How to Use Amazon KDP Print for Advance Reading Copies-ARCs
ARC timeline considerations and summary • Preparing files before submitting to KDP • Using KDP (formerly CreateSpace) to print advance reader copies
Amazon KDP print Not for Resale band

How to Use Amazon KDP Print for Advance Reading Copies-ARCs

Using Amazon KDP Print (formerly CreateSpace) POD (print-on-demand) to print an ARC, or Advance Reader Copy is easy. Note that these are also sometimes referred to as an advance review copy, galleys, or an advance reader’s edition (ARE).

An ARC is nothing more than a free copy of your book that you share with potential reviewers in advance of the publication date.

In this article I want to talk about timing, how to format your book, and share my experiences using Amazon KDP Print to produce ARCs for our publishing clients.

(Also see a companion article about using IngramSpark. Click here.)

Why you need to make ARCs part of your marketing plan

The #1 goal for any new book is to get reviews, especially Amazon reviews. A related goal is to collect as many “blurbs” as possible—quotes about your book from recognized experts or notable individuals.

The best time to begin soliciting reviews is well in advance of your book’s release date. This gives your potential reviewers and blurbers time to read the book, and consider whether or not they are willing to write a review. Having these reviews ready at the time of your book’s launch saves you precious time in building momentum immediate after launch date.

If you know a person well, they might be willing to read a PDF, or even your Word manuscript. But my experience is that nothing beats a formally designed book—preferably in print.

Quick fact: 75% of the ARC requests for my book Register Your Book were for the print edition.

ARC timeline considerations

If someone asked you to review their book, how much time would you like? If it’s your mom, you’d probably drop everything. But chances are that these individuals are acquaintances, someone on your mailing list, or people you’ve met on social media. They will most likely need extra time to fit your book in to their schedule.

I suggest allowing 1 to 3 months for this period. It is important to manage your expectations and be respectful of their time. After all, they are volunteering to help you.

Amazon KDP Print ARC timeline summary

Amazon KDP Print (POD) is no different than other printers in that you need to account for proofing and shipping times. Here’s a brief summary of the key steps and approximate time requirements.

  1. Upload formatted book file. (minutes)
  2. Review using online proofing tool. (minutes)
  3. If acceptable, choose the number of proofs to ship (1-5) and where to ship them (US or 6 locations in Europe).
  4. Within 24 hours you receive an email from Amazon that the book is in your Amazon shopping cart, ready for purchase and shipping.

Amazon KDP Print author copy proof order

Your ARC is an investment in marketing

An advance reading copy is by definition not final and you can use this to your advantage. It is not uncommon to include marketing details on the back cover, for example.

  • Publicity campaign details
  • Advertising plans
  • Where to get more information about the book, or other sources for review copies (such as NetGalley or GoodReads).

You can also add marketing-related front or back matter inside the book, or put a release date on the cover.

Preparing your file before submitting to KDP Print

You book does not have to be perfect—which reduces the burden of lengthy reviews. Amazon will automatically print a “Not for Resale” ribbon on the front, spine and back (see image above). You can also add your own label to the cover, such as:

  • Advance Reading Copy, or
  • Uncorrected Proof, or
  • Not For Sale

Inside the book you can add the same language, or take it a step further like some publishers prefer. Before uploading the PDF to Amazon KDP Print I sometimes add this phrase to the header of every page of the book:


The top two images in the collage below are from book covers and the lower one is the header of an ARC.

Advance Reader Copy-ARC wording- for printing at CreateSpace

How to use Amazon KDP Print POD to produce an advance reader copy

The good news about using Amazon KDP Print to produce your ARC is that it is fast and cheap. As I outlined above, the process takes just a few days and they have support if you run into problems.

The downsides? There 3 to be aware of:

  1. You can print a maximum of 5 copies per order. If you want to order more, return to your book’s setup page and repeat the ordering process.
  2. You must ship all proofs to one address. Our clients will usually order the books shipped to their address, and then mail a copy to AuthorImprints for our review. Alternatively you can order more proofs and ship those to other addresses.
  3. The final barcode with ISBN is not printed on the back of the book and is in fact covered up by KDP Print's internal barcode. This makes the book unsaleable which is often the point for ARCs. Your ARC readers may feel differently which is why some publishers use IngramSpark to produce their pre-release books.

Final thoughts

Amazon KDP Print is excellent for creating a handful of proofs you can use as an advance reader copy. But depending on how many you need, and how quickly you need them, you may want to consider other options.

There are many printers that offer short-run digital printing, the most notable for independent publishers is IngramSpark. You can read that article here.

For more immediate needs, or advice about your publishing plans, please see this page.

The Book Review Companion has step-by-step instructions and advice for getting and using book reviews and blurbs/testimonials. (Learn more here or click the cover to buy the book on Amazon.)

The Book Review Companion An Author’s Guide to Getting and Using Book Reviews_David Wogahn_207w

(Amazon merged CreateSpace into KDP to become KDP Print in the fall of 2018.)

Related articles

Book Barcode Basics When Using CreateSpace or IngramSpark POD

24 thoughts on “How to Use Amazon KDP Print for Advance Reading Copies-ARCs”

  1. Thanks for this article. I’m gearing up to publish my first book, and I want to do this. But I have a question: How do the early readers leave reviews if the book is not published yet? I would really love for the reviews to be on Amazon when the book is launched. Thanks!

  2. Thank you for this. I appreciate the insight. I’m jumping into a different genre with my next book using a couple of minor characters out of my main series. I really want to get some reader insight and reviews going before the book is available to all since I’m straying from what my readers know me for. My timeline for release is nearly two months out so, if I put this to use here soon, I could have a pretty good start.

    What are your thoughts on doing this in conjunction with a pre-sale of the digital version so those reviews can be added by the ARC readers prior to launch?

  3. Leslie Tall Manning

    I thought I could only order one proof at at time, so I have been sending out digital copies as advanced copies. So thank you for the heads-up. I will definitely plan accordingly for my next book this summer!

  4. That’s the rub. You cannot post a review until the book is live. You need to get ARCs into the hands of prospective reviewers well before the pub date and then have a way to cajole them into leaving a review at or after the pub date.

  5. As I explained to Deanna, you can’t post reviews prior to pub date. I think you must be referring to pre-order when you say pre-sale? Assuming so, that just means orders accumulate and are released on the pub date.

  6. Thank you for your answer, David. This is my first book launch, so I have much to learn. You’ve just helped me jump a little ahead on that learning curve!

  7. I am definitely convinced the investment in ARC is valuable. Thanks for providing some of the details.

  8. Had I known about the ARC before, would have save me money. Better late than never, for the next book.
    THANK-YOU David. As said in marketing circles, you know how to give value to your followers.
    How does one link an OPT-IN to MailChimp or to a website –> Google Drive? (once documents) or Dropbox, or desktop? where? The word is give a motive, ‘freebee’ for subscribing to an email list to give that follower value. Where does one keep the document for the opt-in to be down loaded?

  9. Hi Bobbie, glad you found the post helpful. With Mailchimp, the ‘free download’ is provided to the subscriber after they signup for the list and it is stored on Mailchimp. But other services can do it differently. If you sign up for my mailing list you can see how it works. Free guides are available from Mailchimp and other email mailing list management companies. Good luck.

  10. Alistair McGuinness

    Very helpful info…thanks. I have been using Book Razor to help me find readers that have reviewed similar books to mine on Amazon. I now have a list of 15 people who are willing to read and review my book. Once the book goes live, I will email them to remind them to add their review. Ideally, I should have more…but its a start!

  11. You have the right approach in that you need to start somewhere. Keep at it. Best of luck Alistair.

  12. I already tried this, for my book originally titled “Experts Lying to You” but now retitled as Experts Catastrophe. I ordered three successive lots of five.
    Sent out to people who I hoped would be (1) interested “famous” people such as Mercola and Natural News; (2) famous-ish sympathetic experts in the field (ensured their names were in the index etc); (3) authors of positively-related books; (4) more or less sensible people of my acquaintance (though I know only few people for reasons of the book’s own contents).
    I asked them all to give me CRITICAL comments, tell me what needed improving.
    The only (critical??) feedback I got was “Nothing needs changing”; “Not just arts graduates, many scientists should be interested”; “Very good, very important”; “I read five chapters (of pdfs), I like your clear writing style, you should have a large audience”. Even my (usually withering) mother said “It’s very well written”.

