An Inside Look at Advance Reading Copies

I recently received a box of ARCs of The Preacher’s Bride. (Yes, that’s a picture of one.) I have to admit, I was pretty clueless about my ARCs and what I needed to do with them. I had to do some scrambling to figure it all out.

I had questions like: What exactly is an ARC? What’s their purpose? Who should I give them to? What’s the difference between an ARC reader and an Influencer?

What exactly is an ARC?

ARC is the acronym for Advance Reading Copy. It’s an early published version of a book but is NOT the final edited form. As you can see from the picture, it doesn’t even have its lovely full cover.

When I received my box of ARCs, The Preacher’s Bride was still in the last stage of editing—the copyediting. In fact, UPS delivered the Galleys at the end of last week, and I’m now under deadline to read through the manuscript one last time to make any changes before the book goes to print.

All that to say, the ARC is not a polished copy of the book. The title page for the ARC has this note: “UNEDITED MANUSCRIPT Confidential. Unrevised and unpublished proofs. Please do not quote until verified with finished book. This copy is not for distribution to the public.”

The back of the book is designed to sell me as a debut author. It has the blurb that tells what the book is about, but it also showcases me by saying: “Introducing a Compelling New Voice in Historical Romance. This fall debut author Jody Hedlund delivers an emotionally powerful story that will tug at readers’ hearts . . . “ Along with other really flattering stuff designed to promote my book.

What’s the purpose of the ARCs? Who should I give my ARCs to?

My Bethany House Publicist answered my questions this way: “ARCs are helpful for people who need longer lead times—they either need time to read and write a review, or to process an order in their system, or plan an event around the book’s release, etc. “

“Focus on giving them to key influencers in your community, like local librarians who would order the actual book later on. Someone in women’s ministry leadership, or a leader of a book club. Ideally a person who wouldn’t be on our radar, but has a fair amount of influence or sway over other small groups of people; even local media you might have a connection with.”

In other words, advanced reading copies are for those who can help in the promotion of a book (book critics and bookstore owners), but who benefit from having time to read the book well-ahead of the release date.

Interestingly, a copy of The Preacher’s Bride ARC showed up on e-bay the week it came out, and the bidding started at $3.99. So, someone who was given a free book was obviously turning around and trying to make a profit on it, even though it's not intended for distribution to the public.

What’s the difference between an ARC reader and an Influencer?

An Influencer is publishing lingo for someone who starts some buzz and spreads the word about the new book. Usually an Influencer will receive a book in its final and hopefully perfect form from the publishing house in exchange for their promotional efforts—writing positive reviews on book sites, hosting blog interviews, etc. (More about Influencers in the next post.)

The ARC is sent several months ahead and is in its unfinished form for more significant, key promoters. Influencer books are sent a few weeks ahead in the final form and are for more general but strategic promoters.

If after reading this post, you feel qualified to review an ARC of The Preacher’s Bride, please let me know your position and sphere of influence. I have several ARC’s available to giveaway.

So, tell me—did you know the differences between ARC readers and Influencers? Was it as new to you as it was to me? And for those who are already experts on this stuff, if I missed anything, please chime in with your knowledge! And if you don’t have anything else to say, tell me what you thought about The Preacher’s Bride ARC being sold on e-bay—right, wrong, makes no difference?


  1. I had no idea about ARC readers and Influencers. Very interesting. As to the book being sold on eBay, I'd say that's a no-no.

  2. This clears up a lot of confusion. Thanks for sharing. Oh and your recommendation for the self help book (in your sidebar) Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell is wonderful.

  3. What a great post! I had no idea at all there even was a difference! (shows how much I know) I'm not the right gal for an ARC (unless you want a bunch of 5th graders reading your book!).

    Thanks for clarifying!

  4. I've received a couple of ARCs when I was reviewing books for a certain site. I didn't think about giving ARCs to people in ministry leadership positions--great idea!!

    As for the e-bay sale, I believe selling ARCs is wrong because the person is receiving a confidential document is willing to share it for a profit. To me, that shows lack of integrity. Also, an ARC is not completely edited, so the buyer risks seeing errors that could influence his/her impression of the writer.

  5. I have heard about ARC because I once received one in the mail from an author and it was fun to see how much still needed to be edited! I never heard of an Influencer before that interesting.
    As for selling it on e-bay?? Wrong. I would dread that my book was out that way already when it wasn't done totally.

  6. Way to explain the difference!! I've always wondered if there was one. I've received a couple ARCS in the past and promoted the crazies out of them via blog, friends, church, etc.

    I like to get a few local church librarians reading them and some key readers in the church who are BIG into reading Christian fiction.

    But, I've never known the difference between and influencer and an arc-er. :)

  7. I did not know there was a difference between ARC reader and Influencer. Now it hits me. I think I've done both. Thanks for clearing it up.

    Oh, and in my opinion selling an ARC on ebay is just wrong.

  8. Thanks for explaining the difference! I've learned something new today.

    I think selling it on e-bay is wrong, especially since it hasn't been released.

    Thanks for this post.

  9. As a book reviewer I was aware of what an ARC is. However, I hadn't heard of an Influencer, nice to know. As for the ARC being on e-bay before your books comes out is definitely a no-no.

    BTW, if you are doing a blog tour for your upcoming book, I'd love to host you at Thoughts in Progress. Drop by, look around and let me know. I enjoy letting visitors to my blog know about upcoming books of various genres.
    Your book sounds very interesting.

    Thoughts in Progress

  10. Great thoughts Friday and today, Jody.

    I'm sure my time is coming for all of this!

  11. Interesting! I've had a couple ARCs in my possession, but had never heard of an Influencer. The difference makes absolute sense, though.

    Jody, I would love an ARC. If I honestly wouldn't be a good choice, don't sweat it, but otherwise I'd absolutely read/review/spread the word.

    You know, I've always imagined finally getting a published copy of my book, and reading it cover to cover. But I have to wonder, after all the things you go through during the entire process, are you going to want another pass? What do you think?

  12. Hey! Great article re ARCs!
    Think you mailed most of the key points.

    I still have a few ARCS lying around...after the book comes out, they're not much use!

    Once I went to an appearance. A woman there had bought a book online--it wasn't an ARC but was a personally autographed book! So funny...or sad! I choose to laugh! Really...LOL

    Have a great day!

    P.S. You might want to avoid Amazon, etc. It can drive an author crazy. For what??? LOL.

  13. I knew what an ARC was, because I received them when I published my memoir. They were mainly used to send to reviewers. I've never heard the term Influencers. Thanks for the explanation. And wishing you so much luck, Jody, as you move closer to publication. Can't wait for you to experience that blissful moment of seeing your book on the bookstore shelf. It is truly mind-blowing.

  14. I was going to joke around and say I'd love to be a reader. But seriously, Jody. Come on over and do an interview in the least!

    Very discouraging to see someone already trying to profit off your ARC. I've seen them in used bookstores before but have never said anything. I should have.

    And you know, I AM a preacher's wife, too. ;)

  15. What a cheap chump to try to sell the copy of the ARC on eBay. Just shows you what the mindset of many people is these days. Anything for a buck!

    I appreciate the other information you supplied in this post. I didn't know what ARCs and Influencers were until now. I hope you do well with the book.

  16. This is all pretty new to me, too!
    As for it being sold on eBay, that's a drag and shouldn't have been done, but not really worth the time to investigate unfortunately. :/

  17. Thanks for the info Jody. That's so exciting to see your ARC. What a wonderful step toward seeing your book in the stores. I wish I could say I was an influencer, because I can't wait to read the book, but I should probably hang back until it comes out.

  18. That is so wrong about ebay. Who would do that? I bet you are getting excited, though. It's really coming up fast. Congratulations again on all of your success.

  19. I knew what ARC was but had never heard the term Influencers. This was very helpful in terms of figuring out who to give an ARC to and why.

    Thanks, Jody!!

  20. I’d heard the term ARC before but didn’t know what it was for. And I’d haven’t heard the term Influencer before.

    This part in the ARC "UNEDITED MANUSCRIPT Confidential...This copy is not for distribution to the public." Is enough to tell me that is shouldn’t be on e-bay. I’m sure the seller is aware that it’s wrong as well.

  21. Congratulations Jody...the ARC looks lovely. I had heard of ARC but not heard of Influencers.
    You must be really excited to recieve the ARC of your first book. Enjoy and cherish this moment. You deserve it, and have earned it.
    The Preacher's Bride ARC sold on e-bay is wrong.

