Let’s talk about ARC Readers and how to find them. For those who do not know, ARCs are Advanced Reader Copies, meaning, they are advanced releases of your upcoming novel.
Typically, you would want to send these out approximately two to four weeks before the release date, although in traditional publishing, these can sometimes go out two to three months before release.
WHY SEND OUT ARCS?
ARCs can be sent out with a variety of different goals in mind, but the main one is to have people talking about your book before it’s actually released so there is excitement on the date of release. There are two different paths to take when it comes to drumming up excitement, which are, either you find a few people with a large following, or you find many people with smaller followings… or you fall somewhere in the middle.
By finding large book reviewers, they already have a platform with followers. If they speak about your book and promote it after getting an advanced copy, lots of people will in turn hear about your book who have not heard about it previously. By going with many book reviewers with smaller platforms, you will have lots of people posting in the various hashtags and giving you a number of ratings before release day.
In turn, this will hopefully be one last drive to get your book added to TBRs and a few last minute pre-orders.
One other bonus to having advanced copies is getting eyes on your book from people who have not been involved with the entire process. They are coming in a blank slate, and can provide invaluable feedback and ask questions for any little details you might not have picked up. In particular, I enjoy doing a great typo hunt, because no matter how many rounds of edits you go through, there will always be a few typos. I then gift a signed copy to whomever found the most typos.
But of course, now you’re going to ask, how do you even find ARC readers? I’m so glad you asked.
HOW TO FIND ARC READERS
The first thing to remember is you want people who will actually want to read your book, and no, the answer is not friends and family. If this is their first time reading your genre, this is not the time for them to be top of the free copy list. You want reviewers who would buy and read your book regardless, and in particular, you want to reach out to people who may have not heard of you before.
The very first place to start is Social Media, but you’re going to take two different routes. You’re going to first post looking for ARC readers, using your followers and hashtags. If you’ve been here for a hot minute, you know that Author Assets are a big deal. You should already have people wanting to read your book based on the marketing you’ve been doing for weeks. Posting about it on social media should arguably be one of the easiest things. Have a sign up sheet. Have a link in your bio.
From there, start looking around about who is posting about advanced copies of books, particularly for indie authors. Look at who is talking about upcoming releases for something similar to your genre. Many people will have listed in their bio they do ARC readings. This is very popular on instagram as well, for people to have in their information a way to contact them for ARC reading. Search those hashtags! Look at who is talking about upcoming books!
A NOTE ABOUT AUTHORS FOR ARC READERS:
One thing to keep in mind, in reaching out to authors, is that authors are often on their own deadlines with a short amount of time. They also will be very careful about which books they accept to ARC read, as most authors will not give honest reviews in a negative light if they dislike a book, which means they will often be picky about which ones they accept – they’ll want to honor the agreement to read and review, but they also won’t want to lie to their readers.
That stated, don’t shy away from reaching out to other Authors. I love getting ARC copies if I have the time, and sometimes I even make the time for them. Find people in your genre and near your genre. Ask around. Use your facebook page to ask. Even if people say they don’t have time, quite often, authors will share in their group that you are looking for ARC readers.
This should help you get the numbers and the support of the community, but how do you find the big book bloggers?
GOODREADS DEEP DIVE
Let’s talk about Goodreads. For as much as we all hate goodreads, it can also be an amazing resource to find ARC readers. The general way to go about it is…
Look at your comparables. Look at other indie books which have recently come out. Take a look at who liked the book and reviewed it. Look at their information. Do they have a website or an instagram? Many people will have information in their bio about ARC reading and contact routes. From there, reach out and see if they would like to read your book.
It doesn’t hurt to ask. You only miss out on the readers you don’t contact.
What about places like NetGalley?
The thing about NetGalley is that it costs a lot of money as an author. If you want to go that route, go for it, but I saw the price tag and said no thank you. That’s up to you to decide.
BOOK BLOGGER LIST
And now, I present to you all my secret weapon… the book blogger list. I found this list while searching for my own ARC readers way back when. This is a website with organized lists of reviewers who are interested in various genres. You can flip through and look at the various reviewers, what they like to read, and most have a way to contact them. Look up their other socials. Look at their goodreads. Do you think they would enjoy your book? Do you think they read your genre?
Reach out to them. Have a pitch ready.
Don’t have a pitch?
HOW TO PITCH YOUR BOOK
Your pitch is one of the biggest selling points when you are reaching out to reviewers / readers to see if they would be interested in your book. You want to have this ready to go before you even start reaching out to people. It should be very concise and to the point while also covering a wide variety of details regarding your book. Let’s break it down step by step.
