As you guys have probably noticed, the only books I’ve been reading and reviewing lately have been ARCs. It’s kind of due to how I went a little request crazy a couple of months ago, so yup, now I’m frantically trying to read all these books for their release dates, but I’ll get onto that later.
Also, it’s been so embarrassingly long since my first Summer Says post. From what I remember, I never made any promises about how often this blog series would appear since I tend to be flaky with original stuff like this, but I want to thank you all for the patience and I’m so thankful for the encouragement towards this feature!
Anyway, today I wanted to talk about ARCs. In no way am I a pro about this subject, but I thought I’d share what I did know and my experiences with requesting ARCs since some people have expressed inquiries about this topic. And I recently had a few conversations with some other fellow bloggers, and I felt inspired to talk about this. Plus, obtaining ARCs and review copies was something I was curious about as a newbie blogger and even before I started blogging. Technically, I’m still a baby blogger compared to the strong voices, older and more professional, and popular blogs out there in the blogosphere, but I still think this post would be of some help!
To simplify this whole process let’s go with the kindergarten basics and use the Five Ws system-WHAT, WHO, WHERE, WHEN, and WHY-and a bonus, HOW.
Also, all text in this color are some things I’ve learned on my own and are my personal tips.
And here is a full list of the review copies I’ve been offered, have requested, or have received in the past. This list doesn’t even include the titles that I’ve requested myself but have been denied. If I included that it would be twice as long. I promise you I’ve been rejected many times. But you know what? That’s okay! All this (and blogging) is a learning experience. The key is to not worry about rejections and just move on. Don’t be discouraged!
ARCs is an abbreviation for Advanced Reader Copies and this term can be used interchangebly with several other ones that have floated around including Advanced Galleys, Proofs, Advanced Review Copies, Digital Reader Copies, Advanced Digital Copies, etc. Manuscripts are sometimes clustered together with these, but those are more exclusive and usually for the close friends and family of an author. Or even often for people that are paid to professionally review critically. But for the sake of clarity reasons and length, I’ll be referring to all these copies as ARCs throughout this post. They’re all basically copies of books that are physically printed or digitally produced before the actual books are released into the market and for the general public to buy in stores.
Also these ARCs are printed out months in advance before their publication dates, so there often times are typos. The text is subject to change. From other ARC 101 resources I’ve read, there’s even been character name changes and different arrangements of sentences and events.
An important thing to remember is that publishers print a limited amount of these ARCs and they’re expensive to produce, actually even more expensive then the final copies that you’ll find in stores, since they print so few of them. These ARCs are used for publicity purposes for reviewers to increase hype and help encourage readers to buy these books when they’re released for sale to the general public.
ARCs are often sent out to outlets that are able to reach large audiences and/or have a stable, reliable following. Many times these outlets are libraries and bookstores, but sometimes book reviewers as well!
BUT not all reviewers receive ARCs! Publishers will be picky on who they give their ARCs out since there are a limited supply. They usually want:
- people that have a platform in which they can actually review the ARC and generate publicity (it doesn’t just have to be a blog where you have to write; you can be a booktuber, bookstagramer, or even be a big tweeter, but I’ve noticed a lot of these booktubers and bookstagramers to still have a blog anyway)
- people with a big following (meaning lots of followers through the blog and other social media) so that the “word gets out” and buzz can be generated
- people that show consistency and reliability (someone who reviews books consistently, doesn’t have too many memes, awards, and tags on their blog, and doesn’t take too many long months of hiatuses; publishers want to make sure the book they send you will be read and reviewed)
Like I said earlier, you don’t have to be a blogger, you can be a booktuber or even a bookstagramer, but since I’m a regular, old fashioned blogger this next “advice” is tailored for bloggers.
Honestly, the earlier-but not too early-you request a book the better. For example, if the publication date is December, I would send an email request in September since ARCs for that title will probably be out around October-November. It’s also not a bad idea to do it earlier than September though. If it’s too early, it’s likely they’ll just reply and let you know ARCs aren’t in but they’ll add you to their mailing list for the ARC when it’s time to mail them out.
