So here’s some information on Advanced Reader Copies, like we promised.
ARCs, sometimes also called bound galleys, are a hugely important marketing tool often used by your publisher. They have a threefold purpose.
1. They are sent to review publications
2. They are used to sell your book to key accounts and bookstores
3. Buzz Building
Most mainstream review publications need to receive their review copies four to six months ahead of publication date of your book. For children’s books, these publications might include, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, Bookist, VOYA, Kliatt, Kirkus, the Bulletin, etc. Also, any consumer magazines your publicist feels might make a good match would get a review copy of the book at this time. Magazines have a long lead time in putting together their monthly content and printing—thus the six months ahead of pub date guideline.
Some reviewers have fairly concrete specifications that need to be followed before they’ll consider reviewing. For example, PW won’t read the ARC if it’s not sent early enough or if only one copy is sent.
When the publishers sales reps go to sell your book to key accounts, again, usually four to six months out, they give them an ARC. They know that the best sales tool is an awesomely written book. Two months or so before publication date is another key time for ARCs as this is usually when your book is available for advance orders and the ARC is used to generate those.
This is when the publisher decides to give ARCs away in droves, certain that if people would just read this book, they will connect with it. This could entail sending ARCs to industry bloggers, high traffic reader sights, librarian blogs or sites, or handing them away at ALA or other industry conferences.
But what if your publisher is small or regional or for some other reason doesn’t do ARCs or bound galleys?
Well, that can be a huge problem. As you can tell from the above, ARCs are a huge weapon in the marketing arsenal. I would even go so far as to consider negotiating this into my contract if I had any doubt that they would be sending ARCs, because frankly, I don’t know how else they could effectively sell a book without them.
However, if for whatever reason your publisher isn’t doing them, you can do them yourself. You probably won’t be able to achieve the same numbers that a publisher could generate, but you don’t have to settle for none.
You can make your own. The simplest way is to photocopy your galley pages, comb bind them, and cover them with a color copy of your book cover.
Perhaps the harder part is to know where to send them. One source I recommend is a book by Dan Poynter called The Self Publishing Manual. It's considered the bible for those who self-ublish, and as such covers all the promotional aspects that a publisher would be expected to cover. He has an extensive list of review sources in there. Many libraries would have this book since it's been in print for a very long time.
And here a couple of other links I found on ARC's. (There's not too much out there!)
If people have more specific questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments!