Advance Review Copies or ARCs

So, let’s talk about ARCs, or Advance Review Copies of books (I’ve also seen it defined as Advance Reading (or Reader) Copies). What are they and why should you care? To answer that, I will first, briefly discuss ARCs from the author or publisher’s perspective and then switch to the readers’ perspective. Then I’m going to talk about how to find ARCs and/or join ARC teams. I’ll close with some Do’s and Don’ts. I’m also going to add that this isn’t the complete answer to the enjoyment and responsibility of ARCs, as there’s plenty of other resources out there that go into more detail, but this, along with our post on Book Reviews, should give you an idea of why they’re important and how to become an ARC reader.

Why are ARCs important to the Author/Publisher

Short answer: If you’ve read our post on Book Reviews, then why ARCs are important should sound familiar. It’s to help boost sales. While there are different algorithms to determine best sellers, one of the primary ones is number of books sold in a (set) short amount of time. According to Vox: “if you want to make your way onto a best-seller list, any best-seller list, you have to sell at least 5,000 books in a week, or maybe 10,000. Beyond that, things get complicated depending on which list you’re looking to end up on.” Actually, it’s a great article, so if you want to read it for yourself, check it out here: But. In order for those sales to happen, there needs to be a buzz of interest and reviews published online, in print, and with various retailers will help.

Why are ARCs important to the Readers?

Again, early reviews can and often do sway reader purchases. Whether it’s the excitement of a new book from a favorite author or perhaps a new-to-you author, early reviews from ARCs do impact book purchases. And with social media being what it is, the more people talking about a book, the more likely more people will see it.

So, seriously, why are ARCs important to readers? Well, if you’re like me, and you have a core group of authors where you will read everything they write, then getting a sneak peek at upcoming publications is a huge privilege and, if the only requirement is a request to write a review as close to publication day as possible, then sign me up.

How do you find ARCs?

It can take a bit of detective work to find the right contact, but many publishers also have ARC teams and will send out email newsletters highlighting books available for review and the deadlines.
And there are also sites where you can become a book reviewer, which will also give you access to ARCs. NetGalley, Booksprout, Kirkus Reviews, Edelweiss, Amazon First Reads, Hidden Gems Books, Shelf Awareness, and LibraryThing, as well as book blogging sites for specific book categories (sci fi, romance, suspense, etc.) and sites that promote book blog tours, to name a few.

eBook or hardcopy?

Most of the time, you will be sent an eBook—whether it’s a mobi file, Adobe PDF, Word, epub, and sometimes even Google docs (not preferred by me). If you don’t own a Kindle, you can download the app to read on your phone or computer free from Amazon. Ditto with pdfs. For epubs, my preferred app to use is Calibre. Most new computers and phones will come with different apps pre-installed or if you have a look around online, you can find others that work just as well.

It’s easier for me to read on my PC or my Kindle, where I can adjust what the font looks like. So I much prefer an eBook to a print copy. However, to avoid piracy, some will prefer to send out hard copies. Admittedly, I’ve often turned down requests for reviews if it’s only available in hard copy, mostly because then I feel obligated to keep the book even if I didn’t care for the story and that’s never fun.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do read the books you’ve agreed to take AND write your book reviews. For many authors/publishers, they only send out a fixed number of ARCs, so if you agree to take a book, then make every effort to read the book, write your review, and get it posted before the deadline. If you can’t do it, be sure to notify the contact person ahead of time.
  • Do check out our post on Writing Book Reviews for hints on how to write them, if you’re unsure.
  • Don’t take the ARCs and ghost the contact person. If for some reason you can’t review the book in time, let them know.
  • Don’t share the ARCs—the authors/publishers are trusting you not to share a pre-publication manuscript, so don’t be an asshole and pirate your copy. That’s a sure way to get yourself blacklisted and potentially into some legal trouble.

In closing

You’ve joined ARC teams, you’re on a few lists, the books start coming in, and now you’re overwhelmed. A bit of organization will help with that. For me, I tend to read in bulk. If I have some down time, I’ll read as many books as I can and then write the reviews as soon as I finish the stories using the format I describe in our post on Book Reviews. I calendar the due dates for my book reviews, so when I get the reminders, I usually have the book reviews ready to go and if I’m really on the ball, I’ll also have the links to the different review sites included in my reminders, which gives me no excuse to put it off since it’s all right there.

Receiving ARCs is a privilege. Remaining on ARC lists over the years means you’re doing something right and authors and publishers like what you have to say. While it’s not a legal obligation to accept ARCs and write reviews, accepting an ARC means you are committing to the publication timeline so before you accept, ask yourself: Do I want to read this book? And do I have time to read and review this book? If you can’t answer yes to both questions, then consider passing on the offer. More will come. Promise.

Note: Goldenwest Editing doesn’t get paid for the reviews we post here on our website. Those are strictly voluntary. There are occasions where me might have received an ARC, but generally, we own the books we’re reviewing and we encourage you to do the same.