How did I start reviewing?
As a reviewer, my journey did not start when I began this blog, but it actually started about 4 years ago. I got started reviewing when I joined Goodreads and I have learned all of these tips along the way. It would have been a lot easier for me if I had all of this information in one spot, so I decided that I might as well create one.
I decided to write this list in order of how my journey went, pretty much, but all of these are good resources that I have actually used.
What are ARCs?
An ARC is an advanced readers copy, it is a copy of a book prior to release intended for marketing and review purposes. Advanced readers copies can’t be sold and are given to bloggers, reviewers and booksellers for review and to help generate buzz about a book before it comes out.
Important note: For most of these resources you must review the books you receive. This is not just a list of places to get free books, although there are a few of those kinds of places towards the bottom of the list. These are ways to obtain advanced readers copies, and those are for people willing to write a review about the title. Some of these resources are explicitly for bloggers and some are for anyone who has a Goodreads or Amazon account. Please take into consideration that writing a review that the least you can do for a free book. Reviews really make a difference for authors, especially indie authors or debut authors. If you use some of these sources and then never write reviews people will remember that and stop sending you free books.
Where can I get ARC’s?
- Goodreads Giveaways: This is how I got started. Goodreads has a whole section of giveaways. I signed up for a bunch of these and then someone pointed me in the direction of read and review groups on Goodreads..
- Goodreads Read and Review groups –There are tons of groups like these on Goodreads that you can join. You sign up for a book that you want to read and then the author or moderator will send you a copy. When you are done you write a review on Goodreads (and sometimes Amazon). This is a great resource for someone who is just starting out as a reviewer. You can also post in some of these groups that you are accepting review requests. I would also suggest writing in your profile if you are accepting review requests. Some of these authors offer e-books, but some will also send hard copies. When I first started my blog I posted in these groups for material to review. Here are some groups that I have used:
- Direct Author Contact– If you have a blog and somewhere on there it says you are accepting review requests, then authors will contact you with review requests. This can also happen on Goodreads, but not as frequently. This can also happen the reverse way, you can contact an author asking for a review copy. My advice here would be to check their website first, a lot of established author’s review copies go through the publisher, but tons of indie authors need reviews and will say yes. I have gotten ARCs both ways, them contacting me and vice versa.
- LibraryThing Early Reviewers and Member Giveaways– These are similar to Goodreads Giveaways, but with a much higher chance of winning. I have gotten a ton of great titles from LibraryThing, both e-books and hard copies. I pretty much win a title a month from here.
- Booklikes Giveaways– Also like Goodreads Giveaways with a high chance of winning, but lower quality books. They will have something good pop up every once in a while though.
- Netgalley and Edelweiss– These two sites are very similar. If you haven’t heard of them, they will probably become your most used tool out of this list. These are sites where you create a profile as a reviewer or blogger and then request ebook titles of books that are unreleased. I would suggest to use both, because they both have different titles and sometimes if they do both have the same title, one site will deny you while the other will approve you. My big mistake when first starting out was to request way more titles than I could read. It’s important to keep your review to request ratio high. Meaning don’t request something if you don’t want to review it.
- Shelf Awareness Pro Emails — This is one of my favorites. They send out emails that are full of book news, but the emails also contain these ads for books and most of the time they’re advertisements for chances to win advanced review copies. These ads lead you to a Google Doc or something similar where you fill in your info and if you win books will show up at your house. No one will notify you that you won. I have received to a TON of titles this way. Probably at least 3 or 4 a month every single month. You should definitely sign up for the Pro email, but sometimes the regular email has offers for ARCs as well.
- Publishers Weekly Emails – These emails also occasionally have ads for ARC sweepstakes, just not as often as Shelf Awareness Pro emails do. I have received titles from here. Once I won the same book from Shelf Awareness and Publishers Weekly.
- Amazon First Reads – If you are an Amazon Prime member that membership comes with two features for free books. Prime reading, which has a selection of free books and Amazon First Reads, where you get to read one title before release every month.
- Hidden Gems ARC Program -This is a place that sends out emails for books available to review. Select the genres you like when you sign up and they will send you emails about books they have in that category for review.
- Reading Deals – This site has e-book deals, but they also have a review club. If you sign up for it they will send you an email every so often with the titles for review.
- Publishers newsletters– Every now and then publisher’s newsletters will have giveaways. I won one once for Sadie. Penguin Random House definitely does giveaways, but most publishers do as well. When you’re on their websites subscribe to their newsletters. This is also a good way to find out about upcoming releases that you can request on Netgalley.
- Author Newsletters and/or Street Teams-– When I review a book that I like on Goodreads, I go to the author’s Goodreads page and then their website. From there most have a spot where you can sign up for their newsletter. This is a good way to find out about your favorite authors, but to also know about their upcoming releases and events. Some authors have street teams which are full of fans who typically get first dibs on ARCs. Most of these are on Facebook, but some you have to fill out Google Docs or join a specific newsletter. If they do have a Facebook Group to join a link will typically be included in the newsletter. I am on a few street teams of authors that I really love.
- You also can receive swag from some authors for free. I know from experience that if you send a self addressed stamped envelope to Jennifer L Armentrout and Holly Black they will send back book swag. A lot of authors do this, check their website and this would typically be under a tab called Extras or something similar. I got Holly Black’s autograph on swag for The Cruel Prince this way. This is definitely worth checking out if you’re a big fan.
