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!
As I've mentioned in my previous post, e-ARCs are probably the easiest type of ARC to receive. ARCs don't require nearly as much money to distribute electronically, so publishers can provide the electronic version to more readers. Obviously, there isn't anything like holding an ARC in your hands, but I've grown to appreciate e-ARCs. I hate writing in books whether it is for school or my reviews. I see the books as works of art and it seems wrong to me to write in them. With e-ARCs, I love the ability I have to take notes and save favorite pages and quotes. It is easy to refer back to them and if I do get behind on my reviews, I don't have to reread the book to remember what I thought of it.
To provide these ARCs, many publishers use NetGalley and Edelweiss. Here, users can request the books they want to read, give feedback on covers, and share their review of the book. I am more familiar with NetGalley as it is what I primarily use, but I have used Edelweiss once or twice. While I'm not totally sure of the specifics, publishers can also provide you with links to instantly access a book. Generally, on blog tours, the tour host will have a widget/link that you click to instantly add the book to your shelf.
Each website has different specifics, but the process is basically the same: request a book, get accepted or denied, download book (to Kindle or other reading apps/device), read the book, and provide feedback. It's pretty common to be denied, and there are a lot of different reasons for it. I will sometimes be able to read a super popular book from a big house and then be denied a less popular one. Frankly, getting denied on these websites doesn't affect me. Sure, I am disappointed sometimes, but I'll be able to read that book when it gets published. But, because I don't have to request it directly via email, it doesn't feel personal. I do think that I get a bit carried away with my requesting and find myself suddenly flooded with accepted requests (which I am super thankful for) because it is just a click to request. I'll go into the more distinct parts of each site now. c
As I've stated before, NetGalley is the platform I use most often. I am probably biased, but I find that their interface is more user-friendly and that everything is easy to access. I can see what books I've been approved for, download new books, and see which ones need a review all on one page.
There are really only five main pages on the website: dashboard, your shelf, find titles, browse publishers, and your profile. Using the browse publishers page, I can look for books from my favorite publishers or find newer ones. The publisher's page also has information on what they are looking for in reviewers. Generally, they want certain information filled out in your profile and a good review ratio. I read through my kindle app so I also include my kindle email in the reading preferences section.
*your kindle email can be found by opening the kindle app on the device you read on, clicking on the "more" button on the bottom right, and then clicking the settings tab. When you enter this email into NetGalley, your downloads will immediately go there.
When I enter my review, I can paste it into the review box (I write my reviews first on Grammarly) and have it also post to Goodreads. I have to give my star rating and have the option to answer two questions: if I'd get the book for myself or friends and then something about the author. I can't remember them specifically, but submitting a review is easy.
For me, Edelweiss is a lot more complicated. In addition to the areas NetGalley has, Edelweiss has communities to join, shelves to organize the books you've read (anticipating, did not finish, and favorites for an example), and a buzz section (which I'm not sure of its use). I've only used Edelweiss to download books publishers have sent to me, so I am unsure of the whole request process. The one thing that I do enjoy about Edelweiss's review page is how comprehensive it is. In addition to the review and rating, I can also provide more specific ratings on things like the writing quality, character development, and "Couldn't Put It Down"-ness. I also can choose who I share it with besides the publishers.
I know I basically have no knowledge of Edelweiss, but in my experience, people use either NetGalley or Edelweiss. I can see Edelweiss as more of a community-based website while NetGalley is more a place to send reviews. I would say that for both websites, you will learn about the sites by exploring and using it.
Everyone's profile is different, but I think I have all the bases covered with mine. And while each publisher has specific approval preferences, many share the same points.
My profile contains:
A bit about me (the books I like to read, what types of reviews I do, and my review policy)
All of my sites and links to them (this blog, my booksta, and my Goodreads)
My stats (how many followers I have on my booksta, my Goodreads, and blog and my reach (found through Instagram's business profile information))
My email so publishers can contact me
With a complete profile, publishers are more likely to approve your requests. But, I cannot say that it is foolproof. Publishers have their own reasons for approving or denying your requests that you won't have any control over. The best ways to improve your chances are to request a lot of books, have a full profile, and have a good approved to reviewed ratio.
NetGalley and Edelweiss are the two most popular ebook requesting and reviewing sites, and as a newer reviewer, you will have the best luck going through these platforms to begin to establish a relationship with publishers. Next time I'll be talking about blog tours and tour groups. You can read the previous part here and read all of the parts here.