What is an Advance Reader Copy?
An Advance Reader Copy, or ARC, is an early copy of your book. These are distributed to reviewers and influencers before your book is released. Advance Reader Copies are sometimes called ‘unedited proofs,’ which means that they haven’t been through a final copy edit. Some will even have different covers to the final book. This can make them more desirable and generate hype around the title’s release.
How do I distribute Advance Reader Copies?
You can do giveaway competitions with Advance Reader Copies. This could be in real life or on social media. You can send them to booktubers (YouTubers who discuss books) or other influencers. Ideally, an ARC should be a physical copy, as these are easier for people to share on social media and seems like a more substantial gift to potential reviewers.
Furthermore, don’t expect all of your ARCs to generate reviews. If a reviewer didn’t like your book then they might prefer not to mention it, rather than write a negative review.
How do I know if my ARCs are doing their job?
Like most of us, reviewers and influencers are busy people, and might not have time to read your book ahead of the release. Consider a 50% success rate on reviews from Advance Reader Copies to be an achievement. The more you send out the more chance you will have of getting positive feedback. That said, always ask if it’s okay to send a copy before doing so. Some reviewers won’t accept unsolicited ARCs, and it might annoy them.
What’s the long game with ARCs?
Through using Advance Reader Copies and building relationships with beta readers, reviewers and influencers you can start to develop a core team of advocates for your work. This will be really important going forward, as these people will be your most devoted fans, and share your work with others. A good team of advocates can take a while to find. To start with they will probably be your friends and family. However, if your product is right, and if you package and market your book well, finding a team should get easier as time goes on. Ask the people you’re working with for help, they may know specific people who will appreciate your book.
Interested in more marketing tips for your book?
Have a look at this article covering 20 marketing ideas.
This post was adapted from a chapter of Self Publishing in New Zealand by H.L. Kennedy, a pen name of Holly Dunn, published by CP Books, 2019.