There are a lot of things that I love about having a book blog, booktok (TikTok), and bookstagram (you know, book-instagram). I love the community I’ve found, the recommendations I’ve gotten, and I would be amiss not to mention the eARCs (advanced reader copies). I mean who doesn’t want to get “free” books before they’re released?
While I’m not claiming to be any expert on this because I still get denied for them and I’m not in publishing to know all the details of it. However, I do feel like I’ve gotten better at getting eARCs and would love to share that information with you!
What Are eARCs?
Before getting into the details of getting an eARC, I thought I’d go over what they are and what the expectations typically are first.
eARCS are electronic advanced reader copies, ie files of books before they’re published. This is typically how I get (and most people) get advanced copies. They are then easily downloadable to your phone or reading device. Full disclosure I have a kindle fire and use that as my main way to read the books, I find it the easiest. I also like using the kindle app on my phone and reading them that way.
Before Requesting eARCs:
To be honest with you, if you are not a librarian or bookseller you are going to need a platform for reviewing books before you are given any. Spend your time writing reviews. Don’t use GoodReads and Amazon reviews as your only platforms.
Instagram is a great option if you like photography. Don’t feel overwhelmed there by all the props! A blanket and a good cup of tea or taking a book on a walk are simple ways to get photos. Personally, Instagram is my favorite option mainly because it’s easy to build a community there (come find me @eleanorlynnreads). TikTok is another great free option! I’m still learning this one, but you can make videos without your face on it. Both of these options have a lot of algorithm chaos, so be prepared for one day great responses and the next crickets.
Otherwise a blog like this is another excellent option! I do spend a little on hosting and such, but I keep it pretty cheap with spending maybe $20-25 a year on things? But I think of it as I have a site of my own. I use Instagram and TikTok, I own this one. Twitter’s chaos has really shown the need to have that owned site. There are free options here and it does take a bit of a learning curve for a blog.
Any way you look at this: You NEED a platform before requesting or else you will get rejected! And spend time building your platform. Finding what makes you YOU on there is a big differential to being accepted for books!
Where to Get eARCs?
In all that I know there are two main methods to get eARCs. The first being NetGalley, which is probably the most popular version. The other main option is Edelweiss. I have both accounts, but I really only use NetGalley as Edelweiss is a little more complicated. Both NetGalley and Edelweiss are going to be the best option when you’re beginning to get early digital copies from traditional publishers. There are other methods to use, which I’ll discuss further below, but if you’re starting out I recommend these.
How to Get eARCs: NetGalley
I’m going to only discuss NetGalley as I don’t use Edelweiss and have found all of my success here.
NetGalley (www.netgalley.com) is probably the most popular option to get eARCs. When you arrive on their front page you should click the “Become a Member” button to get started.
You can register to use NetGalley. I use the same login name for everything as it keeps things super simple to keep track of (i.e., EleanorLynnReads). Put in your information and for member type you’d be a Reviewer.
I would connect as many reviewer sites as you use. I have slowly been adding some as I get more used to doing things. TikTok is another one that I should be adding soon as I’m starting to get a hang of things there. I wouldn’t feel pressure to add them all. Pick one or two that you’re really wanting to focus on. I would definitely have a GoodReads account as publishers love this option and it’s one of the things that’s automatically connected for sharing your written reviews. Then I would add the other one or two formats you’re using.
This is my profile. I’ve picked my categories that I like, have specified I will listen to audiobooks, and then perhaps the most important have a bio.
What To Write in Your Bio
This is your place to shine and why it is important to wait a little bit to start requesting some books. For my bio I like to hit all of the big things: all of the places that I post reviews (including links to the locations), my followers/view counts, and then my niches. My blog, my instagram, and goodreads accounts all listed there with roughly my stats for them. Stats ebb and flow so I like to say “about” or “roughly,” mainly publishers want to see that you are going to be beneficial in getting the word out about books to others. It is a business transaction.
For my niche I mainly read romance novels. I’ll occasionally read others, but what I am “known” for is my romance recommendations. I say I read mostly romance. Then I like to go on and give a small listing of recent (about the last year or so in publication) books that have been my favorite. From there I give a small overview of what gets me interested in a book. Character arcs, compelling story lines, complex interesting characters. Something along those lines. I don’t know if publishers read these, but I DO know that once I rewrote my bio to include these pieces I started to get more requests accepted. Do with that information as you need.
More NetGalley Tips:
When you start off look at the “Read Now” book options. Often publishers want to get a book out to a lot of people so they won’t even require you to request, you can just read! There are often indie or smaller pubs that do this option too. But I have gotten a lot of success with Forever Pub and St. Martin’s Press for putting their books as “Read Now” options. (TIP: follow them on socials and they’ll often post when they have a book as this for the weekend!!)
Only request what you know you’re going to read. It is key to keep that Feedback ratio around 80%. There are some publishers that really watch that percentage.
Download your books right away as if you miss the date (which it happens, don’t beat yourself up over it!!), the book will become archived and you won’t have access to them anymore. I basically download each book as I get it. Saves me from watching the clock!
NetGalley does have an app for your phone, I don’t use it too often. I like sending my eARCs to my kindle/kindle app. Up to you though!
Other eARC Avenues
I would be remiss to forget saying that following Indie authors is another great way to get eARCs. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be kind to them. They don’t have teams doing this work. And read their work before requesting (if they have it). But Indie authors will often create ARC teams to hype up their work (like NetGalley but not as structured y’know?). Read Indie books, follow the authors, and wait to see if they offer any up for their next release. I’ve found SO many authors that are amazing with Indie books and have made great friends there, so please be kind.
Put your email in your bios! Make sure you have an email visible in your profiles, around your blog, on Instagram, on Twitter, on TikTok, on GoodReads. Wherever. I made a separate email for my book-life. Sometimes publishers will notice your posts and send you widgets which have direct access to certain books.
Check out publishers’ websites. Sometimes they have “influencer” pages that can get you signed up for newsletters that have ARCs available through those.
Just a few more words of advice on this:
When writing reviews be honest. It’s ok not to like things. It happens. But do NOT tag authors in this. They can’t change the book. They don’t need to know that you didn’t like it. It’s bad form.
Be up front that you got an eARC of the book. All “gifts” need to be disclosed and there can be consequences to your actions with this legally. Just be up front.
Also, don’t go giving your eARCs to others. You can and will get in trouble for this.
If you don’t like a book and it’s an indie book, just tell the author and arrange perhaps not posting a review on a main site. I’ve never had this happen, but have communication on this. These don’t typically get as many reviews and just use your senses.
Long Story Short
And at the end of the day, don’t beat yourself up over not getting an eARC. It happens all the time for numerous reasons no matter your follower count. And if you need a break from social media with this take it. This isn’t your job. I just say this as I’ve seen it a ton on Instagram with people getting overly attached to stats and numbers and performance. It’s a hobby.
I hope that you gained some information here that will help you on your way to reading nirvana! This is not an extensive post of information and I know I’ve probably overlooked things. I’m not involved or intimately know the publishing world. Everything in this is based solely on my experience of the past two years of doing this.