Whether you are a writer or a reader, you may have heard about these books called ARCs. ARCs are, quite simply, Advanced Reader Copies or Advanced Review Copies. But just what are they? These are books the publisher or author provides free of charge to reviewers and influencers prior to publication in order to spread knowledge of the book and gain some early reviews to encourage sales.
However, what may not be clear to both writers and readers is the etiquette surrounding the distribution and use of ARCs. I’m just learning some of this myself, so today I only want to focus on some basics. If you have anything to add, I encourage you wholeheartedly to leave a comment below. I’d love to have more material for a future post!
But until then, here we go. ARC Etiquette 101.
Reader Etiquette and Responsibilities
Hey readers! Interested in reading a book ahead of publication? This section is for you! Now, there’s plenty of information on requesting ARCs out there… but that’s a post for another day. Today, let’s focus in on what to do with an ARC you have received.
When you receive an ARC, it may be either a physical book or an eARC. Many indie authors choose to send eARCs to readers for a number of reasons. But no matter the format, there are a few simple guidelines to remember:
- The author is not asking you to edit, proofread, or comment. This is often impolite, as most of the time the book has already been through this process extensively. You haven’t been hired to edit, and it can be offensive to send criticisms back to the person who gave you this free book. You may, however, ask if the author is open to proofing or criticism. If you are tactful and kind about it, they may say yes.
- Don’t sell your ARC. They are not intended for sale, and the author is providing it to you as a courtesy.
- It’s expected that you will review the book, but it isn’t required. It is polite to do so, particularly either before the book releases (like on Goodreads) or on or near the release day (like on Amazon).
- Your review doesn’t have to be positive. It just has to be honest. But again, keep those comments of your thoughts on the book to your reviews… don’t send them to the author. That can just kind of be mean, particularly if you didn’t like the book. And some authors choose not to read reviews for very good reasons.
- You must disclose you received a copy of the book for a review. Often, this can be as simple as leaving a line at the end (or beginning) of your review stating, “I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review,” or something similar.
Author Etiquette and Responsibilities
Just like readers, authors have responsibilities for the use of ARCs. Here are a few general guidelines.
- ARCs are provided free of charge… don’t try to sell them. And don’t try to make reviewers pay for postage.
- You may not require a review in exchange for an ARC. You can request an honest review, but it cannot be a rule that the reader must follow to get the book.
- Don’t assume you will only send eARCs. Yes, physical books are more expensive, but some reviewers will require it.
- Avoid commenting on your reviews. It’s best not to engage with them. I’ve seen far too many authors go off the deep end after reading negative reviews of their books. You may not even want to read your reviews.
- Consider any comments you receive from reviewers. They may find typos you missed or a plot hole. Remember, ARCs go out before publication… while there is time to fix mistakes. But also, try to ignore the inconsiderate comments you may get from reviewers. Not all of them are nice.
- Choose carefully. Find reviewers who are likely to read your book or have agreed to do so… and to review it. Don’t pick a reviewer outside your book’s genre or who has a schedule too busy to meet your timeline. Remember, physical copies can be expensive to send out, so you want them to make as much of an impact as possible.
As I’m approaching the release of my first independent novel, I am starting to consider how to best go about marketing, including the use of ARCs. So far, this is the information I have obtained on the etiquette and guidelines for readers and writers, but there is plenty more to learn and do. I look forward to sharing another post on ARCs as I gather more information! Until then, happy writing, and happy reading!
Do you have experience with ARCs, as either a writer or a reader? What advice or inside tips do you have to share? Let me know in the comments!