Blogging Know-How: Mentors, blog buttons, and sharing ARCs

Welcome to the second instalment of Blogging Know How, my brand new weekly feature here on Books, Biscuits, and Tea. The aim of this feature is to answer some of your blogging/ reading/ reviewing/ social networking related questions. If there’s anything you’ve been wondering about, you can’t figure out or just want me to help you out with, you can send it to me via email or the little contact form I’ll post at the end of these posts.

“I’ve been watching youtube videos and reading other blogger tips/tricks of the trade and a lot of them say to get a mentor. More experienced bloggers must have a TON of help requests. How would a fairly new blogger go about getting a seasoned mentor when they don’t know anyone? And thanks for this feature, I love it! I’ll definitely support it. :)” – Mandee

Thanks Mandee! Having someone more experienced helping you out is great and it definitely makes blogging and exploring this whole blogoverse much, much easier but I can see why it’s so hard to find someone to help you. It’s not the fact that people don’t want to help or not even the fact that you don’t know anyone. It’s rather that blogging takes a hell of a lot of time and most of us go to school or work full time besides blogging and taking on a mentee would mean that they’d have even less time for reading and well.. everything else. So how do you get started? I’ll tell you what I did when I started my blog and entered the blogosphere, the great unknown for the first time.

Take your time. Blogging and getting the hang of things takes time but you’ll get there. You don’t necessarily need to know anyone to get started. There are lots of websites and articles that may be useful for beginners. For example:

And as the last article says, don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow bloggers for help. All of us were beginners at some point so we know how confusing it is when you’re thrown into the unknown. When I started Books, Biscuits, and Tea I haven’t even heard about blogging mentors. I had no idea such a thing existed and I didn’t know anyone either. But I’m sure you (and everyone else) have some favourite blogs you often visit, and bloggers who you look for inspiration or look up to. You can learn a lot from even reading their posts! And it never hurts to ask for help. I’ve had some people emailing me about review templates and social networking but no matter how busy I was, I always tried to help them out – and I’m sure most people would do the same. :)

The buttons! How do you make them and the links that they use? THANK YOU!!! – Libby

You mean the “grab my button” photo with the code? You won’t believe how easy it is! I could copy-paste the whole thing for you but d’you know what? This website will do it all for you. If you’re having problems with any of the codes, just click on this photo and you’ll see how I did mine. First off, fill in the first two brackets with your blog’s title and its URL. Then, you’ll need a blog button. I did mine in Photoshop using my (previous) blog template. Once you have a button, make sure to upload it on Photobucket or any other image sharing website and copy-paste its direct link into the third bracket. As for container type, click on “Textarea” if you have a Blogger blog. If your blog is hosted by WordPress or something else, click on Pre.
Container’s border colour: #ffffff (which is white, but you can choose any other colours by clicking on that little black box)
Container’s background colour: #ffffff
Font colour: #000000 (which is black)
Then click on preview and get code.

1. Go to Blogger -> Design -> Page elements -> Add a gadget -> HTML/Javascript
2. Copy the blog button code from the website and paste it in the HTML/Javascript box in Blogger
3. Give a title to your widget, e.g. “Grab my button”
4. Save it. That’s it! :)

Easy peasy! :)

What do you think about people sharing ARC’s? All the ARC’s I have received say not to share with other people but I see all the time on other blogs that bloggers let each other borrow ARC’s. Do you think this is OK or not? – Anon

Judging by your question, you don’t approve of people sharing them – and to be frank, I have to agree with you and I’ll tell you why. An ARC (or Advance Reader Copy) is basically an uncorrected proof of a book. It’s a roughly-produced version of an upcoming book that publishers send out to newspapers, magazines, and book bloggers to create a buzz before its publication. It’s important to note that producing ARCs actually costs more than producing finished copies of the same book.

Going back to the original question, I think passing them on is okay as long as the recipient is a fellow book blogger who will review it on his/her blog as well. Lending ARCs to book bloggers is OK since the person you give it to will also spread the word and write about the book.

As opposed to this, I don’t think that sharing ARCs with non-bloggers or passing them on to friends who won’t review it is okay. That’s not why there were produced and sent to us bloggers, after all. Giving them away if you have a spare copy (sent by the author or the publisher) is one thing and it’s perfectly all right. Selling them on Ebay or passing it on to many people is a different story. Just imagine what would happen if everyone who has an ARC passed it on. Then the next person would pass it on to someone else and so on. Who would buy the book if every single person already read it by the time it comes out? That’s right, no one. The aim of this whole ARC business is to make people interested in the book not to let the whole word read it for free. So no, in this case I don’t think it’s okay to pass them on, nor is it okay to sell them on Ebay for a bunch of money.

What do you guys think of sharing ARCs? Do you think it’s OK?

