Q&A: Fauzia Burke of FSB Associates - "All About ARCs"


Today on the ShelfishlyAddicted blog, I am honored to have Fauzia Burke of FSB Associates as my guest. FSB Associates is an online publicity and marketing firm that helps authors gain awareness of their books. Fauzia is here today for a special Q&A on ARCs - or Advanced Reading Copies, as they are formally known.

In the world of book blogging and reviewing, ARCs are highly coveted. If you look on Twitter or Instagram, you'll see countless posts on and photos of the most-anticipated books to be published. On GoodReads or on book review blogs, books that still have yet to be put to market already have reviews or a star rating. Many bloggers/reviewers even have yet-to-be-published books in their hands already, and you might wonder why or how all of this is possible.

Wonder no more! Fauzia was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer some of my pressing questions on ARCs, what they are, who they're for, and so on. Without further adieu, please read on!

Fauzia, it is a pleasure to have you on the ShelfishlyAddicted Book Review Blog. Please tell us a little about you, about FSB Associates, and how you help authors and others in the publishing world.

I am the President and Founder of FSB Associates. Founded in 1995, FSB was one of the first firms to specialize in Internet publicity and marketing for publishers and authors. I have worked in book marketing and publicity for all of my professional life, and started in the marketing departments of John Wiley & Sons and Henry Holt. Since its inception, FSB Associates has executed more than two thousand successful online publicity and marketing campaigns for our authors. When authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, and Charles Spencer want their books promoted, they call us. We work with many bestselling and award winning authors and lots of new authors and everyone in the middle. I am also the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, April 2016). It’s been a revelation to be on this side of the table.

For those who may not be familiar with the acronym, what exactly is an ARC?

An ARC is an Advanced Readers’ Copy; you’ll also hear them referred to as “galleys”.

Why are ARCs important in the life of an author and in the business of publishing?

ARCs give people an early look at a book. It’s an uncorrected proof, and it’s the first time an author’s project actually looks like a real book. There’s quite a bit of excitement over seeing an ARC for the first time.

What audience are ARCs meant for?

ARCs are mainly used for publicity purposes and are sent to media who use the ARC to review the book and plan publication date coverage accordingly. Many in the media require months to review a book so you need to send the ARCs early to have the best shot at pre-publication reviews in book trade publications and reviews during publication week in other media. In smaller quantities, ARCs are also sent to bookstores and potential endorsers for review.

How does FSB Associates determine who ARCs are sent to and when?

Finished copies of books are available only 2-4 weeks in advance of publication date, so the ARCs are sent to editors and reviewers that take longer than 2-4 weeks to post a review. There is always a big push to get as much attention for a book in a concentrated time frame for biggest impact. The majority of the time, that time period is within the first few weeks of publication. FSB creates an ARC list for each book based on the communities we are targeting for coverage. We have close relationships with our media contacts and we know those outlets that plan their coverage further in advance. Those contacts will absolutely receive ARCs.

How much in advance should a blogger review an ARC?

We typically like to reach out to bloggers 6-8 weeks prior to publication with an ARC, just to give them adequate time to review the book and plan coverage timed to publication date.

How do you feel about ARCs being sold - to other people, to second-hand stores, etc.?

It’s not a good idea. It’s a violation of our industry procedures. We send ARCs to encourage reviews that will help raise/encourage sales of the book. By selling ARCs to booksellers, the reviewer is actually costing the author sales of their books. I wish there was something we could do to prevent the practice. It is pretty common in the industry. If the publisher/publicist is able to track down the reviewer who is doing that, they would probably stop sending them ARCs.

What should bloggers/reviewers do with unwanted ARCs?

Give them to someone else who you think will enjoy and appreciate the book, and may post a review on bookseller sites and social media. Or donate them to senior centers or other places.

What advice do you have for bloggers/reviewers who want to be "early readers" of upcoming titles?

If you know there is a title you’re interested in, reach out to the publisher, particularly the publicity department. Oftentimes, publicists will be happy to send you an ARC (or e-galley) for review (as long as you agree not to post before the publication date). You can also join the author’s mailing list. Many authors offer ARCs to people on their mailing list or via social media. If you want ARCs, I would say start building a reputation for providing fair well-written reviews around publication date and posting them on multiple sites.

What is your perception of the blogging community as a whole? Is there anything you'd change about it?

Since FSB focuses on online campaigns, I’ve had the opportunity to meet lots of bloggers in the last 21 years. My personal perception is that the blogging community is a vital part of the book publishing industry. As print review space continues to shrink, book bloggers offer an important way to get the word out about new books. In my mind, they are priceless. In my view, book bloggers rock. Thank you to all bloggers for doing incredibly important work.

Fauzia Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She’s also the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, April 2016). Fauzia started her career at Wiley and Henry Holt before starting FSB, and has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more. For online marketing, book publishing and social media advice, follow Fauzia on Twitter (@FauziaBurke) and Facebook (Fauzia S. Burke). For more information on the book, please visit: www.FauziaBurke.com.

For my dear author friends and aspiring authors, you can find Fauzia's book, Online Marketing for Busy Authors by clicking on the book cover below.

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