that bad, you can’t do anything about that but hope that it gets shelved in the back of the book store. The galley copy is just that “a galley”.

Now many writers receive the galley copies and know what they are but never open them. This would be a huge mistake on the part of the writer. This is your chance to make sure that your novel is presentable, make sure it’s shoes are tied and the buttons are all buttoned up right. This is your chance to give it one last look-see before it is published for the world to see.

With my very first novel I didn’t look at the galley copy because, well, frankly, I had no idea what it was. I am still paying for that today, 20 years later, when someone comes across that first edition and I hear reviews that state, “it is a great story but it needs some editing”. Trust me; you want to spend some quality time with those galley copies or one day you will look back, as I do, and wish you had.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on January 23, 2023 in Editing, Writing, Writing Tools


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