Do you have any blogging/reviewing related questions you’d like me to answer on my blog? Something related to ARCs, social networking, or anything else? Don’t hesitate to let me know. :)


  1. Ellie Warren says

    Most my review copies are finished copies and if I don’t want to keep them I give them to charity. Unbound proofs barely survive one read so they tend to go in the recycling bin (even though it’s sad to do). Most the books I’ve had as bound proofs, I’ve wanted to keep but like others have said, most publicists would be happy for you to share with other bloggers. I sometimes give them to my mum too. I think mums are OK 😉

  2. kimba88 says

    Lovely post, very informative and even though I knew most of this, you managed to past on some new information that even an experienced blogger would find interesting..thanks Vicky!

  3. Jordan Butcher says

    Great post Vicky!

    I have never even thought about a blogging mentor, but I can see how wonderful that would be. I remember especially my first couple of months blogging I was so lost and the process and what I was supposed to be doing! I did some research on my own and talked to various established bloggers and eventually found my way around (But do we ever fully know what we’re doing? I know I’m learning everyday something new that I’m like “duh, why didn’t I think to do that already??”)

    I don’t share any ARCs provided to me. There are 3 people, including myself, that post on The Ink Puddle and whoever is doing the review, gets the ARC and they are told not to share it either. I know many authors who are concerned about this so much that we ended up putting a note on our Review Policy to hopefully help some of those concerns they have.

    I just feel like it’s the right thing to do, money aside. If we’re promoting their book, we’re encouraging them to go out and by it, but giving it to them freely.

    • says

      D’you know what, me neither! I had no clue such thing existed but it’s quite a good idea :) And I completely agree with you on that! I learned a lot from fellow bloggers by either asking them or visiting them regularly and figuring out, slowly but surely, what memes, ARCs, blog tours, and such things meant. But I do think we learn a lot from each other almost every day.

      Great post Jordan!

  4. Mrs. Q: Book Addict says

    I think twitter is a great tool as well. Often, I’ll ask a questions and other bloggers are very forthcoming with information and tips.

  5. Cassandra Martino says

    Great post.. I hadn’t heard of “blogging mentors” either!

    As far as sharing ARCs, most publishers don’t mind it as long as it’s going to someone else who will be reviewing it or even as a giveaway. I don’t think it should be passed around a million times but it’s not a bad thing to give it to a blogger friend you interact with frequently because as you said, ARCs cost more to send produce than final copies so it saves the publishers money for publicity. And trust me, even if a book was passed around 20 times before it’s release.. there are still MILLIONS of people out there that could buy the book.

    • says

      Yep, I absolutely agree! I don’t think they mind if it’s someone who has a blog and/or will review it on either the blog or Goodreads and Amazon. I don’t think passing it on to fellow bloggers is bad since they’ll spread the word once they finish reading it – but personally I wouldn’t give it to someone who’s not a blogger/reviewer.

  6. Colleen @ Les Livres says

    I agree about sharing ARCs, to a certain extent. I wouldn’t feel right lending mine out to everyone I think would enjoy the book, because its purpose is to garner interest in the book so people will buy it. I think it’s a little different if you’re passing it on to someone else with a blog or a review column, though, something like that – because ultimately they are likely to post a public review after reading it, which I feel extends the purpose of the ARC’s existence. If that makes sense.

    This is a great feature! My blog has been around for just over a year now, but I still feel like I’m so new to the whole scene that it’s fantastic to see these types of posts now and then for fresh ideas and perspective!
    Colleen @ Les Livres recently posted..Transforming Body ImageMy Profile

  7. says

    You’re so clever Vicky! I love this feature and reading your helpful advice – thanks for making things easier for those of us who aren’t very techie!!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

  8. says

    Thanks a lot for the tips! I only made my book blog about a month ago, so I still am figuring things out. The links you posted were great!

    I myself have never gotten an ARC, but from what I know of them I think I’m going to have to agree with you, Vicky. The publisher/author is putting their trust in that reader and giving the ARC away is going against everything that publisher/author was aiming to do by trusting that reader with it.

    I really liked this post and will be looking forward to more “Blogging Know-How” posts. Thanks for all the great tips!
    Linny recently posted..Freebies #2My Profile

    • says

      Thank you so much Linny! I’m glad you found my post helpful. :) If you’d like to hear more about ARCs or anything blogging/reading related in particular, feel free to shoot me a message and I’ll do my best to help you.

      Plus, I’ll be back this week with a new Blogging Know-How post so stay tuned! :)

  9. Kevin Loh says


    Fantastic posts! I love how you could do all this while focusing on your degree! I admire you for that, Vioks!

    Thank you so much for your helpful tips!

    I pass on the books I reviewed to my mum and I think she loves me more now! 😉

    CLK xx

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