However, before you request it’s recommended you’ve met these “standards” (honestly, the “standards” are different for each blogger):
(my first approved physical ARC was Maximum Ride Forever, so I’m taking all my stats from that request email)
- Blogging for at least 4-6 months (I had only blogged for 3 months)
- Publishers want to make sure you’re a reliable blogger that will actually read and review the ARC you requested.
- 500+ blog followers (I had 146 followers)
- They like a bigger following so you can reach a larger audience that way more buzz can be generated.
- Consistent posting and few long periods of blogging hiatuses (when I was requesting I had about 12 posts per month published)
- Again, it’s about reliability.
- Blog is not filled with memes (I had only Top Ten Tuesday and Exploring My Bookshelves)
- A few reasons behind this one: Sometimes blogs with a lot of memes and award/tag posts don’t post that many reviews, so a lot of those blogs’ audience and followers prefer memes to reviews so the reviews aren’t as popularly read on that site. Also, if you’ve taken a look at the rules to Blog Tours, a lot of the blog tour creators require the blog hosts to ensure their blog post of that book to be up for at least 24 hours before they post something else, that way that book review post doesn’t get pulled to the bottom of their blog’s readers’ feeds. Same thing with this, if there’s a lot of weekly memes, it’s likely some may clash with the day you decide to post your review. And the review post may not get read since it’s at the bottom of your followers’ feeds.. And most publishers want to make sure your readers will see that review.
- Strong interaction between blogger and followers (I pledged Bloggers Commenting Back, meaning if a blogger comments on my post I will make sure to check out their blog and comment on one of their posts; it really can be a never-ending cycle this system…)
- This one is pretty self explanatory. The more you interact, the more traffic and more comment activity on your blog. Plus, it’s good to generate discussion on your blog.
- Blogging for as few as a couple of weeks or 1 month (I had been blogging for 2 months)
- 100+ blog followers (I had around 70 followers)
Again, these are NOT set rules or numbers. You could have 50 followers and have blogged for 3 months and get an ARC, it just wouldn’t be as likely as someone with 500 followers and have blogged for a year, you know? These are just generalized recommendations. Also, all of this just depends! Like how big of a publishing company you’re reaching out to, how many ARCs available for that title, how coveted that author’s books are, etc. Also, there’s a bit of luck in all of this. Sometimes you may not get approved for an electronic copy but will find a physical copy of the same title in the mail. (I actually got denied an electronic copy of Juniors but later was mailed a physical one.)
And keep in mind, publishers will often not reply to emails! But don’t be discouraged!
Often times, bloggers just email their request to publishers, in which I have compiled a list of contacts. These are not my personal contacts that I use. They’re just general ones that I’ve lined up with their corresponding imprints.
And what I mean by personal contacts is that when you start to hear answers from publishers and correspond with the same publicists often, you may be added to a publisher’s mailing list. This means you will get an email every couple of months that keeps you up to date with the new titles from that publisher. You can request any of those titles and usually be sent a copy. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s likely for you to be sent those ARCs you’ve requested from that list if available. And usually, these publishers already have your contact information including your address on file. However, sometimes they’ll just send you an invitation to a Netgalley widget, in which you can just get an electornic/digital copies via Netgalley. But free books are free, so I definitely wouldn’t complain! How to get added? The publisher will usually tell you if you’ve been added if they see you’re a reliable reviewer (and have been honestly reviewing the books they’ve sent you in the past; it’s kind of the like being auto-approved from a publisher on Netgalley) and seem to really enjoy the titles from that publisher. (So far, I’ve been added to a few, St. Martin’s Press being one of them (no surprise since I tend to enjoy and review a lot of their releases).)
As for imprints… I’m not very good at explaining what “imprints” are but I like to think they’re like smaller companies for a bigger company. For example, “St. Martin’s Griffin” will be an imprint under “Macmillan.” (If anyone knows a better way to explain this, let me know!)
