If you’re like me, and you got really excited about the whole book blogging community, or even just enamored by the idea of them, you probably have dabbled a little (or a lot) in the whole ARC side of it. Well once I was full steam into reading and reviewing, I jumped feet first into ARC requesting and have recently started to regret it. So, as my readers I feel it right that I share this change of pace that I will be going into as a result of this regret.
What is an ARC?
For those of you who aren’t heavy into the reviewing biz or just aren’t savvy in all the jargon, an ARC is an Advance Reader Copy. They are made by publishers and are doled out to reviewers to read and review essentially to drive up hype for a book release. Now I am not in the publishing business, so I cannot attest to any other reasons to their creation, but it is to my understanding that this is the main course. In fact, on the back of the physical or on sites such as Edelweiss you will find under the details/marketing info statements such as: “National print and online publicity campaign”, “early reader buzz”, blogger and social media influencer campaign”, etc.
Where & How Do You Get ARCs?
I am going to keep this short. There are many blog posts about this already and it’s truly quite simple. You can request e-galleys online on sites such at Netgalley.com or Abovethetreeline.com (Edelweiss). Both of these sites are fairly easy to use, particularly Netgalley. If you are like me and were initially confused by Edelweiss’ set up, watch a youtube video. If you take the time to look into it, you will find that it is actually quite a remarkable site for those in the book business world. If you are wanting physical copies of ARCs to my understanding there are two ways to receive them (without purchasing them illegally) you can get them 2 ways (that I am aware of) request directly from the publisher’s media contact or go to a book con.
Okay, now on to the nitty gritty of why I am almost quitting the whole ARC game.
The Pressure of Due Dates
When you receive an ARC from a publisher it is basically a given that they expect you to eventually read and review the ARC. With that said and the fact that it’s one of their ways to achieve some publicity it’s usually appreciated to review the book around 2 weeks prior to release date to drive some last minute preorders as well as some general hype. The more you hear about something the more you recognize it. So here we have my conundrum. I work 2 jobs and in the summer a huge family farm, so there are times when I just don’t have the energy to read, let alone write a review. So, what happens when a release date starts approaching and I haven’t even started? I panic. It’s not that big of a deal, but I start to scramble for time to read the book in time that I sometimes even *gasp* start to skim. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really try not to skim, this is a last minute resort, and typically only saved for books that I am really not into. To be honest, I’ve only really done this maybe 3 times. But I get this gut wrenching feeling that I did not give a book the true time that it deserves.
If you’re like me, you get REALLY excited about books. Namely, when you get the opportunity to request them. So you’re seeing all these pretty covers, clever titles, interesting synopsis, and you click that Request button. And again. And Again. After that, it’s just a waiting game to see if you’re approved. Then one day you wake up, you check your email and you have been bombarded with ARCs to read. Not only that 5 of them are on the same release date…which is in 1 month. Then it’s down to a mad scramble of, which ones can you read the fastest? Which one do you even want to read first? I think this was by far my biggest problem. I got so click happy that I ended up with several ARCs releasing each week. It was overwhelming and I knew it was only the fault of my own, but it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth when I see the books that I didn’t even get to.
The Pressure of the Review
This leads me to my next point. When I get a book from a publisher I feel so much pressure that I need to have an elaborate and eloquent review. I need to try harder than I would for just a book I read, regardless if I liked it or not. Not only that, I also need to type it all up when it’s fresh in my mind. But what happens when I have so many books that I finish a book and then start the next just to keep up? I’m not taking nearly enough time to do what I started it all for: to share my thoughts about these books I am reading. Right now I have about 10 books just waiting to be reviewed. These are books that are already released!