  22. okay, I see.
    I've never heard of either of those.
    It's so interesting to see how your journey's going.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Sorry about the poser on Ebay.

  23. I didn't know the difference, Jody--thanks for telling us. Fascinating.

    That shady person on ebay must be hungry. I'm sorry you saw that, dear.

  24. I've received ARCs to review for a magazine I write for and just once I passed one along to someone else who said she would help promote it (be an Influencer). I forgot about it until I discovered a friend of hers had reviewed it on her blog quoting an excerpt complete with its spelling error and ridiculing the poor editing. I assumed the cautionary blurb on the front cover would be obeyed, but learned that once the copy leaves your hands you have no control over how far it will go or how it will be used (as in your case, sold on e-Bay).

  25. I knew about ARC's, but I've never heard of Influencers before - interesting stuff! I would love to host you at Book Dreaming if you do a blog tour. Let me know if you plan to do one and would like to include me (no hurt feelings if you don't). I am also the librarian at my church and would love to promote your book, Jody!

  26. This is SO interesting, Jody. I love learning all of this right along side you. And can I just say I'm SO cotton-pickin' excited for you I could squeal?

  27. Jodi, this is all new to me! Isn't this exciting for you? That must have been so fun to open the box and see these books.

    I wish I was an influencer, but instead, I'm just a reader! I look forward to reading your book, as it sounds like it's just the sort of book I'd normally read.

    And, I can't believe a copy was already for sale on ebay. I'm hopelessly naive when it comes to that stuff!

    By the way (sorry for the long comment) I saw the book on your side bar "Plot & Structure." I picked up the book and it's helping me A LOT! So thank you once again for your practical advice.

  28. I had that happen to one of my ARCs too, but it was on Amazon. The person was selling it for $250. What a bargain.

  29. Thanks for the explanation about the differences between ARC readers and influencers. I'd never even heard of influencers before, so this was a very good lesson.

    As far as The Preacher's Bride being sold on eBay... that really doesn't sit well with me. You were given the copy as a freebie; what now gives you the right to sell it and make money from it, taking that money out of the pockets of those who wrote it, sold it and produced it? And then there's the issue of releasing it to the world before it's finalized. Not right at all...

  30. Thanks for clarifying the difference between an ARC reader and an influencer. I've been privileged to serve as an influencer many times, but I've only been invited to read an ARC once. My sphere of influence as an unpublished writer is limited, although I'm telling anyone who will listen about "The Preacher's Bride." :-)

  31. I've had the privilege of reading a couple of ARCs. However, I much as I would love to read itas soon as I can , I don't know that my spehere of influence is that great. I'll pick it up when it comes out.

  32. I know very well what an ARC is, but had never heard the term "influencer." With the ARC we received [a gift from the author for letting him use our daughter's name as one of his main characters--as though we'd say no--:)] , we actually informed the author of the punctuation errors we found, hoping we were helping. My daughter wanted to do a book report on it until she realized that it would spoil the book for others because it wasn't published yet. The person on e-bay obviously doesn't hold to the same moral code, though I found myself asking where he got one from in the first place. Publisher? Agent?

  33. I've had the chance to receive a few ARCs here and there. I like getting the chance to read a book and talk it up before it is actually released. I had no idea about Influencers, though. That's really interesting.

    I think it's absolutely wrong and disgraceful that someone was selling an ARC of The Preacher's Bride. To make money on something when the publishers, editors, and AUTHOR won't is just wrong.

  34. You can add me to your list of blogs that want you to come for a visit!

    Too bad about your ARC being sold, but you can't worry about stuff you can't change.

    Really informative post. I'm getting mine soon, perfect timing.

  35. Hi Karen Adair,

    Yes, my publisher has sent out ARCs to all of their contacts. So apparently one of them is a little shadey! But I'm sure most are very ethical.

  36. I had heard of an ARC but not an influencer book. I'm glad you took the time to explain it all. How exciting and butterfly inducing to be so close to your publishing date!

    If you haven't released your ARC copies yet, where did that ebay copy come from? Did someone report it to the ebay police and have it taken down? I wouldn't be happy with the ARC being put out to the general public before the final copy was done. It would probably toast my marshmallows if I was in your shoes.

  37. This is all new to me...but I sat up straight and took a deep breath when I realized how close you are to publication. Congratulations! Oh, I can't wait!