- Facebook groups and events– A lot of indie authors do Facebook release day parties. I have won countless prizes from these sorts of things, from bath soap to books and Amazon gift cards, these are happening all over the place on Facebook and I usually walk away with something if I participate. There will be all sorts of prizes and most of the time there aren’t a ton of participants, so it’s easy to win books this way. I have discovered awesome indie authors this way. Follow individual author’s groups that you like. Most of the time if they have one they will list it in their email newsletter.
- Specific Facebook Review Groups– These are kind of like Goodreads review groups, but a bit more intense. There are a lot of books available and a lot of authors competing for attention, so it was kind of overwhelming for me. There are a TON of authors seeking reviews, so once you join one of these and post that you’re a reviewer you will get TONS of offers for books to read. Make sure that you can post on Amazon.
- Blog Tours- Now you have to have a blog for this resource. Where with a lot of these avenues you can just post your reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, to be a part of a blog tour you must have a blog. There are different websites where you can sign up to be a tour host, and then check your emails because they will announce blog tours when they have new titles. Here are the blog tour sites that I use and like the most:
- Riveted Lit– This website offers 4 free YA titles at a time. They also have a newsletter which always includes information about the latest books they have and their current giveaways. You can also look on their website for their current sweepstakes.
- Book Sirens– This is a resource for both authors and book bloggers. As a blogger you sign up and connect your Goodreads account. Then they view all of your past reviews and rank you as a blogger. They have a list of bloggers that is available to authors. Once you’re in their database, authors will start to contact you from there. I just signed up and already have had 5 “clicks” from their website to my blog. This seems like a very cool resource. I also love their widget that shows my ranking.
- Bookish – They have regular giveaways on this site. There is also their BookishFirst giveaways which require you to write a review of the first chapter or so of a book. I suggest subscribing to their newsletter. They always have amazing titles. I won a copy of The Darkest Legacy from here.
- Read It Forward– Another site that has regular giveaways on the site. I subscribe to the newsletter and sometimes they have giveaways, sometimes they don’t. I haven’t won anything from here yet, but I enter the contests.
- Bookperk– These emails come everyday and most days at the bottom they have some sort of giveaway. But the emails also show good discounted kindle titles, which I will give more resources for in a little bit.
- First to Read– This is Penguin’s program to get early access to select titles. I’ve gotten a couple of books from here.
- YA Books Central– There are TONS of giveaways all the time on this website you should definitely check this site out. They also have a really interesting blog full of fun bookish articles.
- Blog giveaways- You can find some giveaways on blogs. A lot of blog tours do giveaways, so pay attention to those. I have won a couple blog giveaways and have won things from T shirts, to e-books to paperbacks. There are also book giveaways on Twitter and Instagram, which I don’t think anyone ever actually wins.
- Curiosity Quills Press– This publisber will let you review any title of theirs, past and future. They have a large selection, you just have to email. If you don’t want to email them then sign up for the newsletter and they will send you news about upcoming ARCs. They are on Netgalley, but not all of their titles are available through there.
- City Owl Press– This is a resource I just found. They are a small publishing company and they have a review team that you can join.
- Prolific Works– (Used to be Instafreebie) This website is one that I randomly discovered. They have a lot of amazing hidden gems. All the books are free, some only give you a preview, but most give you the full book. Some gems I have found through here are: The Hundred Halls, Confessions of a Queen B*.
- Authors XP– This website has a read and review program, giveaways and a newsletter that they send out offering free books. I have gotten a few good titles from here. They have a Read and Review team, an Elite Reader team, daily deals and giveaways. Basically anything you could ask for.
- Book Browse – They have giveaways on their site. You can also apply to be a reviewer for them, they pay.
- Booksprout– This is a website, and an app, that is exclusively for ARCs. You request a book and review it within a certain time period. There is a lot of erotica, but also some really good books in there.
- Contacting publishers directly— I have done this, only to get denied. I’m sure if my blog was more popular, then I might have more success with this route. Typically when I query a publisher I give stats about my blog and request whichever title I am looking to review. I hunted down The Boneless Mercies because I got denied on Netgalley, the publisher also said no. It’s always worth a shot. Smaller publishers are a pretty good starting place. Here is a link to a directory of all the different publicity contacts for different publishers. A friend of mine made this directory to make it super easy for you!
- Twitter #bookishwish this is a very new thing where book bloggers to to Twitter and either trade or give away ARCs. I looked everywhere for a copy of The Boneless Mercies and I couldn’t find one. So I went to Twitter and posted that I really wanted a copy of this book. Someone replied and said they had a copy they weren’t going to get to before publication and if I could cover shipping she could send it to me. I was ecstatic! There is also #booksfortrade and #arcsfortrade where people will send ARCs to each other in exchange for one they haven’t read. A great resource once you’re done with your books, and also a great way to make friends.
These are the resources that I use to help me get ARC’s and review copies. If you use ALL of these resources you will have review copies coming out of your ears! Please remember that these books are given to you freely for review and marketing purposes. Help an author and leave a review.
Now remember how I said that there are free books out there for those of you who don’t want to write reviews? These are a few places to find free e-books without expectation of reviews.
Free kindle books:
There are a billion of these websites that send out daily emails to announce kindle deals. Here are a few:
- OTOH’s Daily Deals– They actually have giveaways a lot of the time, so I like these a lot
- Book Adrenaline
- Bargain Booksy
- Book Rebel
- Fantasy Book Deals
Do you use any of these resources? Which resource do you like the most? Where do you get most of your advanced review copies? Make sure to comment below about your experience!