f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: If I Could Write a Letter To Me - #2: ARCs
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Friday, March 9, 2012

If I Could Write a Letter To Me - #2: ARCs

{ ++ } Inspired partially by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, partially by the Brad Paisley song (Letter to Me) and mostly by my desire to share some of the knowledge that I've learned in the year since I started blogging, I am introducing a new feature here at Once Upon a Prologue called If I Could Write a Letter to Me.  Each month I'll tackle a different subject in the form of a letter to my younger blogging self - sort of a "things I wish I'd known when I started," and a collection of tips and tricks I've picked up along the way.

If I Could Write a Letter To Me - #2: ARCs: What They Are, Aren't, How To Get Them, and How To Respect Them

Dear beginning blogger self:

By now you have a few followers.  You've been blogging for about four months, and you're starting to think you've got the hang of this blogging thing.  You're reading new books, visiting other blogs, and participating in memes.  Your week consists of Music Monday, Teasers Tuesdays, Waiting on Wednesday, Booking Through Thursday, and Follow Me Friday.  At four months in, even though you aren't a rock star in the book blogging world, you're starting to feel a bit confident.  You've discovered these wonderful things called ARCs (advance reader copies) of upcoming books.  They're the best thing since you discovered Wendy's Frostys.  You HAVE to have one.  Everyone else has them.  You want one, too.  

Hold up.  *insert record needle scratching here*

Here are a few things you will learn about ARCS: what they are, and aren't, that you will survive without them, that they are a valuable tool and NOT a status symbol, and how to respect them, the bloggers that have them, and the publishers that provide them.

  • ARCs are NOT an excuse to get free books.  (Let's repeat that one more time: ARCS ARE NOT FREE BOOKS.)  ARCs are a promotional tool that publishers use to create hype and interesting surrounding upcoming books, be it by a debut author, or a highly anticipated sequel by an established author.  ARCs are NOT a reason to become a book blogger.  It is a myth - yes, a myth - that you will be swimming in free books and ARCs.  The reason to become a book blogger is the reason you started your blog: your love of books, and your desire to share that love with others and meet like-minded people. 
  • ARCs are a rare species.  They are limited and incredibly valuable; even though it seems like it, NOT every blogger has an ARC of Sweet Evil or Timepiece.  Bloggers that have that ARC you're wanting haven't made a deal with the devil to get it.  They've written consistently honest and fair reviews.  They have made a name for themselves; other bloggers and publishers know that they are passionate about supporting new authors.  ARCs are for book bloggers that have proven themselves honest in the book blogging world, and also somewhat influential.  
  • You do not have to have 1,000 followers to receive an ARC.  In the beginning you will drool over other blogs that have that many followers, and you'll assume they receive a dozen ARCs a week.  And while for some this might be true, that's not so in every case.   You do not even have to have 500 followers a week.  Believe it or not, you'll get your first ARC at around 200 followers.  (You will learn that MOST publishers start considering requests at 300-350 followers.)  What publishers are looking for are bloggers who write well-written, well-thought out reviews, be it positive, negative, or mixed.  They want to be patrons of bloggers who have something intelligent to say about the books they review, bloggers who are focused on supporting authors, rather than building up themselves.  
  • ARCs do not mean you have "made it" in the book blogging world.  There's never a set point where you're a household name.  Everyone finds their own niche and their own success at different levels.  If you send out an ARC request and you do not receive that book, you will find something else to read!  Or: you'll read that ARC...once it's published.  ARCs are a way of getting the word out there about an upcoming book, NOT a status symbol.  By and large most book bloggers aren't concerned with that sort of thing.  They're all here for the same reasons you are. 
  • Publishers do not "owe" you an ARC because you requested it.  There are a finite amount of ARCs for the book/s in question, but if you send them a courteous request, they are far more likely to read it than if you send them a form email or something that sounds as if you are entitled to that ARC.
Take a deep breath, younger blogging self.  It's way too easy to get caught up in the glitz of the book blogging world - in terms like ARCs, followers, and blog tours.  It will go to your head at first, and you'll spin and spin until you start to find your place.  Luckily, you aren't going to do anything to damage your reputation.  You'll take a few steps forward, then stumble, and that's okay.  You're learning, slowly but surely.  Don't worry - you never abandon the reasons you started your blog.  You just misplaced your priorities a time or two.
When you send that first ARC letter, you're going to feel nervous and triumphant, but that's nothing compared to the thrill you get when the publicist responds.  Even a year in you aren't getting THAT many ARCs...because it took you a few months to learn HOW to request ARCs.  Here's your first attempt:
To Whom It May Concern,

I have recently come across the Goodreads page for Jennifer Armentrout and am very interested in reading this book.  I know only a limited number of advance reader copies are likely available; if possible, I would be very excited to be considered to receive a copy.  I am a book blogger - my blog pertains entirely to the books that I read and review.  I am working hard to get my name out there and to gain a reputation as a stellar reviewer.  I would be more than willing to read and review Half Blood, and my review would be honest and hopefully thought-provoking.  I am always very envious and excited of an author whose debut novel is being published, and I would be very pleased to be at least a small part of the process of reading, and hopefully communicating to my fellow bloggers why they should also read this book! 

Thank you in advance for your consideration,

Now that wasn't so bad, or so hard, was it?  And luckily the folks over at Spencer Hill Press turned out to be amazingly nice and supportive.  They sent you that ARC of Half-Blood, and you've had a soft place for them and for Jennifer Armentrout ever since then. 

