ARCs and Promotion

Social Media

I’m about to show how much of a social media novice I am with this next revelation, but here it goes. Do you want to know an important piece of social media exposure? The answer is hashtags. You need to include hashtags in your Twitter and Instagram posts so that more people see them when they look at or search on said hashtags. Most of you presumably already knew this, but I have never been a great social media user. My Space was “the thing” to have when I was in high school, and I never had an account. Self-promotion and sharing are not natural for me, and I am finding out new things every day. 

One (helpful) social media tip I will share from the Facebook author groups I am part of is: be cautious of the people who contact you to promote your work. When I started using hashtags related to my book, I immediately received a handful of messages asking me to follow this and DM to “promote” through them. Someone even reached out with an offer to review my book on their account. 

All of this sounded great. I’m trying to get the word out about my work and get it noticed on social media. All they wanted was $20 here or $40 there. Simple. Right?

The more I look into this, the sketchier it appears. Many of the promotion Instagrammers have followers and likes inflated by bots, and when you ask about their returns and guaranteed clicks, they get dodgy. In some cases, I have heard, they threaten to bomb your book with 1-star reviews if you don’t end up promoting with them. I am now hiding all promote or DM comments on Instagram to try to limit or prevent these.

On the reviewer side, you have to be very careful about not doing paid reviews. There are some editorial reviews where this is allowed, but this can get you banned from Amazon. They frown heavily on paid reviews, so before you pay anyone, make sure that you know exactly what they are offering, and you read all the fine print for Amazon and other distributors and sites you are on. Fortunately, I did not agree to pay anyone. 

ARC Readers

This is a good segway into the concept of ARC readers and how they are different than paid reviews. First, you should never pay ARC readers. That is how it becomes a paid review rather than an honest review. ARC stands for Advanced Review Copy, and is a copy of your book that you provide, for free, in advance of the release date so that reviewers can read and post their reviews in advance of or on the date a book releases. You often “provide the book for free in exchange for an honest review.” 

What this means could be a myriad of different interpretations. I have heard some authors become upset if someone who receives an ARC does not finish the book or post a review. I have done some ARC reads and reviews myself for some of the groups I am on, and I prefer the Readers Favorite approach: 

“We only post 4- and 5-star reviews. If an author receives a poor review, we provide private constructive criticism to the author instead. We were the first book review company to not post negative reviews because we are in the business of helping authors, not hurting them.”

Readers’ Favorite Website

The groups I am part of are for indie authors like me, and my goal is to be supportive, not hurtful. I will reach out on 3-star reviews to see if the author wants me to post, but for 1- or 2-stars, I generally will not post those when something is below 50 total reviews. It is my philosophy and not something I push on my ARC readers. I give them a free copy for an honest review, so I need to be okay with their choices in this. It’s the “honest review” part; it means I’m not influencing them by payment or intimidation. What a reviewer posts, is what that individual thought of the book. 

Some helpful tips and resources for ACR readers: 

ARCs are important because almost everyone looks at the star rating before they look at the description. You want as many (hopefully good) reviews posted on or around the day of release as possible. The number of reviews also matters. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I think it is below 20 reviews readers dismiss even a good rating, and Amazon does not start promoting books outside of paid advertising until a book has around 50 reviews. So, the next time you enjoy that book you just read, take a minute to rate it for the author to give them some applause for that artistic performance.

Invitation to Action

This week I sent out my first invitation to ARC readers with their copy of Hidden Memory, and I am now going to make an offer to my early blog followers. I know some are friends and family who have already or are planning to buy the book if only to support me. I love and appreciate that support. 

If you would like an ARC copy of Hidden Memory free in exchange for an honest review, I invite you to comment below, sign up via this form, or reach out to me. You will be signed up for the newsletter to receive emails from me, but I can then send that digital copy out to you. You don’t need to follow my philosophy above, but I would ask you to reread the book description to make sure it sounds like something you would enjoy before signing up. 

Whether you sign up or not, I thank you all for your support and engagement throughout this year. Less than four weeks to go!