ARC Copies, Booksprout, and KU


I get so frustrated sometimes with Amazon’s response system. I’m in the process of soliciting reviews (which is fine under the community guidelines as long as they’re honest and you don’t buy them). What does soliciting reviews entail? That’s a good question. There are lots of different ways to do this. For example, you can go through services like booksprout, pubby, and various blog tour options. You can also contact bloggers and potential reviewers directly. I’m sure there are other options, but I’m not going to go through them here since that isn’t the purpose of this post.

Here’s what Amazon currently says about Customer Reviews:

(Full disclosure: I trimmed the tabs / taskbar off the image since you don’t need to see how many tabs / programs I have up.)

Here’s the message I just sent them. I could go on a tangent about how their help categories leave off certain topics, but that’s also not the purpose of this post. I’m looking at soliciting reviews through booksprout:

“My apologies if this question is in the wrong category. My books are enrolled in KDP Select / Kindle Unlimited. I understand that my enrollment grants exclusivity to the kindle store. Can I still give out ARC copies? Does that include sending out ARC copies through an ARC service like booksprout? Thank you in advance for your response.”

Booksprout (as I understand it – I haven’t used there service yet) provides a limited pool of readers with free copies in (hopefully, since we can’t demand it) exchange for a review. You have to create an account and go through the sign up process in order to access any of booksprout’s books. In other words, they’re behind a sign in wall. I tested this with a book that I know is on booksprout: Shu Daizi’s Iris and the Secret Library. As of this post, here’s the link:

I know, it’s erotica. Blame twitter.

Here’s what the booksprout listing looks like:

Yes, the link is findable through a search on google. This means that an algorithm could theoretically find the link through a search engine. What happens when I click Get this ARC?

I get directed to login or signup. I can not access it without an account.

Here’s the response Amazon provided me with:

What does booksprout have to say about using their service while a book is enrolled in KU? They say yes and no. I can’t find the answer I read yesterday (otherwise, I’d include it in this post). I found a forum thread on kboard discussing it [here]. The responses contain different answers. For example, one says they contacted Amazon and received this answer:

Admittedly, that was in 2018. It also does not list booksprout by name. Other posts say you cannot use booksprout while enrolled in KU. Then there’s this gem:

So, can I give out ARC copies through booksprout? The response says I can not make the ebook available through another site. So, presumably, I can give out ARCs if I don’t go through a public website. Meaning that this question could be resolved if booksprout put their book listings behind a sign-in wall, as opposed to just the ARC copies. I know from experience that freebie giveaways on Amazon don’t really generate reviews. Also, providing them with the downloadable ebook file is effectively the same thing as providing them with a free copy, right? And what about the (however many) people who use booksprout anyway and don’t get flagged by Amazon?

A former choir director at my church growing up had a “Bang Head Here” sign on her wall. Sometimes I think I need one of those.

(To those of you who are more literal minded: No, I’m not really going to bang my head on the wall. I’m just thinking about it.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *