The other day, I found a package on my doorstep. For better or worse, there was not a farting robot tucked inside of it. But the contents of the package were still pretty exciting…
What are these colorful, solidly bound beauties? ARCs! Which is an acronym for Advance Reviewer Copy, which is a physical copy of a book that has been printed several months before its release date so that certain people (professional reviewers, for instance) can experience the book just as other readers will once it is officially for sale.
In addition to sending ARCs to the professional reviewers mentioned above, publishers typically ship a handful of copies to the book’s author. The author then has several options. They can:
- clutch the ARCs to their chest and cry tears of joy;
- anxiously scrutinize every page of the ARCs for typos, less-than-perfect phrasings, or awkward bits of typesetting;
- send the ARCs on tour!
I could talk (at great length) about the first two options, but this blog post is about the third. So: what’s ARC tour? And why should an author consider sending their ARCs on tour?
ARC-sharing groups are collections of mostly educators and librarians (though there are also some authors involved!) who, after obtaining an ARC, pass it around from one member to the next and, using Twitter or Voxer or good old-fashioned Post-It notes, discuss it, share it, and review it. ARC-sharing groups get ARCs in a variety of ways – at conferences (where publishers often give away ARCs of upcoming releases), by asking publishers and authors directly (though politely!) for ARCs, or, increasingly, by having authors offer ARCs up to them.
As far as I can tell, the first official, organized ARC-sharing group was #BookJourney, and you can read more about how they got started, how they operate, and many of the amazing benefits of being part of such a group in this great post on Phil Bildner’s blog.
I’d also highly suggest checking out this more recent post on the Nerdy Book Club blog, in which members of #BookExpedition discuss their history and experience as a group.
Now, AUTHORS – you might be wondering why in the world you’d want to send your book on an ARC tour. Isn’t it just giving all these educators and librarians a FREE sneak peek of your book?
Well, yes. Yes, it is. And that is AWESOME. Because it’s those same educators and librarians who might then add your book to their collections. Who might pull it off the shelf and booktalk it to their classes or reading groups. Who will now know what you and your work are all about so that when they encounter a kid who’s looking for or needs a book just like yours, they know exactly where to find it. Also, the members of these ARC-sharing groups are some of the most social media savvy people on earth. Sending an ARC on tour with them is guaranteed to get your book in front of tons more eyeballs than it would on your shelf (or clutched to your chest, where not even YOU can see it through your tears of joy).
And whether or not you’ve got an ARC to send to any of the people below, I suggest you follow every single one of them, and make them a part of your greater Personal Learning Network. The members of these groups are among the most devoted and innovative educators and librarians I know. As I’ve said about a million and one times before, children’s book creators and children’s educators are colleagues. At the end of the day, our core mission is the same – to both better and enrich the lives of kids, through caring connections and through BOOKS. And sure, sending an ARC on tour can benefit your book’s sales – but more importantly, it’s equipping the people who are with kids every day with another tool to reach, engage, interest, and excite them.
Below is an alphabetized list of all the ARC-sharing groups I currently know of, along with directions for how to get in touch with their members and get your ARCs on tour with them. But more groups are being created all the time — #LitReviewCrew was literally put together while I was working on this post. I’ll keep updating this list as more groups are formed and/or I learn about others. Questions? Reach out to me or, better yet, ask the members of the groups themselves!
(And a quick parenthetical aside for anyone interested in starting a new group: please know that publishers typically don’t give authors very many ARCs. Like, they might only get one or two. If asking an author directly for an ARC, it is best to do it privately, and if that’s not possible, it doesn’t hurt to let them know that you know the above, and understand that they therefore may not be able to send an ARC your way.)
#BookAllies – Educators that are allies for their students. Our group focuses on middle grade books. Authors can DM @4Dlovestoread, @DanaWillRead, @admk5library, @eforsythe21, @CangroLib, @Ms_Smith6, @MrsMillersELA, @MJBuckley4, @Molson414, or @cat_books_.
#BookExcursion – “Authors can search the hashtag and reach out to any of the members by sending a DM, then we’ll send an address where the ARC can be sent to begin its excursion. Members include: @lauramossa, @DrLMaucione, @Teacher_AWebb, and more.”
#BookExpedition – “Authors can reach out via DM to @KReilley5, @barberchicago, @erinvarley, @Caranewman12, @CherylTeaches, @patrickontwit, @SusanLSullivan, @mgrossoauthor, @LauraShovan, @brooksbenjamin, @Wiggins_Reads, or @mckenrickreads and we’ll reply with an address.”
