An Advanced Reader Copy is a free, unproofed copy of a new book that is given out by a publisher before the book is printed. ARCs are also known as Advanced Reviewer’s Copies, Advanced Reader’s Editions, pre-press copies, or galleys. They’re released 4-5 months before publication, and are mostly complete, although they are generally missing interior art, sometimes cover art and dust covers, and may have mistakes or lack some formatting. This is because they have not yet gone through the final round of the corrections process, called post-ARC corrections. ARCs are generally sent to reviewers, bookstores, magazines, libraries, book bloggers, and other writers. After an ARC has been passed around or the book has already been published, it can be sent to librarians, teachers, prisons, or charities.
While you may have already known what an ARC is and its purpose, we can’t stress enough how important ARCS are to the publishing process—so here are 5 things that are important to remember.
1. Many authors decide to have ARCs printed (also known as “going to ARCs”) after their first round of designed pages. This is because the sooner your publicist can have your ARCs, the better. Some authors might be nervous about doing this—“I need more than one round of corrections!” “What if there are mistakes?” “I need more time!”—but ARCs aren’t supposed to be finished or perfect. Most are missing photos and illustrations, ISBN numbers, author bios, even cover art!
2. The more you invest in ARCs, the bigger splash your book is likely to have. That’s right: if your publisher recommends you should be ordering at least 75 ARCs to your publicist, you should make that investment. They will be sent to trades, book bloggers, reviewers, magazines, editors, used for Goodreads giveaways—in short, the more copies you invest in (or course, it’s important to discuss what is overkill with your publicist), the more your book will be getting “out there.”
3. People who receive ARCs are asked to share any mistakes or issues they find. Reviewers are asked to give a fair review of the book in exchange for the ARC. So that doesn’t always mean that it will be a positive review, and you should accept any insight about the storyline or character flaws with an open mind—it could make your book better in the long run.
4. The reviewers should be chosen carefully—the book should be from a genre they tend to review, as well as something you think they might enjoy (ideally). Choosing the wrong people to send the ARC to can lead to the ARC going unread and unreviewed.
5. The ARC serves as publicity for the finished book as people talk about it and begin generating the buzz needed to sell a book. It’s a great idea to give them to your friends (ones you can trust to give you an honest reader and writer’s opinion), authors you admire, or maybe to that one family member that actually doesn’t really like to read. An ARC should not be bought or sold; this is unethical. However, ARCs can be given to others to spread the word. One ARC can certainly be read by multiple people.