I have an obsession with ARCs…!
I would be lying if I said that I don’t go on netgalley and edelweiss every single. There is something about getting approved for an ARC, being all excited about it and then that exact title sitting unread on your kindle for months.
Let’s be honest, ARCs are pretty cool! Being able to read a book months before it hits the shelves and then providing your opinion on it is not only a great experience for the readers anticipating the book but also helps the author get a head start.
We are only four months into 2021 and *checks spreadsheet* I already have 20 ARCs for books releasing throughout this year and one for a 2022 release which I am super grateful about! So, how do you acquire ARCs? What even are ARCs? Let’s take a deeper dive into these questions!
What are ARCs?
ARCs or Approved/Advanced Reader Copies are early copies of upcoming releases which are usually sent to reviewers to create some hype around the book. These copies aren’t exactly what the final copy of the book will be as minor changes can be made before publication.
ARCs are usually either print copies or E-books which cannot be shared or sold, though recently ARCs are also available as audiobooks.
Who can get an ARC?
ARCs are generally only exclusively available to reviewers who have a platform where they talk about books. You can get an ARC if you have a book blog, bookstagram, booktube, booktok or even just an active Goodreads account!
You can get an ARC of a book if you are a published author who would be interested in providing a blurb for the novel, or someone who works in the industry— a bookseller, agent etc. Authors also occasionally host giveaways for ARCs so keep an eye out on the author’s social accounts!
How can one get an ARC?
Netgalley is the most popular website for reviewers to get e-ARCs from, because of its simple user-friendly dashboard.
You can create a free account and instantly start requesting titles. If a publisher decides to approve you for the requested title, you can view it on Netgalley’s app Netgalley Shelf, download a protected PDF or send it to your kindle device. Make sure to download your copy before it’s set archive date or else you wouldn’t be able to access it after that!
The key to getting approved on Netgalley is to have a good feedback ratio and providing honest reviews after you finish reading a book. The higher your feedback ratio, the higher is your chance to get approved!
Having a proper bio is also crucial because the publisher will likely deny access if your bio just says “i review books”. Tell something about your platform, your following and link to some reviews that you are proud of. If you are unsure of what all to include, below is a template similar to what I’ve included in my bio!
Hi! My name is [name], a blogger at [blog name] where I mainly talk about [age range of books] Books, specifically [genres], with no less than [no. of views] monthly views, and around [no. of followers] dedicated followers.
I’m active on Twitter [Twitter handle], where I have around [no. of followers] followers who are genuinely interested in what I have to say and interact frequently with other book enthusiasts on Goodreads. I also have an Instagram [Instagram handle] where I talk about the books I read with close to [no. of followers] followers.
I usually post my reviews on Goodreads and/or on my blog, then promote them on Twitter and Instagram. And in my feedback, I make sure to include the link to the review and when it will be posted.
Here are some examples of my reviews:
[link to at least three recent reviews]
Thank you for your time. I understand if I’m not what you’re looking for to read and review your book, and you can always personally contact me at [email address]
Edelweiss is also like Netgalley but more on the confusing side for me. It is a lot more complicated to use, plus there are very low chances of being approved for a title on this site because it is mainly intended for booksellers and librarians. The dashboard isn’t very user-friendly so it might take you a bit of time to get used to it.
Once you create your free account you can go ahead and request titles (and prepare for mass declines) If you get approved, you download a protected pdf or send the copy to your kindle.
After over a year of using Edelweiss, I still do not understand how the heck can one get approved on this site because out of let’s say 50 titles I’ve requested, I’ve only gotten approved for four. I suppose it depends on your bio and the publisher’s mood. You can control the first one by having a bio similar to the one you have for Netgalley and as for the latter, only pray that the publisher approves you.
You are also asked “Why are you requesting this title?” before you submit your request and I highly recommend filling out this box with the reasons as to why you are anticipating the book and praise for the author just to tell them why you would be grateful to read an early copy of the book!
3.Directly Emailing Publishers
Directly emailing publishers might seem a bit intimidating at first but trust me, it is totally worth it! I’ve gotten numerous ARCs for some of my most anticipated releases for this year like She Who Became The Sun directly from the publisher just by leaving them a kind email.
