Lola’s Advice is a monthly feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews, which will be posted on the first Monday of the month. Lola’s Advice posts are usually how-to or tips type of posts. They are mainly aimed at authors, but I also try and show the blogger/ reader side of the topic I address. I share my knowledge or personal opinion on mostly book, authors, marketing and promotion related topics. I hope it’s helpful for authors and bloggers alike. Also even though it’s advice please understand that even if you follow all my advice it still won’t guarantee your book will be a success, but it hopefully will be helpful. I also believe that not everything works for each author, every author and book is different and different strategies work for different people. So please use whatever you want to or fits with your style. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.
In today’s post I want to talk about ARC teams. As a blogger and reviewer I am part of quite some arc teams and I enjoy being part of them. And through my work as author assistant I’ve seen a lot about arc teams as well. I think having an arc team can be a big help. I will address some topics concerning arc teams, but mostly I will give ideas and multiple options, as I believe every author and arc team is different and you have to find out what works best for you and your book(s). So I hope I can provide you with some ideas or things to think about in this post.
What is an ARC team and why do you need one?
ARC stands for Advance Reader Copy, which means it’s a copy that gets distributed to reviewers ahead of the release date of that book so they can read and review it. An ARC team is the list of people who sign-up to receive an ARC copy of your book. The aim of an arc team is to make sure your book will have some reviews on release day. It depends on the size of your arc team and how many reviewers read and review it how many reviews your book has on release day and a part also depends on how you handle your arc team. I’ll talk more about how to handle your ARC team and some topics to consider next.
Who can join? Requirements and expectations for your ARC team
When you’re thinking of setting up an arc team it’s important to think about who can join your team. Is it open for everyone? Do they have to meet certain requirements to join? This also ties in a bit with how you get sign-ups. There are a few things to think about when answering this question. Do they have to be book bloggers or is having an account on Goodreads and/or amazon enough? Do they have to post their review on a specific site or is it more vague as post your review in one place or one vendor site? How fast do they have to read and review the book? I think it’s important to decide on these things beforehand and also communicate this to potential arc team members so they know what is expected of them. Also it could be handy to mention how soon in advance they receive arc copies as that might influence their decision to join. Will arc team members also be expected to help spread the word about your book or only review it? Will they get addition goodies besides advance review copies? This is not necessary, but if you want to offer this make sure to mention this.
How many people can join your ARC team?
Another thing to decide is how big you want your arc team to be. Is there a limited amount of spots and can only a new person join when a spot opens? Is it more vague, like about 100-200 people can join? Or you can open and close sign-ups depending on what you think is best at that moment. Or is it basically unlimited and the more people who join the better. If you team is limited in spots, I do think this might be worth saying, but at the same time only say this when sign-ups really are limited. Saying there are limited spots will make some people more eager to sign-up and others less as they know they might get a spot from someone else. How many people can join your team also ties in with your goals. If you want an X amount of reviews on release day, try to get at least double if not triple as many people in your arc team. Not everyone will be able to read and review your book in time and some might drop out or decline a certain book. So make sure your team is bigger than the amount of reviews you want on release day.
When and how do you remove someone form your ARC team
It might be worth to think about when you remove people from your team, when you’re just starting out this might not be too important, but as your team grows it is important to think about this. Can everyone stay on the team forever or will you remove people from the team? And if you remove people, who and why do you remove them. If they don’t review your last book in time? If they don’t review your last book before the next release? If they pirate your book? If they give your book a negative rating? And if you go for that last option what do you consider a negative rating? Another thing to consider is whether you give people a warning before they get removed or not. You can also announce when people will be removed in the arc team terms, but not warn someone when they get removed from the team. Another option would be to check in or sent reminder e-mails to members on your team you haven’t heard of in a while and ask if they still want to stay on your team. A technique I’ve seen some authors use is giving books on a book by book basis where if they review the first book in the series they get book 2 etc. This way every reviewer will always only have one unread book from you. And once they stop reviewing they also stop receiving new books. You can also only make the option to receive later books available for those who review by a certain date.
One or multiple ARC list if you write multiple series/ genre?
