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.
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!