Introduction to BookishFirst
As a book blogger, one of the most popular questions I get is “How do I get ARCs?” An ARC is an Advanced Reader Copy. It is an early, uncorrected copy of an upcoming book. Publishers send these out a few months in advance of the book’s publication to generate publicity in the form of reviews. They are sent for free and cannot legally be bought or sold. ARCs are wonderful because they allow you to read the book before the rest of the world has a chance. But because of this, they can often be hard to come by, especially for more popular titles. Enter BookishFirst, a website designed to level the playing field for ARCs, and make it so that anyone can get an ARC copy of the books they have available, no matter your platform or following.
BookishFirst is quite possibly my favorite place to learn about upcoming new books. Each week it offers readers the opportunity to read short snippets from a few upcoming titles and enter to win a raffle of an advanced copy (ARC) of the book by sharing their first impressions of the excerpt. I’ve been a user of BookishFirst for about two years, and I absolutely love it! I’ve been introduced to so many great books through BookishFirst. To see a few, click here. It’s a great resource for new book reviewers to get their hands on advanced copies of upcoming titles.
There are two main ways to win books with BookishFirst. The first is by writing a First Impression and being entered into the raffle for that book. The second is by collecting enough points to claim a book before the raffles. In this post I will go into detail on tips and tricks to strategically accrue points to use to claim ARCs.
There are a few other ways to earn points on BookishFirst. For example, you can use my referral code to sign up and start off with an additional 100 points. To use go to www.bookishfirst.com and use referral code 0bd0f9a09259cf79e to create your account!
Without further ado, let’s get started so you can win some ARCs!
When you first join BookishFirst, the first thing you want to do (after filling out your profile) is write First Impressions for the current raffles. First Impressions are essentially mini reviews where you give your opinions on a short excerpt from the book. Raffles are run from Monday at 12AM EST to Tuesday at 12AM EST. Each week there are new raffles available to enter. You can only enter and win raffles that are currently active. On Tuesday around 12PM EST, the raffles are drawn and the winners are emailed.
To write a First Impression, go to the book, click the button to “Read The First Look”, and then click the button “Write Your First Impression to enter”
First Impressions consist of a Title, a 200+ character description of your opinion of the first look, a rating, and answering a few yes or no questions about the cover and your overall impressions of the book. For my First Impressions, I typically read the First Look and comment on what genre I think the book best fits into, overall what I thought of the writing style, and whether or not I liked the cover.
Note: The quality of your First Impression does not influence your chances to win the raffle. I would not recommend spending lots of time perfecting your first impression, just give a quick opinion. Spend that time on your reviews instead.
Pro-tip: You can only win one raffle each week. If only one book that week appeals to you, be sure to only check the box for “I want a copy of this book” for that particular book (see the example below). Otherwise, if the raffle for the other books is run before the book that you really want, and you win that raffle, you will be disqualified from the raffle for the book you really want. Also, if you claim a copy of a book early in the week, you are no longer entered to win any of the other titles that are available that week. More on that in the points section below.
Overall First Impressions are a great way to get started with BookishFirst. You will earn 100 points for each First Impression you write. You can only get points for First Impressions on active raffles. I recommend writing a First Impression even if the book doesn’t interest you. You will still get the points, and who knows, you may discover a book that you never expected to love!
Claiming Books with Points
Hands down the best way to gain points on BookishFirst is by writing and sharing reviews. There are a few guidelines to how to write reviews on BookishFirst.
Reviews should be:
- At least 700+ characters (a requirement)
- Free from profanity (a must for sharing reviews on retail sites)
- About your opinion of the book
How you choose to structure your review is a matter of personal preference. My style is typically to start with a brief summary of the plot, discuss the point of view, characters, and overall plot. If I think it would be fitting for a particular audience or compares to another book, I also mention that.
Pro Tip: Write your review in an editor outside of BookishFirst. There’s no way to save a partially written review and if the page times out or something goes wrong, your entire review will be lost. (This has happened to me a few times and it is AWFUL). I typically type up my review using the Notes app on my phone.
Simply writing a review on BookishFirst will get you 100 points. But you can also gain another 100 points each time you share your review to online retailers, blogs, and book communities. This is where I earn the bulk of my points. Writing the review is the hard part. Sharing the review is easy.
I share my reviews on the following websites:
- Barnes and Noble
- Google Play
- This blog
Note: You can only share your review for points for 90 days after the publication date of the book.
Pro tip: The highest number of points you can gain for a single action is by posting your review on Amazon the week the book is released. You will earn 300 points for doing this. You have seven days from the release date of the book to get the points, however Amazon often takes a few days to accept your review so it’s best to post it as close to the release day as possible.
If you’ve done the math you will realize that from one book review, I have the potential to earn about 1300 points. This is great because you only need 2000 points to claim a book. So basically by reading, reviewing, and sharing my review for two books I am able to earn another book.
Pro tip: I keep track of all my BookishFirst books with a spreadsheet. I list the book and the release date, as well as all the places I plan to share the review. Typically you can post your review to BookishFirst and book communities like Goodreads and Instagram before the publication date of the book, but online retailers are not available for posting reviews until the book is officially released.
Strategic ways to get extra points
A little known secret on BookishFirst is that you are not limited to writing reviews and gaining points from books that you acquired from them. You can also review books that you got elsewhere. They still have to be the books that they have had raffles for in the past, but you do not need to win the raffle to read and review the book.
You also are not limited to reviewing books before they are released. This is great if you are just starting out with the website. Write reviews on books that have been released in the last 3 months by attaining copies from the library, via swap, or by buying a copy for yourself.
You can also often obtain copies of the unreleased books via Netgalley, Edelweiss, emailing the publisher, or via swap. BookishFirst also has an excellent forum on their website. Leverage their forum to see if anyone would like to swap for a title you want. There is typically an ongoing swap conversation.
Note: If you do acquire a published copy of the book, make sure it was published no more than three months previously so you can still get points.
Other Ways to Get Points
You can also win 100 points if your review is selected as the winner of the Top Review Award. These are selected monthly by the BookishFirst team and there is one winner per book. In order to be eligible to be selected, your review must be submitted to BookishFirst before the end of the book’s release month.
A great way to get some extra points is to refer others to BookishFirst! You each get 100 points and who doesn’t want free books!
So you’ve accrued all these points, now what? You trade them for books! But unfortunately it’s not that simple. You can only win an active raffle, meaning you need to wait until the raffle for the book you want opens. Typically you can take a look a few weeks out to see what raffles will be opening and when. This allows you to plan out what books you want to claim with your points.
There is a limit to the number of books that are available to claim with points for each raffle, and once all the books are claimed you can no longer cash in points for the book. The only way to win it at that point is through the raffle.
Pro tip: Points do not expire and there is no limit to the number you can accrue. Wait until a book you really want comes up as a raffle to cash out your points. Some books are more popular than others so if you know if a raffle is coming up for a book you want, claim the book as soon as possible when the raffle opens.
You can only win one raffle each week. This means that if you claim a copy of a book early in the week, you are no longer entered to win any of the other titles that are available that week. So choose carefully. Unfortunately if there are two books in the same raffle that you want you have to choose one.
I hope you enjoyed this introduction to BookishFirst and will consider joining the site! If you are a member of BookishFirst and have any recommendations or tips, please leave them in the comments!