The making of: ILLUMINAE ARCs

Hello droogs,
Excitement afoot! My legion of flying monkeys has informed me the first ARCs of ILLUMINAE have made it out into the wild and were snatched up by a bunch of eager beavers at ALA Midwinter. Not sure what the hell beavers will do with ARCs or how they got past ALA security, but investigations are apparently underway. Hopefully some librarians and bloggers got copies, too.
Frackin’ beavers . . .
For those of you who don’t know, “ARC” stands for “Advanced Reader Copy”. They’re basically an early version of the final book, sent out to media, librarians, bloggers and nice author-type people who’ve said they’re willing to paw through the pages with the intent of giving it an endorsement (presuming they don’t open the book to discover the words are scrawled in pure suck). ARCs have usually only gone through early revisions prior to printing, which means there will be typos and formatting boo-boos inside, but for the mmmmost part, they’re 95% of the finished product.
The ILLUMINAE ARC is a little different (you’ll hear the words “is a little different” a lot when it comes to this book, my droogs). No word of jest do I speak thee when I say the production has been an undertaking of biblical proportions. See normally, putting a book together is basically a matter of cut and pasting from the manuscript, putting in page numbers and maybe some fancy chapter headers, and bang howdy, let’s all go to lunch. But ILLUMINAE?
Oh, my sweet summer child. What do you know of winter?
To give you some indication of the sheer level of whathefuckery involved in creating this beast: The InDesign documents publishing houses work with in producing book contain “tags” to identify various aspects of the manuscript file. Random House corporately works with less than a half dozen standard tags for the majority of its fiction—both adult and children’s books. Less than six. For the ENTIRETY of Random House and its imprints. For ILLUMINAE, the RH corporate pub ops team (pub ops, man they sound like badasses) created nearly 4 dozen custom tags. From scratch, just for this one book. Every single page needed to be hand crafted. All 600+ of them. We’ve had illustrators creating space ship schematics and comic strips and movie posters and all kinds of crazy stuff, a bunch of designers working on different page templates, logo designs, experimental typography, yadda yadda.
It. Is. Madness.
Amie and I send the design guys cupcakes every now and then to make up for it, but I’m sure they’re still plotting our gruesome deaths. Well . . . mine, at least. I mean, I’m the guy who used to be the Designer, so I’m the guy who is now the Pain In The Designer’s Ass. But anyway, the upshot of all this?


I’ve been pawing through mine all day and grinning like a lunatic. I was so busy gawping at it, I burned dinner and set off the smoke alarm and gave my dog a heart attack. Poor little dude. 🙁
Anyway. Making books is a strange gig. Amie and I began writing this one in Feb 2013. It started as a half-joking conversation over brunch one Sunday morning in a Fitzroy cafe. It’s been part of our lives almost every day for two years. And through a lot of luck and the support of an amazing editor and an amazing team and literally thousands of hours of work from dozens of people, we finally get to hold it in our hands. And soon you will too. I can’t even begin to tell you guys how excited we are about you guys reading this thing.
For those of you who can’t get an ARC, I leave you with the intro letter from our amazeballs editor.

7 Responses to “The making of: ILLUMINAE ARCs”

  1. Dude, that looks so cool!! I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get my hands on an ARC at BEA, but it’s first on my list! But even so, my preordered copy will arrive in August and boy am I going to love it!!

  2. JdV says:

    Mr. Kristoff. Thank you once again for a bit if humorous and insightful…..insight(?) into the world behind the books. It sounds like quite an ordeal but I wager the finished product is beyond amazing. Looking forward to getting my hands on it.

  3. Bieke (Nelly B.) says:

    I wish I could go to BEA for a copy! =( I’ll buy it when it comes out.

  4. I would kill a beaver for one of those ARCs. Just saying. It looks ah-MAY-zing.

  5. […] Jay Kristoff shares the making of Illuminae ARCs. […]

  6. Sam says:

    Ha, this is awesome! I’m going to BEA, so hopefully I’ll be able to get my hands on a copy. I’m definitely pre-ordering at least. 😀

  7. I love the look and sound of it. Wasting away and dying of need doesn’t begin to describe. Look my eyeballs are bleeding here. *waves around vial odd questionable looking goo and threatens with the zombie plague to get my bitten to the quick fingers on this!* Lol Shoosh Tabitha you can wait…Yes yes I can wait, all the sweeter when we finally devours the pages. Sorry late night…too much lotr?

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