If you’ve been in the book community for any length of time, you may have heard of ARCs or Advance(d) Reader Copies. These are paperback copies of to-be-published books that publishers use as marketing material. They are typically sent to people who are influential in the book world. Library staff, bookstore employees, & professional reviewers (magazine, newspaper, website) are typically high on the list because they have the most sway in getting the book into people’s hands.
In this new age of technology, publishers and authors have been working with microinfluencers [people who have a smaller following; bookstagrammers & book bloggers fall into this category] and offering ARCs to them. I’ve been in this online community for 8+ years and the industry is really starting to recognize the pull that we microinfluencers have. I know I certainly will trust a bookish friend’s opinion over an advertisement in a magazine.
The biggest thing to keep in mind about ARCs is they are a piece of marketing material. It costs the publisher to produce & ship to someone. Like any other piece of marketing budget, there is serious thought put in to figure out where to send an ARC. Publishers want the most bang for their buck so they will send books to people who have the most sway or whose review will be seen (& trusted) by the most people. A rejection from a publisher is nothing personal; it’s a business decision.
There are 3 basic ways to acquire ARCs: ‘earning’ them, winning them, & attending events.
To ‘earn’ an ARC, you must be a ‘professional’ reviewer with a platform of some sort. Thanks to the ease of technology, anyone can be a ‘professional’ reviewer with a platform. Platforms that are popular:
- Book Blog [WordPress is a great place to start]
- Facebook Page
To prove yourself as a reviewer for publishers & authors to consider, you will need to do a lot of work. Write reviews. Write them for books you own. Books you borrow. Gain an audience or followers. Some kind of ‘proof’ that people are interested in what you have to say about books. Those stats are a way to show your ‘worth’ to publishers or authors. That it is worth sending books to you for review.
Netgalley & Edelweiss are the easiest way to get digital ARCs from publishers. Make an account and be sure to fill your account with up-to-date stats with your bookish social media. Request the books you’re interested in. That’s it!
If you are an international reader, this may be your best (& sometime only) option.
Best practices to keep in mind:
- These are professional obligations.
- Don’t request more books than you realistically can read & review.
- There are archive dates so download your book before then otherwise you’re out of luck.
- This isn’t a library. If you’ve signed up as a reviewer, you have an obligation to submit your reviews. That is why you were granted access.
- Don’t request books you KNOW you won’t like. Save them for people who are fans of that genre or author. You can always take a chance on the book at the library or buy it later.
- Skipping an OCCASIONAL review here or there isn’t a big deal but keep up with most of the reviews.
- Feedback ratio (# of reviews submitted to # of books approved for) is something publishers look at when considering to approve your request.
- Glowing reviews are not required.
- Honesty is always key with any type of review.
- “This is a pile of garbage”. That’s not helpful for anyone.
- “This book is problematic for X,Y, & Z reasons….” Elaborating on why things didn’t work for you or why you hated something makes a MUCH better point & makes you a trusted reviewer for the publisher, your readers, & other people who come across your review.
- Build up your scores/feedback ratio.
- There are ‘read now’ books that can help boost your feedback ratios.
- Check out approval preferences for publishers.
- This gives you an idea of what to work on or what to add to your profile.
- Cross post your review!
- After you submit your review to Netgalley/Edelweiss, cross post that review to as many platforms as you use.
- Remember to disclose that you received of copy of the book for free.
Book Sirens is a similar service but features small press & self published books. I found them to be a bit pushy when I signed up. You will have better luck getting those books though since they are small press or self published.
Are you an audiobook fan? Libro.fm has an audiobook review program. If you’re an influencer (bookstagram or blogger), teacher or librarian, you can sign up! Netgalley has also just started to offer eaudiobooks for review.
Blog Tours Companies are websites that coordinate the promotion of a book across multiple blogs typically over the course of a week or so. You as a reviewer WILL need a blog (or occasionally a bookstagram account) to participate.
How it generally works:
- Sign up as reviewer (so they have your email & contact information)
- Company will email or post about upcoming tours.
- Sign up or express interest in tour.
- If selected, you will contacted with information & the company will send the book (physical or digital) to you.
- You will be give a date to post about the book on your blog (or bookstagram)
- Typical types of posts:
- Book Review
- Guest Post from Author
- Interview with Author
- Make a Playlist for Book
- Fancast the Book
- Book Blitz or other promo
- You can suggest your own ideas
- Typical types of posts:
Blog Tour Companies (just a small selection)
- Storygram Tours (bookstagram focus)
- YA Bound Book Tours
- Xpresso Book Tours
- Lola’s Blog Tours
- Fantastic Flying Book Club
I haven’t contacted many publishers about physical ARCs. Austine @ Novel Knight has you covered though.
The easiest way for a regular reader to get an ARC with no commitment is winning a copy. Thankfully, there tend to be many giveaways running at any given point so just keep an eye out. Publishers & authors are your best bet to getting an ARC.
Bloggers & bookstagrammers will giveaway their copies on occasion too.
Here’s where I get my giveaway information:
- YA & Kids Book Central
- Bookish First
- Epic Reads
- Riveted by Simon Teen
- Storygram Tours (follow on IG & read caption to find others giving away book)
- Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram for publishers or authors
Like many other fields or professions, book festivals or conventions are a common occurrence. They’re scattered across the country (and world) and the year. I found this helpful calendar for your reference.
Please keep in mind there are two types of events. Professional events (directed to libraries or booksellers even if they allow the general public in) and Reader events.
Just like you’d imagine Professional events (like American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference) are geared towards professionals in that field. Publishers, authors, or vendors attend these events to promote or sell their books to professionals. There are meet and greets or giveaways. This is a professional event so professional staff should have first access to these items & events.
Occasionally, the general, non-professional public may attend these events. Keep in mind you’re a guest and not the intended audience. Panels may not be of interest to you. Don’t be grabby with items intended for professional purposes. [You & your opinion are valuable but this event really isn’t geared towards you. Professionals can generally reach more readers than a typical blogger or bookstagrammer.]
Reader events (Book Expo or North Texas Teen Book Festival) are for fun. As a blogger, bookstagrammer, or book lover this is likely the event you’re going to want to attend. Panels, meet-and-greets, giveaways and booths are all a part of the experience.
Depending on the event, ARC giveaways might be:
- First come, first served
- Chat with author/publisher & they give you a book
- Bonus! Make publicity contacts here with a business card.
- Spin a wheel for a prize
- Use a secret word from social media
Remember to be courteous & not a jerk. Take ONE book (you can share with your friends), wait your turn, don’t run around & trample or shove people, or generally act like a jerk. [It’s that type of behavior that influences how authors, publishers, & others view the online book community. Don’t ruin it because you don’t know how to behave in public.]
Be mindful of a book’s audience. If a book is by an #ownvoice author, step back & allow first access to readers of a similar background. You should absolutely have access to the book but marginalized groups don’t always have quick & easy access to books particularly books directed at them. Just be mindful please.