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!
Today, I'll be going over all the basics:
- what an ARC is
- the purpose of an ARC
- who can receive ARCs
- the obligations an ARC carries
What are ARCs?
Advanced readers' copies, or ARCs for short, are books given to a select group of people before their public release. The book is not entirely finished but is close to being ready for print. A finished copy of the book will usually be very similar to the ARC, except for a few minor changes such as formatting or dialogue. For many, receiving ARCs is an important moment in a bookstagrammer, blogger, or booktuber's life. For me, it was almost like a "made-it" moment when I started receiving ARCs. ARCs come in two different formats: physical and e-book. A physical ARC may be the most recognizable format as it is featured more often. An e-ARC is the digital copy of the ARC; you can read it on your Kindle or as a PDF.
What is the purpose of an ARC?
ARCs have one primary purpose: to bring attention and create a buzz about an upcoming book. Different publishers send out ARCs at different times, but they are sent out at least a month in advance. I know a publisher who sends copies out a month before while others send them a couple of months in advance. Publishers send ARCs out in hopes that people will start talking about them and pre-order the book.
Who can receive ARCs?
Technically, anyone can receive ARCs, but there are a select group of people who can request them: librarians, booksellers, people in media, bookstagrammers, bloggers, and booktubers. These six groups of people all have a platform to talk and share about the upcoming book. As much as you may love an author and their writing, if you don't have a blog, booktube, or Instagram, the chances are low that you'll get an ARC. It may seem unfair, but there is a limited quantity of ARCs available, and publishers want to get as much buzz as possible. Librarians, booksellers, and those in media have a leg-up on everyone else because they have an established platform. Bookstagrammers, bloggers, and booktubers have to work harder to build their names by getting followers, subscribers, and engagement. But don't despair if you fall into this latter category, ARCs are still possible even when you are just getting started! (That's the whole purpose of this series, to provide an easy-to-follow, beginner-friendly guide to getting ARCs!)
Aren't ARCs just free books?
Yes and no. When you receive an ARC, you don't pay for anything, but there is a trade involved, mainly when it is one you requested. In return for the ARC, you are expected to provide a review in return. The cost of ARCs for publishers isn't cheap; they have to pay to print and ship the book to the reader. Your review is your payment to the publisher. Some publishers may ask for different things in exchange, such as a post with the book's summary on your blog/book/booktube or a feature post. When getting started, the best thing that you can do is write reviews in exchange. It builds your credibility and tells publishers that they can count on you if they send you an ARC.
These are all the basics of ARCs! Next week I'll be addressing the easiest way to receive ARCs and start establishing yourself. Leave a comment down below if you have any questions. I'll be collecting them and answering them in another post!