ARC Tips

arctips

Some Disclosures:

  • I have no advice for digital arcs. I don’t have an eReader/don’t read on my computer. Some of these requests will likely lead to digital arcs being suggested as an alternative. And, of course, there are also Netgalley and Edelweiss. (More info on that in my Other Resources section at the bottom of this page.)
  • I get a lot of physical arcs from Amazon Vine. Vine is an invite only program. Amazon reviewers are invited based on a combination of reviewer rank, reviews posted and helpful votes. (For reference: I was invited into the program in 2008 when my blog was about a year an half old. I had roughly 120 reviews at that point–all of which were cross-posted to Amazon, some on release day with 20 or more helpful votes. Currently I have 800+ reviews posted on Amazon, a 77% helpful rating and a rank in the top 6000 reviewers.) If you want to try to get invited to Amazon Vine, my main advice is just cross-post all of your reviews there and try to post book reviews on release day or during release week as they are more likely to get helpful votes at that time.
  • Remember: You should never, ever assume you are owed ARCs or that they are something you are entitled to automatically for blogging. If you are considering starting a blog just to get free stuff, I’d recommend re-evaluating. ARCs are a privilege that comes from building relationships with publishers. If you end up reaching out to publishers and don’t get an ARC you were desperate for there are always libraries, friends, or ARC tours to consider if you want to read a book early or without buying it.
  • Obviously, please do not ever, ever sell your ARCs. It’s illegal and it damages sales for books that had ARCs as a marketing tool.

Before You Start Requesting:

  • Your blog should be established. That could mean 6 months. It could mean a couple of years. It could mean something else entirely. Here’s what I mean when I say “established”:
    1. You want to have content, some followers, and a regular posting schedule. You don’t have to post every day or crazy amounts of content. I generally aim for at least three posts a week and of that at least two posts are reviews.
    2. In terms of posting regularly I’d also say don’t start requesting when you’re having a posting dry spell. I currently have a three month buffer of posts (meaning if it’s July and I am working on posts for September and October) so I know I always have new content posting. If you can’t work that way, just try to keep in mind publishers really do check your blog and they might wonder why you want review copies when the last review you posted is a month old.
    3. Follower-wise: I think it’s quality more than quantity. Do you engage with your followers? Does your blog get comments to which you reply? Are you active on Twitter or other social media? All of these could count toward your following–not just email subscribers or whatever.
    4. Established also means that your blog is done. Your layout is set. All of the links work. You have an “About” page with a little about the blog and/or yourself. You have contact information and a review policy. (Also, this doesn’t necessarily mean self-hosting or coding on your own, it just means that everything is polished and settled.)
  • Be Active on Social Media:
    1. Twitter is the easiest way to engage with readers (and I think it’s magic but that’s another story) and you should be using it. Having a large following is also a plus (I find this is generally something that comes with just being on Twitter for a while). You don’t have to be all books, all the time but talking about current reads is a great idea. You can also automatically promote blog posts on Twitter with any blog platform.
    2. Facebook, in my opinion, is on its way out. But if your blog has a page with a decent number of likes (and you do more there than just cross-post content) mention it!
    3. Link to your Profiles: This information doesn’t have to be in every email you send, but try to have it findable on your blog. I’m actually a bad example of this right now, but I do have a link to all of my varied profiles (Bloglovin, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) in my sidebar under “Other Endeavors.” You can also add buttons or whatever. It’s up to you.
    4. Bloggers receive ARCs because they reach people so it should be clear that you work with and connect with other bloggers. Again, this could mean a few things including leaving and replying to comments, participating in group features (guest posts, giveaways, Top Ten Tuesday, blog tags even, etc.). Basically, if you don’t talk to anyone or interact with anyone, giving you an ARC probably isn’t going to build any buzz or publicity for a title.
    5. If you want to jump start your follower counts, try hosting some fun giveaways with bonus entry options for followers or a RT & Follow type thing on Twitter. (I would say never require entrants to follow you to enter a giveaway because I think it’s tacky, but that is also up to you.)
  • Blog Stats: While you don’t have to be old hat at blogging to start requesting, you should have some average stats that you can share. One publicist I spoke with recommends at least 600 pages views per month. If you want a sample of what  some numbers might look like, here are my blog’s stats as of August 2015 (keeping in mind my blog is 8 years old):
    1. Total Views: ~155,000 (I find this number impressive so I always lead with it but that might just be me)
    2. Average Monthly Views: ~2000 (This can be found in a stats summary page.)
    3. Monthly Visitors: ~1400 (The above number doesn’t count “unique” views/visits so I add this visitors number as well.)
    4. Total Followers: ~1325 (This is a number WordPress gives me based on email subscribers and twitter followers from the “publicize” feature. I don’t think it reflects RSS/Bloglovin/Etc. followers.)
  • Stay Positive: I try to review everything I read. Sometimes that includes books I don’t love or books I wouldn’t always recommend. That said, try to have more positive reviews than critical. If you hate everything you read, there is very little incentive for a publisher to send you a copy of a book to review. If, like me, you do want to continue posting critical reviews (note I say that instead of “negative” because I truly believe there is value in pointing out questions/weak spots in a book), I would say couch it in kind terms. Sometimes, even if I didn’t like a book, you can’t tell because my review still talks about aspects that will appeal to other readers (if not to me) and strengths before weakness. Even if you don’t love a book, stay positive about why others might!

