Last updated Feb 27, 2024 | Author blog

If you’re working towards traditionally publishing a novel, or have begun planning your own independent publishing journey, you may have come across the terms “ARC” or “ARC review”. Many experienced writers and editors will tell you that ARCs are some of the most essential marketing tools in your writer’s toolkit.

But what does this mean exactly, and why do so many writers rely on them? We’ll take you through everything you need to know about ARC reviews and how they can give a newly released book the head start it needs.

What does “ARC” stand for?

ARC stands for “Advance Reader Copy”, or sometimes “Advance Review Copy”. It refers to a version of a book that’s available to a select readership before it officially hits the shelves. Just like how film critics get to watch movies before they’re released to the public, these advance readers are given a copy of books for review and promotion before the book’s release.

Why are ARCs important for writers?

Sending advance reader copies into the world is essential in building buzz for your work before, and after, it explodes into the world. They get people talking about your forthcoming book and provide social proof for people thinking about buying it once it’s released.

A strong ARC campaign can make a huge difference in the overall success of a literary release — which translates into a successful long term career. When one book reaches a wide and receptive audience, it shows publishers that you’re an author worth building a relationship with and readers that you’re a name worth keeping on their radar.

Next we’ll look at some of the specific things ARCs can do for your book.

Benefits of ARC reviews

Here are some of the payoffs you’ll see from distributing ARCs to potential readers.

They help inform potential readers

In today’s digital world, word of mouth and a striking cover aren’t enough to earn a reader’s investment or time. Most readers, when they come across a new book, will want to see reviews decide if it’s worth their while.

Amazon and Goodreads are typically where readers find those reviews. Readers can find out how positive the overall reception has been, what the strong points of the book are, and if there’s any challenging content they might find offensive or upsetting. Building up some preliminary reviews from your ARCs will help readers make informed decisions and show them why they should pick up a copy of your book.

They expand your readership

Likewise, ARC reviews help bring in new readers who may not have discovered your book otherwise. Early reviews can help books land on thematic lists (like “10 New Romantic Academia Books for 2024”). If your reviewers are active on social media, they may share their review and generate interest from other users. The more positive reviews you have, the more people will buy your book, which in turn boosts your exposure on Amazon and other retailers.

They act as a final sweep

Finally, your advance readers are your last line of defence between your book and the cold, hard world. They can catch any lingering typos, formatting errors, or other quality issues. Then you have a chance to go back and fix them before releasing your book to the wider public. This can save you some awkwardness in the long run and make you look more professional and trustworthy overall.

ARC service

Our ARC service helps you to get Amazon and Goodreads reviews for your book, thereby boosting your social proof, credibility, and sales.

Who are these ARC reviewers, anyway?

ARC reviewers are readers who love books. They may run personal reading blogs or sign up for ARC distribution platforms (more on that below), which gives them the opportunity to read new books before anyone else.

These readers can come from a variety of backgrounds, and many have “day jobs” across different industries. They’ll usually be familiar with books in your genre and understand the conventions within your particular readership. In other words, they “speak the language” of the kinds of people you’re writing for and will show those people what they can expect from your book.

Where to find ARC reviews

Now that we know why ARC reviews are so important, let’s look at where you can find them.

Friends and family

We’ve all shown work to our loved ones with the thinly veiled hope that they would first tell us how amazing it was, and then tell everyone else how amazing it was. However, soliciting reviews from friends and family is generally frowned upon in the bookish community. After all, they don’t exactly give prospective readers an honest, unfiltered account! Most importantly, if Amazon detects your reviews have come from people close to you, they will often remove them and may even penalise you further. This approach is not recommended!

ARC distribution services

One of the best ways to get a range of preliminary reviews is through an ARC distribution service, like the one we offer at The Niche Reader. Platforms like this function to connect authors to readers and help distribute digital versions of your book for review. While there is a fee for these services, they remove a lot of the uncertainty and mess from chasing after reviews.

You can learn more about The Niche Reader’s ARC service, including who will be reviewing your book and what to expect from the process, here.

Bookish influencers

A popular way to generate high-profile reviews is by reaching out to prominent book bloggers, “bookstagrammers” (those who post reviews on Instagram), and other social media-savvy readers. Their reviews are popular and visually pleasing, and a good way to generate book sales.

The trouble with this method is that these readers get many, many more requests than they can handle, and often review only a small percentage of the books that are sent to them. Many of them also accept only hard copy, paper books for review (because they look better in photographs than digital versions), which can become rather expensive for independent authors.

Whatever method you choose — ARC reviews can make all the difference between a book that sinks and a rising star.

Fija Callaghan is an author, poet, and unapologetic daydreamer. Her work has been shortlisted and longlisted for a number of short story prizes, and you can find her writing in publications like Gingerbread House, Crow & Cross Keys, Corvid Queen, and Mythic Magazine. When not writing or helping other writers get the best out of their work, she can be found haunting her local bookshops or watching the tide come in.

ARC service

Our ARC service helps you to get Amazon and Goodreads reviews for your book, thereby boosting your social proof, credibility, and sales.