Using Amazon KDP Print (formerly CreateSpace) POD (print-on-demand) to print an ARC, or Advance Reader Copy is easy. Note that these are also sometimes referred to as an advance review copy, galleys, or an advance reader’s edition (ARE).
An ARC is nothing more than a free copy of your book that you share with potential reviewers in advance of the publication date.
In this article I want to talk about timing, how to format your book, and share my experiences using Amazon KDP Print to produce ARCs for our publishing clients.
(Also see a companion article about using IngramSpark. Click here.)
Why you need to make ARCs part of your marketing plan
The #1 goal for any new book is to get reviews, especially Amazon reviews. A related goal is to collect as many “blurbs” as possible—quotes about your book from recognized experts or notable individuals.
The best time to begin soliciting reviews is well in advance of your book’s release date. This gives your potential reviewers and blurbers time to read the book, and consider whether or not they are willing to write a review. Having these reviews ready at the time of your book’s launch saves you precious time in building momentum immediate after launch date.
If you know a person well, they might be willing to read a PDF, or even your Word manuscript. But my experience is that nothing beats a formally designed book—preferably in print.
Quick fact: 75% of the ARC requests for my book Register Your Book were for the print edition.
ARC timeline considerations
If someone asked you to review their book, how much time would you like? If it’s your mom, you’d probably drop everything. But chances are that these individuals are acquaintances, someone on your mailing list, or people you’ve met on social media. They will most likely need extra time to fit your book in to their schedule.
I suggest allowing 1 to 3 months for this period. It is important to manage your expectations and be respectful of their time. After all, they are volunteering to help you.
Amazon KDP Print ARC timeline summary
Amazon KDP Print (POD) is no different than other printers in that you need to account for proofing and shipping times. Here’s a brief summary of the key steps and approximate time requirements.
- Upload formatted book file. (minutes)
- Review using online proofing tool. (minutes)
- If acceptable, choose the number of proofs to ship (1-5) and where to ship them (US or 6 locations in Europe).
- Within 24 hours you receive an email from Amazon that the book is in your Amazon shopping cart, ready for purchase and shipping.
Your ARC is an investment in marketing
An advance reading copy is by definition not final and you can use this to your advantage. It is not uncommon to include marketing details on the back cover, for example.
- Publicity campaign details
- Advertising plans
- Where to get more information about the book, or other sources for review copies (such as NetGalley or GoodReads).
You can also add marketing-related front or back matter inside the book, or put a release date on the cover.
Preparing your file before submitting to KDP Print
You book does not have to be perfect—which reduces the burden of lengthy reviews. Amazon will automatically print a “Not for Resale” ribbon on the front, spine and back (see image above). You can also add your own label to the cover, such as:
- Advance Reading Copy, or
- Uncorrected Proof, or
- Not For Sale
Inside the book you can add the same language, or take it a step further like some publishers prefer. Before uploading the PDF to Amazon KDP Print I sometimes add this phrase to the header of every page of the book:
ADVANCE READING COPY – NOT FINAL – NOT FOR SALE
The top two images in the collage below are from book covers and the lower one is the header of an ARC.
How to use Amazon KDP Print POD to produce an advance reader copy
The good news about using Amazon KDP Print to produce your ARC is that it is fast and cheap. As I outlined above, the process takes just a few days and they have support if you run into problems.
The downsides? There 3 to be aware of:
- You can print a maximum of 5 copies per order. If you want to order more, return to your book’s setup page and repeat the ordering process.
- You must ship all proofs to one address. Our clients will usually order the books shipped to their address, and then mail a copy to AuthorImprints for our review. Alternatively you can order more proofs and ship those to other addresses.
- The final barcode with ISBN is not printed on the back of the book and is in fact covered up by KDP Print's internal barcode. This makes the book unsaleable which is often the point for ARCs. Your ARC readers may feel differently which is why some publishers use IngramSpark to produce their pre-release books.
Amazon KDP Print is excellent for creating a handful of proofs you can use as an advance reader copy. But depending on how many you need, and how quickly you need them, you may want to consider other options.
There are many printers that offer short-run digital printing, the most notable for independent publishers is IngramSpark. You can read that article here.
For more immediate needs, or advice about your publishing plans, please see this page.
(Amazon merged CreateSpace into KDP to become KDP Print in the fall of 2018.)