    One professor bought a copy off me. An acquaintance at the allotments requested to buy one.
    Mailed a copy to a professional reviewer, not heard back six months later.

    But apart from that, none of a dozen other readers have sent back a single word of comment. So what do I do?

    Keep ordering more copies to send to less-promising people, till I run out of cash?
    Click the Createspace to “publish” now and hope for the best?
    Or just give up?

  13. Unless there is some other reason to publish, I’d keep trying. Readers won’t magically appear either way and books begin to age as soon as they are published.

    I wrote a post last week about researching comparable books and authors. It’s on my and it’s called, How to Find Authors Similar to Us (and Why)

    That post is not only about other authors, it’s about finding other topic experts and I provide 3 ways to find them.

  14. Thanks for your reply suggestions. I am inclining to two alternative approaches. One is that some (well, actually most!) of my book is potentially headline scandal (humungously lying “leading experts”), which could be featured in national news media. The problem is just getting the message through to such, though a company called claims to be able to help with that. Would look more promising if they charged by results.

    Another option is the notion that a third of views and sales on Amazon come from keyword searches on Amazon, making mailing lists non-essential.

    Wondering what you think?

  15. Plus another approach (which doesn’t really apply to most authors). The thing is that I am far more knowledgable than other authors about my subjects, so I can go to the Amazon pages of THEIR books and tactfully point out where they have missed important things out or got things wrong (my book consists largely of those two things!), and thereby point them to a better book by myself (“this is explained in full in free chapter 99 of my Experts Catastrophe book you can find online.”).

    In fact I bought the little-known but very important book by Torrey and Miller only because while reading the reviews of Whitaker’s highly-fan-clubbed rubbish I found a rightly scathing review by Torrey which mentioned his own book.

    The problem with this method is that I can only apply it AFTER jumping in and “publishing” my book. Well, I could try directing people to my website before publishing it but that would result in many people finding it not on sale yet and never coming back. Hmm….

  16. KDP now allows you to send ARC’s to multiple shipping addresses directly from the order page.

    In the upper right corner is a small “ship to multiple addresses” button. Click that and it opens a page to input a different address for each ARC ordered. You will receive separate tracking numbers for each book. I had three ARC’s shipped last week to different address and it worked out well. Choose a gift receipt to write a brief message to the recipient (and remove the price). Hope this is helpful!

  17. Thanks for the note, Annette. I haven’t been able to re-create this so just to be clear, you ordered what Amazon calls “Author proofs,” right? And after you got the email from Amazon that the proofs were in your cart to pay for, is this when you clicked the “ship to multiple addresses” button?

  18. How amazing it is to know that a free copy of the book can be shared with the potential reviewers in advance of the publication date. I will be definitely sharing this article with a friend of mine who writes books.

  19. Hi, new author here. I am unclear about how someone who reviews an ARC can leave a review if they don’t purchase the book. I haven’t published yet – still in the editing stage – and I can’t figure out that piece of the puzzle. If Jane Smith reads an ARC, how will she then be able to leave a review?

  20. The short answer is yes. But it also depends on the policies of where she is posting the review. Amazon, Goodreads…all have this posted.

  21. When you are sending out all these free books, if people review them, they will not be Verified amazon purchases, which seems to be becoming more important. How much difference does that make? Is it still worthwhile sending out free books?
    And, I’m seeing sites occasionally where amazon is blocking reviews. (Products/books that I know are valid and good.) Is this because of a flood of unverified reviews on release date? Or is there another reason?
    (I am considering buying your book, but as it is 3 years old, I’m not sure if it deals with these issues.)

  22. It’s better not to give free books for Amazon customer reviews. Use those for blurb writers. A low price to start, and price drops, are the best way to encourage sales. It’s a numbers game. I don’t understand “seeing sites occasionally where amazon is blocking reviews.” Amazon never talks about reviews and bans publicly. It’s all very frustrating for everyone. Just avoid close connections and services that claim to get you customer reviews for payment.

    The Book Review Companion content is still valid. I just published a workbook that included much of this and can’t recall changing anything. Amazon made big changes to the review policies a few years ago and those are in there. It also has a strategy that helps with getting verified reviews from your launch team. Good luck.

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