#BookHike – “Authors can reach out via DM to any of the members and we will reply with an address. We love all books: picture, MG, & YA. Members are @zonderclassnews, @kirstenbiehl, @MsHolstine, @shender503, and @OneTeachersTake!”
#BookJaunt – “We have an age range in educators. Authors can use #bookjaunt or DM @brittyc1928, @mbiehl1, @BrandyBaxter1, @lit_learn_love, @KristySkoglund, @shawkl77, @OrangeTeacher2, @scout615, or @mrshull6.”
#BookJourney – Members include: @sfillner, @hansonhallway, @teachreadrepeat, @Wklybkspotlight, @Beth_Parmer, @Kpteach5, @literacybigkids, @mrsapia_teach, and @MsAPlusTeacher. Any of them can be reached via DM. Their focus is mostly PB, transitional chapter books, and MG, based on the age ranges that they teach.
#BookJunkies – “We have been reading YA and MG, but would all love PBs as well. Reach out to @maestraw.”
#BookOdyssey – “We are librarians and educators who love to read picture books through YA. Feel free to DM any of our members: @MrsB_reads, @betweenmargins, @LiteracyJunky, @msmarythomas, @IowaAmber, @MsG_PagebyPage, and @ashhickeyread.”
#BookPortage – A Canadian ARC-sharing group. Contact Kathie MacIsaac (@kmcmac74). Other members include: @bibliosmartgirl and @IceNIN75.
#BookPosse – “We are up for Picture book thru YA. We use mostly PB and MG with our student populations, but we love to read/review ’em all! Members include: @CynthiaSchwind, @HopewellLibrary, @mrsbabichkbk, @mmestallard, @Melady2000, @hmspires, @kdm_guybrarian, @MrsPogal, @jubileestories, @Pittstop_in_501, @Helen00402749, and @krstnktng.”
#BookRelays – Reads MG and YA. Contact @mrzholden, @jillbless, @JanaTheTeacher, @Teachr4, or @books_ghealy.
#BookSojourn – “Authors can reach out to @jenbozyk, @jdsniadecki, @SawyersShari, @tannertheteach, @cschliep4, @TeamRo5th, @MrsShadish, @creyer3, @literacy_lovin, @SadieFritz2, @sarah_aronson, or @mrskavanaugh5th either by sending a DM or tagging us. We have educators in all levels.”
#BookSquad – “Authors can go to the hashtag and reach out to any of the members by sending a DM, then we’ll send an address to where the ARC can be sent to begin its adventure!”
#BookTalkers – “A group of coaches and teachers for grades K through 6 and with contacts across K through 12. Members include @ureadIread @huntingtonteach @kristen_ruso @mblairteach8506 @ccvagrimes @flynn_catherine and more!”
#BookTrek – Authors can find/contact members by searching the hashtag. Members include: @AppleMurphy22, @BarbInNebraska, and @cupcake_savant.
#BookVoyage – “We usually read MG but also some YA! DM: @KirchnerJulie, @mrsmontjoyreads, @corrinaaallen, @ela_everyday, @smilngbec, @dgoldenreads, @JessSamuel2010, @MrsGettler, or @mrs_cmt1489.”
#collaBOOKation – Authors can contact @mgbookjunkie. Other members include: @amysoupy and @DrMayesElma.
#KidLitAlliance – “A diverse group of educators, librarians and authors excited to read all kid lit, PB thru YA. Members include: members are @weknowreaders @LoganTCES @donna_rineholt @acraftyarab @sakraal @YouAreMeAreYou @wlingle @CPravata @techie_denise @MsBlyereads @NicolleKR.”
#KidLitExchange – “We are a network of kid lit reviewers sharing ARCs of kid lit and reviewing EVERYWHERE — we take submissions from authors and publishers!” Check out their website (kidlitexchange.com) or contact them using their handle (@kidlitexchange).
#LitReviewCrew – Search the hashtag or tweet directly at their group account: @litreviewcrew.
#read2nite – “We’re a group of educators ranging from elementary through middle grade, and we love to share and promote picture books through middle grade novels. DM @DrMayesElma for an address where to send books.”
#YellowBookRoad – “Authors can reach out to @rach3liblady, @megankohlman, @rbharder, @mrskaufman1st, @SJNeill13, @janealgray, @AmandaBuethe, or @TonyaFoster3 by DM or tagging us. We teach all levels, 1st through HS, and are interested in all levels of books.”
There are also a bunch of awesome KID reviewers of kid lit out there. For instance:
I’ll keep updating this list as I learn of more groups or more groups get created. Also, if members of any of the above groups want me to edit or add information to their little blurb, let me know!