Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) are like public relations packages sent to book bloggers, book reviewers, library staff, magazines, and other people who are influential in the book world. Just like businesses collaborate with content creators by sending them their products, authors and publishers use advance reader copies or review copies as a marketing tool to create some buzz ahead of their book launch.
What is an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC)?
An advance review copy is a pre-published version of a book that authors and publishers send to professional reviewers, book bloggers, and book tubers. These free books enable them to read it before its publication so they can publish their book reviews in time for the book release or debut.
The advance reader or review copies are believed to be remarkable assets that allow endorsements and publicity of your book way ahead of the book’s release. They also offer input or feedback about the story so that you can make the required edits before producing the final version of your book.
How Do Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) Work?
In the publishing world, ARC books are prepared as paperback or digital editions that aren’t complete and lack a final proofread or cover design. These pre-production copies usually do not cost as much as the final published versions, hence giving the authors an advantage to send low-priced copies in exchange for reviews by a book blogger or reviewer. Many publishers believe that the more your book is reviewed and mentioned before its publication, the better chances of its sales are going to be when the book finally appears in stores.
Advance copies can be sent as print books, digital ARCs, or free eBook ARCs. You can also send these to well-known reader communities like Goodreads, BookBub, Smash Words, etc. Goodreads giveaway book sent as an ARC can offer great insight from bibliophiles and professionals on the platform that can help improve the content of your book and bring it in front of their trusted readers. You can also send ARCs to people who have a book blog or a self-publishing blog where they can leave reviews for their readers or audience.
If you wish to become an ARC reviewer, you can start on platforms like Goodreads Reviewer’s Group, NetGalley, and Edelweiss where select titles are made showcased to the members of these platforms. If you have previously worked with a publisher or editor, it can give you the advantage to become a good ARC reviewer since this relationship is what authors and publishers look out for when sending their books for review.
Things to Consider When Making Advanced Copies
Now that you know what advanced reader copies are and how they work, let’s dive into how you can create an ARC as an author. When creating ARCs, there are a few important things to keep in mind before you start sending physical copies or digital ARCs.
Lead time and cost
ARCs can be easily produced as finished books but the problem here isn’t related to production but lead time and cost. Reviewers want book copies three to six months prior to your public release because they need ample time to read the book, write their review, and publish it time for your book’s release so that it can create the buzz or hype you want for a successful book launch.
To make sure your book takes an early place in the queue, make sure you prepare the ARCs six months prior to the release date. Since you can’t print a lot of physical copies before the date, you’ll have to print a small number of advance review copies which comes down to money.
There are two ways that printers use to print your books: offset and digital printing. For offset printing, the setup is expensive and only gets economical if you’re printing more than a thousand or more copies of your book. When printed copies amount to thousands, a single copy of your book may cost only a couple of dollars to offset print. But obviously, you’re not going to print a thousand copies for ARCs so offset printing is not suitable for you. Then how else can you print them?
For printing a small number of books, digital printing is more economical. Even if you choose to publish a hundred digitally printed copies of your book, an average-sized copy may cost between $4.00 and $8.00 per copy. This price reduces as you print more copies and goes up when printing fewer copies. This is because it takes the printer the same amount of work and set up to print one copy as it does with five hundred copies. In short, if you decide to print a few copies, be prepared to pay for the printing costs.
If you’re worried about the printing costs, there’s good news for you! Luckily, the publishing industry has changed and incorporated advanced and convenient ways for authors to publish their books. With print-on-demand publishing on the rise, a lot of POD services and platforms have come to rescue authors, especially self-publishing and independent authors as they lack resources.
Some credible POD platforms include Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, IngramSpark, KBook, and BookBaby. These platforms allow you to print ARCs at the same price as sale copies. Book reviewers are also readily accepting digital review copies as it eliminates the printing cost and makes the whole process quite economical for booksellers. Now you can print the same copies of ARCs for both reviewers and beta readers.
Whatever POD service you choose, it should let you set up an ARC without putting them on sale. You can later set up the final and release version for sale. You can also print bulk copies when using POD services.
How to Create an ARC?
Once your book is prepared to be sent, create a PDF version of your ARC for distribution. Whether you’re sending physical ARCs or digital review copies, it’s great if you have your book cover too, or at least a concept for your cover.
After that, add the following touches to create your ARC:
- Add a disclaimer on the cover stating that it’s an “Advanced Review Copy” or “Uncorrected Proof for Limited Distribution”. You can add either of these as a banner over the top or bottom of the cover or as a stamp.
- Put a few sentences for a disclaimer on the inside of your book, preferably on the title page. This disclaimer should state “Uncorrected Proof for Limited Distribution: This proof is provided for review purposes only. The content may change before release. If quoting passages, please refer to the sale edition.”
- Include an ISBN if you have one. It’s not mandatory to add it though. If you don’t have it, you can put “Advance Review Copy” on the copyright page. You can also add other information about your books like your book’s metadata, estimated retail price, number of pages, and release date.
- If your book has illustrations and not all are ready to be included, include those that are ready and leave placeholders for those not available. The placeholder will take the same space as the intended graphic with a label marked “Illustration Not Available.”
And that’s all you need to create an ARC. You can now send the digital versions of your ARCs and order the print edition from your POD service.
Limitations of Advanced Reader Copies
ARCs have a few limitations for reviewers as for authors and publishers. Since ARCs are not the final version of your book, reviewers may find typos or other errors. Also, not all the review copies may be of interest to your reviewer especially if they receive tons of copies to be reviewed by publishers and authors. Book bloggers and professional reviewers may have to force themselves to complete them in time to publish their reviews before your book is released.
Moreover, it’s possible for reviewers to not read and review ARCs at their leisure since many ARCs come at a certain deadline so that reviews can be published in time. This can make the book review a bit stressful for your reviewers. To avoid this, it’s best to send your ARC three to six months before your release date to allow your reviewers to publish their reviews.
That’s all there is about advanced reader copies. Follow the steps carefully and prepare for everything from setting enough time and printing costs to adding essential details in your ARCs and sending out neat and formatted copies to reviewers.