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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Plantsers, Pros and Cons: A Guide for New Writers

It’s time for the final installment of this little guide to writing methods, and today, we’re talking about the pros and cons of being a plantser.

Now, pantser and plotter get bandied about rather freely. But plantsers don’t get quite as much discussion, despite being the group that includes most writers.

So, in case you don’t know, a plantser is someone who falls somewhere on the spectrum between plotters and pantsers.

They do some planning, but go off the rails halfway through. Or maybe they do no planning to start, jumping in to get a feel for the world, and then they step back and iron out some details for the end of the story to make sure everything gets tidied up.

They might do detailed character bibles and maps, but leave the story arcs to develop as they go.

The point is, to some degree, they plan, and to some degree, they figure it out as they go.

There are a lot of things that can go right with this method and a lot of things that can go wrong.

So let’s go over a couple.

We’ll start with the benefits.

1. Freedom to adjust as necessary.

A major part of this writing style is centered around the belief that not everything is going to be planned out perfectly ahead of time. Things may need to change later on, and that’s okay.

This method allows the freedom to step away from the outline as needed.

2. Enough structure to cut back on writer’s block.

Of course, the dreaded block is still possible in any writing method, but having a plan of some sort, even if it’s just five bullet points and a page of backstory for your main character(s), can help alleviate the dread of staring at a blank page.

3. Those blessed A-Ha moments.

With this writing method, those wonderful little epiphanies can happen during the plotting stage AND during the writing stage, spurring you on in either part of the journey.

And now, some of the cons.

1. Meandering plot lines.

All that freedom means that sometimes the plot can wander a bit too far. There’s always the chance that you could get caught up in a tangent, falling down a rabbit hole that has nothing to do with the main storyline, but it catches your fancy and you go chasing after it.

(Sound familiar? That’s because this is a potential pitfall of pantsing, covered in part one of this series.)

2. Writer’s block.

All that freedom could lead to uncertainty. Details, or even major events, that haven’t been ironed out ahead of time could trip you up later on, causing delays.

3. Rigidity.

You could end up sticking too close to the outline, even when the characters have grown into something different than you originally planned. This could lead to stunted characters. It could also lead to pacing issues if the story or characters develop at a different rate than you originally anticipated. (This might sound familiar, as it’s a potential pitfall of plotting that we discussed in part two of this series.)

Basically, all the potential pros of pantsing and plotting apply, as well as all the cons. Really, it comes down to how you mix and match the two writing methods. The biggest strength of this method is that you have the flexibility to pick and choose exactly which part of the other two to keep and which to discard.

And really, finding what works for you is the most important thing. Every writer is different. We all have different backgrounds and personalities.

There is no one right way to write a book.

That’s important to remember. There are many people who swear by plotting things out, and many who swear by writing by the seat of your pants.

I fall into the latter category, but I know that doesn’t work for everyone.

So, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve written 20 books, if a piece of writing advice doesn’t work for you, throw it out. What’s important is that you finish your book.

The rules about how to write a book are more like guidelines and should be treated as such.

Play around with different writing methods until you find what works the best for you and keeps you writing all the way to the end of the book.

Come back next week for part one of my next blog series, Graphic Design Tips for Authors. Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date on all my book releases and giveaways, get exclusive content and sneak peeks, and even receive a free short story at sign-up.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.