What is an ARC?
An ARC, or advanced reader copy, is a version of a book–either in digital or print format–that is made available to select readers before the official publication date.
Is there a difference between an ARC and a galley?
It depends on who you ask! Some will tell you the terms are synonymous, whereas others will note slight differences between the two. For some, the term galley more accurately refers to an earlier proof, which isn’t as far along in the proofreading and copyediting process. They instead use the phrase bound galley to signify a version is more polished than a traditional galley. In this case, bound galley and ARC both refer to the same thing: a near-final version of the book that will be shared with a wider audience ahead of publication.
Who gets to see an ARC?
ARCs may pass through many hands, but they are primarily shared with reviewers, tastemakers, and media professionals with the hopes of building buzz for the author and their new release.
So, how are ARCs used in publicity?
ARCs are traditionally used to:
- Get blurbs. You can share your ARC with authors and experts who have agreed to provide a blurb. These blurbs can then be printed on the cover or interior of your book.
- Submit for industry reviews. Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Foreword, Shelf Awareness, and other popular industry publications will review books prior to release day. Many of these groups require 3-4 months lead time, so the earlier you can send a copy their way, the better!
- Secure reviews from readers, bloggers, and influencers. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and book blogs each house unique avid reader communities. Always check to see if the contact you are reaching out to has review guidelines posted, and follow their requested procedures. And keep in mind that most of these reviewers work for free. If they do agree to review your book, be sure to show your gratitude for their time and energy!
- Coordinate media placement and interviews. Local newspapers, radio stations and podcasters are also great targets for ARC-sharing. If you share a book with them ahead of your release, they may be able to fit you in for an interview or feature surrounding pub day.
- Enter awards contests. Some literary awards programs accept ARCs, while others only accept final copies. The benefit to using ARCs when you can is that you’ll receive your results earlier, and can promote award wins as soon as possible.
- Notify booksellers and librarians. If you’re hoping to book an event or to place your title on local shelves, you’ll want to share an ARC with nearby bookstores and libraries. After previewing the advanced copy, these tastemakers may be more likely to pre-order your book and/or set up an event with you.
Will flaws in my ARC negatively affect the response I get from awards committees, reviewers, influencers and booksellers?
Reviewers, influencers and industry professionals are used to working with advanced copies, and they are attuned to the fact that typos and formatting errors will likely be reworked before publication date. These small flaws rarely affect how a reviewer will receive your book.
That said, it’s always best to check guidelines prior to submitting a review request or award entry. If the individual or organization only accepts final copies, you would want to wait until after publication date to complete your request.
Is it safe to share digital ARCs?
Sharing digital ARCs, or eARCs, is typically safe if you are sending an attachment to a trusted contact. If you are worried about sending attachments, you can set up a privacy-protected listing for your ebook on NetGalley. Or, your publisher or publicist may set this up on your behalf.
NetGalley is home to over 400,000 users–mainly reviewers, booksellers, librarians and educators–who are looking to stay up-to-date on new book releases. Listing your book on the site helps to expand exposure, increase reader reviews, and can potentially lead to pre-orders.
ARCs are a very valuable tool in book promotion. Creating a plan for how to use your ARCs will help boost exposure for your new release and will set you on a path to success!
Jackie Karneth is a publicist with Books Forward is an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.