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.


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