Everything in these posts are just my opinions and I’m obviously not saying my way is the right way/only way. You don’t have to agree with me and you don’t have to follow my advice.
One of the most common questions I get about Bookstagram is “how do you get free books?”. I see quite a few accounts that seem to focus on getting free books, getting ARCs, and getting free products from companies. I can tell you right now, if you’re only doing Bookstagram for the free stuff, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons and you should rethink why you want to start an account. It’s not okay to build an account just because you want free stuff and it’s always very obvious which accounts are only in it for the free books. It’s very hard to build trust with your audience if they can see that you’re not being genuine with the reasons you’ve started your account.
Getting free books
When you get “free” books, remember that it’s not really free. Publishers send you books in exchange for promotion and/or review. You’re providing a service in exchange for a product. It’s not as simple as just getting a free book. Publishers spend money to give you that book. You want to make sure it was worth their time and money to provide you with that book.
Please keep in mind that you’re never entitled to free books. No matter how long you’ve had your account, no matter how many followers you have, you are never entitled to free books. Once again, if you have your account just for free books, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.
How I receive free books
I don’t feel like I have enough knowledge on the subject to give actual advice on how to contact publishers/how to get publishers to notice you so I’ll just tell you how I receive free books and maybe you’ll be able to take a few things away from it and apply it to your own account.
The answer to how I get free books is actually very simple. I put my email address in my Instagram bio and publishers started to email me about books they wanted to send me to feature on my account. I rarely email publishers about books, so 99% of the time I get books unsolicited. Sometimes I’ll get an email from a publisher asking if I would be interested in a title they have to offer and sometimes, if they already have my shipping address, they’ll just send it to me without an email.
Whenever I receive a book from a publisher, I always take multiple pictures of it for all of my book social media. If they are willing to take the time and money to send me a book, the least I can do is provide some advertising in exchange.
Some tips for building your account to be advertising friendly
As I said earlier, I don’t feel like I have the knowledge to give a lot of advice on this subject, but I can give you a few tips.
1. Provide a public email address.
I created an email address just for book related things. I personally like to have different emails for different parts of my life. I have a personal email, a business email, and a book email. I like to be very organized with emails and find this is best way for me to keep track of everything. I do suggest creating an email address with your account name or at least something with your name in it. Something that’s at least a little professional-looking. Put that email address in your bio and/or switch your account to “business” (you can find it in Options, under Account). The easier it is for a publisher to contact you, the more likely they are to reach out.
2. Consistent content
If you only post a few times a month, it’s unlikely that a publisher will contact you. Posting quality content on a consistent basis is not only a wy to make your account grow, but it’ll show that you’re serious about your account. You don’t have to post every single day, but your account should be active and have new content on a regular basis.
3. Mention what country you live in
You could do this by putting an emoji or your country’s flag in you bio, or just by saying what country you live in. But I, personally, think that this is often overlooked by a lot of people. Publishers can’t always ship internationally for various reasons so if they know right away from looking at your page that they can ship to you, they might be more likely to contact you. I’ve seen a lot of people say they’ve been contacted by publishers only to be told that the publisher can’t ship to their country. So to avoid situations like that, it’s a good idea to mention what country you live in.
How to request ARCs
Because I rarely request ARCs (I’ve only done it 4-5 times), I don’t have a lot of advice for you. But I do have a few tips to share.
1.Include your shipping address
Including your shipping address in your inquiry will save a lot of time for the person you’re contacting. If you’re selected for whatever book you’re inquiring about, they won’t have spend time replying back for your address. I include my shipping address in my email signature, along with the links to my social media.
2.Mention your social media
Be sure to include all of your book social media. Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, your blog, and any place else that you regularly talk about books. I’d also recommend including your followers on each platform and a link to each as well.
I highly recommend checking out Katie’s Book Blog for better tips on requesting ARCs. Katie has a really great post about what to do and what not to do.
Some things to keep in mind
1. Follower count is a factor
Publishers spend a lot of money on ARCs and sending out books for promotion, so they want to make sure it’s worth their time and money. They’ll tend to select people with a bigger audience so they can reach as many people as possible. It’s only logical to send an ARC to someone with 30K followers over someone with 30 followers.
2.Don’t be discouraged
Never get discouraged because your numbers aren’t as big as someone else’s. Numbers might be a factor, but it’s definitely not everything. Try not to compare yourself to others. Do what you love and be yourself. If you work hard on your content and love what you’re doing, success will come. And remember, success is different for everyone. What I call success may not be the same as what you call success.
3.Free books are not the definition of success
It’s not what who gets the most free books, who has the best ARCs, or who has the most followers. I know I’ve said this a lot in this post, but I’ll say it again: If you have your account just because you want free books, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.