Getting Started with Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs)

Getting Started with Advanced Reader Copies

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Have you ever wondered how other readers get advanced reader copies of books? If you’ve ever wondered what ARCs are or how to get them, then this post is for you. Even if you’ve been getting advanced reader copies for a while, I hope you’re able to learn a few new tips or places to get books before they’re published.


Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links. This just means that I make a little money if you buy something through one of my links. It does not cost you any more to purchase an item through my links. It just helps support this blog so I can continue to bring you more content like this. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


What are advanced reader copies?

Also referred to as ARCs, advanced reader copies are books that publishers send to reviewers, book sellers, librarians, educators, and people that work in media before they are released in order to get early buzz for a book.

Since these books are sent out before publication, they may contain errors, weird formatting, or things that may be cut from the final text.

They come in many different formats, but the most common way that reviewers get ARCs are through digital galleys (ebook versions of ARCs).


Why you might want advanced reader copies

If you are looking to read upcoming books early or just really love reading and reviewing books, then I would recommend reading ARCs. Since ARCs are a commitment and vital to authors and publishers, I wouldn’t recommend getting into them if you don’t want to deal with deadlines or don’t like writing reviews.

That being said, you don’t have to be a great writer, have lots of followers on social media, or be on a lot of platforms to get started.


What are the requirements to get advanced reader copies?

While every platform and publisher has different requirements, the easiest thing you can do is have a place that you share reviews.


Places to Review Books

This could be social media, a blog, review sites, or retailers.

Here’s a list of common places people review books:

  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • YouTube
  • Goodreads
  • The StoryGraph
  • Retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, indie bookstore sites, etc.)
  • Bookbub
  • Facebook

While you don’t have to use one of these sites, you will have a lot better chances to get ARCs if you have at least one of these accounts.

If you already review on one or more of these platforms, great! If not, I would pick one to start and post a few reviews for books you’ve already read and enjoyed. They don’t even need to be really long reviews. A few sentences on why you enjoyed a book, is helpful for other readers.


Other Tips

Consistently writing reviews shows authors and publishers that you are a reliable reviewer, which can only help you have a better chance of being approved for advanced reader copies.

I will say, however, that all your reviews don’t have to be positive reviews. Publishers don’t expect you to love every book. It is important though to not bash authors or books in your reviews. You can give honest opinions without being mean.

You also don’t need to have a big following in order to get ARCs. On a site like Goodreads, the followers don’t matter a lot because your review shows up under whatever book you’re reviewing. While you’re followers may interact with your reviews on there, a lot of other people will read your reviews to help them decide whether or not they want to read a book. This is especially true for books that don’t have a lot of reviews.


Where you can get advanced reader copies

There are a variety of ways and places to get advanced reader copies, so I will break this down into a few sections.


ARC Sites

There are several sites that gather ARCs from a wide variety of publishers and authors (including indie authors) and allow you to request books you are interested in reading and reviewing. Then, publishers/authors approve or decline those requests.

There are several different sites that you can use, but the main site I would recommend is NetGalley.

Other sites I’ve used include Edelweiss, Book Sirens, and Reedsy Discovery. You are welcome to check out those sites for more information, but I don’t have a lot of experience in using them.



NetGalley is one of the easiest places to discover ARCs and get connected with publishers.

They have a lot of digital ARCs and some audiobook ARCS (also called ALCs, advanced listener copies). Digital ARCs can be sent to a Kindle, downloaded, or read on the NetGalley app. Audiobooks can be listened to on the NetGalley app.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You create a free account
  2. Fill out your bio
  3. Start requesting

I would recommend reading through some of NetGalley’s helpful articles for getting started. They have all sorts of articles about what types of things to include in your bio, tips for getting approved, and more.


My Experience with NetGalley

I’ve had my NetGalley account since 2020, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.

Don’t Request Too Many Books

I had to learn this lesson the hard way. If you read through the NetGalley articles, you’ll be better prepared than I was when I first started.

On NetGalley, you have what’s called a feedback ratio. This is the number of books you’ve sent feedback for divided by the number of books you’ve been approved for.

For example, if you are approved for a book, read it, and then review it. You would have a 100% feedback ratio. The higher the ratio, the better. NetGalley recommends that you have 80% or higher.