  38. Hi Jody -

    Thanks for the definitions. Perhaps someone should write a publishing glossary.

    As for selling an ARC, this shows a lack of integrity. It could also hurt the author because the book is not in its final form.

    Susan :)

  39. Oh Jody, how exciting! You must be nearly giddy!

    I knew some about this, but not everything, so thank you for the info. I am disappointed to hear that the book is on ebay. Seems like it takes away from the intent of the ARC.

    Can't wait till the book comes out for real. It will be on my must read list:)


  40. I've heard a little about ARC's and Influencer copies. I've read an ARC before to help promote a book but I didn't realize the few distinct differences. This is so interesting, Jody--it's been very informative to follow along with your publishing journey. I can't wait to read your book when the final copy comes out. Congratulations!

  41. You made ebay?!!? That's awesome! Terribly wrong on some levels and really cool on others. I'm thinking it shouldn't really matter, though. But your book was on ebay!!

    Thanks for the information on ARCs. I didn't even know what an influencer was, but I have a buddy who received ARC's from a brother-n-law all the time and he passes them to me.

    Your date is drawing near! Can't wait to read your book. Love what they say about you on the back. Very nice.

  42. I knew what an ARC was, but I'd never heard of influencer before. After you explained it, though, I had one of those "Duh, Linda" moments. "Of course, that's what an influencer would do."

    I just love to visit your blog and follow all the steps a true novelist goes through to become published. Makes me think I might be a little prepared when (okay, IF) I reach that level.

    OH, and I gave you an award on my post today. Thanks again for writing such a helpful blog.

  43. Thanks for writing this. I have always wondered what published authors (don't you love the sound of that?) do with those ARC copies. As for the Ebay thing, that's pretty low IMHO. I mean c'mon, you're not making a mint off a book and you should be reading it instead.

  44. Okay, I think it's horrible that someone is selling your ARC. Seriously! That's like videotaping a film and pirating it. Unethical.

    As far as ARC's, definitely try to get them in the hands of any area independent bookstores. They're wonderful at promoting local authors.

    (I got so excited seeing the picture of your ARC--I can't even imagine the shouts of joy you must have been feeling!)

  45. It's definitely a big no-no to sell ARCs and people definitely shouldn't be buying them.

    I work in a bookstore, and ARCs, to us, are great ways to get excited about a book before it hits our shelves to sell. A lot of the bookseller recommends choices we have in our store specifically have come from ARCs that we've read early on.

  46. I disagree on the difference between Influencer books and ARCs. I've gotten ARCs right before a book hits the shelves, and finished copies sometimes months in advance. Either way, the book is for review purposes and thereby to influence sales.

    I'm holding out for a finished copy! :-)

  47. I had heard about Arcs, but not about Influencers. Thanks for enlightening me. :)

  48. I have a friend who owns a book store, so have known about ARCs for a while, but had never heard of Influencers until now. I love getting to learn so much about the business from your experience.

    I think it's considered bad form to sell ARC's, but some are considered quite valuable depending on the author and how well the book does later. I guess I'm thinking if someone wants to pay for a copy of a book for any reason, it's okay.

  49. I know that ARCs get sold online all the time. I think it's morally dubious, and many ARCs have "not for distribution or resale" notices on the front so it's no doubt illegal too. But do publishers track down/prosecute ARC resellers, I wonder? Or is it one of those areas where a blind eye is turned so that reviewers can make a little extra cash?

    In any case, I wouldn't do it. It feels wrong.

  50. Actually, I had no idea that a publisher would do this! It's a fantastic idea! I can tell you that many books I've read DID NOT DO THIS, but should have!

    I would love to be an ARC reader! I'm a member of the St. Louis Writer's Guild, as well as a few others. I've completed, edited, tweaked and rewritten (several times) my first novel, and I have two more actively in the works.

    I'm a Realtor (r) in real life and a writer in every spare moment I have. Being a Realtor is 'self promotion' also, so I know how valuable 'word of mouth' promotion can be!

    If you have room for more ARC readers, I'd love to be one!

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  52. I knew what an ARC was, but not an Influencer.

    The ebay person should be handcuffed and taken to jail. :)

  53. Jody, thanks for a great post. This is very useful information.

    While selling an ARC is clearly unethical, I can't help thinking it falls under the category "there's no such thing as bad publicity." It probably does you more help than harm.


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