Updated: Mar 7
If you have worked in the indie author world for any length of time then you would have heard of the term ARC readers and beta teams referred to by a number of self publishing authors.
You've come up with the amazing story line and never really considered writing and then you delve into the amazing world that is Self Publishing to create this phenomenal story that will captivate your audience. The story is written but where do you go now? Throughout this blog post I'm going to take you through ARC and Beta teams and how they can help elevate your writing career. If you’re new to self publishing, getting yourself working this way from the beginning will help you create the career you truly deserve, if you've never considered these teams before but really want to enhance your stories then read on to learn more.
What's the difference and how can they help you?
What's an ARC Team?
An ARC team is abbreviated from "Advanced Reader Copy" and that's exactly what an ARC is, it's the copy that is sent out before you even hit publish. However, this is the team put together to read through your writing before you publish, meaning that they are ready and raring to publish a review the moment you hit publish as they have already had the honour of reading it. These are a group of well trusted, loyal readers or even bloggers that will post all about your book on release day. ARC teams are there purely for review of your work, and help build reviews from day one!
What's a beta team?
A beta team is usually a group of people who read your book whilst you're writing it or just after you have written it. You generally hand over your book before editing and they give you feedback and recommendations on what to change. They help you discover plot holes, issues with character development, etc. This team is there to help you enhance your writing before release. As an author with a beta team you can give a set of instructions to your beta team with things that you want them to look for, so that they can read and establish what your manuscript may be missing.
How to set up an ARC team?
It could be as simple as a callout on your social media explaining that you're on the hunt for ARC readers, but be careful how many copies you give away to potential readers, yes we want reviews but some of these are likely to buy your book anyway.
If you're taking part in a book promotion, offer ARCs out to any blogs that are participating. You can learn more about running book promotions and how they can help here. Many authors build a trusted blogger list so you could even approach them yourself and keep them on a mailing list specifically for approaching them with ARCs and releases.
You could offer Advanced Reader Copies as giveaways for your readers such as offering 3 copies in advance by signing up to your newsletter for example, giving them the opportunity to read prior to release.
Services that offer ARC Reviews
NetGalley has been around for a number of years and is used by many big publishers to get their books reviewed in advance of release. Basically, NetGalley has a huge database of readers and gets your book to those perfect reviewers.
Booksprout, unlike NetGalley, will not find reviewers for you, but do offer you access to their reviewer system. You can find readers looking for new books in their community of over 65,000 active reviewers and they also have an ARC management system so you can see who is reviewing and who isn't and remove any that are inactive.
Setting up a Beta Team
Beta readers are effectively your test audience, they are a great way to find inconsistencies, plot holes, errors or unclear character building. They can play a vital role in finding these errors and helping you enhance your writing further. It is, however, essential that you remember that these are not editors, and not there to replace editors. These are usually avid readers and some may find things that others do not. This is all about getting invaluable and constructive feedback about your writing.
Betas can be friends, colleagues, fellow authors or just readers in general. They are usually a group of trustworthy individuals who want to help create your success. You can create a beta team by putting a post out on social media channels or even in your newsletters, but be sure that if they sign up and don't give feedback that you move on to someone else the next time round. Many authors set up a private group where the beta team can all interact and talk about what they feel openly to help the authors really develop their story.
As part of our author membership "The Creative Writing Corner" we have our very own team of beta readers that is there for all the authors in the membership. They are given all the details of the book and can decide if it's something they would like to read, they are also given a guide of things the author wants them to look out for. To discover what else is included in the author membership you can take a look here.
The takeaway here is that these are very different and are created for different reasons but can really help you build your career. The beta team is there to enhance your writing and the ARC team is there to build reviews and exposure from day one. I would love to know your experiences or whether this is something you will try with your future releases.
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