One of the most common areas of confusion for newer bloggers is ARCs – what they are, how to acquire them, and how to interact with authors and publishers. While I am by no means an expert on ARCs and the requesting process, I’ve received a decent number of them over the years (and am currently sorting through a rather hefty pile of them). Therefore, I’ve compiled a few tips and tricks regarding how to request ARCs and interact professionally with publishers.
What is an ARC?
ARC is an acronym for “Advanced Reader Copy” and refers to a prepublication edition of a book which is distributed for free by the author and/or publisher in exchange for an honest review. Depending upon the distributor, ARCs are released anywhere from days to months prior to the official publication date of the work.
For authors and publishers, ARCs are an excellent resource for acquiring feedback and publicity. Every scenario will differ, but there will often be preferences on behalf of either or both parties regarding the platforms upon which the review is posted (blog, booktube, Goodreads, Amazon, etc.), the time frame during which it is posted (a highly unspecific “before the release date”, two weeks prior to the release date, on the release date), and the information included in the review (i.e. summary of the book, links to the author or publisher’s website, an author bio, purchase links).
How do I find out about ARCs?
In my experience, the wide majority of books are initially released as ARCs, particularly if the author or publisher is very well known and established. Consequently, I typically search for upcoming releases on Goodreads and contact the publishers regarding obtaining an ARC for those in which I am most interested.
There are countless ways to discover ARCs: word of mouth, a variety of websites (including those of authors and publishers – see below for more information), giveaways hosted on Goodreads or blogs/booktube, bookstagram, etc.
How do certain bloggers automatically receive ARCs from publishers, without having to request them?
Once an individual has developed a rapport with a publisher (i.e. has worked with them on several occasions in the past), the blogger may be added to an automatic mailing list, allowing them to receive a slew of unsolicited ARCs. This generally signifies that the blogger has a good relationship with a given publisher and has likely reviewed several ARCs for the company in the past.
Keep in mind that not all publishing companies have instituted such a program, and that the specifics of each program will vary from company to company.
Are there any requirements for requesting ARCs?
Every publisher/author will vary regarding the criteria they consider when processing your request, but the following are often recommended:
- blogging for a minimum of 6 months
- posting regularly – at least once a week is often preferred, excluding any memes
- a strong, interactive following (usually around 500)
- writing quality, thoughtful reviews that demonstrate a proficiency in analyzing and commenting upon texts
- willingness to post reviews on multiple platforms, such as your blog, booktube, Goodreads, and Amazon
Keep in mind that different publishers/authors have very different priorities and requirements. When in doubt, it never hurts to ask for an ARC – the worst response you could receive is no. Don’t, however, request an ARC if a publisher/author has released a set of requirements which you blatantly do not meet. This will undoubtedly make more enemies than friends.
When is the best time to request ARCs?
The earlier, the better. Publishers receive an extremely large volume of emails per day, particularly as the release date of a given book approaches. Furthermore, publishers often have a set number of ARC copies that they are able to distribute, particularly when it comes to physical ARCs; once those run out, you’re generally out of luck. Therefore, it’s usually best to email the publisher with your request as soon as possible, ensuring that it has the greatest chance of being opened and read by the recipient, as well as increasing the chances that there will still be ARC copies available for distribution.
Most publishers have a well-established schedule regarding ARC mailing. In other words, a given publisher may always send out ARCs four months before the release date. If you’re still unsure as to the requesting timeline or are unfamiliar with a certain publisher, aim for submitting your request 4-6 months prior to the publication date.
How can I request ARCs?
How do I find the correct email address to which I can direct my request?
This information can often be obtained by doing a fast and relatively painless Google search. It is usually preferred that you direct your requests to the publisher or a publicist rather than to the author, as the author often has little bearing regarding who receives an ARC.
For convenience, here is a list that I’ve compiled of some of the more popular YA and Adult publishers with their corresponding contact information (organized alphabetically):
- Bloomsbury: All imprint contact information can be viewed here.
- HarperCollins: All imprint contact information can be viewed here.
- Macmillan: All imprint contact information can be viewed here.
- Penguin: All imprint contact information can be viewed here.
- PenguinTeen: Fill out this form.
- Scholastic: email@example.com
- Simon & Schuster: All imprint contact information can be viewed here.
What should I include in my request?
Whenever you’re requesting an ARC, it’s generally a good idea to include the following, regardless of the book you’re requesting or the specific publisher that you’re contacting:
- your name – always a good starting point
- name of your blog
- a link to your blog and any other social media associated with it
- blog and social media statistics (ie. number of followers on each platform, number of views per month, etc.); don’t forget to include the date (or at the very least, the year) in which you began blogging
- the platforms upon which you post your reviews
- the title, author, publication date, and ISBN of the book(s) in question
- your reasoning for requesting the given ARC and/or your interest in the book
- your address – more often than not, a publisher will not take the time to respond to your email to inquire about your mailing address. In some situations, you may not receive a response to your email, but the ARC may show up unannounced in the mail a few weeks later.
Keep your email polite, professional, and to the point. Don’t ramble – publishers don’t have an endless supply of time on their hands, and reading your email likely falls very low on their list of priorities.
What should I do after I’ve requested an ARC?
There are four possible outcomes after submitting your request:
- You receive a positive response from the publisher and the ARC arrives in the mail shortly thereafter.
- You receive a negative response from the publisher. If no reason is provided as to why the publisher is unable to offer you an ARC, don’t jump to assumptions. They may have run out of copies – ARCs are expensive to produce and no publisher has an endless supply of them. If there is reasoning provided for the rejection, identify whether there is anything you can do differently moving forward (i.e. requesting ARCs earlier, directing your request to a different email address, acquiring a greater following on your blog, etc.). While not ideal, this scenario doesn’t forbid you from requesting a different ARC in the future.
- You receive no response, but the book magically appears in your mailbox several weeks later. Surprise!
- You receive no response, and the book doesn’t turn up in the mail. Once again, this doesn’t prevent you from looking into other ARCs from that publisher moving forward.
Don’t spam the publishers with email after email – this is one of the fastest ways to ensure that you don’t receive the ARC. Publishers receive hundreds (sometimes even thousands) of emails per day and may not have the time to respond to each inquiry. Be patient, and don’t take a complete lack of a response personally.
What should I do after I’ve finished reading an ARC?
Don’t forget to post your review, and remember to include any information that the publisher specifically requested (book summary, author bio, link to publisher/author’s website, etc.).
Moving forward, you’ll want to obtain a good relationship with the publisher who provided the ARC. This can be accomplished by emailing a copy of your review, continuing to request ARCs, and reviewing other published books produced by the company.