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What Are ARCs and How to Use Them

A lot of first-time authors aim at getting reviews from only their friends, families, beta readers and readers who follow them on social media. And that should definitely be one of the thing to do when you’ve already published or when you’re looking to publish. But let’s talk about a mrketing tool that most new authors, especially ones who are self-publishing, hardly use...or even know about. ARCs.

ARCs or AREs are Advanced Readers’ Copies or Advanced Readers’ Editions of your book. Essentially, a pre-published version of your book that has been bound together in hard copy (or compiled, with the use of software) that has not been finally proofread yet. The use of ARCs are especially to distribute them to potential reviewers, who may include but are not limited to, book reviewers for newspapers and journals, book journalists, Amazon Top Reviewers, other published writers you may want a review or a blurb from, bloggers, the press and so on.

Why are ARCS important?

ARCs may not seem important at the onset, when you’ve already gone through beta readers and editors and have already asked so many of your friends to leave you reviews on Amazon, especially if you’re self-publishing. But they’re essential if you want to obtain reviews in advance of publication. They facilitate a ton of word-of-mouth promotion and are an effective way of getting blurbs and reviews you can put on your cover and website, even before your book is actually released.

Characteristics of an ARC:

  • It’s definitely not a first draft or any draft that you may have handed out to beta readers.
  • It is an edited version of your book that hasn’t undergone final edits and proofreading. I’ve read ARCs which have had typos, grammatical errors and even complete sections that were changed in the final book.
  • An ARC comes with a formal disclaimer stating that it’s an ARC, and release dates, ISBN, prices, word count etc., are all subject to change. Publisher’s may decide to put in a mock book cover and other details as well.
  • If you’re getting traditionally published with one of the better known publishers, your publishers will have their own connections to send the ARCs to, for reviews and blurbs. Some Indie publishers might do the same. But in most cases, and especially if you’re self-publishing you’ll have to make arrangements on your own.

5 Things to keep in mind before sending out your ARCs:

  1. Do your homework. Research and make a list of potential reviewers, authors, press representatives, bloggers, podcast hosts who you’d like to send out the copies to.
  2. Start sending out either a printed galley of your full book ,or, PDF versions of only a few chapters (along with your bio), four to six months before the book is due to be released for purchase (not considering pre-orders).
  3. Don't be scared to approach the 'biggest names' in the industry. Most writers, especially first-time writers, always shy away thinking, “Oh, she’s too famous and busy and won’t have time to review my book.” You’re probably right. Famous and busy people don’t have time, they don’t know you and they are not familiar with your work. Create a short, crisp pitch  and ask for both reviews and blurbs.
  4. Hold off on your book cover design or typesetting the interiors of the book, till you have received a sufficient number of reviews and blurbs. Once you have, integrate these with your cover design, add them to front and back pages. However, your book will still need to look professional and formatted according to industry standards.
  5. ARCs are a marketing tool. So, use it that way. Only send it to carefully selected personalities, a review from whom will help your sales. If you’re thinking of sending an ARC to your BFF’s mother’s sister’s neighbour who loves reading romance novels and is not in the literary industry, you’re doing it wrong.
  6. When sending our ARCs, make sure you make a whole deal out of it on social media. Imagine the exposure when an influencer or a tastemaker posts a photo of your ARC on Snapchat or Facebook or Instagram with tags like #galleybrag. (Galleys are, controversially, extremely popular as collectors’ items on eBay, as well).

I go into detail about ARCs, how to strategise their distribution and who to approach on Let’s Sell Your First Book! Marketing 101 for Brand-new Author. The book goes on pre-order from 1st January, 2018. So make sure you’re Subscribed to the list for all updates and fresh posts book marketing and writing.