Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) are a routine part of a traditional publisher’s process for launching a book. The should be something you use in getting your self-published book off to a good start as well.
The idea of an ARC is to get a copy of your book into the hands of opinion makers – reviewers, media contacts, influencers – prior to the launch of your book. These readers can help create a buzz about your book as it is becoming available.
Traditional publishers sent out bound uncorrected proofs of books as ARCs. Self-publishers conscious of the cost of printing, shipping and handling can use e-book versions of their book to distribute advance copies without spending a lot of money.
The key is targeting the people to whom you will send ARCs. If you have media contacts, by all means send them a copy with a cover letter. These should be sent to a specific person at the media outlet, not simply addressed to “Book Reviewer.” Your cover letter should make a brief – no more than one page – pitch explaining why the person should be interested in reviewing your book or better yet, interviewing you about it.
Lining up reviewers for your book is critical. Having as many strong Amazon reviews as possible is important if readers are to discover your book. Contacting book bloggers who post reviews of books in your genre is a good way to begin the process. When best-selling author Guy Kawasaki launched his book APE: How to Publish a Book he emailed all of the writing bloggers on the Alltop blog directory (of which he is a founder) offering an advance e-book copy in exchange for an Amazon review. As a result, as soon as his book launched it had dozens of strong reviews. For some tips on how to approach bloggers read Emlyn Chand’s article,“How to Get Bloggers to Review Your Book.” on Novel Publicity & Co.
NetGalley is a good place to find reviewers. The site hosts ARCs and early reads for bloggers, librarians, and other reviewers. Soliciting reviewers with direct messages on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter can help broaden you reach.
Asking experts in your book’s field if it’s nonfiction or novelists who write in its genre for fiction to read an advance copy may net a prestigious review or a blurb that can be used on the cover.
If you use ARCs effectively you can assure a favorable buzz about your book both as it is launched and on an ongoing basis with favorable reviews.
If you have used ARCs to promote your book, leave a tip in the comments below.