I find it curious the type of things they put on Arcs and the flyers that go with them. I totally understnad that they are trying to sell books. To do this they hope to acheive two main things with the advance reading copies, Get bookstores to order the books, and get reviewers to read and review the books (thus generating sales).
Some of the things included help, some don't.
Things that help:
Information on the author; this can include bio material and interviews. PJ Nunn at Breakthrough promotions is great about this.
Touring information; this is handy to booksellers and it also shows how much the publisher is investing in the book.
Things that I don't quite get:
A lot of new books mention a "Webmarketing campaign". What the hell is that exactly? Is it the emails I get from the publishers people reminding the book is coming out and asking if I'm going to review it? Is it sending out mass emails to a list? Is it getting the book reviewed on various websites? Maybe even paying for banner ads?
And how effective is any of that in actually helping to sell extra copies?
They also mention national review attention. I undertand that this helps the bookseller know that people will be aware of a book, but does it do any more thab that? I don't think so. My knowing it is getting national review attention isn't going to guilt me into reviewing it.
Also, some publishers get really weird when they find out some bookstores sell copies of Arcs.
I've never sold one, nor do I plan to. But I understand why bookstores do. And the truth is, if someone is willing to pay for an advance copy, they will definitly buy the hardcover as well. These people buying arcs are fans and/or collectors. These sales will not cut into the books actual sales, and may actually help promote buzz about the book. I've heard arguements on both sides of this practice, and while I don't and won't sell arcs, I don't think it's really a problem.
Best use of Arcs?
Get them out early enough to be reviewed. Getting a book a week before the release means it won't be reviewed in time. I can't stress how important getting them out early is.
Get them to the right reviewers and to as many bookstores as possible. Bookstores who get a lot of arcs from companies tend to buy more of their books from the same company.
Arcs are A great tool and when used right they can help a lot. Sending out a lot of arcs really helped get John Connolly's latest book BLACK ANGEL a lot of extra buzz.