Beginner’s Guide to ARCs: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know (And More) About Advanced Reading Copies

ARCs – they seem to be the currency of the book world. Everybody wants them and when they don’t get them it can make them feel less important as a book influencer.

The number of ARCs you get does not determine your value as a blogger.

It’s definitely nice to get them and they make me feel like more of an influential blogger when I’m able to talk about the newest upcoming books, but it is 100% possible to be an incredible influencer without them.

I’ll actually be writing a post soonish about the importance of continuing to discuss backlist titles.

Because it can be confusing for people new to the book world, and even for some of us that have been here for a while, on what ARCs are, why they matter, and how to get them, I decided to write a guide post. Yes, there are a lot of posts like this out there, but I feel like they all mostly come from seasoned bloggers that have forgotten what it’s like to be new. I’m only in my sixth month of blogging, so my hope is that I can bring some new insight and a different voice to this topic.

First, it’s important to understand what ARCs are.

ARCs, or Advanced Reading Copies, are uncorrected editions that are printed before the book releases. These are sent out to various book influencers (bloggers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, publishing professionals, etc.) in order to get early reviews and help generate pre-publication buzz.

Teachers, librarians, and booksellers need to know in advance what books they want to order and put on their shelves. They also need the opportunity to become knowledgeable with the story so they can help get it into the hands of readers that need it.

Bloggers do a lot of promotional work, the majority of the time for free, and ARCs are one of the ways that happens. We’re able to read the book early and help spread the word, whether good or bad, about it in order to encourage pre-orders and sales once the book is released.

Another thing ARCs help with is by allowing people to read the book early, problematic content that often goes unchecked can be brought to light. Publishing is a very white dominated industry and so many things that shouldn’t get published do. I’m always thankful when bloggers point out hurtful content and warn readers ahead of time.

Is there an amount of time I’m required to have been a book influencer before I start requesting ARCs?

No!

This is something that bothers me. Most of the guides I’ve seen say you have to be blogging for a minimum of x amount of months and have a following of x amount. This isn’t true!

Once you have an established channel that you share reviews on and you feel comfortable with it, start requesting! I requested, and was approved for, my first ARC during my first month of blogging.

Every single publisher is different and will have varying requirements. Some may be more willing to work with new bloggers and others may only send advanced copies to those that have been around for a while. You’ll never know until you try though.

If you feel ready to request a title then go for it!

So how do you get them?

There are so many ways! Before I get into them though, please note:

Do. Not. Only. Go. After. ARCs. As. A. Way. To. Get. Free. Books.

Publishers and authors do not make any money directly from ARCs. They should be used for promotional purposes only (never sell them) and are not simply a way to get free books. While it’s impossible to review every single book you receive, it’s important to review as many as you can (without jeopardizing your physical or mental health) and/or spread the word about them in other ways.

I realize I went on a little tangent there, so here is the real section on how to obtain ARCs.

A few publishers have forms you can fill out to request ARCs or request to be added to their blogger list.

If you’re interested in a book from a different publisher, please check out the post Angel from Avid Reader made! Her Book Publicity Contacts Directory is my go to source when I need to find the appropriate contact to email.

Are you an international reader? Make sure you check out the Flapping Pages International ARC program run by Reader Voracious!

What should you include in your email when sending a request?

This was the hardest thing for me to figure out and honestly I don’t think I’ll ever truly feel comfortable with it. Mostly this is because of my anxiety and difficulty asking for things (which really just goes back to anxiety).

Publishers don’t have an unlimited amount of physical ARCs, so requesting one doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get it. It can be discouraging to send an email off and never hear back, but it’s important to remember that publicists are insanely busy and receive a plethora of requests. They don’t always have time to respond.

There are six key pieces of information every email you send should contain:

  • The title, author, and publication date of the title you are requesting
  • Links to all relevant review channels you have (blog, Twitter, Instagram, Booktube, Goodreads, etc.) and stats for each one
  • How the book can be sent to you (mailing address, kindle email, NetGalley info, etc.)

Basically, you want to give the person you’re emailing every bit of information possible. Publicists can receive hundreds of requests a day. If all of the information they need to make a decision and get the book out isn’t included in your email, it’s likely they will skip over it and move onto the next person.