Also, I’ll be adding some of the popular imprints under each publisher. However, you can just find these under “______ + imprints” as well.
- Abrams: email@example.com
- Bloomsbury: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Candlewick: email@example.com
- HarperCollins + imprints
- Hatchette Book Group + imprints
- Little Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Little Brown (YOUNG ADULT): email@example.com
- Disney Hyperion: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Macmillan + imprints
- Farrar, Straus & Giroux: email@example.com
- Henry Holt and Company: firstname.lastname@example.org
- St. Martin’s Press: email@example.com
- Tor/Forge: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Penguin + imprints
- Random House + imprints
- Crown: email@example.com
- Scholastic: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Simon & Schuster + imprints
- Sourcebooks: email@example.com
- Spencer Hill Press: Fill this out (direct link: http://www.spencerhillpress.com/reviewers)
If the publisher you’re looking for isn’t on here, it’s really easy to find their publicity contact information! Just go onto the publisher’s website and look for “contact us” and then “publicity contacts” (or anything that says “publicity” since that’s the department you want to contact for ARCs) and that should be the correct page!
Now a big question I had: How do you know which is the correct imprint? Usually what I did was go to Goodreads and checked to see who the publisher was and most times the specific imprint is listed. Then I went to that publisher’s or even just to that imprint’s catalog if they had one to confirm the information (making sure that it was the right imprint from that publisher and checking the release date or even ISBN # was correct). To find the catalog, which is the list of books a publishing company or imprint has released and plan to release, just type up the publishing company’s or imprint’s name and “catalog” on google. After you’ve confirmed the title you want to request is from that imprint, you can find it’s appropriate contact from the list I compiled above. Also, most times, if it’s a young adult title, it’s going to be an imprint for “young readers” or “children’s.” (For example, for Romancing the Dark in the City of Light, on Goodreads it’ll list Thomas Dunne Books, the imprint, instead of Macmillan, the publisher. You want to check the Thomas Dunne Books or Macmillan catalog to confirm that Thomas Dunne is the correct imprint. Then you’d want to verify the release date and ISBN so you can include them in your email request. After you confirm all that, find the appropriate contact information for Thomas Dunne and you should be good to go.)
And if you send it to the wrong imprint, don’t fret! They won’t block your email or anything like that. You just may not get approved of that ARC request because it’s lost in email-land. But often times they do end up managing to redirect to the correct imprint and appropriate publicist handling that title. And you may still get your ARC.
And one tip I learned on my own: Usually the author’s “Contact” page on their website will have some information on their personal publicist that actually handles that title. You can email that publicist directly. If you contact directly to that publicist’s email instead of a general one found on the publisher’s site, it will increase your chances and quicken the time you hear a response or are granted the request. It’s also good to build your own list of personal contacts.
This is an option in which you have to have a blog and you must post your review before you’re able to request and receive another book in the mail. However, you do not have to wait for the publisher to approve your request, they just send you a print/physical copy. But you can’t request more than one ARC at a time. Like I just said, you have to post your review and link to your review before you’re able to request another title. It’s all about consistency and reliability with this option. Personally, I love it!
*that you should consider, but I’m not as familiar with
- Goodreads Giveaways
- These giveaways are purely base on chance and luck. (I still haven’t won a book through this yet… and I’ve entered like 50 different giveaways in the past couple of years.)
- NOVL Giveaway (via monthly email subscription and NOVLbox
- This is a first come first serve type of thing. Usually in NOVL’s monthly subscription email they’ll host a giveaway in which a certain amount of people that send in their request will receive and ARC. (I recently won an ARC of Wolf by Wolf through this.)
- Blog Tours
- I have been a blog host twice for St. Martin’s Press (Dream Things True and The Weight of Feathers). Usually to become a tour host, most have to contact and apply on the site you want to be a part of. In my case, I was just invited. I know with most blog tours, the free book is usually electronic. With Dream Things True, I got an electronic copy. For The Weight of Feathers, I got both a electronic and print/physical copy. It all depends on what conditions that tour is running on.
