ARC Copy and Review Team Dos and Don’ts

ARC Copies and Review Teams: What one indie author would change and what she'd do again #selfpublishing #indie #amwriting

Hi, guys! Today we’re talking about review team dos and don’ts. This is a follow-up post to Why Reviews are just as Important as Sales for Indie Authors, where I explained my strategy for trying to get reviews on my then forthcoming serial, Jeremiah Jones Cowboy Sorcerer. To re-cap, my strategy was to give away the first episode (with later episodes to follow) as an incentive to join my ARC team in the hopes that some of those readers would leave reviews.

Did it work? Kind of. I’ll cover the positives first.

What went well

People did join the ARC team, and I did get reviews on the book. By crunching the numbers, over half of the people who joined the team downloaded the books. Of those that downloaded them, 20% left a review, which is a pretty good conversion rate for a new author. Some even left ratings on Goodreads.

Since I asked my family and friends not to leave reviews, without the ARC team I would have had ZERO reviews.

What I’d do different

Given the chance to do this over again, these are the things I’d do differently:

I’d post to more Facebook groups

I posted to a couple FB groups for fans of my genre, and each time I did I’d see my rate of ARC Team subscribers triple. I HATE promoting myself, though, even to give something away for free, so I didn’t do as much as I should have. If I were to do this again, I’d probably make myself do this more.

I’d be less demanding

When I originally set up the ARC team, every page and email reminded members that they needed to post reviews  to stay on the list. The team welcome email and page each had a list of things they should do, as did the first and last pages of the ARC of the book I sent them.

I wanted to set up the right expectations. In retrospect, I went overboard. It came off as demanding. People don’t like to be told to do stuff; sometimes they don’t even like to be asked to do stuff. Now, I simply thank my ARC team and give them the download link. In the front matter I let them know that they can add the book to their Goodreads shelf, and in the back matter, I thank them for reading and say the date they’ll be able to post reviews. That’s it.

On release day, I send out an email expressing my excitement that the book is out, with a big red button that says “leave a review.” That’s it. A week later, I send out an email expressing my thanks to those who left reviews, and I even highlight some of them.

I’d make the print book available first so they could leave reviews immediately

Amazon doesn’t allow reviews to be posted for a book until it’s published. This means that ARC team members who read the book before its release date won’t have anywhere to post their reviews right away. And we all know that if a reader doesn’t leave a review immediately after reading a book, they’ll likely forget about it altogether.

It seemed like an awful conundrum, but I’ve since learned that any reviews published to the print version of a book will automatically be added to the ebook sales page.

I decided not to do print versions of the individual episodes. It seemed like a waste of time, as no one would buy them. In the future, I will probably publish a simple print version of each book before I send the ARC copy out. I’ll price it high enough that potential buyers won’t purchase it, and direct ARC team members to leave their reviews at that link. Of course, I’d need to check what effect this would have on rankings and Amazon’s algorithm.

 Final thoughts

All in all, I’m glad I started the ARC team. There’s no denying that I’ve gotten reviews out of it. In the future, I’ll focus on growing my reader group, and recruiting ARC readers from there.

What are your thoughts on ARC teams? How do you find ARC readers? Let me know in the comments!


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H. Duke
H. Duke writes fantasy, horror, and more. Her works include the weird west / urban fantasy serial mashup, Jeremiah Jones Cowboy Sorcerer and the Christmas horror collection, Things on the Shelf: Three Tales of Christmas Terror, as well as the forthcoming Pagewalker series. She wrote the first season of Jeremiah Jones Cowboy Sorcerer while living in Arizona with her husband, Giru, and a shiny black dog named Jupiter. To see what she's up to now, visit her website.

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