It's going to take you about four more months, during which you'll send way too many ARC requests, to finally settle down, and realize: you have valuable resources already.  You have NetGalley.  You've been lucky enough to be auto-approved for a few different publishers there.  If you're meant to get physical ARCs, you will.  If you aren't, you won't.  In the meantime, you'll concentrate on a few books off your to-be-read, your NetGalley finds, and the odd physical ARC here and there.

And you'll realize: it's enough.

You don't need five ARCs a week.  And even if you had them?  You wouldn't become a rock star overnight.  You wouldn't become a famous blogger.  The way to become known is to write honest reviews and to slowly build relationships with publicists.  To let it all happen in its own time. And eventually, it does.

You re-craft your ARC letter:

To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Molli, and I am a book blogger/reviewer at Once Upon a Prologue, established in March of 2011 out of an urge to reach out to fellow book lovers.  Currently, I have 354 GFC followers, and 360 Twitter followers.  I have 20, 066 page views and 1,240 unique page views; counter established November, 2011 for unique page views.  I post my reviews to my book blog, to my Goodreads account, and as often as I can to my Amazon.com and/or Barnes & Noble account.  I love interacting with authors, hosting giveaways, and author interviews to build relationships. 

I am interested in Leigh Bardugo's upcoming 2012 novel Shadow and Bone.   I’ve read the synopsis, and I think I would be a good choice to read and review Shadow and Bone because I focus predominantly on young adult novels on my blog, and am always seeking to bring attention to new authors through my reviews.  Alina's story sounds really fascinating - darkly romantic and heart-pounding.  I would like to submit a request for an ARC of Shadow and Bone in exchange for an honest review.

If you would like to see a sample of my reviews and format, please do so here (my review of Amanda Hocking's SWITCHED, a YA contemporary/fantasy).  If you are able to fulfill my request, my mailing information is as follows.
111 Anywhere Road
[Town, State, Zip Code]

Thank you,

*NOTE: ALWAYS include your mailing address!*

Slowly, publicists start to open doors for you.  You start building relationships.  You learn NOT to use the same ARC letter each time.  Before you know it, you have not one, but a half dozen publicists you can reach out to to request ARCs - and receive them.  There's still that thrill when they come in the mail, and you have that shiny, amazing ARC.  But something has changed.

You have.  

You've realized that you don't need to be anyone other than yourself.  That you don't need to be swimming in ARCs.  That you didn't get into book blogging for free books.   You started a book blog because you adore books and because you knew you'd meet others who do, too.  And sure enough, you're part of an awesome community of book lovers.  And that's pretty amazing right there.

Who to Contact to Request ARCs
(these addresses are the ones listed on the publishers websites - they are not for personalized contacts)

  • Flux: publicity@fluxnow.com 
  • Bloomsbury: childrenspublicity@bloomsbury.com
  • HarperCollins: Sandee.Roston@harpercollins.com (After a lot of research, this is a general publicity contact, not MY publicity contact.  You can also send an email through their mailbox on their site!)
  • Simon & Schuster: childrenspublicity@simonandschuster.com
  • Penguin: penguinpublicity@us.penguingroup.com
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: childrenspublicity@hmhpub.com
  • MacMillan (Teen): childrenspublicity@macmillanusa.com
  • St Martin's: publicity@stmartins.com
  • Penguin (Teen):youngreaderspublicity@us.penguingroup.com
  • Little Brown: publicity@littlebrown.com
  • Egmont: egmontusa@egmont.com 

    { | } There are probably a few imprints I missed.  If you need a general publicity contact for a publisher I did not list, please email me and if I have that information,  I will be glad to share it.  


Cassandra Martino said...

Such a wonderful post and a lot of great information. I am a new blogger and will definitely be bookmarking this to look back on in the future. Thanks so much!!!!

Jade said...

What an awesome post with so much useful information. I'm sure beginning book bloggers will find this very helpful and those who have been blogging for a while now as well. I'm really loving this new feature! Keep it up.

Ems said...

This type of post is incredibly helpful, even for those who've been around longer. Thank you!

Lan Chan said...

Thanks for the awesome post Molli! I used to toy with the idea of requesting ARCS but never got around to it and didn't have any idea where to even start. Now I've got your post as my guide and if I ever want to take it up I know where to go for all the answers!

Marie Landry said...

Thank you SO much for sharing this, Molli! I really had no idea how to go about contacting publishers, and rather than do it wrong and look like an idiot, I just haven't really done it. Now I have the tools to do it, and I'll give it a try soon. <3

Mimi Valentine said...

Molli, you and your words of wisdom! <3 And I swear, your experience was almost IDENTICAL to mine!! Spencer Hill Press was the first publisher to approve my request too, and I've adored them like crazy ever since! Now, looking back at the email I sent, it sounds so awful that I laugh at myself a little. x)

But like you, after that one triumphant acceptance in which I danced around my house after my Half-Blood ARC came, I didn't get many ARCs for a while. And it depressed me so much! But I established my blog more, made more blogging friends, and re-crafted my request email so it didn't sound so terrible anymore -- and voila! I'm much better after it now! ;)

I love you for sharing this, Molli! It's crazy-awesome how similar our experience was, and I know that a lot of bloggers will benefit from your amazing advice from here on out! :) <3

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