Hi! Welcome to my beginner's guide to requesting ARCs! I will be doing this in parts as there are lots of different things to know, but don't let that scare you; it just means there are more opportunities for you to receive an ARC.
Let me share with you the methods that have worked best for me while I was getting started and beginning to build my relationships with publishing houses. I am still learning, and my account is still growing, but I want this guide to comprehensively cover all the different ways to receive an ARC. It's the guide I wish I had!
Last week I talked about the basics of ARCs. Today I’ll be covering the easiest and the hardest ways to get ARCs, even if you aren’t a bookstagrammer, booktuber, or blogger.
The hardest way to get ARCs is through a giveaway. In particular, I am thinking about the giveaways that Goodreads hosts. They have thousands of giveaways going on at any time, and anyone with a Goodreads account can enter. Therein lies the problem: there are maybe 5 ARCs to give away and thousands of people trying to win them. I’ve entered more giveaways than I can count, but I’ve only won one book. I won it five years ago and still have it, just because I never believed I could win one of those. While the chances of you winning an ARC this way are slim to none, it is always super fun to at least try!
Another giveaway that you could win for an ARC is through a giveaway an author, publisher, or blogger/bookstagrammer/booktuber does. Authors receive some of their ARCs, and they can give them to whomever. A lot of times it goes to family and friends. However, some authors like to host giveaways of their books to their followers. My advice for this would be to be following your favorite authors on Instagram or Twitter to be notified if they are doing any giveaways. Publishers will also sometimes offer giveaways on their Instagram, Twitter, or through their newsletters.
Additionally, some bookstagram accounts do give away ARCs frequently. For the most part, I’d say that they are recent ARCs, but I have seen older ARCs being given away. One bookstagrammer that I know is constantly giving away ARCs and books is @book_junkee.
If you are fortunate to receive an ARC from any of the aftermentioned places, you are not obligated to review it. The ARC is a prize you won; it was not part of a trade. However, it does not hurt to review it. I’ll be saying that every week because of how important it is to do! Writing the review will improve your reviewing skills (I’ll also have a part about writing a review up later) and will help build the credibility I was talking about in the last article.
A bookstore is a great place to get ARCs from, specifically an independent bookstore. Indie bookstores get ARCs so that whoever buys books can read it and decide if they want to get it for their store. I love indie bookstores because I can get to know everyone there, and the newest books I’ve heard about are generally there. I also can support my community, which is always great!
I am a part of a YA book group at an indie bookstore. It isn’t the closest one to me (I drive an hour or more depending on the traffic), but when I heard they had a book group, I knew I had to join. I do have a closer indie store, but they don’t have an active YA group. The group I am in is fantastic! It is a small group of us, as compared to a large group at some bookstores. We meet every month to talk about our recent reads, books we are excited to read, and anything bookish. At the end of the meeting, we have a cart of ARCs to pick from and take home. The idea of the group is to have us read the book and report back to the leader of the group. This saves her time from having to read all the newest books, and gives her a teenage perspective. I got the majority of my ARCs from this book group when I was just getting started. The earlier ARC reviews I have on this blog and Goodreads are from ARCs from the group.
I would highly, highly suggest inquiring at your local independent bookstore about any YA book groups they have. If they don’t exist, see if you can talk to the children’s book coordinator/specialist. Ask them if they have any ARCs that you could read in exchange for providing a review or a shelf talker (one of those little things you see at bookstores under a book that tells you why you should read it). They might say no, but that’s okay! There are still tons of different ways to get ARCs.
I was debating where I should talk about trades for ARCs as it does require an exchange. I think that it best fits in this category as the ARCs that you may have received from the earlier two methods can be traded. First and foremost, ARCs cannot be sold. Popular ones are sometimes sold on eBay or other places like that, but it is not allowed. Any ARC you get will have a “not for sale” sign on it. Do not buy or sell ARCs, as it ruins your reputation! However, ARC trades are allowed. There are hundreds of “buy, sell, trade” groups on Facebook where people can buy and sell books and bookish items and trade ARCs. People are generally looking for specific books, but it doesn’t hurt to try. I personally haven’t participated in any buying, selling, or trading so I cannot speak from firsthand experience. I know a lot of people that have had success with it. On the flip-side, I have heard stories where the book never gets sent after the purchase or the trade. There are dangers to buying online, but the group admins do an excellent job monitoring any issues like this. If you do not have any ARCs to trade, other bookish items may be worth enough to trade. I have items from bookish boxes that I haven’t used (candles, artwork, pins, etc.) that are in demand. As with the above method, and all these methods, it does now hurt to try.
These are all the ways to get an ARC, if you aren't a bookstagrammer, blogger, or booktuber: giveaways, independent bookstores, and trades. Next week I'll be addressing the differences between independent publishers and "the big five." Leave a comment down below if you have any questions. I'll be collecting them and answering them in another post!