If you’re a new writer, you may be unaware of ARCs (Advance Review Copies or Advance Reader Copies). You may also be wondering who to send them to and why it’s worth giving away free copies of your book.
As Author Learning Center explains, “Using an advance review copy (ARC) in your marketing plan is a smart way to encourage book reviews, get endorsements or testimonials, and build excitement for your book's release. An advance review copy is a free, promotional copy of a book that's yet to be released.”
Since the point of ARCs is to send them before your book is published, this will result in people posting about your book on social media and/or their blog before it’s released, spreading the word to other people if they enjoyed the book, and they may post their review on sites like Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble after publication. If the book reviewers and bloggers have loyal followers who trust their book endorsements, this could result in more sales of your book. The more people that know about your book, the more people will buy it.
But, first, where do you find ARC reviewers? Great places to start your search include searching on Instagram (“Bookstagram”), YouTube (“BookTube”), Goodreads Reader and Reviewer Groups, Reedsy, BookSirens, or even Google.
Once you find book reviewers, make sure the reviewer is currently accepting reviews. Often, they will have a “Review Policy” somewhere on their website, so make sure to read their submission guidelines. Double check if they prefer eBooks or physical books and make sure they will work with indie authors because some reviewers won’t. It is also a good idea to find out if they live in the same country as you because shipping physical books adds up quickly. This is why I only send eBooks. Plus, I don’t want to limit who I send ARCs to, especially based on geography.
When contacting book reviewers, don’t send the same generic email to everyone. Be personal. Include the reviewer’s name in the email. Include a fact you have in common or a connection, such as a particular series or author you both enjoy, a TV show, etc. If you follow them on Instagram and enjoy their content, you could let them know how you found them.
Include a few sentences about yourself, such as that you’re an indie author, mention if it is your debut book or if you have other books published, and anything else that seems relevant.
Attach the book’s synopsis so they know what your book is about and can decide if they want to read it or not. I also attach the book cover because my cover is awesome and usually results in people wanting to read my book. I mean, just look at that cover. Isn't it beautiful?!
It’s also super important to make sure the reviewer enjoys your genre! For example, don’t reach out to people who only read romance if your book is a thriller. If your book is similar to another book they posted about and reviewed, let them know.
Don’t just automatically send your book file in the first email; give the reviewer a chance to respond about whether they want to read and review your book.
I also recommend keeping track of who you have contacted because after awhile most book blogs and Instagram pages start to look similar. You can do this in an Excel spreadsheet. Include the book reviewer’s name, their website/blog and Instagram or other social media profile you found them through, their preferred genre, email address, which type of eBook file they prefer (.epub, .mobi, or .pdf), a fun fact about them you found through their website or social media, and leave a column to keep track of whether you’ve received a response. After reviews are posted, you can also add a column with the star rating they gave your book.
Make sure to do a follow-up on release day, especially if they haven’t posted anything yet. Reviews and posts are especially helpful for sales during release week.
Don’t pester people or message/email them multiple times if they don’t reply. If you don’t hear back from them in a few weeks, they probably aren’t interested.
Be prepared for no’s, for some people not to respond, and for others to be downright rude in their response.
To give new writers a frame of reference, I contacted 151 people. Out of 151, 114 people didn’t reply. 10 people declined my review request. 27 people accepted the review request. Of those 27 people, 5 of them actually read my book and posted a review. That’s about a 3% success rate, so keep that in mind when you’re reaching out to book reviewers and bloggers. You’ll need to contact way more people than you think you’ll need.
I hope this blog post was helpful in providing more information about ARC reviewers, how to find them, and how to contact them. Comment below if you have more tips for contacting ARC reviewers or if you have any questions!