ARC Tips

arctipsSome 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 to 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 as a blogger. 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. 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 blog views.
    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: One of the easiest way to engage with readers and automatically publicize your posts. You don’t have to be all books, all the time but talking about current reads is a great idea.
    2. Facebook: I never had success engaging blog readers on Facebook and dislike the site myself. If your blog has a page with a decent number of likes (and you do more there than just cross-post content) definitely mention it.
    3. Link to your Profiles: This information doesn’t have to be in every email you send, but try to have it visible on your blog. This can be buttons on the top of your blog header, links on a contact page, or a sidebar item.
    4. Bloggers receive ARCs because they reach people so it should be clear that you work with and connect with other bloggers and readers. This could mean a few things including leaving and replying to comments, participating in group features (guest posts, giveaways, Top Ten Tuesday, blog tags, etc.).
    5. If you want to jump start your follower counts, try hosting some fun giveaways with bonus entry options for followers.
  • 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 including monthly blog views.

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. 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, you’d want to try to request in November or December.

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!)
  • Reviews: I link to at least three positive reviews of books from the publisher.
  • Stats: Total Views, Average Monthly Views, Average Monthly Visitors, Total Followers
  • Sign off with any other relevant information: This can include how old your blog is, the kind of books you prefer to feature, etc. Also definitely include your mailing address.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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 it’s nice to try and pass the book on. 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: