Reading books early is one of the many fun things about blogging, but asking for them and finding the right ways to read them can be daunting. Here I break down the different sorts of Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) and how to go about requesting them.
There are lots of different platforms you can find eARCs on, focused on different parts of the market.
NetGalley and Edelweiss are the big two platforms for traditionally published books. You may choose to use both or only one, depending on how easy you find their interfaces to use and whether you want to restrict how many books you have access to (in order to stay on top of reviews.) Edelweiss isn’t really used by publishers outside the US, but if you’re looking for US-only books (and US HarperCollins books) it’s the place to look.
If you’re looking for indie/self-published books, some (often the ones from small presses) find their way onto NetGalley, but mostly they don’t. Instead, there are eARC platforms dedicated to them, with Book Sirens and Story Origin being the big ones.
The similarity between all of them is that you sign up and request books, which you may or may not be approved for. Some are stricter than others about penalising you if you don’t submit your review before the release date (like Story Origin) but it’s generally a good idea to have a high percentage and review as soon as you can to keep your stats looking good.
NetGalley is, easily, the biggest platform for eARCs. It has a global reach and focus, and is also (in my opinion) much easier to use.
If you’re starting off, my advice is to not over-request. Initially, you percentage is the thing determining whether or not you’ll be requested, so keep it as high as you can (the 80% rule does come into play here.) That means only requesting a few books at a time and reviewing them in a timely fashion as every book has a big impact on your percentage.
However, after a while, you’ll have stacked up enough reviews to have a buffer to request more. Plus, eventually, you’ll be “known” to the publicists in charge of approving and you’ll learn which publishers you know you can more or less get any eARC from. I’d still aim to keep a high percentage, but it doesn’t matter half so much once you become “established.”
Another good thing to do is keep your bio up-to-date with your latest blogging stats (more on that below) in case there’s a new publicist manning the account, or you’re applying for something you don’t usually. Also include your areas of main interest there, but if you read more widely, slip that in too.
There is more than on NetGalley – there are several regional ones, such as a US one, a UK one, a French one, and more. You don’t just have to browse the titles in your home region – you can log in to any region’s website and request from them.
Two things to note with multi-region browsing
- You may not see the full listing for that region – some titles are hidden from people logging in to a region that isn’t their main
- You may be rejected based on your location if there are copyright issues that could arise from sending you an eARC (usually occurs when there are different publishers in different countries)
Direct from Authors
Some books you can get eARCs direct from the authors. The big warning here is YOU SHOULD NEVER, EVER APPROACH THE AUTHOR ABOUT AN eARC UNLESS THEY HAVE PUT OUT A MESSAGE SAYING THAT THEY HAVE eARCS (the same is true of ARCs.) It’s just rude to pester them, and they probably can’t help, otherwise.
The majority of traditionally published authors have no/very little control over eARCs (or ARCs) so it’s mostly indie/self-published authors who can give you an eARC. The way to find out about these is usually to be signed up to the author’s newsletter or street team.
(Non-Publisher) Tour Companies
Book Tours are great ways to read releases early, and there are lots of third party tour companies out there who organise tours from both traditional and indie publishers.
The big ones I am aware of are:
There are also smaller ones that focus on getting diverse books into the hands of reviewers who share those identities, such as Caffeine Book Tours. If you also run a bookstagram account, there are some focused on that, such as Pride Book Tours.
The way to be involved in all of them is to sign up to their lists. Emails will go out when there are tours in the works and you then apply for each tour, usually by form. Depending on the size of the tour (and if there are any preferences for who will get places, i.e. people sharing the identity), you will be informed if you have a place.
But what about physical ARCs from traditional publishers? These are the difficult ones to get as there aren’t many copies (and fewer are available every year as the price of printing rises) and not every book has an ARC. This is also a situation where being an established blogger known to the publicist and having a following on your blog (etc) helps.
I’m not saying any of this to discourage people – never self-reject – but to temper expectations. It is unlikely that you will be sent ARCs immediately after starting your book blog (though some people are that lucky!)
There are two ways of getting these: to email the publicist directly or to be on their publicity list and be asked.
Publishers do list their media contacts on their websites, often squirreled away (and usually to a standard/generic “publicity” email.) If you don’t know the publicist yet, that’s the way to do it. You may not always get a reply, but if you do, it’s usually from the publicist’s specific email, and then that’s the start of your working relationship with them. You can also keep an eye out on the publisher’s social media (and some publicists who use their accounts for publicity) for calls for bloggers to request certain ARCs. (I have some tips on how to format those emails below.)
The other way is to get onto their blogger list. Some companies list the sign up on their website, but many don’t. Instead, they will usually put out sign up calls to get onto their lists periodically. Once you are on the list, you’ll be emailed about upcoming releases and offered chances to request books (and join publisher-run tours.)
Every publisher has different criteria for when they’ll send people ARCs (which will vary by popularity of title), so it is a matter of (politely) trying with multiple books until you get one and start a working relationship with them.
ARC Request Emails
If you want to ask for an ARC, you need to email the relevant publicist. Even when replying to a “shout out” or invitation email, it’s often good to reply with a pretty standard email that contains the major information publicists want. Below is an example email (italics) broken down some explanations and extra information to include (non italics.)
Dear [Publicist] – If it’s a standard “publicity [at] [publisher]” email, then instead of using the title, use a greeting like “Good Morning”
My name is [X] and I run the book blog [Y] – include a link to your blog here! – I would love to review [upcoming title] by [author]. Give a reason, something specific to the book. Is it a retelling of your favourite fairy telling? Have you read and loved other books by the author? If so, include a link to your review to prove it’s not just empty words. This is the (brief!) section where you show that you truly are passionate about this specific title and so would be a good fit.
My stats are as follows: This is the bit that tells them that it’s worth them sending to you as it will get the publicity they want. Include follower and monthly views (where applicable) for your blog and any other major platforms you also use for book blogging (i.e. twitter, tiktok, youtube, instagram) and include links where possible.
If you are able to send me a copy, my address is: ALWAYS include your address. If they have to follow up to find out where to send the book, they probably won’t bother as there’s so much on their plates. You have to make this as easy as possible for them.
Thank you for considering my request, [name]
It’s actually a very simple email to send, and once you get the hang of it, it will be very easy to write up. Be professional and polite, and also be aware that posting can take a while! If nothing comes, don’t be discouraged – try again when another title comes up. And once you do start getting proofs, you’ll get a gut feeling for when you have a good working relationship and can stop including the stats.
I hope that demystifies some of the aspects of requesting ARCs and give you some tips for how to go about it!
Want more blogging advice? All my advice posts are collected here.