A Readers Guide to ARC Teams

If you are a frequent reader of indie published books you’ve probably come across the term ‘ARC Team’ on your favorite authors fan site, or newsletter. If you aren’t familiar with it, ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy, and the team consists of active readers that receive the book for free before it goes on sale to the general public. 

Authors adore these active readers because they can directly affect the reach their book launch has. By getting people to read and review the book before it is available for sale, it will allow other readers to see it, and add it to their TBR list, in turn giving the book a head start. Indie authors aren’t the only ones that utilize ARC teams. All traditional publishers have them as well, you just have to know where to look.

Why to join an ARC Team.

Free books aside, there are many reasons to venture into the world of ARC teams. 

  • To Chat directly with the Indie Author. Many indie authors use facebook groups and email to distribute their ARCs. This means that you get more one on one time with authors that you love. Being able to give direct feedback, and get to know my favorite authors on a more personal level has been a serious perk for me.
  • To Help Launch a Book. By reading the book early you are going to be one of the first reviews seen. This early promotion of the book helps more readers discover it. If people are raving about it before it’s even released it’s got to be a book to check out right?
  • To Support your Favorite Authors. I often wondered what I could do to help support my favorite authors aside from buying their books. During my time on many different ARC teams, I’ve realized the biggest thing I can do is read, review,  recommend, & react. Any one of these things can help an author be discovered by other readers. 
        • Read & Review – While it’s easy to think, “I don’t read reviews, why should I write them?” or “The book already has 15 reviews what does mine matter?” know that every review counts. They count for the readers that are browsing books and look for the review count / star rating before they commit to buying, they count for the author that is trying to better their craft, and they count for the algorithms calculating what books to show in search results. Even reviews as simple as “Great book, worth the read” count, so if you’re nervous about what to say just keep it simple. You can also check out our book review how to for more information on how to write book reviews.   
        • Recommend – I am an introvert & a home body, I don’t have a thousand friends that I can excitedly recommends great books to, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to spread the words of great authors. In the reader groups I’ve join, or the bookstagrams I follow, I am constantly telling people to read great books. Heck, this whole book blog is based on me wanting to tell people about great books! Don’t worry if you don’t have the friends or audience to recommend it to, let your reviews do the talking for you. 
        • React – One of the lesser known facts about social media is that many platforms have strict algorithms for what they show to who. Just because you like a page, doesn’t mean you will see every post they create. But by following your favorite author on a platform and doing more than the generic like on their it post can triple the amount of followers that will see it. This goes for blogs and newsletters too! Commenting, sharing, and using the other reaction symbols can cause their posts to sky rocket in viability. 

What is an Active Reader?

Authors depend on these ARC teams and work them into their launch plans. They are such an intricate part that when a team drops the ball, it can be seen when comparing launches. Every indie author dreams of the day they can launch a book and have 20+ reviews on launch day. 

As such, the only way to build a strong ARC team is to fill it with active readers. An active reader can be tracked based on the readers ability to leave reviews on the main sites such as Goodreads & Bookbub, or Amazon. Think of your ability to post reviews as your street cred. as a reader.

How fast you read, or how many book you read in a year has no affect on being an active reader. Authors and publishers want the early reviews and understand that readers have a life outside of books. Most will have the book available to read weeks or months before it is set to be available to the public. Fostering an amazing ARC team is the best way to get the coveted reviews so don’t let speed or count stop you from joining in.

Where to find ARC Teams.

Our Discord server hosts 4 fantasy authors that post their books for active readers before they are available to the public. If you want to dip your beginner toes into our team feel free to join our server! We’d be happy to work with you on reviewing and getting acquainted with ARCing for authors. You can join or learn about the authors.

Many of your favorite indie authors have teams of their own, so if you’ve been reading and reviewing a favorite author try emailing them to ask if they have a team. If you’d rather read traditionally published books there are sites you can sign up to and request a shot at reading & reviewing big name authors. Many traditional publishers look to share their books with active readers that have a following so if you have a bookstagram / booktube / bookblog then you’ll have an even better chance at getting some titles.

