How to Start a Book Blog #4: ARCs

Posted February 4, 2015 in series / 1 Comment

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Welcome to the last installment of my How to Start a Book Blog series! I hope everything has been helpful so far. Today we’re going to talk about ARCs, which is a step in the book blogging process that most bloggers want to get to (but not all).

What exactly is an ARC?

An ARC is an Advanced Reading Copy. Often it is ‘uncorrected’- it’s not in its final form, shall we say, so it probably contains some errors. And the term ‘Advanced’ means that the actual book hasn’t been released/published yet. They can be in either physical form or eBook form (often .mobi for Kindles, .epub for others or PDF files).

Which form is better?

Personally, I prefer eARCs. They take up much less space. And most of the ARCs I read aren’t books I would buy for myself, so I end up getting rid of them anyway. I recently started only reviewing eARCs because it was so easy to just delete them after reading if I wasn’t a huge fan, and if I DID love it, I would just buy the final copy.

How can I get one?

The easiest way is waiting for the authors and publishers to come to you. This is how it happened to me. I started a blog, and a few months later I wrote a Review Policy and put my email address on the page. Then shortly after, review requests started trickling in. They were all pretty form, but there was the occasional personalized one. They came in bulk at first-  every single weekday (sometimes two in a day)! But now they’re only about twice a week. It also helps to have a contact form so authors and publishers can get in touch with you.

The second way is going after publishers yourself. This usually involved writing an email to the publisher and giving statistics about your blog and saying why you want to read the ARC. It’s better to do this when your blog has a good following. Note: I’ve never actually done this, so I can’t say from experience how it generally goes.

The third way is a toss-up. This is requesting ARCs from sites like NetGalley (the most popular) and Edelweiss. It’s really easy to do and a lot of popular books are on there, but whether you get it or not depends on location (some publishers only give ARCs to people in their country), your blog stats, and your feedback-to-approval ratio (how many books you receive to how many you actually review). The idea ratio is 85%. So the more books you get and review, the more likely you are to get more books.

The fourth way is kind of fun- blog tours. You sign up to be a tour host at these sites and they email you when there is an ARC up for review or a blog tour. A blog tour is where an ARC goes on tour- it is reviewed by many bloggers all in the space of…anywhere from a week to months. Each blogger gets a day and their review has to go up on that day. Reviews aren’t the only kinds of posts on blog tours though. There are giveaways, author interviews, and blitzes often as options as well. You aren’t guaranteed acceptance if you sign up for a tour, though. Three of the main blog tour sites I am a host for are YA Bound Book Tours, Xpresso Book Tours, and Rockstar Book Tours. WARNING: when you sign up, you will have to provide blog statistics- followers, average pageviews, etc. This may affect whether you will be accepted for certain tours, as well as limited availability on said tours.

When can I start requesting ARCs?

The general rule is 6 months after you start blogging, but of course there are some exceptions. Because ARCs are actually marketing tools, publishers want to make sure that if you review it, people are going to see it and increase its popularity. So it’s a good idea to have a good following (around 300-500 is a good range). They prefer bloggers who post often (preferably regularly) to ones who don’t, and they like seeing more reviews on your blog that other things like memes and hauls and giveaways.

HOWEVER, I was a sort of exception. It took me ages to have this many followers, and it’s really not a lot in comparison to some of the bigger blogs out there (it’s not even close to 300 yet). I have posts, but I don’t really advertise as much as I could. But still, I’ve been getting requests for a long time and I’ve had the opportunity to review some pretty good ARCs. So at the end of the day, just keep trying and hope for the best. Even if you don’t get THE MOST POPULAR ARC out there at first, you’ll probably still get some great opportunities. And as your blog continues to grow, keep requesting.

Who will I get ARC requests from?

Mostly authors and publishers. I’d say it’s split about 50/50. A lot of the requests will be form requests (they fill one out and send it to multiple people) but the occasional one (and these tend to be better experiences) will be personalized. These will be from the authors/publishers who actually take the time to read your blog and policy and make sure the book they’re offering is something you might be interested in. So if you review mostly YA, they probably won’t offer you a children’s book.

However, the form ones can be anything from poetry to cookbooks, so that’s just up to you and what you want to accept.

It is very common to receive requests from people who self-publish, or indie authors. A lot of bloggers prefer not to read this kind of stuff, so make it clear in your review policy (see section further down). It is far less common to receive a request from a famous author, especially if your blog is new or doesn’t have many followers.

What will they want from me in return?

An ARC is basically an agreement between author/publisher and blogger: If I send you this book for free, you will review it honestly and fairly on your blog. Books make money, so the fact that they are sending it to you does not make it completely free. It is your responsibility once you accept the request (or request yourself) to review the book, preferably in a timely manner (unless you DNF*). A lot of bloggers make it a point to review it before it is released and spread excitement about it, but it’s not an obligation. I don’t do this often at all. Remember, the author/publisher is taking the time and throwing away the cost to mail you this book (or email it), so it is your duty to stick to your end of the agreement. There is no death penalty for not reviewing it, but it lowers your reputation as a reviewer (and makes you feel guilty).

Of course, if they send you a book that you did not request, you are under NO obligation to review it whatsoever.

Reviewing it honestly and fairly means exactly that. Don’t sugarcoat. Don’t give it 5-stars because you got it for free. Don’t feel the need to treat the book or author any differently because it’s an ARC. You can be understanding about the errors, but if a book is just chock-full of them, you can mention that.

*DNF= did not finish. In this case, you can write an explanation why, or just not mention it at all.

What is a review policy?

A review policy basically lists what kind of books you prefer reading/reviewing and what the author/publisher can expect from you in return. Mine lists the books I like, what I WON’T read, and stuff I generally include in my review. I also have my rating system on there (1-5 stars) and contact information. A lot of bloggers make a separate email just for their blog and encourage people (authors and other bloggers) to contact them through it, but a lot just use their own. I use my own. I also have a contact form, which is faster but I feel like it is less personal (which can be a bad thing). So I give the person a choice.

Also, make it VERY CLEAR in your policy (and maybe also your blog) if you are currently accepting review requests. A lot of bloggers need breaks every once in a while. Of course, some authors/publishers will completely ignore this (or not even see it, if they don’t look at your blog), but it helps significantly in lessening the amount of requests you get.

What do I do with an ARC when I’m done?

Well, first, review it, obviously. Then if you want to keep it, go ahead. But if you don’t want to keep it, things can get kind of tricky. You can’t legally sell them- most are marked ‘not for resale.’ So a lot of people just give them away. To friends, they donate them, give them to libraries, host giveaways on their blog. Of course I mean this for physical ARCs.

There are a lot of reference posts for this topic and most of them go into greater detail about each of these points, so I’ll direct you on over to some of my favorite blogs.

A tip of the hat

A tip of my hat to Small Review, who inspired me to start a book blog, and Ashley from NoseGraze who helped me get my blog to where it is today.

WE’RE DONE!

Thanks so much guys for taking the time to stop and read these posts. I truly hope they were helpful at least in some small way and if I encouraged anyone to start book blogging, let me know! Let’s have a link party below and offer each other help & advice & encouragement & follows!

Let’s talk!

Did this information help you or encourage you to try something new?

Seasoned bloggers- did I leave anything major out? Anything to add?

Questions? Comments? Leave a comment below!

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1 Comment on "How to Start a Book Blog #4: ARCs"

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Ranu
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Thanks! I’ll keep these tips in mind :)

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