A Guide to the ARC Reader Process: Part Two

Okay, so. You have your book edited and you have your cover. You have everything formatted, and you’re ready for ARC readers. You just have to find people willing to do it.

First and foremost, DO NOT pay someone to review your book. Paying someone to list your book on a review site is one thing. You’re not paying the reviewer, you’re paying the person listing and distributing your ARC or even just paying the site that holds the listing.

If you pay a reviewer, there’s the chance that Amazon will remove the review, meaning you paid them for nothing. And if Amazon gets really angry, they could do even worse.

The “old-fashioned” way

You can look up individual book reviewers and send them a message. This means researching book reviewers in your genre, and it’s typically best if you follow them and engage with their content for a while before asking them to read an ARC.

This method can get pretty time consuming and labor intensive, taking effort and precious hours away from writing, etc.

Thankfully, there are other ways to go about this.

Social Media

You can make a post on all your various social media platforms seeking about ARC readers. That means people can come to you.

There are also many groups on Facebook dedicated to connect authors and ARC readers. You just post in the group according to their rules and see who responds.

Newsletter

There’s always the option to offer for your newsletter recipients to be ARC readers. This does mean that the people most likely to be receptive to marketing efforts will have already read your book for free. But if they follow through and leave a review, it could be worth it in the long run.

You can set your book up on Book Funnel, Book Sprout, or Net Galley. Prices for memberships vary depending on which platform(s) you choose and which package(s) or subscription(s) you choose. And of course, the services included depend on which you sign up for.

Book Funnel

This site makes it easier for readers to get their copy of your book. Which means that you still have to find the ARC readers in the first place.

BUT.

Once you set it all up, Book Funnel provides an easy download link or you can create a pretty landing page. Depending on the package you go with, you can even integrate it with your newsletter to bump up your email list. They have their own tech service, so if someone has trouble downloading, they’ll probably be able to take care of it.

This is what I use to host not only my ARCs (because it truly does simplify the process), but also my reader magnet, aka the short story I give away to people who sign up for my newsletter.

Book Sprout

This site handles ARC distribution (with their own tech support) and has a network of reviewers built in. That means a little less effort on your part. I say “a little less effort” because thus far, I’ve had very few reviewers actually sign up to get my ARCs from this site. Your experience may be different.

Net Galley

This one is expensive. I’ll just say that upfront. You have to contact them for a quote to list your books, which doesn’t make sense. There should be a standard price listed in plain view, in my opinion. I found an article on Reedsy about NetGalley costs saying that their promotional packages were between $450 and $849.

To be frank, that’s too damn much. At least, to me.

Now, they do have a pretty extensive network of reviewers. Reviewers browse books listed by genre, as far as I’m aware, and can request to be an ARC reader. Then, they either get approved or denied (I think by the person who holds the listing), typically based on how reliably they post reviews.

But the cost is… a major drawback.

There are Tour Companies (like Xpresso Book Tours) who maintain paid client accounts with NetGalley. They offer their services (for far less than it would cost to go directly through NetGalley). They list your book for you, review ARC requests, and distribute the ARCs.

I’ve worked with Xpresso Book Tours for this specific service a couple of times, and it was painless. All I had to do was send the file, blurb, cover, etc., and the rest was taken care of.

The first listing (World for the Broken, dark post-apocalyptic romance) garnered a few review requests, but not as many as I’d hoped. The second (A Heart of Salt & Silver, dark paranormal fantasy romance) received about three times as many requests. That may be down to a genre preference among readers on NetGalley, maybe it was a timing thing, maybe I did a better job with the blurb for Salt & Silver than I did with the one for World for the Broken.

There are a lot of factors that could’ve played a role.

Either way, my results with NetGalley have varied. I’ll be reaching out to get Allmother Rising listed, so I’ll have a third experience to draw conclusions from soon.

Now, obviously, all of this has been in reference to ebook ARCs. You can send print copies if you’d like, but you’d be surprised how quickly shipping costs add up.

Some bookstagrammers require a physical copy because they photograph better, but ultimately, if you’re mailing ARCs, it’s up to you who you send them to. If you send physical copies, please, always ship your books *media mail* to get a discounted rate. Just tell the clerk at the post office that it’s media mail. It’ll cost far less.

Now, go and explore these different avenues of finding ARC readers. Come back next week to learn about the different file formats you might need and an easy to use program to help you convert between those files.


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A Guide to the ARC Reader Process: Part One

ARCs are a vital part of any book launch, providing a little boost during release week. But what are ARCs? Why are they important? And what do you do with them?

ARC means Advanced Reader Copy. It’s a copy of your book that you send out to reviewers or avid readers for free before the book comes out in exchange for an honest review on or before release day.

These can be print copies or ebooks, but there are obvious logistical benefits to ebook. First of all, you can send ebooks for free. Shipping books, even going media mail and risking late delivery, gets expensive real fast. Some of the bigger bookstagrammers prefer hard copies because they photograph better, but we’ll get there later.

Is this whole process a gamble? Yes.

Not every ARC reader honors their promise to leave a review.

And the ones who do aren’t guaranteed to love it. This does mean there’s a chance the reviews that go up could be bad reviews. (Hence the stress on the word honest up above.)

But ironically enough, even bad reviews get your book noticed in the eyes of the almighty algorithm.

Why does that matter?

When your book gets enough reviews (I’ll be honest, I don’t know the magic number. I’ve heard 10, I’ve heard 20, and I’ve heard 50), Amazon will start recommending it.

Without any extra effort from you.

As in… FREE promotion of your book.

So obviously, reviews are important, whether they’re good, bad, or neutral.

And since some readers prefer to read 3, 2, or 1 star reviews (so they can see what they’re really in for and decide if they can stomach the bad in the name of the good), they could actually serve you well.

Some readers find books they love after seeing a 1 star review complaining about the presence of a certain trope within the book, a certain trope that happens to be that second reader’s favorite.

Now what do you do with ARCs?

First of all, you should make sure your book is ready for this step. All major edits should be done. ARC readers are not beta readers. They shouldn’t find plot holes for you to patch up after the fact. That would basically invalidate their review.

Exception: If the book is still with your editor for proofreading (aka some typos remain), that’s okay. Just make a note at the beginning of the ARC so they know to expect a typo or two.

But everything else needs to be done.

That includes interior formatting and the cover design. This needs to feel professional and finished.

Now, take a week and make sure your book is truly ready for this step. Come back next Monday for some tips and resources to help you find appropriate ARC readers to help you launch your book.

P.S.- If you’ve signed on with a traditional publisher, chances are, they’ll handle all of this for you. Indie authors, you have some work ahead of you.


Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).