If you write multiple standalone books, multiple series or multiple genres it might be worth it to think about how to handle that. Do you go for one list, everyone receives every book and can decide if they don’t want that book? Or go with one list where people have to say yes for each book they do want to review? Or you could set up multiple lists or multiple segments for different genres. Another option would be to make an individual list or segment for each book and e-mail your full arc team, and maybe some others as well, and ask them to sign-up for that book if they want to be added to the list for that. So you would have one big arc team and individual sign-ups for each book.
How to Get sign-ups for your arc list
So how do you get people to sign-up for your team? I list a few common methods I’ve seen below and discuss them.
- Signs-up through a form. The most common option is some sort of sign-up form. You can go with something like a google drive form or another site that makes forms. Or a use a form from your newsletter company and make a separate list for your arc team and a corresponding form to sign-up for that. You can promote this sign-up form as wide as you want or only to a selected group. If you want to promote your arc team sign-up form, think of the following methods: adding it to your Goodreads review of your own book, contact people who have read one or multiple of your books, promote the form on social media, promote the form by the cover reveal for the book or any other promotion, mention the sign-up form in your newsletter etc. If going for a form also consider which information you want to have about your potential arc team members (name, e-mail, links to review, link to blogs etc?) and also make to mention in the form if everyone will automatically get accepted or you will pick those who will get accepted.
- Invite only. You can also make your arc team invite only, either you can only e-mail certain people the link to the sign-up form or just e-mail them and ask them if they want to join and if they say yes, they join your team.
- E-mail the author if you want to join. I’ve also seen a few authors who mentioned they had arc copies or an arc team and if you were interested you have to e-mail them. I think that for reviewers a form is the easier option, but with this option you do make sure you only get the people who are really interested and/ or won’t mind e-mailing you sign-up for ARC’s. You can also promote this in the ways I listed at the first option.
- Select arc team option when signing-up for newsletter. I’ve only seen a few authors do this, but it’s worth considering. When people sign-up for your newsletter you can add an option to the sign-up form that also adds them to the arc team. I’ve joined one arc team this way and seen a few others that did this. It’s certainly an easy way to sign-up and you reach everyone who is going to sign-up for your newsletter with the arc team offer at the same time.
How to keep track of who is on your arc team
You need a way to keep track of who’s on your arc list. if you use a form to get people to sign-up for your arc list you could use that to keep track. I also see a lot of authors who set up a mailing list for their arc team and use that to keep track of their arc team. Everyone who is on the mailing list receives arc’s. For multiple arc lists or multiple books or to keep track of who has reviewed what you could set up segments to keep track of that. Something like an excel document with information about each member also works.
How to send out the ARCs
Nowadays most arc teams use one of the following ways to sent out arcs. They all work a bit differently and I’ll explain each method a bit.
- Sent file or place to download file directly to reviewers. You can just e-mail the file directly to the reviewers or sent them to dropbox and let them download the file they need. Reviewers do need to know which file they need and how to get it on their device or you could include instructions on how to do that in the e-mail. This is probably the cheapest option, although it can be a bit more time intensive than other options.
- Instafreebie. You can upload your arc to Instafreebie and then sent the link to the ARC on instafreebie to your arc team. If a reviewer goes to download a book from there they have to fill in their name, surname and e-mail. Depending on how the instafreebie giveaway is set up, you can also have them subscribe to the author newsletter. Instafreebie then sends the file directly to their e-mail address and adds their name to the ebook file. This means the books file is personalized and it could help against piracy, I am not sure how much this really helps, but it’s something to keep in mind. They also add instructions for how to get the book on your device, so you won’t have to add this yourself. You can protect the instafreebie page with a password and also set a limit of the amount of copies, so you can control how many get downloaded. And by only giving your arc list the password for the page no one else can get your book.
- Bookfunnel. Bookfunnel is similar to instafreebie, but slightly different in how it works. Instead of e-mailing you a copy of the book like Instafreebie does, you can download your preferred format directly from their site. Bookfunnel makes it easy to get the right file for your device and walks readers through the process. So even if readers don’t know which file they need or how get it on their e-reader bookfunnel can help. They don’t add a name to your file as far as I know. Most review copies, arc list and even free newsletter rewards seen to use either instafreebie or book funnel nowadays.
- Sent book directly to kindle. You could also ask for people their kindle e-mail addresses when they sign-up for your arc team and then sent the mobi file directly to their kindle e-mail address. They do have to add your e-mail address to their list of approved senders as else they wont receive the file. And if you have people on your arc team that don’t have a kindle, you still need to use any of the previous methods for that.