How to Request:

There are several ways to get ARCs from publishers. The first is to network. Build relationships with publicists on Twitter and email your reviews to publishers as they post. (I am really bad about this unless it’s a book I’m excited about but I’m trying to get better. Also, if it’s a book you specifically requested or one you’re reading for a blog tour or something, it’s common courtesy to write with the permalink for your post and the date it will go live.) It’s also super easy to add publisher twitter accounts to promotional tweets when publicizing your blog posts.

Some publicists might also email you about specific titles. If you’re interested, go for it.

You can also email specific requests for titles. If you go that route, keep in mind that publishers operate in the future so you need to request titles early. For instance, if you are interested in a title that publishes in January 2016, you’d want to try to request in November or December 2015. This is a great way to build relationships with publishers but remember they might route you to NG or EW. You might also be denied. It happens! Just keep plugging!

After you have gotten in a request you can ask if the publisher has any kind of blogger mailing list you can request to join. What that means, basically, is you will be emailed each season about ARCs you might want to request.

Writing to Publicists:

I know a lot of people consider blogging a hobby, but when you are writing to a publicist you are writing in a professional capacity. Make sure you emails are polite and professional with proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. If you are writing directly to a person, address them directly (Dear Ms. Smith . . .).

When I’m writing to a publicist, here’s what I usually include:

  • I introduce myself and my blog (“Hi, My name is Emma and I run a book blog called Miss Print, etc”). I say I’m writing to inquire about the publisher’s blogger list and appreciate their consideration in adding my blog. (If we have worked together before or I’m being referred by another blogger or another publicist, I’ll mention that too.)
  • Blog URL (make sure this link works too!)
  • Reviews: I link to at least three positive reviews of books from the publisher (if it’s a publisher with a lot of imprints I’ll include anything from under their umbrella. I tag my reviews by publisher–like the big ones not imprints–so it’s really easy to track them down in my post archive). If I have less than three, I might wait to reach out or include reviews of books within the same genre. Obviously, you can give a book a critical or negative review (whether you received it from the publisher or not) but now isn’t the time to get into that.
  • Stats (all of this is readily available on WordPress’s stats page and see above if you are wondering about “good” numbers):
    Total Views
    Average Monthly Views
    Average Monthly Visitors
    Total Followers
  • I close by saying how old my blog is and a little about the content I post before signing off with a thank you. (“I have been blogging for eight years, I post content at least three days a week including reviews, author interviews and other content, etc.”)  I include my mailing address in my signature as well in case it’s that easy.

After that, the publisher will either reply or they won’t. It totally varies. Some might add you to the list but never tell you. Some might write back with a form to fill out to be added to their database. Some might just send you a spreadsheet to complete for requests.

If you end up on a blogger list you can expect “seasonal” emails about books you can request–either from a web form or a spreadsheet you fill out and mail back.

In terms of reaching out to publishers, the best bet is definitely searching around. A lot of other bloggers have even more comprehensive posts than this one. I especially like The Irish Banana’s ARC Essentials posts. Publishers also often have info on their websites. Or, like I said, if you work with a publisher for a review or blog tour, email them to see too. Publicists want people to read these book and talk about them.