The thing that happens frequently to new NetGalley users is requesting a LOT of books and then being approved for a bunch of them. When you are approved for a book, you are then expected to read and review it by a certain date (usually it’s close to the publication date but can vary). When you have a lot of approvals but have very few reviews submitted, then your feedback ratio drops.

I would recommend requesting a few books to start with that you would have time to read a review. Another option (which is great for newer users) is to build up your ratio using “read now” books. Basically, these are books that you don’t have to request, you can just automatically download them and start reading. These are a great option because you don’t have to be approved for them, which can sometimes take a while.

Update Your Profile

A great way to get approved for ARCs is to frequently update your profile on NetGalley with relevant information like social media followers; genres, authors, and publishers you love; and information about where you review books. NetGalley has several articles all about your profile I would recommend reading to get the most out of your experience on there.


Other ARC Sites

Like I mentioned previously, there are other sites where you can browse and request ARCs, I just don’t have as much experience with them.

Here are links to the ones I mentioned above:


Influencer Programs

Since I’ve been reviewing for several years, I’ve gotten connected with a lot of publishers through influencer programs.

Some publishers have reached out to me, but most of the time, I’ve had to apply to these influencer programs.

Each program is different and has different requirements. Since they are influencer programs, you are expected to have at least one social media platform where you share reviews.

I only use Instagram for book reviews, but TikTok and YouTube are also platforms that will work for these programs as well.

Some influencer programs are open for application year round, but some are only open for a brief time each year.

I have created a list of book influencer programs with more details here.


Indie Author Review Crews

Because a lot of indie authors do their own marketing, it is common for them to also create their own ARC groups or review crews. Some also use PR companies, which I’ll talk about later in this post.

ARC Team

Some indie authors have a set group of people that they send ARCs to for every book they write. There is usually some sort of application to get in this group, but authors might not open it up to applications very often.


Review Crew

Other indie authors sometimes have a review crew for each book they release, which means that you are just applying to read and review one specific book.


How to Find Them

In either of these instances, I would recommend following indie authors on social media and consider joining their Facebook groups to hear about upcoming ARC opportunities. You can also sign up for their email newsletter or look for their books on NetGalley.

Some indie authors I’ve reviewed for: Emma St. Clair, Kristin Canary, Savannah Scott, Mari Loyal, Clara Mott, Stacy Williams, and Lara Martin. I connected with almost all of these authors on Instagram. Some reached out to me, but most were ones I sought out.



Indie authors typically have a very small budget compared to big publishers, so please keep that in mind when you are interacting with them.

Most of the time, you will only receive a digital ARC from an indie author. Some indie authors send out a few physical ARCs or finished copies of books, but these cost them quite a bit of money.

Please do not ask indie authors to give you free books because that’s insulting and often times not in their budget.

For many indie authors, Amazon is a major place for them to sell their books. It is often expected or desired that you write a review for their book on Amazon (among other sites).

While not true for all indie authors, many do not have a huge amount of reviews for their books (especially right away), so please be mindful of that when posting and sharing reviews of their books.

In my experience, when I have rated a book less than four stars, I typically reach out to the author (or their assistant if they have one), and ask if they still want me to share my review / where they want me to share it. Most of the time, I’ve been told that it’s okay to share reviews less than four stars. It’s usually preferable to wait until after publication date though because the pre-orders are really important for them.


PR Agencies

Public Relations (PR) Agencies are companies that help authors market their books. This often includes finding ARC readers and people willing to help promote books.

These agencies help readers connect with indie authors. You can find out about a lot of them through social media. Many of them even offer the opportunity to join their email list where they share all upcoming opportunities that you can apply for.

If an indie author doesn’t have their own review crew, there’s a good chance that they use a PR agency. When they have a new book coming out, keep an eye out for how they ask for ARC reviewers. If they have a Google form that you fill out, it will usually say whether or not they use a PR agency.

Here is a list of some PR agencies that I know about on Instagram:

I have only worked with a few PR agencies, but here are the ones I’ve worked with: Valentine PR and Wordsmith Publicity. I am on the email list for a couple others, but I have not worked with them yet.


Book Tours

Some PR agencies include book tours as part of their marketing, but some companies are solely for book tours.

