ARC is a commonly used acronym in the publishing industry that stands for Advanced Reading Copy. Here, we’ll go into some more detail about ARCs and why they can be a useful marketing tool for self publishers.
What are they?
Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) are a preview of a writers upcoming release. ARCs are not always perfect copy, and they usually have a variant of the final cover, and are stamped with wording identifying it as an advanced copy.
They may also differ from the final published work if any additional editing is needed prior to publication. In general, ARCs will be sent out by publishers to reviewers, critics, magazines etc. before the launch date.
When should they get sent out?
Three to six months used to be the official lead time for ARCs to be sent out by publishers. Yet thanks to e-reader technology, the distribution of ARCs has become a lot easier and less expensive.
Ideally as a writer you want to give your readers a chance to read your work and hopefully put together a review. This means a 6-8 week lead time is a good period. Don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be a perfect copy, or include a final cover, but it at least has to be edited.
These advanced readers will not only be able to offer you genuine feedback, but you’ll also come across as a a professional who really knows what they’re doing in the publishing world.
How do you find advance readers?
If you’re lucky enough to already have an email list, this is generally a good place to start. These are the people that are already interested in your work and would jump at the chance to read a new book before everyone else.
If you don’t have an email list, put the call out on your social media pages. People love free stuff and, like your email list, if they are following your social media, they are (hopefully) interested in your writing.
Another option is to ask other writer friends to offer you feedback in exchange for reviewing their work in future. If you’re using Kindle Boards or other forums you could advertise with a new post, but don’t be offended if people are too busy working on their own books!
Benefits of ARCs for independent publishers
ARCs can provide authors with valuable feedback for the work they wish to release. Remember, reader feedback is different from the feedback you’ll receive from an editor.
Readers will be able to tell you how they connected with your protagonist (or didn’t) and will be the first to tell you their emotional response to it. Sometimes people just won’t like your story, but if the feedback is consistent with a problem such as grammar or spelling, this is something you need to adjust before your final release.
Reviews received from ARCs also generate interest on sites such as Good Reads and Amazon. So, having some ready before your official launch date can help to drive sales. A good technique is to make your new release free on its first day to allow Advanced Readers to download a final version, adding the important Verified Purchase label for when they lodge their reviews.
Be honest and don’t mislead your Advanced Readers about what your book is about. The last thing you want are for people who love romance to get a horror story that they will hate. You want people who understand and enjoy the genre you are writing. They will be able to identify holes within your story that unfamiliar readers may not notice.
Offer your Advanced Readers a free copy of your final work, by using Free Day technique or emailing it out to them. This is a thank you for their help and will hopefully encourage them to rleave you an (honest) review in the future.
What are your personal experience with distributing ARCS? What do you look for as an Advanced Reader?