advance review copy (also called a galley)
early copies of a book, sent out to media several months before publication in order to build excitement ahead of the book’s release
What does an ARC look like?
It’s a paperback version of your book (even if your book is set to debut in hardcover) with some indication on the cover that it is an Advance Review Copy and not for sale. Inside, there will be a warning that reviews should not quote from the ARC without consulting the publisher for the most up-to-date text. The cover art on your ARC may or may not be your finalized cover art for your finished book.
When are ARCs sent out?
Several months before your book’s release day. They might go out even before your book’s copy edits are finished. That’s why there’s a disclaimer inside the cover warning not to quote the ARC without checking with the publisher first (although, to be honest, people still will quote from the ARC without checking with the publisher).
Who gets ARCs?
You should get some: check your contract to see how many. It could be anywhere from 1 to 25 or possibly more. Others who will receive ARCs from your publisher can include bloggers, reviewers for trade journals (Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, etc), websites who post reviews, booksellers who are considering stocking your book, and anyone else your publisher thinks can help build buzz.
Do I need to send out ARCs?
No. If anyone emails you and asks for an ARC, you should direct them to a publicist at your publishing house (ask your editor for an email address). It’s not appropriate for bloggers to contact authors to ask for ARCs. You can do what you like with any ARCs you might receive; you can give them to family members or friends or festival organizers or taste-makers you’ve identified on your own. You can set up an ARC tour in which your ARC is mailed around to authors you know who want to read it (maybe fellow debut authors who want to help promote).
What if someone is trying to sell my ARC online?
They’re really not supposed to. But try not to sweat it. There’s not much you can do about it, and it’s not worth worrying about. You can report them to your publicist or editor if you like.