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I very recently dove head first into the world of book blogging. It has been a personal goal of mine for a very long time to put some of my thoughts and opinions out into the world in the written form. It seemed to make sense to write about my favorites – books and food – so add to that a little encouragement from my family and friends and mix in a little of that “new year, new me” optimism that comes around January 1st of every year, and shortly after the start of 2019, Book Lovers Pizza was born. Quite unsurprisingly, I have experienced a bit of a learning curve as I navigate social media, technical details connected with maintaining a website, the publishing world, forming relationships with other reviewers and bloggers and finally just polishing my writing skills enough for people to want to read what I have to say. Still, I wanted to share about my experiences getting my first physical Advance Reader Copy (ARC).
As a very new book reviewer and blogger, one key element of being successful that I have found the most challenging is getting my hands on physical books to read and review before they are released to the general public. It is not that tough to get electronic versions of books before they are released (see NetGalley or Edelweiss), and very shortly after I started writing reviews and even before I launched my blog, I was able to get a few of those. Getting a physical Advance Review Copy or (ARC), that is, an actual printed copy of a soon to be released book, sent to you by the publisher is another story. From what I can tell, there is not a ton of rhyme or reason to it and some publishers will send books to run of the mill readers in exchange for their honest review being posted on some form of social media. All you have to do is ask (I hear emailing their press department directly works quite well). However, from my research, and after being denied a few times, it seemed to me that in addition to reviewing books on my blog, I would greatly increase my odds of being successful in getting physical ARCs, if I have a significant social media following (especially an Instagram devoted to books or “Bookstagram”) and by being a more prolific reader.
Now, I will admit that the pressure and deadlines associated with committing to a ton of review copies, has me a little spooked and I am really enjoying putting my opinions out there on books I am reading that I buy or that I get from the library. But in order to really make a splash and engage fully in this new realm, I have made it a goal to form some relationships in the publishing world and start to try and get a few physical ARCs.
Enter the first physical ARC that I have ever received, On a Quiet Street by J.L. Doucette. What a pleasure it has been to interact with the publisher for this book, She Writes Press, who puts out weekly book review opportunities through their publicity arm to a members-only group of readers they call their “Book Sharks.” (Anyone can apply, see here.) I have been a participating member, or a “Shark,” for a few months now, and I applied for this particular review opportunity by filling out a very short online form listing my social media following (it is small but growing), including my blog link and writing a couple sentences about why I want to review this book. Within a week, I had my answer and the book was mailed to my house shortly after.
What a thrill to be a part of this world and to start to make some progress and inroads into it. I plan on requesting more physical ARCs directly from publishers, and when I do, I plan on posting my reviews here (sometimes, with a recipe or dish inspired by the book alongside it), and I will continue to pass along any tips and tricks I learn along the way. I find complete satisfaction and fulfillment in recommending books to other readers and of course, I adore talking about books to anyone who will listen. So, I am feeling pretty blessed and special right now to have been given such an honor. This is only the beginning.
See my review of On a Quiet Street here.