If you want to know exactly what some publicists look for and get some tips from one, make sure you read Avalinah’s Books’ post Real Publicist Advice On How To Get Review Copies Approved.

Be professional, but still let your personality shine!

Publishing is a business and by sending an email requesting an ARC you are asking to work with them. This may not be a paying job *insert crying emoji here* but it’s still important to be professional. Nobody wants to work with somebody that is rude or entitled.

Now that we’ve gone over what to put in your email, the next step is formatting it.

  • Introduce yourself!
    • Tell them who you are, where it is you primarily talk about books, what age range and genres you focus on, and why you are emailing.
  • List all of your relevant channels and your stats.
    • Make sure you include links to each!
  • If requesting a physical copy, include your mailing address.
  • Let them know what format you prefer it in or what formats you’ll accept if your preferred isn’t available.
  • If you are willing to do other types of promotion such as being on a blog tour, doing an Instagram post, or something else, tell them!
  • End the email by thanking them for their time and letting them know that they can reach out to you with any questions or comments they might have.

So far I’ve requested 11 ARCs through email and I’ve been approved for 7 of them by using the above email format. We’re all different, though, so make sure you tweak it to fit you and your personality!

If you prefer to read digital books, NetGalley and Edelweiss are amazing.

These are both a really great place to start if you are a newer blogger. Publishers are able to be more liberal with approvals on these platforms. Personally, I find Edelweiss hard to use, but NetGalley is easy to get the hang of and is so much more user friendly.

The girls over at The Book Bratz wrote A Beginner’s Guide to NetGalley and it is the perfect place to start. They go into so much depth and help you figure out what information to include in your profile, how to find and request books, and how to submit your review.

As of right now I don’t know of any guides for Edelweiss, and I’m not familiar enough with it to write one, but as soon as I find one I’ll update this post!

Directly requesting ARCs from publishers isn’t the only way to get them!

So many websites and newsletters provide giveaway opportunities! It leaves things more to chance, but maybe you’ll get lucky!

  • Goodreads (I’ve entered more giveaways through Goodreads than I could ever keep track of and only ever won once, but there are a ton of them and some people have good luck with it.)
  • Twitter and Instagram (On any given day you’ll be able to find a handful of giveaways hosted by bloggers, publishers, and authors.)
  • Shelf Awareness (This is a newsletter with multiple giveaways included in each one. I’ve entered several and haven’t won any yet, but I also enjoy reading the publishing news from them.)
  • Publisher Emails (Practically every single publisher will offer a monthly newsletter you can sign up for and most of the time there will be giveaway opportunities in them.)

You can also sign up with blog tour companies for the chance to be on the blog tour for certain books and receive review copies. These also give you opportunities to interview authors, ask them to write guest post, and more.

Attending conventions and festivals isn’t something every reader is able to do, but they are a great way to connect with other book influencers, publishing professionals, and sometimes ARCs are distributed.


Do you have any questions that I didn’t cover? Know of any resources you think I should include? Did you find this post helpful or do you have another topic you’d like me to tackle? Let me know in the comments!

And now that you know how to get your review copies make sure you also check out my post full of tips and tricks for writing reviews!

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24 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide to ARCs: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know (And More) About Advanced Reading Copies”

  1. I have like -10 confidence so I only made a Netgalley account within the last month and only made my first requests over the weekend on it!

    Once I work my way up to feeling like I can contact publishers, I’ll definitely refer back to this. It seems very thorough and comprehensive.
    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that backlist books should get attention to. I think it’s partly why I don’t actively ask for ARCs. The main way I get them is through NetGalley and Each Random Resources if the blurb catches my eye.
    I also agree that some of the other guides tend to focus on the number of followers you have. It’s great to see you share that you don’t need to be popular to get ARCs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I started out trying to not actively ask for ARCs but there was a period of time when some really incredible books were being announced. I’ve slowed down a lot lately though.
      Thank you so much for reading my post and your kind comment!

      Like

  3. Rachel’s Random Resources is another awesome blog tour company – if I accepted all the books she has that I’d like to read, my TBR would be a mile high!

    Liked by 1 person

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