When to get ARC readers? (self publishing)

starrystorm

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So I've just sent my final draft to an editor and after I run through those edits, I'll be done.

I'll still need to create the blurb and cover.

And pick a date.

But when do you typically ask for arc readers? Do I need ARC readers? How did I sent them my book? Do I sent a manuscript? An email? I won't be able to get the book until it comes out unless there's a way to get advanced author copies off IngramSpark.

How have you done it in the past?
 
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Brigid Barry

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What is an ARC reader, for those of us who may not know?
 
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AstronautMikeDexter

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An ARC is an advanced reader copy. You send it out to people generally ahead of the book release so that they will review it once the book is released.

I've never done one but I plan to for my next series, so I'm not an expert by any means but I've been looking into it. I think you can reach out to people about a month or two ahead of the release to give them time to read it. You certainly don't need to hand out ARCs but, as mentioned, it can help with getting reviews. Certain advertising newsletters require a minimum number of ratings/reviews so if you plan to use them to promote, having ARCs could be useful.

You could find ARC readers by asking your mailing list, if you have one, or social media to see if anyone may want to participate. Otherwise, there are ARC services like Booksirens, which you have to pay for. That's the one I've been looking into and I think I'll go with.

If you're just reaching out to people (like from your mailing list) I think you could ask them what format they may want the book (epub, pdf, etc).

Not sure how helpful this is, but I'm learning a lot on the topic myself right now so I look forward to what others have to say.
 

CWNitz

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ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy. They're copies of a book sent before release in exchange for a comment, usually on Goodreads (Amazon bans comments made before release).

As for where to find them, there's:
  • BookSirens
  • NetGalley (way more expensive than the others)
  • Booksprout
  • BookFunnel
There are others but those are the ones I hear about the most.

You can also promote your ARC on reddit's r/ARCReaders (there's really a subreddit for everything!) A simple google form works.

It's worth noting that some writers claim they're not overly useful, since your initial readers will access your product page through Amazon or ads, and not Goodreads, and will likely not see them. I don't know if anyone has any numbers on this.
 

lizmonster

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ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy, typically sent out by publishers in order to get buzz/reviews for an upcoming title.

The value of ARCs in self-pub is arguable, I think. The biggest problem is that Amazon doesn't allow pre-release reviews for self-pubbed books. People can review on Goodreads, or (if you pay for the privilege) Netgalley. The Goodreads reviews might help a little? But really, in self-pub land (at least in the US), it's the Amazon ratings that will help you most, and ARCs aren't going to help with that at all.

The other reason I'm not sure ARCs make sense in self-pub is that pre-orders don't really mean the same thing. Yeah, if you have a lot, they can give your Amazon ranking a bump on release day; but (as I understand it) Amazon's algorithms don't really pay attention to single-day bumps.

As for how they're sent out? I think most people offer ebooks as ARCs. You can order hard copies from Amazon (which will be watermarked as NOT FOR SALE) and from IngramSpark (which I advise just for you, even if you don't use them for ARCs, to shake out print issues).

My own experience: I used Netgalley for my last book. I got a lot of requests, and a decent review rate - but most of those reviews were only on Netgalley. A few spilled over into Goodreads. I do think I got some orders out of it, but I've also published before, and I have one of those names people remember, so that might have played into it as well. Netgalley is really expensive (although I think it's dropped in price a bit), so be clear about what it can and can't do for you. I'm not going use them for my next book - I'll probably do a Goodreads giveaway before the thing drops, but I'm still chewing on my strategy.
 

starrystorm

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Thanks everyone. I was debating this. Probably won't do it after reading these comments.
 
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ChaseJxyz

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Sending out an eARC shouldn't cost you anything, as it's an eBook that you can email to someone. It also means you're not paying to print and ship a book (and the Earth isn't paying for all of that carbon!). Finding people to send eARCs to can take you awhile, especially if you're going on BookTok or Reddit looking for people who would be a good fit for your story.

I manage the review program for my employer, and it is true that people are most likely going to give reviews on the easiest platform possible. Doing it on NetGalley means you'll get reviews on NetGalley etc. People will only go through the pain and effort of signing up for/logging into an account on another site if you've really pissed them off or they're a huge fan of your thing. You will get people doing that for okay reviews or if you ask nicely, but not often. And the easier it is to give feedback (like clicking 1-5 stars instead of writing a bunch of text), the more people will do it (this is important if you want to bury the 1 star reviews from the really pissed off people). So that's something to keep in mind.

You should absolutely order at least 1 proof copy per format for yourself before going live. So 1 trade paperback, 1 hardback, 1 library binding, etc. eBooks, too. You want to make sure that everything on the cover is in the right spot and the colors are correct (MAKE SURE THE IMAGE FOR YOUR COVER IS IN CMYK!!!!!!). You want to make sure the gutters/margins on the pages look right. You could also have trusted family/friends look at the eBook on their personal devices to make sure things work right on different platforms (so phone, tablet, web, Kindle, non-Kindle eReaders...).
 

Tavia

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Highly recommend doing ebook ARCs for self-pub, whether you pick a service or find readers yourself or both. Send a reminder to your ARC readers on launch day so they can post or repost their reviews on Amazon. Regular ARC readers know how this works & expect that. (And you can set that expectation in the signup form, so newbies know what to do.) Sites like Booksprout automate those reminders.

Even just a few launch-day ARC reviews have benefits:
1) it’s nice to have a few reviews up for readers who like checking out reviews before buying
2) it’s a bit of insurance against a stray one-star tanking your rating the first week.

(Note 1: of course you can’t and shouldn’t try to guarantee ARC readers will rate highly. But you have more control selecting for readers who actually read and enjoy your genre, so they do tend to be higher ratings than random people who stumble along like, “this book called Squidman Explores the Universe has too many tentacles, one star”)

(Note 2: I’m just talking about regular ARC readers here. If you’re sending books to bloggers or influencers, I wouldn’t pressure them to repost on Amazon. That’s more of an exposure thing than a rating insurance thing)
 

bunny hugger

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Amazon is starting to get squirrelly about self-published books with a lot of reviews posted prior to going on sale. So you might want to time it so most reviews are after launch.