At a recent workshop a member of the audience asked the three writers on the panel on marketing what they did with their ARCs. One writer answered, “Dust them.” The audience laughed. For many it was a laugh of recognition. As I drove home I thought about the question again. Like many others, I assume everyone else already knows the answer, has accomplished this or that particular goal, and I’m the only one racing to catch up. Perhaps. Perhaps not. On the off chance that other writers are wondering what to do with a box of ARCs, I’ll tell you what I did with mine.
After eight books, I still get excited when a box of ARCs arrives. When the copies of my most recent Anita Ray mystery showed up, I grabbed a knife and slit the tape along the sides, and opened the top. The cover was gorgeous. The box held five ARCs, but I didn’t think about that because I was so taken with the cover. I love the cover. And then I thought, only five? Okay. I can work with five. The next day another box arrived—a much larger box.
Granted, I’m not very good with numbers but I think I counted 50 ARCs. Fifty? Egads! What do you do with 50 proof copies? I don’t even know fifty people. Well, for a couple of weeks I did nothing. I stared at the box sitting on the floor, and then I got busy.
First, I went over the list of reviewers my publisher included, to make sure I didn’t duplicate her efforts. My editor sent out 22 review copies to the major review and crime magazines and review sites. Some of the individuals I contacted about reviewing replied that they would request a copy from one of the places they wrote for. I didn’t include these individuals in my list of reviewers approached.
I have no foolproof way to find people willing to read and review a book, but I bless the day Goodreads and other sites were born. Most online reviewers are deluged with books to review, and most are titles they haven’t requested. Sending them one more to consider is simply a waste of paper and postage. I try to focus on people who want the ARC and are most likely to post a review. I can’t require a review, but I can certainly indicate that this is a goal, and then I hope for the best.
Second, I planned a number of giveaways. I gave away 10 books on Goodreads. I gave away 10 books on LibraryThing. I gave away 7 books on DorothyL (plus a PDF of the novel). I took 6 books to India and gave them away to friends, who may or may not post a review, and including one friend who has a lending library. I gave away 4 books to friends who are also reviewers who asked for them. I sent out 2 to professional reviewers I do not know personally. I sent 2 to my alma maters. I asked 5 friends to review the ARC. I have 3 left to give away, and I’m keeping 1 for myself.
I mailed almost all these copies, and the woman at the post office thinks I’m something special. I handed her the last batch of mailers, and promised her the packages did not contain . . . . for the last time. Their zip codes straggled from the East Coast to Hawaii. “You have quite a long reach,” she said. I smiled. Really, I was quite chuffed by that. We writers have to get our strokes where they can.
And that’s what I do with my ARCs. What do you do? I have three left. They can go anywhere.
I'll send one ARC to one person who comments, picked at random, tomorrow morning.