The sites listed below are a mix of traditional and indie ARC book listings. Over the next month I will be going through and using each site to report back my experience. If you know of any other sites that I missed feel free to contact me and I will gladly give them a try too!

Review for Book Sirens Coming Soon. Currently reading Sleep Demons by Erynn Lehtonen that I received through Book Sirens.

I tested out Net Galleys review features by reading and reviewing All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace. (Nov. 2019)

In the past I have tried to get specific traditionally published books from this platform with no luck. I have been on their mailing list / site since about March 2018 but was really only interested in big name titles. 

Major publishers that use NetGalley seem to favor readers with a following, which is understandable, but they aren’t the only ones that use the platform. There are a plethora of books to pick from that any reader will easily be accepted for. 

I came across All the Stars and Teeth from an email they sent, and submitted a request to read. The request goes directly to the publisher (or author) to approve or deny. I did have to answer a question or two regarding my interest in this specific title, and the publisher can view my profile on NetGalley before deciding to accept my request. 

During the set up of my profile I was able to list all the places that I talk about book reviews, and customize the type of books I like to read. NetGalley sends books in one of two ways. It can be sent to your Kindle, or  one of the reading apps they work with. In many cases you do not own the book and are only borrowing it. For this book I had it sent to my kindle. 

I own a kindle fire, it was simple to add NetGalley to my approved senders, and retrieve the book from the documents section on my kindle. I was glad to see that I could still use text to speech on the file.

After I finished reading the book, I had to log in and submit my review to the publisher. I write my reviews first in Goodreads so it was a simple copy and paste. They also asked a few questions before I submitted my review for approval. Once I submitted it asked me to remember to review once the book is released, for this book that is in February of 2020 so I hope they are going to email me with a reminder!

Overall, I enjoyed using NetGalley and already have another book on my Kindle to read and review. 

Likes:

  • They cover trad and indie books, so there is a wide selection in all genres to choose from, covering both fiction and non-fiction.
  • Browsing, and accepting books is simple and the process seems to happen fairly quickly. The website is very simplistic so I haven’t had to hunt for anything.

Dislikes:

  • You don’t always own the book. It’s a little annoying that the book can be removed from your app at the time that it expires. A perk of reading and reviewing is receiving books. I’m curious why some publishers choose to give their titles expiration dates.

Read my review for all the Stars and Teeth.

I tested out Story Origins review features by reading & reviewing Smoke and Rain by V.S. Homes. (Nov. 2019)

I came across the review request via a newsletter that I am subscribe to.

To submit the request I had to sign up as a reviewer, and give links to the places that I post book reviews. My request went straight to the author to review and accept, so the timeline for this process varies. After a few days I received an email stating that I was accepted. It gave all the needed instructions for downloading and reviewing the book. 

The download process was smooth, everything I needed was on one page. I was able to select my preferred format and get the book within a matter of seconds. 

After I read the book, I was able to go back to Story Origin and enter my review links with ease. 

Overall, the process was very user friendly, and I will be using the site to find books to review in the future. 

Likes:

  • User-friendly, every part of the process was well explained and easy to use.
  • I get the actual file. I love the fact that I get the book right to my email and get to own it. Some sites only let you have it for a specific amount of time so this is a great perk to reviewing with Story Origin.

Dislikes:

  • After you’ve selected where you will review the book there is no way to add more places. There also doesn’t seem to be a way to edit my reviewer profile at all. While I like being able to commit to specific review locations, I’d also like to be able to add links to places I decided to review it after I read it that I may have not considered when first signing up. 
  • There also isn’t a list of books available to be reviewed. While there are lists of reviewing promotions currently running, if the author doesn’t join a promotion, the only way to know their book is available to review is by discovering it in the wild, like finding Smoke and Rain in a newsletter of a different author. It would be cool if authors could check a box to have their review copy added to a running list of books available to review instead of just searching via current promotions. 

Read my review for Smoke and Rain.

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