Advanced Reader Copies (ARC’s) are versions of your book you are providing to a select group prior to its full release. These copies are traditionally given to those who are willing to review. Here I discuss several popular tools for writers that can help with this.
The problem for the Indie writers is how to get these out to your readers, track who reviews and does not, and keep a check on piracy.
In the past, my DIY methods led to frustration.
In the past I tried providing ARC’s to readers who followed me on social media.
Because I was trying to step them through the process of putting it on their Kindle readers they became confused. When confused, half dropped out or didn’t get the copy loaded right. In the end, I had no way of knowing if those that loaded it to their Kindle actually read it.
Some readers gave me a review, others did not. Other’s kept forgetting and I didn’t want to nag them. Doing it without software or an app was a muddled mess.
I won’t do that again and I’d recommend you don’t either. I also don’t like sending out pdf’s to people who request them by email. Tracking and protections need to be put in place.
Another option is to mail out physical copies of your book. This can really rack up the dollars on postage. I leave this option for sending out the finished book and than only to reviewers who have a social media presence.
I’m going a different direction this time with my new book Never Date a Siren.
BTW if you are READER you can sign up to these websites and get all sorts of new books and fresh reads! I’ll be covering it from the author standpoint in this post.
I’m using ALL three of the following platforms to provide ARC’s to readers (I will report back in 45 days what I thought of each of these tools for writers):
Book Sprout – integrates with KDP analytics and has an Amazon keyword search that could be helpful. Platform is very focused on bringing reviewers to your book and puts the author in the driver’s seat with the ability to reject and block reviewers.
- FREE, $10 or $20 per month (I started with free but will try the $120 for one year before deciding if I will continue).
- Is the ONLY one which has a reader review community looking for ARC’s,
- can make your ARC only available to a private community,
- you can require what platform you want reviews to be posted at,
- you can request readers for books already out,
- auto sends update notices to reviewers,
- and you can block reviewers,
- anti-piracy measures available.
My opinion: This website heavily relies upon you having a review team and is designed more for managing an existing group.
At this point I have 7 that state they will review for Wicked Wolves so I should know by the first week in November if they carried through. I have zero for Never Date a Siren. I don’t like that there is no way to pair up with other promos (like the other websites) or to encourage potential reviewers to see you.
I also had problems with understanding their Promos area vs. their ARC area. Another problem is I did not understand their date system on setting up my promo. This is a bit confusing and could use some clarification.
- Work on your profile first, before attempting to load up one of your books.
- Load up books next and wait before setting up an ARC or promo.
- Reduce the size of your file first with Calibre.
Roundup: it’s a good one to get for your Street Team as you can confirm reviews are getting done. I also like the auto-emails reminders. Their review community seems small so I’d go free first.
Story Origin – this looks to have a lot of power under the hood and they provide video editorials to figure out their dashboard. It’s biggest asset is creating promotions and tracking clicks. I love that they offer an audio book option.
- Free for now.
- focused on reviewers, free giveaways, lead magnets,
- you can easily cross promote with other authors,
- provides a calendar to keep track of your campaigns,
- provides a Universal Book link url,
- integrates with email services (i.e. MailerLite),
- Readers download the pdf or mobi file,
- allows you to generate giveaway codes so you can track,
- has an option for tracking those who redeem your audio book,
- Limited tracking, only available for reviews.
My opinion: While this app is free, I fully expect it to go paid soon as it is a serious contender to Book Funnel. The dashboard has a lot of stuff to do on it and will take time to figure out how to maximize the power of the app.
Seems more geared towards Newsletter swaps, Lead Magnets, than ARC’s (does have a way to provide it but you must have your own team to invite). No way to know if anyone left a review from your post or to block reviewers in the future that I saw.
There are shared promos (which I love!) you can do but again seems more towards short stories, lead magnets, than full books.
Roundup: the community here seems rather small, but you could be getting in on the ground floor of something that will become big. The website has a lot of powerful options (many similar to Book Funnel).
I was happy to jump on a newsletter swap for Wicked Wolves and excited to see how this plays out. Before you do the same make sure you’ve been building your email list via your website and that you have a regular publishing schedule as many promos demand that. (I use MailerLite).
Book Funnel (the one I see most recommended).
- $20/$100/$250 per year. I’m going $100 so I can collect emails, otherwise why bother?
- Designed for reviewers and book distribution,
- Downloads files to the reader in various formats and provides some instructions for how to view them,
- Integrates with email services (i.e. MailerLite),
- Readers download the pdf or mobi file,
- No tracking of reader progress (like Beta Books),
- No comments,
- Does seem to have a large community with promos and swaps.
My opinion: No free version. Lots of options on the dashboard but like StoryOrigin seems more about Newsletter swaps, Lead Magnets, than ARC’s. I ended up making a Landing Page for my Never Date a Siren ARC although you can send out a custom link via their email integration through your own list.
I goofed up! – I thought when they wanted numbers of download that was per person (like each person could download once). Nope! That was total downloads so egg on my face this week about this – reset it for 100 downloads.
Roundup: I am still deep diving into all their functions. One though is Print Codes – so you can giveaway ebooks and track those. They also have a way to integrate this optin into selling your ebook (think book table or convention).
So like I wrote, a powerful website – and I would put down as a must-have if you are serious about your writing career.
Book Connect (JMO but I find this too expensive for what it does)
- $37 per month, billed annually.
- Designed for reviewers and book distribution, not beta readers
- Downloads files to the reader, provides some instructions for how to view them.
- No tracking of reader progress.
- No comments
In the end, for ARC’s I prefer BookFunnel as the best way to distribute them through a Street Team group that I’ve personally assembled.