I think an ARC team can be very valuable to authors and in this post I want to explain how you can set up your own ARC team. First let me explain what an ARC team is, then I list which things to decide on before you can start your team and then how to actually set up your arc team.
What is an ARC team?
An ARC team is a team of bookbloggers, bookstagrammers and/ or bookreviewers who receive an early copy of your book. ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy. The goal is to get your book in the hands of people before release so they can hopefully read and review before or shortly after release day. This way you’ll have some reviews for your book on release day, which lends credibility and can help with sales. Keep in mind that usually not everyone on your ARC team will review or will review on release day, but in most cases you’ll see some reviews on release day.
Often an ARC copy of a book will be the last version before it gets published. It might still contain a few typo’s, but nothing major will change before then until publication. The role of an ARC team is to get to read and review your book hopefully before release day. Some ARC readers spot typo’s and will email them to you and you can ask for this as well if you like arc readers to email you typo’s. An ARC team isn’t there to give feedback on your book, that usually happens before the ARC stage. If you want feedback on your book consider doing a beta phase and asking a few readers or author friends to beta read your book.
Another piece of advice about ARC teams and reviewers is not require reviews from your ARC team, but do encourage them. Because of Amazon’s rules about this it’s not allowed to require reviews, you can only encourage them. So be careful in your wording and make it your ARC team isn’t obligated to review, but do emphasize how helpful it is as your goal is to get reviews on release day.
What to consider/ decide on before you start your ARC team
Now let’s move on to the thing to consider or decide on before setting up your ARC team. A lot of these decisions will influence how your ARC team is run.
- How to handle your arc team. The first thing to consider is how you want to run and handle your ARC team. I usually see two different methods for this, either a newsletter or a Facebook group. If you go with a newsletter you usually email your ARC team list with any ARC related communications. Or if you go with a Facebook group the communications will go through there. I also know some authors who do both, so you get both an email as well as a Facebook post. In general I think having a newsletter works best as that way you always have a way to reach your ARC team, but having a Facebook group can be a great way for ARC readers to interact with you and other ARC team members.
- How people can join your ARC team. The next thing to decide on is how people can join your ARC team. Will you set up a sign up form they have to complete? Or if you go the newsletter route you can simply have a newsletter sign up form for your ARC newsletter. I’ve also seen authors who combine the ARC sign up on the same form as their normal newsletter sign up form, so that’s an option as well. If you decide on an ARC Facebook group, you can simply have people who want to join send a request to join that group. Or if you want to know a bit more information about those who want to join your ARC team, have them fill in a form first and then invite those you accept to the group or send them the link to your group so they can join.
- What are requirements for people to join your arc team? This one ties into the previous point a bit. You have to decide if you want to set any requirements for people to join your ARC team. You can just let everyone who sign up join or you can ask for some information and use that to determine who can join your ARC team. A few things to think about are whether you will only accept bookbloggers or bookstagrammers or can reviewers also join? Do they need to have a minimum amount of followers or have proof they’ve been doing this for a while? Do you want to see proof they already read and reviewed one of your books? Or if you don’t have a lot of books out yet, you might ask for a link to one of their previous reviews no matter for which book will work. You can also allow anyone who signs up to join and potentially cull reviewers later if your team grows too big for your taste. At the very least you need to ask potential ARC team memmbers for their email address/ Facebook profile when they join your team.
These are a few possible things you could ask for or set as requirements: a link to a previous review of your book, a link to one of their previous reviews for another author’s book, link to their Amazon/ Goodreads/ Bookbub/ other vendor site profile, a link to their book blog or Instagram account or the amount of followers they have.
- How to distribute arcs. Make sure to decide beforehand how you plan to distribute ARCs. Will you email the files to reviewers, sent ARCs directly to their kindles or will you use Bookfunnel/ Prolific Works or Story Origin to distribute ARCs? If you’re sending copies directly make sure to ask which format reviewers prefer when they join your team. I plan to do another post about the different ways to distribute review copies in the future.
- How you decide who gets the next ARC. It’s also handy to think about how you will decide who gets the next ARC before you set up the team. Will everyone on your team receive your next ARC? Will only those who are up to date with the series receive the next book? Will you set a limit of ARCs that you send out? Do ARC team members have to apply for each ARC they want? Or will everyone on your team receive every ARC and they have to let you know if they decide to opt out of that ARC? Based on what you decide here you might also need to have a system in place for tracking this information.
- What do you do if someone doesn’t review? When you’re running an ARC team it will happen that people won’t review. It helps to think in advance about how you handle this. Will you keep them on your team? Will you remove them if they missed a review? Or only remove those who missed multiple reviews in a row? Will you give them another chance and email them directly to see what’s causing them to not review? This way you have a system in place for those who miss a review
- How many people to have on your arc team. Another thing to think about is how many people you want to have on your ARC team. Will you set a limit on how many people you will have on your team? Or will you try and get as many on your ARC team as possible? How many reviews do you hope to get on release day for your book and what does that mean for the size of your ARC team? My advice is to always have more arc reviewers than how many reviews you want as not everyone will review an ARC. And not everyone might have time or want to read and review every ARC.
How to start your arc team
Once you made those decisions and thought about how to handle your ARC team it’s time to set up your team.
- Set up the basics. First set up the basics to run your ARC team. What exactly this entails depends on what you decided for your ARC team. So this includes things like: setting up your newsletter list, creating a sign up form, and/ or setting up your Facebook group. Make sure this is all set up and looks nice before you start inviting people to join. If you go with the Facebook group route make sure to have an information/ introduction post ready as well as a title and banner for the group to make it look nice.
- Invite readers to join. Once that’s all done it’s time to start inviting people to your team. Below I’ll elaborate on how to find people to join your team. Simply direct them to your sign up form, newsletter sign up form and/ or Facebook group and encourage them to join.
- Send out arcs. When that’s done you have your own ARC team and it’s time to start sending out ARCs for your upcoming books. I advice to send out ARCs about 1-2 months in advance if you can, but a few weeks in advance works too.
How to find readers for your ARC team?
Another thing to consider is how you will find readers for your arc team. Here are a few possible ways to find new reviewers:
- Put an invite for your ARC team in your newsletter. You can include the invite for your arc team in your main newsletter. The perfect time to do this is when you’re looking for new members or when the next ARC is coming up.
- Put an invite for your team in your automation sequence. You can include the invite for your ARC team in your standard automation sequence for your newsletter so you get a steady stream of new people to join your team.
- Post a request on your social media. Post on your social media that you’re looking for new arc team members.
- Post in Facebook groups. You can join Facebook reader groups for your genre and see if you can post the invite there or even see if you can find ARC specific groups where you can post the invite.
- Do ARCs through another site and put the invite in the back of the ARC. You can use sites like Booksprout/ Netgalley/ StoryOrigin/ Prolific Works for your ARC of a book and then in the back of the book encourage reviewers to join your permanent ARC team. These sites often help you reach a new audience and you can invite these readers to join your team for future ARCs.
- Email or message reviewers/ bookbloggers/ bookstagrammers directly. You can email or message potential reviewers/ bookbloggers/ bookstagramers directly and invite them to your team. If you find people who have reviewed previous books or people who review books similar to yours those might be good candidates for your ARC team.