Book tours are when you feature a book on your social media (usually through a post). Sometimes you are required to read and review the book as well, but sometimes you only have to share about it. Different tours do different things, so you may receive a physical copy of a book or just a digital copy. It depends on the tour company.

I’ve only participated in one book tour, but I would definitely be open to doing more.


Here is a list of some book tour companies I know about on Instagram:


ARC Giveaways

One of the simplest ways to get advanced reader copies is to win giveaways. While you might not win very often, it is also low-effort to enter giveaways.

I’ve gotten a few ARCs through giveaways, so it’s definitely possible!

Here are some places to look for giveaways:

  • Goodreads
  • The StoryGraph
  • social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.)
  • emails from publishers, authors, and other bookish places


Publisher Requests

If you see some influencers getting a lot of physical ARCs and finished copies, they may be requesting them directly from a publisher.

While this can be intimidating, it is okay to reach out to publishers to tell them about a book you’re really excited to read. Sometimes you’ll get the book and sometimes you won’t, but it doesn’t hurt to try!


How to contact a publisher

First, you will have to find the correct email address to contact at whatever publisher you’re interested in. Sometimes it might be a specific person’s email or it could just be a generic marketing email. You might have to do a bit of digging.

For example, on Penguin Random House’s website, there’s a link at the bottom that says: “Publicity & Media Inquiries.” This link takes you to a list of different emails to use based on which imprint you’re looking to contact.


What to include in your email

While there’s no guarantee that you’ll hear back from your email or get the book you’re requesting, these are some things that you can do to help your chances. It’s also important to note that publishers are busy and receive a LOT of emails, so it’s best to include all of your relevant information in the first email because they likely won’t take the time to go back and forth with you to get information.

Things to include in your email:

  • the title & author of the book you’re requesting
  • explanation of why you want the book / why you’re excited about it
  • examples of past reviews you’ve written (even better if they’re for that specific author or publisher’s books)
  • stats of followers, engagement, etc.
  • links to places you review
  • your physical address
  • NetGalley email (if you want a digital ARC)

If you don’t hear back from them, please do not keep bothering them. They receive lots of requests and only have a limited number of ARCs they can give out. Feel free to try again in the future for a different title because you never know!


What to do when you get advanced reader copies?


When your ARC request is accepted…

If you get an ARC you requested, your next step is to read the book! You are also welcome to share about the book on your social media before you’ve read it to let people know that you’re excited to read an upcoming book (this is a great way to help promote the book!).

After reading it, you should write your review as soon as possible before you forget what you liked/disliked about it. I typically keep notes on my phone as I read because I don’t always write my reviews as soon as I finish (although I wish I did). Usually, I write my review in Microsoft Word and copy and paste it to other places.

If you didn’t end up liking the book, you can still review it. Usually publishers prefer that you wait until after the publication date to post negative reviews since it affects pre-orders. Publishers do understand that books are subjective, so they don’t expect you to enjoy every book. Just make sure you’re kind in your review and never tag the author in negative reviews.


Tips for sharing your reviews

When you share your review, make sure that you mention that you received an early copy or ARC of the book. Depending on what country you live in, there are different rules as far as disclosing this (especially on social media).

For example, in the US, you are supposed to disclose that you received the book for free at the beginning of your post (this might include tagging the publisher or using a specific hashtag).

If you received a physical ARC, you are NOT allowed to sell it when you’re done. Depending on the publisher, you may be allowed to give it away or place it in a little free library.

Digital ARCs and Audiobook ARCs cannot be given to others.


When you receive an unsolicited ARC…

Sometimes, you may end up receiving ARCs that you did NOT request.

Publishers often see that you gave a good review for a book and think you might like a similar book.

If this is the case, you are not obligated to read and review the book, but you can if you want to!


When you don’t get the ARC you requested…

Publishers only have a limited number of ARCs to give out, so don’t be offended or discouraged if you don’t get the ARC you wanted.

Keep trying in the future, and you’ll eventually get one!

Also, when it comes to NetGalley declines, you can usually see what that specific publisher looks for when approving people for ARCs. There might be ways to boost your chances if you read through those guidelines.


What other questions do you have about advanced reader copies?

Comment down below, and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

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