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 Unrevised and unpublished proofs. Please do not quote until verified with finished book.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?

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