The Art of the ARC – How advanced reader copies can add buzz, publicity and reviews to your book before the official release
There is nothing better than the smell of a freshly cracked book spine – unless of course, that book is an advance reader copy (ARC). ARC’s are copies of a book that are given to certain people who are permitted to read it before its scheduled release date. They are typically given to bloggers, critics, and other online influencers to review and promote the work to a wider audience. For authors, sending out an ARC is a great way to gain buzz and publicity before the big release. Although this may open the door to potential negative criticism, this also gives authors the chance to make last-minute changes before releasing their book to the world. So how do you create an ARC for reviewers?
Making an ARC
An ARC does not need to be fancy, however, there are additional elements that need to be considered:
- Disclaimer – A complete cover is not necessary, but there should be a disclaimer stating that this copy of the book is an advance reader copy that is not for resale.
- Quick facts – Include a list that has information like: number of pages, price, release date, ISBN etc.
- Formatting – While this may not be your final copy of your book, you should still make sure it appears clean and professional. Reviewers may have several ARCs to review, and an aesthetically appealing file could boost your chances of getting read first.
When it comes to distribution, you can choose an electronic copy, such as a PDF, or a print copy. Digital distribution is inexpensive and easy to deliver, however, this also makes it easier to leak. Print is the traditional route, but it does take more effort and time to produce.
After months of preparation, you’ve reached the end of the self-publishing journey. You do a quick Google search and there it is – your book listing on Amazon, Chapters, and Barnes and Noble. Excitement turns to panic as you wonder, “What do I do now?! How am I going to launch my book?”
Launching your book doesn’t have to be a grand event, and it doesn’t have to happen the second your book is released. Many authors wait months to line up events or signings, and focus instead on spreading the word via social media. Others plan a book tour, involving readings and book signings at multiple venues over the course of several weeks.
Remember, the purpose of launching your book is getting the word out, whether that be online, over the phone, or through in-person engagements. Regardless of which approach you take, here are Tellwell’s top 10 tips to launch your book when it becomes available:
- Have promotional materials prepared: While your book is being designed, you’ll want to start thinking about materials you can put together to give to people who ask about your book. Examples include a bookmark or business card to hand out in person, an email signature with links to your author website or social media profiles, or a poster of the book cover to take to in-person events.
- Build an email/mailing list: When your book is available, you’ll want to have people to tell. So, while you’re working through the production process, start building a contacts list complete with names and email addresses. That way when the book is available, you can send out an email blast to all interested contacts with links to where they can buy the book.
- Know your target market inside and out: While it may be tempting to say anyone would take interest in your book, it can be a lot easier to promote your book to smaller, niche markets. Ask yourself – “Who is the type of person most likely to buy my book?” Once you’ve figured that out, determine where you might find them, where they buy their books, and what they look for when adding a new book to their collection so you can tailor your content and keywords to their interests.
- Get social: In a digital age, it’s nearly impossible to avoid social media when trying to get the word out. Whether you’re a social media guru, or you’re just getting started, try to engage with readers on at least one social media platform.
- Keep your audience engaged as your book is nearing completion: Use your social media platforms, or your mailing list, to share updates with your audience before the book comes out. This creates some pre-launch buzz that will kickstart your promotion efforts.
- Network, network network! As a one-person operation, it’s extremely difficult to generate buzz around your book. That’s why it’s critical to build valuable relationships with individuals and organizations who can help you get the word out about your book. Whether it be a local business who is willing to host you for events, or a charity you partner with and donate a portion of your book proceeds to, get networking!
- Get Reviews: We know you feel passionately about your book, but having others praise it will help to attract new readers. Like any product, getting customer feedback will help others to decide whether they should buy your book.
- Invest in book giveaways: Whether it be organized directly through your website, or through another source like Amazon or Goodreads, give away some free copies of your book to build momentum. Incentivize your audience to keep your book on their mind.
- Use clear call to actions: When approaching people about the book, be very clear about what you want from them. Are you requesting a review for your book? Do you want people to subscribe to the blog on your website? Keep your prompts clear, concise and genuine.
- Take it one step at a time: Marketing takes time and consistent engagement, so be sure to break down your goals into tangible steps, and don’t forget to celebrate all the small victories!
One of the biggest challenges as an indie author is gaining exposure, so your book doesn’t get lost amongst the millions of other titles listed on Amazon and other online retailers. Getting book reviews is one of the best ways to gain some initial publicity, especially for fiction authors.
NetGalley is an online marketing and publicity tool used to gain readers who will read and review e-books. Authors use this as a portal to provide digital files to an online community of more than 310,000 ‘professional readers’ including bloggers, book reviewers, media professionals and booksellers. Many bookstore buyers, librarians, and well-established book bloggers subscribe to NetGalley as a source for new titles to review and/or buy. It is open to Canadian, US, UK and Australian markets.
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