When authors come to us asking how they can sell more books, one thing we almost always tell them is to get more book reviews. 

Book reviews are like gold to authors. Why? Because a good book review – or better, lots of good book reviews – build your book’s credibility better than almost any other marketing tool. They create confidence in your author brand, they give potential readers a way to vet your book, and they are one of the most viewed sections of every single Amazon product page. Every author, whether self-published or not, should be interested in finding ways to increase their book reviews and keep them flowing in each month. 

But what about when your book is brand new? When your book first goes live, having zero book reviews can feel a little scary. How do you convince new readers to buy and read your book when they have no way to vet it yet? 

Lining up book reviews before your book goes live can help, but since you can’t actually leave a book review on Amazon until the book is published it can be a bit tricky to pull off. 

This is where ARC readers come in handy. Let me explain more. 

What is an ARC Reader?

An advanced reader copy (often abbreviated ARC) is typically a fully-formatted digital version of your book, often unproofed. Your production team can supply you with an ARC during the formatting process. ARCs also usually have the finished cover attached to them, and their sole purpose is to help you gather customer reviews and testimonials pre book launch. 

You could also use a printed proof of your book before it launches as an Advanced Reader Copy, simply by ordering proofs through your Amazon KDP account. 

Advanced Reader Copies are given to a select group of people who have already agreed to read your book in advance of publication and leave a review when the book launches, preferably the same day or same week. These are your ARC readers. 

How to Find ARC Readers

When looking for ARC readers it’s best not to overthink it. While there are certainly professional book reviewers out there, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get a professional ARC reader to join your book launch team, especially if this is your first book. Instead, think of your ARC readers as friends, colleagues, and family members who want to support your book launch. 

You can also find additional ARC readers by utilizing your author platform. Many authors put requests for reviews out on their social media channels in exchange for an Advanced Reader Copy. This can be a valuable way to generate buzz about your book before it is published and start to collect real reviews that you can use on your website and in other marketing materials. If you have an email list you can let your subscribers know about the opportunity to be an ARC reviewer. 

What if you don’t have much of a platform yet? That’s fine! You can still search for ARC readers on social media. One way to find them is to post a picture of your book cover, a short synopsis, and a call to action that you are looking for ARC readers. Use hashtags like #arcreaders, #arcreaderswanted, #advancedreadercopies to grab people’s attention. 

Even if you don’t have a ton of followers, people will find you via the hashtags and can decide if they want to review your book or not. Typically authors will ask that you DM them, or leave a comment that you are interested and they will send info on how to get an ARC. 

Similar to ARC readers, finding book bloggers who are accepting submissions is another way to garner reviews. Search for book bloggers in your genre and then reach out either via their social media channels or through their website. Pitch them your book and offer to send them a copy if they will post a review on their website and/or Amazon. I like this strategy because you can implement it even after your book is published as a way to keep reviews coming in well after launch. 

How To Manage ARC Readers Pre Launch

After you have assembled your ARC reader team you need to be crystal clear on what you are asking them to do. I generally advise authors to do this over email so everything is in writing. 

Once someone has initially agreed to be an ARC reader, send an email either with the digital ARC version of your book, or if you have sent them a printed proof via your Amazon KDP account let them know when the book is expected to arrive. Thank them for agreeing to read the book and give their honest feedback when the book launches, and let them know what their deadline is to post their review. This last piece is really important. I cannot stress this enough: not everyone is going to complete the task, but if you don’t let them know what the deadline is you are setting both of you up for failure. In your email include the expected launch date and ask that they ideally leave their review that same week. 

It’s never a bad idea to explain a bit about how the Amazon algorithm works, and that high star ratings and customer reviews will boost your sales ranking and help more readers discover your book. 

After Book Launch 

After the book launches, email your team again and remind them to please submit their review. You can create a unique URL that sends them directly to your customer review page by typing in https://www.amazon.com/gp/product-review + the ASIN of your book. 

After a review has been posted, send another email thanking them for their support. Or, if they requested a hard copy and you have their address consider sending a thank you card. If it’s a really stellar review, you might consider adding it to your editorial reviews section via your Amazon Author Central Account. 

Remember that not everyone is going to follow through, so the more people you have on your ARC team the more reviews you can count on. In other words, if there are only five people on your ARC team you might get lucky and get one review. But if you have 20 or 30 people on your team you might see upwards of 10 customer reviews come in on your first day!

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