A Guide to ARC Etiquette


I’ll admit, these thoughts are just my own. I’m happy for other writers to chime in and share their thoughts too. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to write this post because it might seem like I’m only interested in money, but then I thought, No. I’m just a worker who wants to get paid for her work. There is nothing the matter with that. That’s what everyone else expects … until it comes to artists.

arc etiquetteSo, an ARC is an advance review copy. It’s an early, uncorrected version of a book about to be published meant for reviewers so that they can drum up interest in a book before it is released.

First, note: advance. This is important. If the book has already come out, you should not be asking for an ARC. On the one hand, it’s not the polished, final version; two, it’s rude. If the book is already published, you should either purchase a copy or, if you don’t want to buy a copy, check it out from your local library. If your library doesn’t have a copy, tell them you want it. I’m not kidding, they will almost always respond to requests like this, and then it’s a win-win: I sell a copy of my book and you get to read it for free.

Second, note: review. ARCs are given out with the expectation that they will be read and reviewed, whether on a blog or on sites like Goodreads, Amazon, BN, etc. It’s a great “thank you” for getting to read the book early and for free.

Third, from Maggie Stiefvater:

And finally, a note on ARCs. I don’t mind signing advanced review copies — a lot of bloggers come through the line with them, and I know they are a cool thing to have. But I didn’t get paid for them to be printed. And the publisher didn’t get paid for them. An ARC is a $6-10 promotional tool that is a privilege all of us industry people enjoy. It’s not a book. And it makes me sad if you love the book enough to have me sign your ARC*, but not a real copy. I won’t ever show my Deep Sadness to you while you’re in the signing line, but trust me, I’ll be weeping AngstBuckets on the inside. And while it merely makes me DeeplySad, for debut authors or authors with one or two books out, loving an ARC but not buying it can be the difference between a publisher signing them for another book or not.

All in all, please just remember that authors bust their asses to write these books for you. It means the world when you purchase even one copy. But when you ask for an ARC after my book is released, you’re basically saying, “I know I could buy this book somewhere, but I don’t want to. Not only that, I want you to pay shipping costs to send me a copy that you never made any money on.” You are literally asking an author to pay money to have you read their book. OUCH. At least have the courtesy to request it from the library.

Thanks for listening. I’ve been getting requests for ARCs lately when my book has been out for nearly five months, and just like Maggie, it makes me weep AngstBuckets on the inside.

Want me to keep writing? Please buy a book or have your library buy one. Thanks for your support!

My ARC arrived in the mail!

Truest ARCLook at this beautiful thing.

It’s my book, all grown up and looking like a book.

Alas, it’s just an ARC (advance reader copy)– essentially, a paperback, uncorrected version of what will eventually be a hardcover thing of beauty without any errors (please, God!) and without that big red UNCORRECTED PROOF tag at the top of it.

But still. It’s my book.

I definitely cracked it open at work when I got it and read a couple scenes. They honestly FEEL different when they’re on book pages instead of Microsoft Word pages. You’re just going to have to trust me. Then, that night, I curled up in my bed and read some more of it. I wrote these things, I marveled.

No matter how ridiculous or self-indulgent it might be, you can’t help but marvel when you hold your ARC. Mine is the result of over three years of hard, hard work. It’s a dream that has become so true that I can literally touch it.