What Are ARCs And Are They Worth It?

When you send ARCs to the right people, your book can gain recognition and attention that can help boost your self-published book sales down the road.

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As either a self-published author or reader, there’s a chance you’ve heard of ARCs, or advanced reader copies. 

The advanced reader copy of a book is a (mostly) complete version of a book released before it’s officially published. As a self-published author, you can use these to gain the interest of media, book reviewers, and potential fans who may appeal to your target audience

ARCs can come in electronic or printed forms, and are often labeled as an advanced reader copy in the print. 

What are the Benefits of ARCs?

When you send ARCs to the right people, your book can gain recognition and attention that can help boost book sales down the road.

Early exposure from established platforms can perk some ears and prepare new readers to buy your book. Here’s how ARCs can play a powerful role in your self-publishing marketing strategy: 

  • They can help you build a relationship with a library or bookstore. If the team of a library or bookstore enjoys your book, not only are they more likely to carry it, but they’ll be much better at selling it or encouraging others to take a peek. It’s a win/win!
  • They can get you book reviews. Strategically sending your ARCs to book reviewers who share your target audiences is a great way to get a buzz going. By sending them your book before it’s published, you give them plenty of time to read it, and their review will hopefully be released right around the same time as your book. 
  • They can help your book gain committed readers before it’s released. If you already have readers or an engaged network, ARCs can be used for special giveaways. The exclusive release of ARCs to only specially-selected readers or contest winners adds an air of exclusivity that makes them more prone to read your book and spread the word. 

Not only can releasing an ARC help you build buzz before the book is even published, but it’s also great way to get feedback from the public and make any last minute changes you need before the publishing date.

To reap all the rewards above, we recommend sending out your ARCs 6-8 weeks before the final books are printed to give yourself time to build clout before the release date. 

How Much Do ARCs Cost?

As a self-published author, it’s natural that the cost of ARCs might be the first thing on your mind. After spending money on everything from a good editor to a well-designed cover, you might be a bit tapped out by the time you’re ready to share an advanced reader copy. 

While ARCs come at a price, the decision all boils down to whether your ARC campaign can gain you more money in the long run.

We’re very familiar with the perks of ARCS, and want to help you aim for success in releasing them. That’s why we offer on-demand printing that you can quickly and easily order online

Time is money, which is why we make the process simple. We even help you out each step of the way with services you might not have realized you needed until it was too late! That includes:

  • A free, instant quote. Know right off the bat what your costs will be and whether you’re ready to move forward with it.
  • An easy way to upload files. At this point, you can choose whether to add services like layout or cover design or something to mark that the copies are ARCs and not available for resale.
  • A personal project coordinator. That’s right — you’ll get a real person who gets to know you, your book, and your overall project goals. They’ll evaluate your book and make sure it’s polished and ready to print, so you get the most bang for your buck.
  • A digital or physical proof to review before printing. If you have 2-3 spelling errors, no biggie! You already paid for this with your $50 set up fee.
  • Post-print services. We keep your file on our secured servers for 6 months or more so you won’t need to worry about it getting deleted and starting over when you have final copies printed.

Other Tips for Making ARCs Worthwhile

There are plenty of handy ways to help ensure printing and distributing your ARCs is worthwhile:

  • Start with your personal network. Who do you know who’s well connected with your ideal audience? Offer an influencer you know an ARC, or send out an offer to your email list. 
  • Offer perks in exchange for a book review, like a review of their work or a signed copy of the final book release. 
  • Start a giveaway. As we mentioned before, ARCs are a great offering for a social media giveaway

To ARC or Not to ARC? 

Advanced reader copies are worth printing and distributing — as long as you have a strong dispersal strategy ready. 

If you plan accordingly and know where to save yourself money while ensuring quality is the best it can be, it’s likely that ARCs are for you. 

Once you have a list of relevant vendors, readers and reviewers, and a draft of your book that you’re comfortable sharing, you have the most important pieces necessary to build buzz for your book. 

Book reviews by well-established authors and platforms are one of the main benefits of printing and distributing ARCs. But there are other things you should be doing to nurture meaningful relationships and get book reviews that go beyond printing ARCs.

Get your strategy started with these 5 ways to get free professional book reviews >

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.

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I worked with Jamie Howell at Steuben, editing, formatting, and printing my first book, Divine Ordinariness. She did a superb job offering ideas that truly enhanced the final product. Sharp, responsive, creative, and quick processionals, a pleasure to work with. Jamie even stopped the press to make a major revision when I got midstream deal-breaker feedback and had to rework the project. Steuben is the way to go for fine quality service. Thanks a lot, Steuben.

– Catherine Scott, Evergreen, CO