Shahnaz Radjy

Advance Reader Copy: The magic of ARCs

I remember when I first came across the term “ARC”, short for “Advance Reader Copy”. It sounded like a promise and a responsibility, but more importantly, a badge of honor – and proof that you weren’t a bystander, a mere spectator. You had a toe in the backstage waters. 

What’s the difference between being a beta reader and getting an ARC?

Authors, especially (but not only) indie authors who self-publish, often have a close circle of trusted “beta readers”.

In my experience as one, beta readers sometimes see a draft that’s close to final, but likely contains typos. More importantly, authors are still often open to feedback on the story as a whole, in case anything still needs tweaking. 

In contrast, an ARC is shared with readers as part of book launch preparations, often in the hopes of officially putting the book out into the world with favorable reviews.

As such, an ARC should be a close to finished product, even though you may still catch a few typos or layout glitches. 

How do you get an ARC?

The way to get ARCs seemed mysterious to me for the longest time. I think my first ARC was from an author whose series I was reading, and whose newsletter I signed up for and responded to. A few emails later, I got the ARC of the last book of the series! It was an unexpected gift; one that made my brother – who was also reading the series – jealous in the best possible way (and yes, I’m still smug about it some five years later).

The good news is that you no longer need to rely on chance or haphazard connections.

Two platforms I have tested and tried for ARCs are BookSirens and Reedsy Discovery (though many others exist, such as NetGalley).

I’ve read a handful of ARCs from the two platforms combined. So far, I have a slight preference for BookSirens because there are usually a high number of ARC copies available for each book, and the quality of the ARCs I’ve come across has been more often fantastic than not. 

On Reedsy, I believe it’s one ARC per book, and the books are often available in PDF rather than EPUB or MOBI format (all are ok for Kindles/readers but PDFs are less adapted so you cannot change font size for example). 

A note for authors about ARCs

While the aforementioned platforms tend to be free for readers, they all have a fee for an author to use them to distribute their ARC or find readers for it. 

When I looked this information up, Reedsy charged USD 50 whereas BookSirens had a more nuanced approach with a flat fee of $10 plus $2 per reader – but as an author, you can cap how many readers they distribute your ARC to. As a bonus, if YOU find readers and send them your BookSirens link, they can use the platform but without you getting charged for it.

Then there’s Bookfunnel, but my understanding is that it’s not a place for readers to look for ARCs, but rather a platform where indie authors can have their ARC (or final book or audiobook) uploaded to share the link to and manage sales/downloads.

The bottom line is that there are many options, and you’ll have to do a bit of research to find what works best for you!

What does it take to qualify for ARCs as a reader?

There’s no absolute formula, but if you’re used to writing reviews on GoodReads or Amazon that’s useful, because then you’re more likely to review the ARCs you get, too. (You can see my GoodReads profile here and scroll down to see my reviews/activity.)

I suspect there are bonus points for blogs that feature reviews, and active social media platforms, but did not ask and was not told this, so that’s conjecture at best.

What I do know is that Reedsy Discovery has a referral system, and if I recommend you and you’re accepted, we both get a credit of $25 when you write your first review. (Let me know if you want in!)

Why try to get ARCs?

If you’re wondering, it’s probably not for you! My reasons for loving ARCs are that…

  • I get to read books just before they are put out into the world, which is extra special and exciting
  • It provides me with a glimpse of what the “backstage of being an author” looks like
  • Any typos I catch will be much appreciated by the author
  • I get to read books for free

So, what’s the verdict? Are you in?

Featured image: Photo by Paige Cody on Unsplash

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