From our experience at The Urban Writers, book reviews are among the top favorite ways for self-published authors to gain traction. For anyone intending to publish books, getting feedback before their ebooks and print books hit the market is essential for book success.
But, not all authors have access to marketing teams who can review copies and arrange for book reviewers to promote fresh publications.
Most of the time, authors are tasked with finding new ways and strategies to promote their published books.
At The Urban Writers, we advise clients to begin building a reader base for their books while they're still being written. While your favorite freelance writer from our Platform works to finalize your copy, you should ideally start scheduling book tours and making announcements about your book's release.
Pre-launch promotions allow book lovers to learn about the publication date and get excited about a specific book. With so many books for free at the reader's grasp, you'll need to be original with promoting your book, and more importantly, getting your print books, ebooks, and audiobooks in front of as many book bloggers and book reviewers' websites as possible!
Yet, this type of free book advertising can be tricky. There's no guarantee that your book won't get mixed and negative reviews for unforeseen reasons.
What is An Advanced Reading Copy?
"How does a good book get a negative review?" one may wonder.
That's a good question, given that your book copy passes numerous reviews before it hits the market. But, do those reviewers think like other readers? Many times, we found that new books that cover fresh, interesting topics benefit from sending out review copies to at least a dozen test readers.
Having a fraction of your target audience read books for free, before they're published, gives the author the opportunity to make essential changes to their books without any harm to the book's reputation.
When publishers websites promote advanced reader copies (ARCs) before the book is published, they generate early hype for the author and create the initial reader base to draw positive reviews.
Advance reader copies are intended for early reading of finished, already perfected copies. However, not all books get the opportunity to distribute their free books to the most prominent websites.
Not every author can just send physical copies for reviews to a well-established review website like Reedsy or Goodreads and expect a positive review. If you wish to be featured on Goodreads giveaways, for example, your book must meet the highest standards first.
Should You Try Advanced Reader Copy Programs?
Absolutely! Advance reader copies work well both ways. They are a tool for an author to promote their work, and they're also an opportunity for the audience to get free books to read before anyone else reads them.
What Are the Best ARC Sites to Reach Book Bloggers?
The following websites distribute free books:
While you, as an author, ponder upon how to sell your book, your respective audience wants to know the following:
How to get free books from publishers
How to get books before they are released
Accessing ACR programs isn't easy, but it's also not impossible. Also known as 'galleys,' these copies are sent to publishers for review. They are sent as free copies for readers to read and then review.
1: "City Owl Press"
If you publish romance and speculative fiction, then you may benefit from sending your free books to this particular ARC books website. An additional benefit of working with this website is that they only allow bloggers and readers with a proven track record to review books.
2 "Book Tours"
Also known as "TLC Book Tours," this website provides book bloggers with opportunities to exchange reviews via interviews. They work with established book blogger websites and launch giveaways for those publishers and authors with an established reader base.
3: "Curiosity Quills Press"
This website works primarily with small publishers and focuses on a limited number of book genres. They mainly send out speculative fiction, paranormal, and science books for free to their readers.
4: "Rock Star Book Tours"
This amazing website organizes virtual book tours, and you can apply with your own books given that you already have an established publisher's presence. An added benefit of this website is that they allow its reviewers to read books in all fiction genres.
5: "Macmillan Publishers"
Here, you have the opportunity to have your book reviewer come to a big publisher's house. Macmillan Publishers is one of the major players in the publishing world, so your book's release can earn massive traction shall it find its way to their website.
6: "Harper Collins"
Shall you earn your spot with this great publisher, you'll access a world of publishing professionals who distribute their free books in a wide range of niches and genres.
7: "Simon and Schuster"
This big publisher is a great reference for all readers who wish for free book copies, and all authors who wish their ARC readers to earn them some free book reviews. It's important to note that, while this publishing house does work with a variety of genres, they also had quite a few strong children's books in their portfolio.
8: "Making Connections"
Associated with Goodreads, this group is an organized connector between writers and readers. It's a potential dream come true for self-publishers who wish to find titles of their books on top reviewer lists. They are known to use reviewers to aid authors in their self-promotion efforts.
9: "Fire Reads"
This small publisher typically works with free ARCs via larger bloggers. Here, you can find ARCs in both digital and paperback formats. Any interested reader may request ARCs from them at any time since the publishers have an ultimate decision over who receives free copies.
Hashtags like #booksfortrade and #arcsfortrade may help send out your books to the audience most inclined to like them. However, without any supervision or security, it's wise to be cautious about sending contact information to fake profiles.
Instead, first look at how many followers a profile has, ensure they have a genuine blog and that they write genuine reviews.
How to Get ARCs of Books for New Authors
As you can see from the brief overview of arc websites, most of them collaborate with either reviewers or bloggers, while some also work directly with authors who wish to distribute ARCs. The steps that you can take to access this potentially great advertising opportunity would be to:
Send out ARCs directly. Choose those blogs and websites that you wish to review your book, and send them an ARC. Before you do that, check if they work with self-publishers or if they only communicate with blog owners.
Set up an account and write reviews. Writing a word or two about your favorite genres and titles is a great idea to establish your author's credibility. What better way to promote your book than to lure in readers with titles that they already like? Write your own reviews of other books, and leave links to download a free copy of your book where fit. A neat trick, is it not?
Request ARCs exchanges. A great thing about book publishing is that you don't have the type of negative competition that makes the audience choose one product or the other. You can team up with other authors and exchange ARCs so that all of you can give a word of thought one each other's titles.
How Self-Publishers Benefit From Advanced Reader Copies
Now, you must be wondering what you have to gain from pitching your book to specific publishers and websites in hopes of accessing readers. The answers are many, such as:
Get A Positive Review in Reader's Favorite Genres
A major benefit of acquiring reviews on your writing is that they will come from readers who are already interested in your genre and topic. This increases the chance of them liking your book and leaving a positive review.
Advance Reader Copies Get Books Sold
A blog isn't your only companion in advertising books. In one of our earlier articles, we discussed how you can get stores to advertise your book by providing free copies. A big publisher may pass on your book, but you can still find many interested distributors as a self-publisher.
Approach a bookstore, library, or any other store and offer them ARCs for their customers. They'll love the opportunity to offer a freebie along with their products, and you'll benefit from added book publicity.
Expand Your Subscriber Base
Your ultimate goal with book publishing is to increase sales, but that won't happen without a base of reading-ready individuals who are eager to review. Arc reader base is a different base than your usual reader.
Typically, blogs and reviewer arc reader base is particularly passionate about their genre and topic. They don't just read an ARC and post about whether or not they liked it. They put time and effort into writing compelling reviews, and these reviews make their readers want to know more about your book.
How to Distribute Free Book Arcs
Most self-publishers publish books with the aim to eventually profit from them, so telling your audience where to get free copies may sound counter-intuitive. This is why it's best done during the pre-launched stage, once your book is formally published but you haven't announced it yet.
Show Readers How to Get Advanced Reader Copies of Books
Use this simple trick: Show readers how to get advanced reader copies.
A keen sales trick for your book is to first get readers excited about your specific title using blogs, videos, social media posts, and other forms of pre-launch promotion. As your launching day approaches, you can then give details on how to earn your ARCs.
Let your readers know where they can get free copies, including the specific site that they should use and how to create an account with that publisher. Tell your readers how to apply for an arc, from what subject line to use in their message, and how to approach the site if they are established blog review influencers.
Why wait any longer? Start sharing advance copy books, and get the kind of genuine feedback that self-publishers thrive on!