ARC Appreciation: A Discussion on the Rewarding ARC Experience and Balancing Review Copies

Posted June 4, 2015 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Blog Tips, Discussions / 16 Comments


As a book blogger, the existence of ARCs is hard to ignore. Reviews go up weeks and months before a book is released. Bookmail tweets and Instagram snapshots are posted daily. Giveaways for ARCs appear everywhere. With BEA recently happening and ALA on the horizon, the book blogging community is abuzz with people grabbing much anticipated titles months before they’re published. ARCs are everywhere.

Personally, I love seeing ARCs so prevalently featured on my fellow blogger’s social media platforms because it makes me more aware of new titles, gives me insight on what to read and what to skip, and gets me excited about both new and old authors. Sure, ARC envy is alive and well for most of us at least a little (Emily @ Books and Cleverness wrote a great post about ARC envy), but if anything seeing other bloggers get ARCs and establish solid relationships with publishers drives me to be even more dedicated about my blog and more inspired to network. However, the obsession with ARCs has its downfalls as well, exampled recently by the fact that mere hours after BEA ARCs were appearing on Ebay, sold by attendees who took books away from readers and reviewers who truly wanted to read them, review them, and cheer on stories by their favorite writers. While a larger problem than I’m tackling today, I think this is just one example of how readers and bloggers can lose sight of the true rewarding experiences of ARCs and let envy, greed, and obsession cloud their judgement.

I’ve been blogging seriously for about 15 months, and only really started requesting and receiving ARCs regularly around the ten-twelve month mark (meaning ARCs I was actually interested in receiving, not random, unsolicited, and impersonal review requests). I’m in no way flooded by them, but I’m happy and proud by the handful I receive monthly and humbled by the experience to work with publishers who have been nothing but supportive and enthusiastic in their contact with me. Perhaps it’s because I’m not receiving 30 ARCs a month, but I highly value and appreciate each and every ARC that’s sent to me (that I’ve mutually requested). I find reading and reviewing ARCs to be such a rewarding experience, because it signifies a mutual respect between publishers and bloggers, and they trust me to fairly read and evaluate the hard work of the authors they represent, while I in turn can help to promote stories I think should be shared and get the word out about their titles. I make sure to carve time into my reading schedule for these books, mark their release dates in my planner, and recommend them to other readers and bloggers who I think would enjoy them also. ARCs are limited in supply and often hard to come by, so I do my best to return on the investment a publisher makes by sending me one.

There’s nothing wrong with coveting ARCs, as long as a strong and healthy appreciation for them is just as prevalent. I don’t want or plan to ever lose sight of how appreciative I am to be a reader and reviewer of ARCs, and I don’t want the thrill of receiving one in the mail to wear off into nonchalance. Whether you receive 3 or 30 a month, I think remembering to appreciate the opportunity you’re given and recognize how rewarding of an experience reading an ARC is still is an important part of book blogging.

Along with appreciating ARCs, I do my best to respect them by not taking on too many at once and then being unable to fulfill my obligation of reading and reviewing them in a timely manner. (For great tips on how to request ARCs from publishers, head to Ashley @ Nosegraze). When I started researching the whole ARC process, I read a lot of blog posts about bloggers who went “ARC-crazy” and found they could not keep up with the amount they requested and were never able to mood read. If you’re a newer to ARCS and looking for tips on how to balance ARCs with your current TBR and keep up with them in a timely fashion, here are some tips of how I’ve approached them:

  • Don’t go request crazy with E-Galleys. Websites like NetGalley make it SO easy to click “request” for ten titles and then forget about it until they all get approved at a later date. Be fair to the publisher and author and don’t take on ARCs that you KNOW you won’t have time to get to.
  • Check publication dates before you request. You may not realize you have time to read/review a book by the end of the month if you already have other blog commitments, exams, vacations, etc.
  • Request galleys in a format you know you like. I’m not a huge fan of e-books so I don’t request a ton of e-galleys, because my iPad isn’t always my favorite way to read. I like them occasionally, especially when it’s for a blog tour or some other method where only an e-galley is available, but I prefer physical ARCs. Therefore I focus more of my efforts on requesting physical ARCs because I know I’ll enjoy reading them more.
  • Make a list. Whether it’s a spreadsheet on your computer or in your day planner, make a list of all of the ARCs you have and when their publication dates are at the very least (I also like to include the date I requested them and date I received them, as well as the publisher). This makes it easy to keep track of what you need to read when, and reminds you to schedule your posts in a timely manner.
  • Maintain a balance on your TBR. I like the keep the number of ARCs I read at no more than 50% of the amount of books I read per month so I don’t get burned out. I like to make sure I also have time to mood read, read with my book buddy/book clubs, etc. If you look ahead to a month where you don’t have time to read anything but ARCs they may start to feel like an obligation.

Let’s Discuss!

I want to hear your thoughts on ARCs! Do you still get a thrill when you receive them? Have you become jaded to the thrill of them because you’ve received so many? Do you still appreciate what a rewarding experience reading ARCs is? Do you think people are losing sight of ARC appreciation? Have ARCs dominated your life or are you able to balance them with current and backlist books? Are ARCs an important part of the blogging experience for you? Do you have tips for requesting, balancing, or receiving ARCs? I’d love to chat about these things with you in the comments!

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16 responses to “ARC Appreciation: A Discussion on the Rewarding ARC Experience and Balancing Review Copies

  1. Really great post!! I am super new at blogging and the ARCs I have gotten I really appreciate. I pretty much do eARCs because it is more convenient for me. I think it’s awful that people were already selling the ARCs from BEA. Great tips for ARCs too. I keep a notebook and update with what ARCs I have, pub dates, and whether I have read and have written the review. This way when I request I can look at how many I have.

    Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog recently posted: Review ~ Everything I Never Told You
  2. I definitely had some ARC envy in the beginning, but now I’ve realised how time-consuming it can be to try get so many books read by a deadline that I’m perfectly content with the handful of e-galley’s I read each month. I pretty much make sure to review them all – I think I’ve missed 3 in the past 7 months. I track everything in an excel doc, so that I don’t miss release days and keep track of every place I’ve placed a review, e.g. blog, goodreads, etc. But it’s definitely a privilege that I’m well aware of to get advanced copies.

    • ARCs are VERY time consuming, especially because I love to give them a LOT of thoughtful consideration before and during the review writing process! I like that I can balance them with backlist books that I want to get to (of which there are many!) I’m really lucky though that I’ve been able to go to some events and receive the ARCs that I have!

  3. I’ve had my blog for 2 years, but I never really thought about getting into ARCs until this past year thanks to some ARC envy. But, like you, before I even considered signing up for Netgalley I did a lot of research into ARCs and the whole process. I knew I didn’t want physical copies because I have no room for them so eBooks were the way to go.

    I think it is important to ask yourself what you want to get out of ARC reading. Do you want to read books before everyone else just because you like the “privileged” and “exclusive” appeal? Or is it because you have a favourite author/series that you just can’t wait to read?

    Because reviewing ARCs can take up a lot of your time and are a lot of work! If you don’t like reading on a deadline, ARCs may not be for you and if you have multiple ARCs it can get really messy!

    Which is why I limit myself to one ARC per month. I use Trello (greatest list making tool online ever!) to keep track of what titles I’m interested in, their publication dates and if I requested them or not.

    I find for my blog ARCs aren’t really that beneficial to me because a lot of them are for brand new series or standalones–which I do review once a week–but the majority of my reviews are for full series. So I find that reading ARCs takes away from my series reading time, thus decreasing the number of series reviews I am able to produce a month.

    • Oh I’ll have to check out Trello! (I love making to-do lists). I think setting an ARC limit per month is a great way to go, I like to keep it around 3-4, because I usually read 6-10 books a month and that way I’m balanced between “deadline” books and still have time to pick up books on a whim!
      I think you make a great point about asking yourself why you truly want ARCs. I love them because I love being able to create excitement and spread the word about books in series/by authors I love! Yes, it makes me feel grateful and privileged, but I also love being able to promote books and give them they hype that they deserve!

  4. It’s funny because I’m mostly overwhelmed by the already published non-review books I have to read, since I don’t have any ARCs really besides 5 or 6 NetGalley requests. But I think about all the sequels I have for series I’ve liked and all the new books I’ve bought lately (that I shouldn’t have) and then I get REALLY STRESSED. So I don’t really have to worry about all the overwhelmingness of a massive ARC pile. Aside from the envy (especially after BEA, haha), my problem probably isn’t all that bad. And I think aside from the few bad eggs who think they’re entitled to anything they want, most people still value the ARCs they get. And as for me, of course I still get a thrill any time I get one. Or when I get a finished copy I’ve won from a giveaway. Or when I get a box of books I’ve wasted half of my paycheck on 😀

    Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday: June!
    • Right? I’m going to a huge book sale tomorrow and I know I’m going to buy a ton of books because the prices are going to be so good, but it’s also a little stressful thinking about how much I have to read that I OWN, let alone future releases, ARCs, and library books. But it’s a good kind of stress!

  5. Some great advice in this post!

    I am exactly the same as you, I’ve seen so many bloggers stressing over arc review piles and over blogging envy and everything in between, so when I started requesting I knew enough to be smart and overcautious. Because I know my reading habits quite well and know I a) don’t like to be forced to read something/restricted and b) am a slow reader, I would never allow myself currently to request more than one arc to be reviewed in a month. Even if there were two books I was pining over, if they were both released in August I’d have to pick one. I also only ever request if I desperately want a book and not just because I have the opportunity to get it free and have turned down several offers because they weren’t my sort of thing, otherwise you can start reading something only for the sake of reviewing it! I think the fact that my tbr pile is so huge has made me laid back about arcs. I have so much to read anyway! So arc are just a fun little bonus. That’s why I’ve only started requesting this year and only for books I DESPERATELY want. 🙂

    • We are so similar, as always 🙂 I totally know what you mean about turning down review books that aren’t your thing, because it’s not a good match for you or the book, and I don’t want to be a blogger who reads ARCs just for the sake of reading them. What formats do you use to request? Do you gravitate toward e-arcs or print arcs?

      • Print every time! I just don’t enjoy reading ebooks nearly as much, so I only do it when necessary.
        The only ebooks I do accept are occasional ones from self-published authors, but that’s for security reasons (don’t want random people having my address, no matter how lovely they are!)

        So far I’ve only requested via emailing publishers, I’ve been thinking about signing up to a few review sites like netgallery recently though. How do you request?

        • I’m a big fan of the printed ARC too. I have used NetGalley on occasion but I don’t spend time everyday scouring it so often when I DO find something I want they’ve already approved as many people as they’re allowed! I started requesting by emailing publishers this year and I love getting to have a real chat with someone about the book and establishing those relationships and contacts!

  6. I am still a fairly new blogger and received my first physical ARC in the mail in this month. In terms of requesting ARCs whether e-ARCs or physical ARCs, I always try to request books that I am very excited for and also books that are not as well known. I like to read both backlist and frontlist titles. I never weant to feel bogged down my too many ARCs that I have to read. Reading is suppose to be fun and not a chore. By finding a good balance between backlist and frontlist titles, it keeps me happy.

    Nicole @ Nicole's Novel Reads recently posted: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

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