1. Introduce yourself. Tell them who you are and what you write. Say you noticed they recently read a certain book or genre, and you think they might like your book for x, y, and z reasons. You want to find common ground when reaching out.
2. Tell them what you want. Say you have a book coming out on a certain date, titled such and such, and what genre and subgenre it is. If they’re interested, you’re sending out Advanced Copies on x date. Ask if they would be interested in hearing more, and then leave it at that.
3. Thank them. You’re going to thank them for their time, and sign off. If you’re contacting them on a platform which doesn’t allow for good communication, like Tiktok, say you would be happy to discuss it more on another platform. I recommend Instagram, but that’s up to you.
4. IF THEY DO WANT MORE – The thing everyone normally wants is the blurb and the cover. My personal favorite is to share the full spread, which has the blurb on the back and the nice cover on the front, except laid out. This is an easy way for them to see it all.
Now, they might not have time. They might say they can read it after release. If they say this, you’re still going to give them a free copy, even though it’s already released by that point, because you offered it. No matter what they say, be polite!
SIGN UP SHEET
Now, all of this aside, let’s talk about what to include in your signup sheet.
First and foremost, mark the dates. You will be sending out advanced reader copies on such and such date. The release is on such and such date. You will expect people to leave reviews within three to five days of release. If you’re doing typo hunts, what day are they due by – I recommend a week before release, so you can do them and submit the final copy with time to spare.
Second of all, you’re going to specify the genre. You want to verify, particularly if your book is not for persons under the age of 18, that they are fully aware of the material within your book. List the content warnings. Have a check box confirming they want to read what is included within the book.
Third of all, share the blurb. Once again confirm they are interested.
You will need their name and their email for bookfunnel, which is the website most people use to send out ARCs. I also recommend getting their instagram/goodreads/social media links, so you can verify later they have posted a review. This should all be on a google form, and that goes into a spreadsheet, making it easier for you!
THE BOOKTOK ADVANCED READER SIGNUP PAGE
(this section is new as of 28 October 2022)
This summer, I had the idea to put together a sign up sheet for booktok readers who wanted to join ARC teams to sign up to get their names out there to Booktok Authors. Please take note of everyone’s preferred contact, their preferred genres, and their list of Nos. There is now 80 people signed up on this list, with more steadily joining every time this sheet is brought up! Use it to your advantage!
I mentioned it above, loosely, but I think I will most likely have to make a video pertaining to bookfunnel. That stated, let’s go over the basics really quickly so you understand what it is and how it works, so you can decide for yourself whether or not you want to pay for it.
Bookfunnel is a website which easily sends out reader magnets, bonus content, sneak peeks, gifted books, and advanced copies. It sends encrypted one time use emails, and the person receiving the book can choose whichever file they want to use. You can have an open link so anyone who receives the link can open it, like a reader magnet from your newsletter, or you can have email collection to add to your newsletter for sneak peek content. And of course, the one time use emails for ARC readers and giveaways.
The thing about bookfunnel, however, is that it does cost a little money. There are multiple tiers. The first time author tier has a link which can have as many downloads as possible, good for sneak peeks you send out to newsletter readers. But, if you’re wanting to send out secure certified emails to ARC readers, you’re going to need the MidList Author tier. If you’re also wanting to do email integration, like a landing page people can put their email into to receive the content, you’re going to need to upgrade within that tier.
I slowly upgraded. I started at First Time, then upgraded when it was time to send out ARCs. Now that I have my bonus content on a landing page, I have upgraded to the integration tier.
You do not have to do this, however, this is the most professional and secure way to send out advanced copies. Most other authors I know use this platform as well. It’s also an easy way to gift your book to people, particularly as part of giveaways.
BUT DO I REALLY NEED ARCs?
The short answer is no. Some people operate without ARCs. They release it into the world, and the people who read it read it. They operate solely on their own mouth to push out the word. You don’t HAVE to send out ARCs.
But I do recommend it. Releasing a book into the wild is nerve-wracking and terrifying. Having people who already read it and love it? It’s that little burst of serotonin at the finish line, knowing people enjoy your work.
Whatever decision you go with, whatever goal you have, hopefully this will help you on your path towards release day.
And with that stated…
What else do you need before release day?
Oh right. The other stuff.
Please Note: This post was originally published and share on Elle’s Authoring Chaos Patreon on 14 May 2022.