Not Finishing an ARC
This was something I had a hard time grasping with when I started ARC’s. Typically if I don’t like a book by 30% I am not going to continue it. There are SO many good books out there why would I waste time on something I wasn’t enjoying? Well, add the pressure of a book gifted to you by a publisher, is it expected for you to push through? At first I did, I forced myself to continue reading, even if it was just 3 pages at a time. What this resulted in was me hating my time spent reading. Not only that I end up giving such a bad review due to the hatred of the book. Since then I have adopted pushing through till I feel I have valid reasons to not continue. For example, if the content turns out to not be something for my mental state or if the writing style is just not for me. I will discontinue my read because it’s not the type of book I would generally read and review, why force it? Now you may think that I am not being fair that I am not giving my honest opinion. But that’s the thing, typically when I discontinue a read, I give my thoughts on what I did. I at least do my part of reviewing what worked and didn’t work for me, as well as provide a reason for the publisher explaining why I discontinued.
The Social Media Expectations
A big part of approval for ARC’s is of course your social media presence. The publisher doesn’t want to just give away free books. I mean, come on, it’s a business. So there’s this huge weight on me to continually be here. But like I said, I already work 2 jobs. I am fortunate to have Rae here on the blog helping keep up some fresh content for you all, but the blog isn’t just it. There’s all the other platforms to not only be on, but essentially compete with. Now, I love and adore all my fellow blogger friends, but it’s all so overwhelming, and I am truly so impressed with how much work they put into staying connected with everyone, including myself. But having a unique and beautiful Instagram aesthetic, being retweeted and liked on Twitter, and don’t even get me started on the followers to following ratio business. I find it completely nasty to expect to have followers and not follow anyone back. I know it’s not realistic to follow everyone back, but come on, let’s be kind, everyone is trying hard. So let’s be real, I don’t have the time or energy to keep up with everyone. I love you all. But I don’t have the true dedication to get to that point where publishers are throwing their ARC’s at me. And I am okay with that, I truly am.
The Race & The Trades
One of the biggest parts that can be discouraging is the race for those coveted ARCs. There are times when I am completely blown away that I am approved for some ARCs. But there are moments when you are denied something, and you see your other bloggers getting approved. Now I have some pretty thick skin so I know I can take this. But there are times that I request something and Rae requests it, some times I get it…some times she gets it…and sometimes we both do or don’t. It really makes me wonder how much is just a lottery when it comes down to it, and how much is truly examined?
I love scouring the #arcsfortrade tag on Twitter. But sometimes I am completely baffled but what the expectations are. Here is this dangling ARC that you would love, but they will only trade for what’s considered a unicorn. I don’t have many unicorns, and I get it, you aren’t really willing to part ways with it unless you’re getting another one. I don’t know why I torture myself this way. It really comes down to this, I can just get the book and not have to bother with shipping or with the whole trading aspect. What is it that is so special about these under-edited proofs that we covet so much?
So What Now?
I have tried to do this whole, only request books that were on my TBR list. No reading the synopsis and thinking, “oooh that looks good!” —request. But that wasn’t enough. I scour for releases well in advance that my TBR is already filling for 2020 books. So here’s my new plan. I am gong to pick 10-15 books total for the year, and that’s what I am going to request. I know GASP. Only requesting that many? I can request that in one sitting! I know, I know. But here’s the thing, I want to only request and receive ARC’s for books that I will truly drop what I am reading to read. Something that I am so excited about that it wont be like work to read. Books that I will want to read the second I receive it, because let’s face it, I had too many that when I did receive these books I had to still push them aside for the books releasing sooner. So there we have it. 10-15 books.
Now I currently have about 30 books that come out by July. Here’s where I am having trouble. I think I am going to allow myself to request 3 more books (because I obviously currently have some pending requests). 3 more from 2019 releases that I get to request. Then I can start looking at 2020 releases and making my most anticipated releases list to know what I want to request then. If I get denied, no big deal, I still have plenty of published books to read.
Alright guys, are you in the same ocean, drowning in ARCS as me? Have you ever requested them before? Did I just scare the bajeezies out of you from doing it? The biggest thing I have learned over the last 2 years is restraint. Know your own limitations and work within them. For most of us this isn’t a job and it shouldn’t feel like one.