As has been the basis for my posts since I started this blog in 2017, I write about where I’m at in my writing journey, what I’m learning, and hope that you find it just as helpful.
This means today’s blog is about what to include in an ARC (advanced reader copy), something I’ve only done once (so far) and learned to do in the last week.
I used Scrivener (the Windows version that’s perpetually waiting for the Scrivener 3 update), but you can create these files in any word processing/formatting program.
Full disclosure, I honestly had no idea what to include when I started putting together my Blackbirch: The Beginning ARC, but I think it turned out well.
What To Include In An ARC Ebook
1. Front Matter
Your front matter is the documents that go before the contents of your book.
Standard options include…
If you have the cover for your book ready, add it here. My designer is still working on mine so I used the free version of Canva to put together a placeholder cover for the ARC.
Table Of Contents
Confession, I’m not a huge fan of listing a table of contents in fiction books. I do, however, understand the need for them in ebooks as they make it easy to click to a specific chapter, so definitely include one. Scrivener automatically compiled and added my table of contents when creating the epub file.
A Title Page
This should include your book title, subtitle (if applicable), and author name. You can even get fancy and add an image if you like.
A Copyright Page
Basic copyright simply needs to include the copyright symbol (©) or the word “copyright”, the year of the first copyright, and the name of whoever owns the copyright
Examples: © 2020 K.M. Allan or Copyright 2020 K.M. Allan
You can also include the following statements:
“This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.”
“All rights reserved.”
For more info and options, check out the blog post, What To Include On Your Book’s Copyright Page by Andre Calilhanna.
A Note To Your Readers
I threw in a note to the readers explaining this was the ARC version of my book, that the actual book will be released in February, and that the real cover is coming soon. I also thanked them for reading and asked them to let me know if they spot any issues or typos (I’ve read this book so many times I can’t even see the typos anymore). If you choose to include a note, you can make it about the same thing, or anything else, such as the inspiration behind your book or other important book-related things you think they should know.
The Book Blurb
I only released the blurb for my book last week (you can read it in the post, Writing A Book Blurb In 4 Easy Steps), so I included it here to remind the readers what to expect. Also, since the ARC is an ebook only, there’s no back cover for the readers to see the blurb.
2. Your Book
The center part of your ARC is obviously your book. Yep, you have to include it, and yes that means other people, i.e. strangers, will read your words. I like to think I’m my own worst critic and prepared for anything anyone throws at me, but I’m still nervous about this book being read by others.
To format my book, I used Scrivener’s compile function to create an epub. I then used Kindle Previewer 3 to see what the ebook will look like on Kindles, tablets, and phones, and saved it as an epub and a mobi.
If something looked off, such as the title page font being too big (true story), I adjusted the files in Scrivener and ran them through Kindle Previewer again. It took me 15 versions to get the whole ebook looking how I wanted (at one point I ticked something in Scrivener that took away my chapter numbers so it was an ordeal fixing that). It’s all very trial and error, so don’t think you’re a failure if the first (or fifth) version isn’t right.
Also, don’t stress about fonts too much. Just make sure you have a simple, clean font, and your layout is easy to read. Kindle owners can change the settings for fonts and sizing on their own individual devices, so spending hours making sure the font is perfect may not matter in the end. Readers just want to read your words. Make it easy for them to do that and you’ll be fine.
3. Back Matter
The back matter is—you guessed it—the files that go after your book. These can include…
A Thank You
I thanked the readers once again. Life is super busy, and although Blackbirch: The Beginning isn’t a huge page-sprawling tome (it’s just shy of 63,000 words), it will still take time to read. The fact that anyone wants to use part of their day/week/month/life to read it isn’t lost on me, and I really appreciate that.
A Call To Action
This could be a reminder to leave a review, a request to spread the word about your book, or anything else you wish (related to your book and within reason, of course).
Early reviews really help to get the word out about new books, especially for debut authors, so remind your readers of that and make it easy for them to leave a review by including links.
I don’t have my pre-orders up yet (that’s the next task) so there isn’t a place for my ARC readers to leave a review just yet (sorry, guys!). As those links become available in the next few weeks, I’ll add them to a special page I set up, which is only accessible from a link in my ARC.
About The Author
This is the place where you can introduce yourself to new readers, or remind those who already know you, who you are and what you’re all about (in my case, it’s binge-watching too much TV). Include your bio and a picture (if you like).
And that’s it! At least, that’s the way I create an ARC. As I said, I’m learning as I go. These tips might help you, or you might know of a better way, in which case, please teach us all in the comments below.
Thank you to everyone who responded to my ARC callout last week. I offered 25 copies and 35 of you requested it before I closed the sign-up.
I sent the 35 ebooks out on the 15th and the link should be in your inbox now (check your spam/promotions folder if you haven’t seen it). I hope you enjoy the book. Happy reading!
— K.M. Allan