Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) Image

Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) Good, Or Bad?

What Is An Advanced Reader Copy?

An Advanced Reader Copy, commonly known as an ARC, is a special pre-publication version of a book that is distributed to a select group of individuals before the official release date. These individuals, often reviewers, bloggers, librarians, or influencers, receive ARCs with the purpose of generating early buzz and reviews for the book.

Arcs have become popular over the last few years. In this article, we will discuss some of the pros and cons of ARC’s, and what we think of them personally.

Wait, Are ARC’s Compliant With Amazon TOS?!

Absolutely! As of 2024, ARCs align with Amazon’s Terms of Service.

Amazon states the following on their website: ‘You may provide free or discounted copies of your books to readers, as long as you do not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review. Offering anything other than a free or discounted copy of the book, including gift cards, will invalidate a review, and the Amazon Community team will remove it.’

Based on this, ARC’s are totally fine as long as you do not:

  • Attempt to do a ‘review swap’ with whoever you are handing out an ARC of your book to.
  • Attempt to influence the review (in a positive or negative manner).
  • Offer gifts other than a free copy of your book, such as gift cards or sending money to offer a review.
  • Offer ARCs to somebody you perceive to have a close personal relationship with you, as their review could be biased.

Advanced Reader Copy Advantages: The Good

Let’s now discuss some of the advantages to using an ARC service:

ARC’s can create a buzz around your book

Sharing early copies of your book (we’re talking Advanced Reader Copies or ARCs) isn’t just about being generous—it’s a smart way to build excitement for your upcoming Amazon launch. By giving a select group of readers an exclusive preview, you’re basically priming the pump for some serious buzz around your book. Why does this matter? Well, when your book hits the market, those early sales and reviews can help boost its visibility and ranking for relevant keywords. It’s not just a launch; it’s a strategic move to make sure your book becomes a regular on the shelves.

ARC’s can help you build a review team

Getting the word out to potential readers at the beginning might feel like a bit of a grind. It takes time, and it’s not the speediest process. But here’s the lowdown: once you’ve kicked off a couple of ARC campaigns and put in the outreach effort, you’ll start building a team of over 20 beta readers for your book. These readers will dive into your work pre-launch and hit you up with a review right out of the gate when you publish it on Amazon. Trust us, having this ARC team on standby can be a game-changer and set you up for smooth sailing with future releases.

Now, here’s a neat bonus: your ARC team is like a goldmine for growing your email list, especially if they’re fans of your genre. Fast forward to your next book launch, and you can shoot a message to your past ARC readers, checking if they’re up for another round. It’s like having a crew of dedicated fans at your beck and call when you’re gearing up for your next literary adventure.

ARC’s can help you identify grammar and spelling errors and fix them before you launch

If you’re gearing up to drop your book on Amazon, here’s the inside scoop: don’t skimp on the proofreading. Seriously, read your manuscript like it’s the latest gossip—multiple times. But even after all those rounds, you’ll probably still miss a grammar slip or a spelling hiccup. No shame, it happens to the best of us. That’s why having an extra set of eyes is like the secret sauce.

Imagine this: you handpick a team of 20+ ARC readers, give them an early copy of your book, and they become your grammar squad. Spot an error? They got your back. It’s like having your own pre-launch cleanup crew. Fix those blunders before hitting that publish button, and bam, you’re dodging negative reviews like a pro.

Now, here’s the scoop on what can go south. We’ve stumbled upon potential gems on Amazon that were this close to greatness. But, oh boy, the sheer grammar and punctuation chaos turned readers away. Once the bad reviews start raining down, especially with a spotlight on grammar glitches, it’s a rough ride downhill. So, catch those errors early, keep it clean, and let your book shine without the drama!

Advanced Reader Copy Disadvantages: The not so good..

Finding readers for your campaign can be very time consuming

While ARC services come with their own reader communities, you’ll still find yourself rolling up your sleeves for some good old-fashioned manual outreach. We’re talking Facebook and Reddit groups—the hangouts of your potential readers. But let’s be honest, in the world of self-publishing, where budgets are tighter than ever, you’re already playing a balancing act with tasks like formatting, editing, and proofreading.

Now, picture this: diving headfirst into social media groups for hours on end, trying to connect with your ideal readers. It’s practically a job on its own, right? But here’s the kicker: is it really worth your time?

Let’s lay it out. As a self-publisher hustling on a budget, the return on investment in terms of your precious time might just not add up. It’s a decision you have to make for yourself.

Many ARC services have limited readers in specific niches

ARC sites love flaunting those big numbers, boasting about their hordes of active readers (not that we’re saying they’re bluffing, but you know how it goes). Now, here’s the scoop from our experience: sure, these services have solid reader communities, but here’s the twist: most of them are cozying up in the fiction corner, especially in romance and science fiction.

Now, we’ve worn both the fiction and non-fiction hats in the publishing game, and truth be told, ARC services tend to lean heavily on the fiction side. If you’re steering the non-fiction ship, starting an ARC campaign might get you a handful (think one to three) of takers from their library.

This means you’re left playing Captain Outreach in order to get the remainder of your ARC copies distributed, but, let’s face it, most of us simply do not have the time!

Many readers don’t end up leaving their review to Amazon

As much as ARC services love to claim that they have a 75%+ review rate on their website, this is at the very least questionable.

Speaking from the trenches, I’ve had my fair share of anticipation waiting for those promised reviews from ARC readers, only to end up with a bit of a letdown. If we’re being honest, the actual review rate feels more like a 50% situation than the numbers they throw around.

Let’s break it down. Say you round up a cool 20 ARC readers for your book. In reality, you’re looking at about half of them, roughly 10 readers, actually dropping a review on Amazon when your book is published on Amazon. And here’s the kicker—that percentage might even dip lower. Why? Well, there are readers who might not realize they don’t meet Amazon’s review guidelines, or they leave reviews on every corner of the internet except Amazon (looking at you, Goodreads).

So, here’s the game plan: to make it worthwhile, you’re diving into the volume game. But, spoiler alert, it’s a time-consuming hustle.

What do we think?

Alright, let’s break it down in plain talk. Sharing our two cents on ARC experiences is cool, but here’s the reality: every self-publisher’s journey is like a unique book. You might vibe with ARCs, or they might not be your cup of tea. How do you know unless you give it a try yourself, right?

Why not try

If you’re on the hunt for legit, top-notch book reviews straight from like-minded self-publishers, we’ve got you covered. We get it; the drawbacks of some ARC services got you thinking, “There’s got to be a quicker, more results-driven way.” This is where our platform comes into play.

  1. Request to review functionality: only accept request from readers with a previous reviewing history of books like yours. This will increase the likelihood of matching you up with a reader who will enjoy your book and leave you that five-star review that you desperately need.
  1. Tired of the whole ARC copy distribution circus? Pop your book in our library, and let the interested readers come to you. Perfect if you’re a self-publisher counting the minutes.
  1. Audiobook codes feeling like a headache to distribute on social media? Been there, done that. turns it into a breeze.
  1. Low content book publisher? ARC services might not have your back, but we sure do. Bookbite’s open for business for all you low content/no content publishers.

And guess what? We have a 14-day free trial. Zero strings attached. Dive in, give it a try, and let us know what you think!

Ready for the trial? Sign up here

Want to see how our platform can help you? Watch this video.

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