The increase in book bloggers in the age of social media and Instagram seems to be exploding! I consistently see new faces and accounts looking to get involved in reading and reviewing books which is so exciting for our community. But the one question I see pop up again and again is: “So how do I get my hands on some ARCs?”
Some of you may be wondering… what does ARC even stand for?
An ARC is an “advanced readers copy.”
That means it’s an uncorrected proof of a book that is provided to readers in advance of publication. They are generally used by authors and publishers to generate buzz for a book prior to publication.
Before we go any further, let me say this. ARCs ARE NOT FREE BOOKS! I mean… yes, they are free in the sense that you don’t have to pay for them. BUT… the expectation is that you read them, review them, splash photos of their covers on social media, talk about them, and provide some form of chatter for the book.
Being a book blogger can literally be a full time job. Those of us that have done it for a while know that between the hours of reading and reviewing, staging elaborate Bookstagram photos, organizing our TBRs (to-be-reads) on a spreadsheet to keep track of each book’s publication date, developing questions for Q&A sessions on an author’s book blog tour, replying to publisher emails, and a laundry list of other bookish activities, it’s not as simple as “free books.”
So, if you’re on board for that responsibility and still interested in how to get your hands on one of these puppies, keep reading!
Galley sites are probably the easiest place to start when it comes to obtaining ARCs. They offer reviewers an opportunity to request copies directly from publishers electronically by simply creating an account. Before you ask, these sites primarily provide ebook copies (not physical or audiobook copies). I’m going to focus on NetGalley because that’s the site I’m most familiar with, but know that Edelweiss is out there as an option too.
NetGalley allows you to search for books based on publisher, genre, most requested, featured, etc. I would highly recommend that new reviewers check out the “Read Now” section.
The books in the “Read Now” category are advanced copies of books that are available now to anybody with an account. They do not require the publisher to approve you for a copy. This section of the site is a great place to get your feet wet, discover new authors, and begin to build your feedback ratio. Your feedback ratio is the percentage of books you have read and reviewed of those which you’ve received. You can see my feedback ratio below is 75% because I’ve reviewed 59 of the 79 books for which I’ve been approved.
As your feedback ratio grows and your following grows on social media, you will be more likely to receive the books you request.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION: It is super easy to get on NetGalley and request alllllllll the booooookkkkssss. Make sure you are honest with yourself about your bandwidth to read and review them. Or you may find yourself with 20 books on your list, a feedback ratio of 0%, and a whole lot of stress and anxiety.
- Win Giveaways
Giveaways are one of the best places to get your hands on ARCs and they are everywhere if you know where to look. For this one, I’ll direct you to my post: Five Best Places to Win Book Giveaways.
I’ll put in a plug here as well for basic book etiquette. Don’t enter a giveaway for a book you would never read just so you can get it for free. It’s not cool. And that’s not really in the spirit of the giveaway. Again, the intention is to generate buzz for the book, not for it to collect dust on your bookshelf.
- Book Reviewer Groups
The book reviewing community is a pretty cool place. And there are lots of publicity organizations that are looking for bloggers/influencers to spread the word for the books they represent. Booksharks is one group that I’m a part of that consistently offers reviewers opportunities to take part in blog tours or challenges throughout the year. Because the community is so large, they do require you to apply for your chance to be an early reviewer and they select those they feel would be the best representatives for the book. So, growing your following and being an active and engaging reviewer is key!
- Developing Relationships with Authors
This is something that takes a little bit more time. But as you continue to develop relationships with fellow reviewers, authors, and publishers, you may find that authors will reach out to you asking if you will feature their book. I’ve had several authors contact me directly with requests to review their books. ONLY SAY YES IF YOU’RE GOING TO FOLLOW THROUGH. Authors put a lot of time, energy, and passion into writing, editing, and promoting their books, and it’s not cool to get their book for free and not review them in return.
- Contacting Publishers Directly
I do not recommend doing this right off the bat! If you’re new to this whole thing…. see numbers 1 through 3 above. Those are your best bets. But, contacting publishers directly is always an option. I’ll be honest. I don’t do this very often. I’ve done it a handful of times and the only advice I can provide is you should at a minimum provide the following information in your request:
- Social media sites and handles (this includes Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, Tumblr, Twitter, your personal blog… anywhere you review books)
- The types of books you typically review
- Number of followers
- Why you want to read the book you’re requesting
- Your shipping address
- So… Sometimes ARCs Just Show Up?
Yep, they do. You’ll find that as you start getting involved, sometimes publishers will start to send you stuff that you didn’t even request. So what do you do? Personally, I try my hardest to add them to my lineup, read them, and review them. But if you either aren’t interested in the book or don’t have the time to squeeze it in, the courteous thing to do would be to feature the cover on your social media accounts at a minimum, even if you don’t formally review it.
Lastly, if you’re new, welcome to the book reviewing community! And now that you know where to get them, happy reading (and reviewing)!