Netgalley is a great option since it’s really easy to use. You make an account, fill out your information, and include your blog’s statistics in the “Bio” section. Then you’re able to request multiple titles at once! However, you aren’t always approved depending on your blog stats and how high your Netgalley ratio is (the ratio of books you’ve received and reviewed to books you received and haven’t reviewed; it shows your consistency and reliability).
Something I’ve noticed: If you’re interested in print/physical copies, consider keeping the eye icon on the right of your “Contact Info” not crossed out. This makes your contact information visible. But make sure you’re only doing that if you’re comfortable with idea! I’ve had publishers send me ARCs I was not approved for on Netgalley but got in the mail when I didn’t even send them an email requesting a physical copy. The only way I can think of them knowing my address was through this program and by doing this (unmarking the eye and making my address visible).
Also, this is how I fill out my “Bio” section. Remember, you can never give too little information or statistics! Add everything that is related to your blog and you think will help you get approved!
*that you should consider, but I’m not as familiar with
- I don’t know anything about this program, but I’ve heard great things. I believe it’s similar to Netgalley.
- Penguin First to Read
- It’s kind of like a point system. If you log on a lot, enter the drawings, and read some excerpts, you can accumulate points. And once you accumulate a lot you can guarantee an ARC. However, it takes a while before you can get that many points. Plus, the giveaways in which you enter are purely based on luck and chance. (I haven’t gotten an ARC through this yet.)
Netgalley, Blogging for Books, and other programs are pretty easy to learn when it comes to sending requests. All you do is click the request button and follow each sites’ instructions. For this section of this post, I’m talking about email requests of print/physical copies.
Make sure to include:
- Your first and last name
- Blog name and a link to your blog (It’s cool if you use a hyperlink, but I would advise using a direct link as well so that if the link doesn’t open they can always copy and past the direct one)
- The title you are requesting, the author, its release date, and ISBN # (if you can provide it)
- Blog and social platform (their links and statistics)
- (This is optional) Sometimes I even include how I found this title or why I’m interested; sometimes even a few links to other high rated reviews I’ve done that I think are similar to that book (like if it’s a contemporary other books in the same genre or are from that publishing company)
- (This is optional) I know some bloggers include their review policy and rating guide. I linked you guys to mine on Xingsings, but I usually don’t include these in my email requests.
- Your physical address (DO NOT forget this)
- Sign off nicely with a good footer
My email request for my most recently received ARC, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart:
(to enlarge click on the email, it’s split into two parts)
There are no such things as dumb questions, so I thought I’d address the “WHY” of this process. Of course, if you’re reading this post, you’re interest in obtaining ARCs, want to learn more about ARCs, or are just supportive of Xingsings (if it’s the latter, thank you!), so there’s no reason as to why I have to explain why you should or shouldn’t request ARCs.
Instead, this is a question I’m posing for those of you that are uncertain if you’re ready or don’t think you’re confident enough to contact a publisher. Honestly, in my opinion, just go for it!
Worst cast scenario, you DO NOT hear back from he publisher and/or you DO NOT get an ARC in the mail, but DO NOT worry! That has happened to every single one of us bloggers at some point of our journey. So DO NOT give up, if you’re interested in receiving ARCs. Just try again when you’ve had a better following or having blogged for a bit longer! Or simply just try for another title.
Also, ARCs are just free books. Sure, it’s great if you get one. And there’s definitely a thrill when you open your package or get that approved email. But if you don’t? It’s okay! You can always just buy a copy (that way you’re supporting the book/publishing industry) or borrow it from the library. I mean for some ARCs that I really love, I still end up buying a physical, finished copy upon release anyway. For one, to support the author and publishing industry, and two, like I mentioned earlier, the final copy may be a little different from the ARC. Finding these discrepancies are fun! Plus, we all know I have a book buying problem. 😉
There obviously is no correct answer to this since everyone has a unique blogging style and voice. I can’t tell you how to review… but I can give you guys some tips that I’ve learned after thoroughly researching this topic. And even a few big DON’Ts I’ve heard a lot of bloggers warned against before.