- Netgalley or Edelweiss. This one’s a bit more of a roundabout way and a more broadly way to get review copies out in the world than aimed only at your acr team, but I wanted to mention it anyway. Another way to get people a copy of your book is to get it on Netgalley or edelweiss and sent them an auto approved widget for the book. You do need to have the e-mail they use for that site as people get approved by e-mail. I see some smaller and bigger publisher use this method and even some indie authors. People do need to have or make an account on that site and you can’t upload the book and share it with only your arc team, as the book will also be displayed on their site and other reviewers can request a review copy as well.
Do keep in mind that instafreebie, bookfunnel, netgalley, edelweiss and dropbox do cost money. Although instafreebie is free the first month and dropbox is free up till a certain size limit.
When to send out the ARCs
Generally I would say aim to sent out your arc’s as early as 2 months in advance to as soon as you want. I’ve even seen arc teams that sent out arc’s the day or or the day before the release of the book. Although with that tactic it’s unlikely to get much reviews on release day, but you can publish the book as soon as possible. So I think the when to sent out arc’s depends on your goals as well, the goals for your book and if you want to release it on a certain date and also the goals for your reviews. If you want a lot of reviews on release start as early as possible. Bloggers and reviewers often have a bunch of books to read and if you want to make sure they can read your book in time it helps to sent out arc’s early. If you hope for a few reviews and don’t have the arc’s as early sending them out a few days or few weeks ahead also work. I think it’s pretty subjective and it depends on what your aim is what works well. If you send out review copies early it also means some reviews will show up on Goodreads and blogs early, if you don’t want that, either make that clear or send copies out later. I also think it’s important to communicate things with your team. Do you send out your copies two weeks in advance, but expect them to review on release day? Then make sure to tell the when they can expect the arc so they can keep that in mind and maybe move things around in their reading schedule or drop out for that book id they can’t. As long as you communicate things clearly I think you can work with any time span.
How to get reviews on vendor sites from your arc team
Most team members might review the book on goodreads and/ or their blog already before release day, but on release day you have to make sure those reviews get on the vendor sites as well. As soon as the book is live on vendor sites it can help to e-mail your arc team the book is live and ask them to post their reviews there. I’ve also seen some authors do a giveaway for those who post their review or only those who review that book on one or more vendor sites will get the next book in the series or by the author. But I think the most important things is to let your arc team know the book is published and ask them to post their reviews on the vendor sites as well.
There are a few techniques surrounding publishing a book and reviews I’ve heard of. I’ve seen authors who did a soft launch first, basically publishing the book a few days before the real release day and then contact their arc team and ask them to post their reviews so that on release day the book already has some reviews. Another way to achieve this is to publish the paperback version of your book earlier on amazon and ask reviewers to post their review on the paperback version. On release day amazon will combine the paperback and e-copy version or you can e-mail them to ask them to combine the two versions and the reviews will show up for both versions. I’ve also seen some authors launch their book for cheap and let their arc team know so some might buy the book as well, so their review will show up as verified purchase.
Blogger point of view: Do I join arc Teams?
Yes I join quite a lot of arc teams, I love joining arc teams for authors who’s books I enjoyed as it’s a great way to make sure I receive their next book for review and I like knowing I am on an author their arc list. I am a pretty author loyal reader, which means that if I enjoy one book by an author I likely want to read more by them, which is why author specific arc teams are great for me. I receive review request and am on some publisher’s their e-mail list as well, but I usually prefer author arc teams over that.
I like it when authors are open about their arc list and promote it on social media, but being personally invited to a team is nice too as it makes me feel the author really wants me to join their team. I also have had some teams were I had to fill out a form or reply to an e-mail. Somehow I always find filling out a form easier than replying to an e-mail and I will only do the latter if I really want to join that team. Not sure why, probably because a form is less personal and if the author says no you won’t hear it directly. I like it when I know what to expect, when I receive the arcs and when I have to review them by. Because of my busy schedule I prefer arc teams were I have multiple weeks at least to review a book, but that doesn’t stop me from signing-up for a bunch or arc teams. As I gladly move things around for a book I really want to read. Although I do my best to not sign-up for too many arc teams that require a fast review as I know I can’t keep up with a lot of those.