Now here is where you can get physical ARCs from if you reside in the USA or UK because apparently some publishers can send domestic reviewers whole boxes with goods alongside the actual book instead and cannot afford postage for international reviewers but I digress.
Coming back to emailing publishers, the first thing you need to do is find the appropriate publicity email address which is usually on their website. I have a spreadsheet that I got from Shealea with publicity contacts that you can access by clicking here if you are unable to find certain email addresses. Once you find the email address, you should include all necessary information like blog links and stats, social media handles, recent reviews etc. Below is a template similar to what my emails to publishers are like!
Subject: [BOOK TITLE] ARC Request
My name is [name] and I’m a book blogger at [blog name linked to your site] where I mainly talk about [age range of books] Books, and which currently has around [no. of followers] followers and no less than [page views] monthly views. I am writing to you to request a review copy of [book title] by [author]
[reasons for requesting. Include all the screaming and praise!]
I post my reviews on Goodreads [link your Goodreads account to the text!] and/or my blog, and promote them on Twitter (Twitter handle) where I have around [no. of followers] followers who are deeply interested in what I have to say. I also am active on Instagram (Instagram handle) where I have around [no. of followers] followers.
If you wish to see an example of how I review my books, here’s a recent review of mine for [link to a recent review you are proud of]
I accept print and digital copies. I have put my mailing address below for your convenience. If you wish to send me a digital copy, my Netgalley/Edelweiss email is [netgalley/edelweiss email address]
Current mailing address: [include full address alongside your full name. if you are a minor, please take your guardian’s permission before you do this!]
Feel free to contact me anytime at this email address. Thank you for your time.
[name and pronouns]
The main objective here is to be polite and patient. If you get declined, don’t lose hope!
- Goodreads giveaways: There are several giveaways ongoing for upcoming releases on Goodreads so if you reside in The United States, try your hand out with them!
- Review Requests from authors: If you have a blog, make sure you have a page about your review policy. Sometimes, authors reach out to bloggers so make sure you have all the required stuff on your policy page! You can check out my Review Policy page if you are interested to see what I’ve personally included in mine!
- Book Tours: Book tours are also a great way to acquire review copies. Some of my favourite blog tour companies are Colored Pages Book Tours, Caffeine Book Tours, Hear Our Voices Blog Tours, TBR and Beyond Tours and Turn the Page tours! You can sign up for their mailing lists from their website to get notified of upcoming tours that they are hosting via email and have a chance to be a part of them! Participating in Book Tours can also give you opportunities to interact with the author themselves via written/video interviews or Instagram live chats!
Are ARCs really that important for bloggers?
The answer is No. The amount of ARCs you receive doesn’t define you as a blogger. Many bloggers even choose to not read ARCs at all because at the end of the day, it all comes down to privilege.
Privilege is a huge issue, not only in the bookish community but everywhere in the world. As I earlier mentioned, publishers are ready to send white and attractive influencers with a large following a huge box full of goodies but they don’t even think twice before declining an international reviewer who is actually ownvoices for the book because apparently, “postage too expensive”. Maybe why not focus on sending early copies to the people being represented in the book rather than the same people with white privilege? Okay let’s agree that postage indeed is expensive, what about e-ARCs? it doesn’t cost anything to send someone an e-copy but again, I digress.
Compensation is also a huge issue. Book bloggers put a lot of effort and time into creating content but don’t get paid even a penny. Booktubers earn a decent amount money from ad revenue and sponsors and so do bookstagrammers, why shouldn’t book bloggers too?
To even get an ARC, you have grow your following because publishers only care whether you have large audience or not or else the sales won’t go up (capitalism at it’s finest). To grow that following, you need to dedicate a large amount of time writing posts and interacting with the community. Considering that most bloggers are either teenagers who have a lot of school work to do or adults with full time jobs, is it really worth it getting a free book?
Of course, some bloggers don’t want to be compensated and are blogging as just a hobby, which is totally okay! But bloggers who work hard and treat it as a job should have the option to get compensated, depending on what they’re doing.