- Read the book and write a “good” review. This does not mean you have to love the book or even have to give it an above 3 stars rating. Be critical, honest, and true to yourself as a reader. Being a “good” reviewer means you do not bash the author and say “her writing sucked, and I absolutely hated this book” if you disliked the book. You can say, “I didn’t find the writing to be that special. I wasn’t a fan of this book because ______.” You can find more about book bashing on Poulami’s discussion post at Daydreaming Books. And something I was really curious about was if quoting from ARCs were allowed: there’s no solid rule to this. I’ve noticed that some ARCs do have statements that say they don’t want the reviewer to quote from the ARC since the text is subject to change. However, from this post by Nozegraze, Ashley has collected some answers from a few publishers. Some are okay with it as long as the quotes are spoiler free and you have checked with the final copy. But then again, these are advanced reader copies meaning you may post your reviews earlier than release date. In that case, I would leave a disclaimer saying “all quotes are from the ARC edition and text is subject to change.” However, it’s up to you if you want to include quotes or not. For copies that say do not include quotes, I wouldn’t include them if I’m publishing the post before publication date.
- Try to publish your review sometime around the release date. Not too early, most publishers prefer one or two weeks prior to release date at the earliest. However, it’s okay to give a nonspoilery review a couple of months before the book is released if you’ve already read it that early on, often time bloggers opt to do this on goodreads instead of their blogs though. And it’s okay to publish a review after the book is released, but keep in mind ARCs are marketing tools to increase the hype prior to publication date, therefore the earlier (but not too early) or closer to release, the better! I usually do it on the day of release.
- Send a link of your review to the publicist handling that title. Most print/physical ARCs come with a “for immediate release” note that tells you information about the book, who has blurbed it, professional reviews, and a synopsis. It also has the name and contact information of the publicist handling that title. You can can contact that publicist if you have any questions while reading the book. That will also be the person you should contact once you’ve posted your review. Send your thanks and a link to that post! With Netgalley and Blogging for Books, I know you can just submit your review by just copying and pasting your review and including a link via your account.
- Also remember, you got an ARC for free, you cannot sell an ARC. However, you can pass along or give the ARC away! I tend to keep mine even if I didn’t enjoy the story as much.
Also, here are a few more additional resources, in no particular order, that I personally have used in the past for requesting and obtaining ARCs:
- “How to Get ARCs: A Step-by-Step Guide” by Small Review
- “How to Receive Physical ARCs – Information & Good Practices” by Nozegraze
- “Book Girls Don’t Cry: Requesting ARCs” by Xpresso Reads
- “How to get ARCs” by Smitten With Books
And I highly recommend: The Book Publicity Blog
It’s the best and most comprehensive guide to all things about book blogging and the publishing industry.
And, you’re never at a disadvantage to research these things. I actually looked at about 20 different blogs before I actually requested my first ARC because it seemed like such a daunting and intimidating process as a new blogger. It really isn’t though, but it’s good to know what to do and what not to do!
I know this wasn’t a great discussion post and was more like a guide, but I hope it helped someone out there!
However there is so much potential conversation and discussion material that can stem off the topic of ARCs like:
- “I’m Green Eyed and Full of ARC Envy”
- “ARCs Consume My Life Because of My Unwise Requesting Spree” OTL
- “Being a Blog That Accepts ARCs… Does That Make Me Less of a ‘I Blog For Myself and For Fun’ Blogger?”
I may revisit one of these topics one day, who knows!
Two discussion questions I’m curious about:
- Do you get ARC envy? (Because I know I certainly do for those highly coveted authors!)
- Do you ever go request crazy, have a requesting spree, and regret it later? (I’m guilty of this, especially on Netgalley!)
And feel free to contact me at my email address if you have any additional questions you don’t want to ask in the comments. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time! waves