#7 TRENDING IN Books & Writing 🔥

How to Read Books Before They're Published While Benefitting the Author

Books & Writing

Wed, April 17

Waiting for an anticipated release is agonizing, but you can read books before they're published. These methods are all legal, help the author, won't break the bank, and inspire a new hobby: book reviewing. If you're an avid reader and like to talk about books, here are a few ways to access upcoming releases for the good of the book community.

Create a Reviewing Platform + All About ARCs

Reviews make or break a book's success. Publishers and self-published authors send Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) to reviewers and influencers to generate reviews and buzz before the big day. When customers are debating whether or not to preorder a book, they will often consider starred reviews on platforms like Goodreads.

You'll need a reviewing platform to get noticed by publishers and authors. A classic one is Goodreads, which is easy to sign up for because it's book-focused. However, lately, it's been getting backlash for becoming less accessible than other book-reviewing platforms.

A popular channel right now is Instagram—Bookstagram, as the bookish side of this social media is called. Don't be intimidated by fancy abbreviations or perfect bookshelves. It's a fun community to share your love of books with a large audience. This is where you show your credibility and reviews to an inquiring publisher.

ARCs are exactly what they sound like: copies of books that are sent out in advance of their publication date to generate buzz. Publishers and self-published authors usually send out eARCs due to printing and budget restrictions. Depending on when you request the copy, you'll either get an ARC or a finished copy, which is the hardcover that the public will receive on release day instead of a paperback, still subject to change like ARCs are.

Image Credit: Radu Marcusu from Unsplash

1. Sign Up for Publisher-Offered Programs

My most trusted way of receiving ARCs is directly from the publisher. That way, you're not re-pitching yourself every email, and they send out monthly or quarterly catalogs so you can choose which books to review.

As a teen bookstagrammer, I signed up for programs like the Penguin Teen Influencer Program and the Fierce Reads Influencer Program. All you have to do is email them your stats (you don't need thousands of followers; I only had around 300 when I emailed them) and your interests.

Publishers will explicitly tell you whether or not they require a review. Most ARCs are distributed with the hopes that you will review them, but nothing is legally binding. In some situations, especially those involving payment, you'll have to review the book and disclose that you received a gifted copy.

That's pretty rare. It's just common courtesy to tag the publisher (if the review is 3 stars or below, do NOT tag the author) and mention you received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

2. Sign Up for NetGalley/Edelweiss

NetGalley is the most popular and accessible platform for readers to access eARCs. Edelweiss+ is more targeted for the behind-the-scenes. Both have their specialties and are used to review books.

NetGalley is geared towards reviewers. Many publishers use it to distribute eARCs. However, the site has an age restriction 18+, which means teen bookfluencers can't access it.

I just ask for print (physical) or Edelweiss+ copies. But if you're over 18, be sure to sign up for NetGalley because it's the best way to request eARCs.

Edelweiss+ is more technical. You can see media plans, publication dates, printed copies, etc., but it's more popular with librarians and booksellers than influencers and reviewers. As a more detailed site, it also has communities and forums that group people and books of similar interests together.

Both sites will have you request books. Publishers might approve or decline, but if you've been approved, all you have to do is download your copy and start reading. You can review onsite and transfer your thoughts to other platforms easily.

Image Credit: Ines Sayadi from Unsplash

3. Email the Publisher

If you want a specific book, you can email the publisher directly. When you go on a publisher's page, search for "media," which will give you a list of publicity contacts corresponding to each imprint. Find the publisher and imprint under which your anticipated release is, and email the contact. This method doesn't always work, but it's worth a shot if you're passionate about a specific book.

Here's what to include in the email:

  1. Book title and author in the subject line
  2. Your name
  3. Book title, author, and publication date
  4. Your stats
  5. Links to your platforms
  6. Link to an example post
  7. Your mailing address - to make the publicist's life easier

The waiting is the hardest part, but there's nothing quite like seeing a book-shaped package with your name on it.

4. Email the Author (Self-Published Only)

Self-published authors have a lot of control over their books and publishing process. Most are on social media to promote their books as they don't have connections like big publishers do. If you would like to support a self-published author, reach out through email or DMs and ask them for an ARC. They often call for ARC and even beta readers through posts.

This method will not work with authors who publish with a big publishing house. Traditionally, published authors have little control over who gets ARCs other than a small box they receive for their collection, friends and family, and giveaways. You'll be directed to the publicity contact if you email them.

5. Join Book Tours

Book tours are organized by a group, often working with the publisher, to gather different bookfluencers over one book. This is typically done immediately after the book is released or leading up to the big day. Many book tour groups on social media, like Book of Matches Media, are open for reviewers to join.

They send out monthly newsletters with books you can sign up to be a part of that tour. You'll be sent a book and assigned a day to post about it.

It's never too late or too early to start reviewing books. Don't worry about your numbers. Be passionate, and you'll soon find your community and a room full of books to keep you always reading.

It's never too late or too early to start reviewing books. Don't worry about your numbers. Be passionate, and you'll soon find your community and a room full of books to keep you always reading.

Emily Tsai

Writer since Feb, 2024 · 2 published articles

Emily Tsai is a Taiwanese-American freshman in high school who has always harbored a love for English language arts. She lives in fantasy worlds but develops the real one through books and science. Emily can be found at gymnastics practice, curled up with a good book, or scribbling away to study for a looming test.