What is an ARC Reader?

The last article talked about beta reading [click here to read it], but what is the next step? What kind of reader do you need for the launch of your book?

An Advance Review Copy Reader, or ARC reader for short, receives a free (usually electronic) copy of your book once it’s complete but before it’s been released. These are the people who have pledged their time to read your book and prepare a review for when it goes live. This way, you’ll get a bunch of hopefully positive reviews right out of the gate and your book’s popularity will receive a much-needed boost.

Why They are Beneficial

If you’re self-publishing a book, you probably already know that the market is working against you. Only popular books sell, and only books that sell get popular. But how do you get your book popular in the first place? The trick is getting reviews. You have to get lots of good reviews. That way, the book is more likely to be higher on the list, and people are more likely to buy it.

You see, retailers like Amazon filter search results based on what will sell the most product for them because it makes them money. They don’t care how much hard work and dedication you put into your story. To combat this system, an author’s best strategy is to assemble a team of people to read and review your book for the first week after its release. The more attention it gets, the higher it goes.

Choosing Your ARC Readers

The most important thing about choosing your ARC readers is to go for your target audience. People who will enjoy your book anyway are the best people to query for help because you know that they’re not going to stop halfway through. They’ll be motivated to finish the book because they like it, not just because they want to help you succeed (though that’s not a bad thing, either!).

*Pro-tip: As one user, Tanish Shrivastava, pointed out to me, I want to remind you that even if readers fall within your intended audience, they are not guaranteed to like your book. They are more likely to, but other factors are involved, such as the quality and style of your writing, the storyline itself, and readers’ individual tastes.

How many ARC readers should I have? you may ask. Good question. The general consensus says you should get as many as you can, but I suggest at least 10 or 20 good ones if you can. Beyond that, you can have “secondary readers”, meaning people who you are unsure of will fulfill their promise to write a review for you. More established authors can get as many as 200 of those because of returning fans.

Where to Find Them

Finding ARC readers that fit your book really depends on your level of commitment. Do you know your own audience? Have you done your research about where to find them and how to ask them to read your book? What’s in it for them?

All of these are questions you need to ask yourself when looking for these people because it separates out the just okay ARC readers from the fabulous ones. I find Facebook to be a good starting point, as it is a popular social media platform, and there are private and public groups specifically for finding people to read your book and write reviews. This is also a platform where you can make your own group and invite your readers so you can keep them in the loop about your book and share exclusive bonus content.

Other places to find them are on ARC reader websites. A few I can name are BookSprout, BookFunnel, and NetGalley, where you can sign up as either an author or a reader. Authors can put their books up to be seen by readers, and readers, of course, can browse the different books available to them and download the free electronic files. When downloading, the reader will make a pledge to have the book read by a certain date and to post their review once the book is released. Unfortunately, a pledge is just a pledge, and there isn’t really a way to enforce a reader to write their review aside from the honour code.

*Pro-tip: Expect that not everyone will fulfill their promise. The worst thing is thinking that you’ve been guaranteed five, ten, or twenty reviews, and then your readers don’t pull through. That’s why you should get as many as you can.

Some good people to ask are friends and neighbours (not family members because they can’t ethically write a review for you). If your friends like reading and want to help you succeed, they are the best people to go to. They are much more likely to finish the book and write you a good review than a stranger. (Make sure to help them write the review neutrally, so it doesn’t get flagged by the retailer!)

How to Motivate Them

This is where, as I mentioned before, you can create a private Facebook group for your readers. Check in with them often; the worst thing I find (as a reader) is to commit to reading a book and then the author ghosts you. I like having the option of being kept in the loop. Others might be fine with talking to the author once and reading the book without constant check-ins. That’s the beauty of choice.

People also like getting rewarded for their effort. For some, it’s rewarding enough that they get to read your book for free. You can also build hype with custom merchandise and exclusive content, and this excitement only grows the more books you publish, but that is of course up to you and whether you can spare the expense of ordering custom items.

Taking it to the Next Level: Launch Team

A Launch Team is similar to having ARC readers but on a higher level. Not only are they reading your book ahead of time and writing you a review, but they’re also helping you with marketing and promotion. Details about building a launch team can be found here but the main gist of it is gathering a group of people to be your publicity team. This means asking them to share pre-written text (info about the book, announcements, etc.), share promotional photos or photos they’ve taken themselves, and generally spread the word about your book.

They are also here to support you. Publishing a book is hard. It’s stressful. These people are here to help you manage. They should be as excited about the launch of your book as you are, and when you’re feeling bogged down, they will lift you up.

There are many ways to go about making sure your book shines. For info about the difference between alpha reading, beta reading, ARC reading, and editing, click here.

Click here to visit my Article Archive and see what’s coming up.

Click here to go back to the Editing Services page.

4 responses to “What is an ARC Reader?”

  1. Don’t want to be negative, but I think it is important to point out here that even if you can get your core audience early, it is not a guarantee that they would like your book by default, especially if it is badly written in the first place.

    1. A very good point. Thank you for bringing it up!
      While it is true that your core audience is more likely to enjoy your book, other factors are involved, as you mentioned, such as writing quality, writing style, and readers’ individual tastes.

  2. […] This is also the best time to generate reviews through ARC readers [read more about ARC readers here]. ARC readers (Advanced Review Copy readers) are a subset of book reviewers; they receive the book […]

  3. […] Related Article: What is an ARC Reader? […]

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