Publisher Contact Info:

These are some emails I found searching around online. All of  them are readily available in your own searching. Please remember if you want to help friends it’s not polite to share contact information for publicists without their permission.

  • Bloomsbury: childrenspublicityusa@bloomsbury.com OR teensUSA@bloomsbury.com (Yes, they do have a seasonal blogger list and they usually reply back.)
  • Disney Hyperion: DPW.Publicity@disney.com (This email might be defunct at this point. If you have a better contact point, let me know!)
  • Hachette: publicity@lbyr.com
  • The Novl (Little Brown/Hachette): http://thenovl.com/contact/ Scroll down to the part marked “for bloggers” which has a Blogger Form and a seasonal galley request form. (You’ll have to go directly to their site for the seasonal form as the URL changes.)
  • Harlequin Teen: You tell me!
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: childrens_publicity@hmhpub.com
  • Macmillan (Fierce Reads)http://fiercereads.com/contact  Scroll down to the part marked “Information for Bloggers” to fill out the Blogger Form. There’s also a specific Galley Request Form (Yes, they do have a seasonal blogger list and they usually reply back.)
  • Merit Press: bethany.carland-adams@fwcommunity.com (Yes, they do have a blogger list and they usually reply back. They are lovely send things in the mail that were not requested as well.)
  • Scholastic: TradePublicity@Scholastic.com (Yes, they do have a blogger list and they usually reply back. They will often send books periodically–not always requested.)
  • St. Martins: publicity@stmartins.com (Yes, they do have a seasonal blogger list and they usually reply back.)
  • Tor: torpublicity@tor.com (Yes, they do have a seasonal blogger list and they usually reply back.)
  • HarperTeen: harperteen@harpercollins.com (I think this is right but I haven’t received a reply myself so you tell me)
  • Penguin: Fill out the form here: http://penguinteen.tumblr.com/bloggers
  • Random House: rhkidspublicity@randomhouse.com (I think this is right but I haven’t received a reply myself so you tell me)
  • Simon and Schuster: childrenspublicity@simonandschuster.com (I think this is right but I haven’t received a reply myself so you tell me)
  • Spencer Hill: spencerhillpublicity@gmail.com

After You Request:

Some publishers are very selective about who they send materials to and who they add to their lists. If you get rejected (or just get no response), don’t sweat it. That just means you get to try again later. Remember, a rejection is never a reflection of the quality of your blog. And even if you don’t make it onto the elusive “list” you can try emailing for specific titles.

Ideally, everyone will write back and at least tell you when a request is declined but, sadly, that doesn’t always happen. If you don’t hear back or receive anything in the mail within a month, I’d say it’s safe to write again with another blogger list inquiry. If you are writing to request specific titles, I’d suggest moving to another book that is coming out somewhat later and trying again.

Remember: Be realistic. I know there are books that everyone wants to read. Publishers know that too. They don’t have to send everyone ARCs of the big name titles and, honestly, they won’t. Sometimes with enough interaction you’ll make it to that list. Sometimes you won’t. In terms of first requests just keep in mind the demand and availability of a title. If it’s something everyone wants and no one is getting, the odds are going to be against you.

Lastly, I know a lot of review disclaimers state that ARCs are given “in exchange for an honest review” and I am going to tell you that language is not accurate. ARCs are given for review consideration. If you are emailing directly for a specific title, then there is some expectation that you will review it. However if you are asking to look at several titles, it’s safe to say that you are requesting them for review consideration which is an important distinction because it means you are not guaranteeing a review (positive or otherwise).

That said, of course, it’s nicer to review every title you request. If you cannot do that because of time constraints or because you realize you cannot read a book (I accidentally requested a sequel to a book I knew I wasn’t going to read) it’s nice to try and pass the book on. I often will mail ARCs I can’t read in a timely fashion to other bloggers who I know will review the book near publication. It’s not necessary but it’s just a nice way to pay it forward. If you want to see some ARCs I am hoping to pass on, check out my ARC Adoption page.

Remember: Once you review a title (especially one you requested) it’s good form to email the publicity team the text of your review, a permalink to it and the date it will post on your blog!

Other Resources:

These are other blog posts I’ve come across with ARC tips. If you know of others, let me know and I’ll add them.

Advertisements