Some folks have written to ask if the eArc of Ghost Ship “matches” the hardcover book that will very soon now be printed and which will appear on the shelves of your favorite bookstore in August.
After some back-and-forth with one of the correspondents wondering this very thing, it transpires that said correspondent understood that sometimes the finished book “differs” from the eArc and s/he wished to know if that was the case with Ghost Ship.
And the answer is. . .
There are certainly some grammatical/spelling/technical issues that have been addressed in the galley proofing stage of the typeset manuscript from which the book will be printed, which issues appear in their Wild Form in the eArc.
Are there whole scenes excised, new scenes inserted, characters written in, out, or altogether made into mincemeat? In short, is it a Whole ‘Nother Book that will be coming out in August?
Of course not.
The way the process has worked with Baen thus far is:
1. Authors contract to write book; receive advance
2. Authors write book; turning in manuscript ahead, on, or slightly past deadline
3. Editor reads submitted manuscript, points out places where story is broken and/or where action/motivation/characterization needs expansion
4. Authors do necessary repairs; submit amended manuscript
5. Editor acks receipt of amended manuscript
6. D&A check arrives; authors party
7. Some Months Later, editor transmits copy editor queries; authors repair or not, as necessary; book goes to typesetter
8. eArc becomes available. I am not certain that the eArc includes the changes generated in 7, above. Most certainly, it is the amended ‘script acked in 5.
The ‘script in 5? Is the complete novel. Any confusion spotted by the copy editor has thus far, and in our experience, been Important Detail Stuff, not Plot Altering Ohmighods. Plot Altering Ohmighods fall into Toni’s honor.
To sum up: Lee and Miller eArcs contain the Whole Story as it will appear in the printed book. The printed book will certainly contain cleaner copy. What you are buying when you purchase an eArc from Baen is the ability to read the story in a rough, but not the roughest, form five to six whole months before the printed book comes out.