How to Self-Publish an ARC (Advance Review Copy)

An advance review copy or advance reading copy is a free, promotional copy of a book that's in the process of being published, but hasn't been released yet. As an author self-publishing, there are several benefits to using an ARC in your marketing plan. ARCs help you build excitement for your book's release, acquire reviews, advertise to bookstores and libraries, and collect feedback to improve your book. 

With all of the benefits of ARCs and the prevalence of do-it-yourself publishing options, a growing number of indie authors are using ARCs. In this article, you will learn how to make an advance review copy, when to send out an ARC, and tips on how to self-publish an ARC for maximum impact. 

How to make an advance review copy

As a self-published author, you have options when making an advance review copy. Your biggest choice is deciding between a digital or print ARC. There are pros and cons to each format, so choose the one that's best for you and your book. 

Digital: Digital ARCs are cheaper to produce and quicker to send out. The downside is that it may restrict your audience, since some book review publications do not accept digital ARCs, and some readers may not read eBooks (however, this may not apply to your niche audience, so research your market). 

You can create a digital ARC in PDF, ePub, or Mobi format and distribute the ARC by emailing it directly to your readers, or through a website like NetGalleyBookFunnel, or Instafreebie. Another option is using a publishing platform such as Kindle Direct Publishing to create your digital ARC—just don’t fully publish your book until you are ready. 

Print: Printed ARCs are the standard—it's what the big publishers use and what big name reviewers expect. However, printed books come at a higher price tag and as an independent or self-published author, you foot the bill. Plus, you need to pad your timeline to allow time for printing and shipping the books. 

You can print your ARC using a short-run printer or by using a print-on-demand self-publishing platform, such as IngramSpark or Kindle Direct Publishing. Which option you choose may depend on how much design support you need to create the print-ready file, or the format and length of your book (which affects print costs). You have the option of creating an ARC book file with these types of platforms, or, KDP allows authors to order Proof Copies.

When to send out an ARC

When to start working on your ARC depends on how you're creating it and where you're soliciting the reviews. Start early, and consider the following factors: printing, shipping from printer, shipping to readers and reviewers, and lead time (some publications require a long lead time, such as Foreword Reviews which asks for four months lead). 

Tips to self-publish an ARC

Avoid media mail: Although it is tempting to use media mail to distribute your printed ARC since it is cheaper than first class mail, don't do it. It can take weeks for media mail to arrive. That time can be better spent allowing your ARC readers to review your book. 

Produce a quality book: Don't skip editing and typesetting because it's an ARC. While an ARC is an "unfinished draft," reviewers won't forgive sloppy text that's full of errors or an unprofessional design. This is your first impression—make it count. 

Include disclaimers: Place a disclaimer on the cover and within the book that identifies it as an ARC and that it's not available for retail sale. Make it obvious that this is an ARC. Some authors even place a disclaimer in the header of every page of the book. 

Customize the cover: Your ARC's cover should be different than your published book's cover in these important ways: 

- Include a disclaimer on the front cover identifying the book as an ARC.

- List key book metadata and marketing info on the back cover. Here are some details to include: title, author, publisher, price, format, page count, ISBN, publication date, publicity contact information, and marketing plan. 

- Remove or hide the ISBN barcode. This helps prevent your ARC from being sold in retail stores. If you cannot leave the ISBN barcode off due to printing requirements, you can place a sticker over the barcode before you distribute the ARCs. 

Now that you know how to self-publish an advance review copy, you can create your own and benefit from this powerful book marketing tool. By planning ahead, you can use ARCs to garner book reviews and build excitement for your book's release.

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  • I’m still really understanding all this ARC? Yes I’ve read and did research, most videos don’t have subtitles for me. Whom do I send a copy of my book to set everything up, yes I’ve had it edited?