I’ve been wanted to do a post about ARCs and/or review copies for a while now, but haven’t been able to decide how I wanted to go about it.
At this point, this post is a bit of everything. I’m going to start with my experiences, maybe share some things I have found useful and not, and some things I haven’t figured out yet. Maybe more. We’ll see when we get there.
How I Started Receiving ARCs and Review Copies
Best to start at the beginning, right?
The first ARCs I received were not ones I requested. I was surprised one day to open the email associated with this blog and see an email from Simon & Schuster Canada including their blogger newsletter, with the form to complete on which books you’re interested in (how they do things, which is awesome, in my opinion).
It wasn’t the first thing I’d done with Simon & Schuster Canada. I had won a giveaway of an ARC, and it had come with a note saying to send them the review if you post one. So I did, and I guess that’s how I ended up on their list. I’ve been fortunate to receive ARCs from them fairly regularly since.
This was about three months into my blog, and I probably had 100 followers at the time.
Over that summer (5 or so months into the blog, not many more followers, probably. Still figuring things out), I got my book listed on The Book Blogger List. Quite a few indie/self-published authors and some smaller publishers have found me through this, and I’ve gotten to read some great books this way.
I’ve only ever sent two email requests over the course of my time blogging, from two different publishers. One never responded, which I expected from reading about how to request ARCs online. The other (Penguin Random House Canada) were really nice and requested that I send them another email in a couple months, which I did, and I was lucky to receive a copy of the book.
Things I’ve Learned From Receiving ARCs and Review Copies
This may be different in other countries, but all those things about ‘you have you have 500 followers to get ARCs’ or ‘you have to be blogging for 6 months minimum’ have not applied. I got my first ARCs three months in, and my first review copies with less than 200 followers. Again, maybe it’s just Canada. We’re a funny sort up here, ya know?
Two to four months seems to be the ideal time, for the publisher and as a blogger. I’ve gotten ones further in advance, and I’ve been offered them less than a month before their release. But on average, it’s been two to four months.
It’s super easy to get overwhelmed. Especially once you get going, and start getting lots of requests, and they all sound so good! But it’s not fun anymore when you’re stressed about all the books you need to get to. I try to take on only the ones that I’m super interested in, and that I would buy on my own, based on the synopsis. It sometimes works.
ARC envy is real, folks. There aren’t too many books that I feel this strongly about. But sometimes I don’t get a requested book, or I’m too late to request it when I hear about it, and I’m jealous of all the people who got to read it in advance. But as this just generally gets me more excited about the book, I don’t worry about it too much.
Not liking a review copy is hard. Because you want to do right by the person who send it, because they’re expecting things from you! But I think you owe it to the author and to your readers to be honest. If I’ve read enough of a book to have solid opinions, I review it. (Fun fact: these reviews are where I get my most negative comments. Whatever.) If I don’t get that far, I talk to whomever sent it to me, and explain the situation. It’s never been an issue, to be honest.
Not accepting indie or self-published books is only hurting yourself. Some of the best books I’ve gotten for review have been indie and self-published. The worst one to date has come from a big name publisher. I know it’s a way to keep your requests lower, but you are missing out, my friend.
Things I Wonder
Am I missing out because I don’t use NetGalley?
I have an account, because I’ve received some books from publishers/authors through there, but I’ve never browsed their catalog or requested books. Generally, I have enough to read that I don’t think about it, but I do sometimes wonder if I’m missing out.
What do I do with the ARCs when I can no longer keep them?
This started because I had a book I did not enjoy, and it was taking up space on my shelf, despite knowing I would never pick it up again. But it’s also evolved because I know I won’t live in this city forever, and what do I do with them if I can’t take them with me? Especially since most of them will have been released by that time. Can I donate them? Can I leave them in Little Free Libraries?
Am I a terrible person because I haven’t bought a finished copy of any of the books I’ve received as ARCs?
My thing is just that I’m not fussy about what format a book comes in. As long as I can pick it up when I want it, I don’t care what it looks like. So the fact that I already have a copy, albeit an unfinished one, leaves me disinclined to buy another copy. Sometimes I get e-copies, but I haven’t bought a hardcopy yet.
Are my reviews/talking about ARCs actually doing anything for the book or the author?
Ya gotta wonder, right?
Do I neglect the books I buy for my review copies?
Answer is: sometimes.
What are your thoughts on ARCs and review copies? What was your process like? Any answers to my wonders? Let me know in the comments below!