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How to build an advanced reading copy of your novel, ARC, with Microsoft Word

Updated on June 18, 2011

Creating an unbound advanced reading copy for reviewers

You have a novel and you have a list of reviewers and they all want ARCs. What does that mean and how do you get it to them?

Well, today, the easiest thing may be to open your manuscript, nicely proofed of course, in Microsoft Word, go to "save as" and choose "file type" PDF. Voila! You have an electronic ARC to email reviewers (after doing a few of the items listed below, like adding a cover page and making sure the document is set to double spaced). However, if they don't take electronic ARCs or if you aren't comfortable sending them, you will want to print one out. And that is a tad more complicated.

If Noah only knew how simple it was…(okay wrong kind of ARC)

  1. Open your manuscript file in Word.
  2. Under File/Page Setup/Margins change your orientation to landscape. Make sure the section titled “Apply to” shows “whole document.”
  3. Under File/Page Setup/Margins change your margins to .6 for top, .5 for bottom and left and .51 for right.
  4. Change your format to two columns. There are two ways to do this. Under Format/Columns select Two. Again make sure the section at the bottom titled “Apply to” shows “whole document.” The second way is to use the icon on your toolbar. If you do this you will need to check under page setup that the column change is for your “whole document” otherwise you may discover only one chapter was changed.
  5. Change your font to something smaller. I like Times New Roman 12. Single spaced, indent .3 inches. If you used the Style function to set up your manuscript in the first place this is a simple process – if not, do the highlight thing.
  6. Repeat the process for your chapter head, adjusting font size and the spacing above and below the chapter head. I use 96 pt above and 42 pt after.
  7. Add a cover page. On mine I have the title, my name, my email address, publisher, genre, release date, ISBN and the following: “Copyright Lori Devoti (year), For review purposes only. Any other use violation of copyright law.” I put this at the bottom in the same font size as everything else.
  8. Following this formula gets a 100,000 word book down to around 130 pages. Now you are ready to print. Being cheap, I print my own, but feel free to take them to a quick print place for copying. I do mine double sided. To do this yourself, the easiest thing is to by a duplexer for your laser printer–look on Ebay, that’s where I got mine, refurbished but works like a dream. Print them double sided so they flip on the long side.
  9. What you now have are 65 or so pages, printed on both sides. Slap a signed cover flat to the top of the stack if you have them. Get some big colored rubber bands from Staples or somewhere similar to wrap the whole thing up and you are ready to send to reviewers.

Create Your Own Advanced Reader Copy for Reviewers
Create Your Own Advanced Reader Copy for Reviewers

And honestly, that is all you have to do for 99% of the places that take ARCs for review. If, however, you want to send an advanced reading copy of your novel to a reviewer who specifies "bound" ARCs, you will have to go a step further. Bound with rubber bands does not equal "bound" in the sense these book reviewers mean.

To get bound ARCs of your novel you have a couple of choices. You can go to a site like and order them (go to "publish" tab and select "books"). They will have formatting instructions there or again, you can make your own. I have done both of these things. To make your own you will need some kind of book press (again you can make your own), a duplexing printer (I bought mine second hand on eBay), book glue (make or buy) and something to use as binding tape. I have included a video on do it yourself bookbinding further down.

So, that's it. Pick your method, compile your list of reviewers and get your novel out there!

How To Videos Book Binding:


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    • Viva Jones profile image

      Viva Jones 4 years ago from UK

      This is fantastically useful - sadly I'm working on such an old version of Word I can't even 'save as' to PDF... but will bookmark this for future reference - thanks.

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 7 years ago from NJ, USA

      Lori: I know I would find that useful - and I'm sure a lot of readers on Hubpages would too!

    • Lori Devoti profile image

      Lori Devoti 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks. I'm stumbling around trying to figure the place out. :) Apparently I committed some faux pas by moving an article from my web site to here and not waiting until the spiders noticed it wasn't ON my web site any more...

      So far as formatting, this is formatting for advanced reading copies--not how you would format to send to an agent or editor. I can do a post on that too, but it is much simpler.

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 7 years ago from NJ, USA

      It's great to see a published author on Hubpages! Welcome! This is really useful to us 'amateur' writers. Knowing how to format a 'novel' correctly is very useful and you've basically walked us through the entire process - now if only you could take my novel and turn it into a decent read LOL!