I know what you’re probably thinking. FINALLY someone cracked the system and is willing to share their wisdom with the world. Because getting ARCs must be a big secret, right? How do those other bloggers get all those books? What are they doing that I need to be doing?
Without further delay… the secret to getting ARCs is… there is no secret.
I’ll wait until the boo’s and hisses subside.
Sorry to disappoint you but there really isn’t a secret, or even just one way, to get ARCs. But that doesn’t mean this post is useless. I’ll be offering up my account of breaking into the world of review copies shortly.
Due to the length of the originally planned post, I have broken it up into two posts.
Building Your Blog Stats // Requesting ARCs
First, I am no expert, nor claim to be, at getting ARCs. I have been a book reviewer for over 8 years and have had varying degrees of success in requesting and receiving review copies over the years.
Which leads me to my second point. This post is based on MY experiences as a book blogger, no one else’s. You might see information that contradicts what you have experienced or have heard somewhere else. That’s totally fine! But I can’t speak for anyone else but myself.
Finally, and this is the big one that I want to get out of the way now. If you are blogging just to get ARCs/free books, this post is NOT for you. And there’s a few reasons for that. Blogging is work. A LOT of work. Personally, I put in as much time as a part-time job, if not more, every week with NovelKnight. And if you’re just doing this for the free stuff, you’re going to burn out because you’re not doing it for the love of book blogging. Having a book blog does NOT guarantee you free things. Publishing is a business. They’re going to make the best business decision when sending out review copies. Just having a blog isn’t enough.
With all of that said, here’s MY “secret” to getting ARCs.
ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) are editions of books that go out before the book is released to get those eye-catching blurbs on the covers and, more importantly for us book bloggers, early reviews. They’re marketing tools, and that means that publishers are more likely to send to bloggers who are a good “investment,” someone who can reach a lot of other people when they promote the book.
So what makes you a good “investment” for publishers?
Building Your Blog Stats
I’ve read post after post from other bloggers who talk about how you get ARCs and one thing that’s always consistent is your blog stats. Your follower count, monthly blog views, blog visitors. You’re not a good investment if you don’t have any followers and no one is coming to your blog. This is what I mean about blogging being work. There is no set amount of blog views or followers you need to reach before you start requesting ARCs (though a general guiding number is around 1,000 followers). But it’s a good idea to build up your following for a few months or so first!
So, how do you create a following?
- Post content (regularly)
- Promote your content online through social media
- Network with people in the book community
Below I’ve included some ways to build up your stats. You don’t have to do all of them. You can do other things. It’s just a starting point!
- Read books you’ve purchased or checked out from the library
- Review them!
The great thing about book blogging is that you never need ARCs to do it. You can review anything you read whether it came from the bookstore or the library. Start building up an archive of book reviews on your blog for books that have already released. This is also a great time to figure out your reviewing style, if you haven’t already, as well as what kinds of books you want to read (YA, adult, a specific genre like fantasy or contemporary, etc).
- Pick one or more weekly memes
- Write up a post based on that week’s prompt
- Post it to your blog and add your post link to the meme host’s post
- Go blog hopping!
Join blog link-ups by participating in some of the weekly memes floating around the interwebs. There are a lot to choose from and I don’t recommend doing ALL of them and flooding your blog, but you can pick the ones that interest you the most.
For those new to blogging, these weekly memes are posts that go up on a specific day, usually, and are hosted by one blog that will have a link-up where you can add your post link and go blog hopping after. It’s a great way to connect with other bloggers.
- Brainstorm a list of ideas
- 10 Books to Read This Summer
- YA Tropes and Why I Love/Hate Them
- My Favorite Blogging Apps
- Write about one!
Feel strongly about a topic related to books or fandoms or anything else related to your blog? WRITE ABOUT IT. Discussion posts are great ways for your audience to interact with you, and you might find more people that share your opinion on something!
- Get involved!
- Pick a platform (test a few out if you’re not sure where to start)
- Follow other people posting about topics you’re interested in
- Post your own content
- Talk to others!
If you haven’t done so already, get involved with the book community on social media. You’re going to want to build up a following on at least one platform anyway and it’s a great way to share out those posts you’ve been working on. Plus, the community is fantastic and getting to know the other bloggers out there is HIGHLY beneficial.
You’ll find the book community is really involved on several different media platforms but the ones I hear about the most include Twitter, Instagram (fondly called “bookstagram” by those who talk about books), and Tumblr. You don’t have to be involved on every single platform but become familiar with them and what each can offer a blogger in terms of reaching out to readers and talking books.
- Comment on other blogs
- Reply on social media
- Start a conversation with someone new
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to other book people!
Of all the ways to start building up your blog stats, I think networking is the most important. Interact with other bloggers, with authors, with publishers. Social media is a great way to connect to a lot of people in one place. Go comment on other blogs. Share posts you found interesting. The community tends to pay it forward on its own. This isn’t the kind of hobby where you can do everything on your own. Connections can make a BIG difference, I don’t even mean connections with publishers, but simply making friends with other reviewers.
I hope you found this breakdown helpful. There is no easy way to go about building a following. It requires time and consistency so don’t expect to see success overnight. Get some content up online, share it out with the world, and start interacting with people!
I want to make sure that these discussion posts are helpful to YOU so let me know in the comments what you found useful, what wasn’t helpful, what you would like to see clarified or expanded on in a future post, etc.