I really hope I don’t come off as a spoiled blogger by sharing this. Because, don’t get me wrong, I’m really thankful for the books I’ve received or when I’m granted access to a book. But, lately, I’ve only been reading ARCs and I feel like those are the only ones I’ve been reviewing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there are some cons in doing this (or just requesting so many ARCs in general).
So I thought this would make a perfect discussion post to create (if you haven’t noticed by now, I don’t release these often because I need to feel really strongly about something personally before I can get inspiration; to the folks that churn these discussion posts at a frequent rate, teach me your ways). Anyway, I’m curious to see what you guys think of this topic. Please, feel free to join in the discussion!
And by the way, at the end of last year, I released a comprehensive guide to how I approach requesting ARCs and addressed general questions I thought new bloggers or bloggers that weren’t as familiar with ARC (Advance Reader Copies) requesting would have. If this seems like something you’re interested in and missed that post, you can check that out here.
Some cons I’ve discovered, personally, when requesting/reading/reviewing ARCs are…
- Going on requesting sprees or going request crazy
This one is a pretty common one that most bloggers do warn others about when requesting but I thought this list wouldn’t be true if I didn’t share this obvious one. I think it tends to happen more so on sites such as Netgalley because requesting a book is only a click away.
- Feeling overwhelmed when you’re approved for so many ARCs at once
I relate to this one the most. Probably because I use several modes to request ARCs (Netgalley, NOVL, Blogging for Books, mailing lists, and straight email correspondence with publicists). What I never anticipate is that I’ll actually be approved. And is it just me or does Netgalley always seems to approve all their titles at once? I am aware that I’m requesting access from different publishing companies but no matter when I first requested it I usually get a response around the same time for all the titles… And the really overwhelming part about the influx of approvals for all these books is that some have relatively close release dates, which makes it very difficult on how to pace yourself to read and review the book in time.
- Meeting that release date
The really funny thing is that for general readers or for those that don’t request/receive ARCs they usually cannot wait for a book to be released. Sometimes for bloggers that do receive/read/review ARCs these dates can seem like deadlines. I know for some meeting the release date isn’t a big priority, but, honestly, I think it should since ARCs and review copies are used as a marketing tool. It’s a way to raise hype and prepare for the release of a book. And, I think, it’s especially important to publish the review around the release date when the review copy you got was not an unsolicited one but one you requested. But that’s just me. I make a great effort in trying to read and review the book around the release date, but, of course, I’m guilty of not having read or reviewed something months after it’s been released or when it’s already been archived on Netgalley. I totally understand when life happens and reading/blogging isn’t a huge priority.
- Requesting a book but then hating it
Common one that doesn’t really need to be voiced by the blogosphere. We’re entitled to have our own honest opinions even if we do get the book for free. It’s nice if the book is worthy of a good rating but a good review is always one where you’re being true to yourself. But when I do have to write a bad review it does make me feel a twinge of guilt.
- Experiencing that awkward moment where you share that bad review with the publicist or author that sent the ARC to you
Writing a bad review for a book I purchased myself makes me feel pain because then I feel as if the money I spent wasn’t worth it (but, thankfully, I buy most of my books for really cheap so this isn’t a common occurrence). But what I hate even more is not liking a book I requested and having to submit my review to the super nice publicist, that often oozes with enthusiasm, that sent it to me. I just feel guilty even though I know I shouldn’t. Also, I dislike how it may appear as if I can’t even gauge books according to my taste if I was the one that requested it. It’s not as bad to submit reviews on Netgalley because it feels less personal on there since you don’t get to talk to the publicist handling that title directly.
- Having the epiphany that your TBR really isn’t shrinking; you just don’t get to books you purchased
This one is arguable because if you added the ARC you wanted to your TBR and wish list but then read and review it, isn’t the TBR still being tackled? Why, yes. But for me, I find that my physical TBR of books that I purchased remains the same or is growing at an even faster rate (I’m still buying books but I’m not reading any of them due to all the ARCs). Again, this is debatable if you’re fast reader or have read so many books that ARCs are the only books you haven’t read (but, who, the heck, has reached that point? Maybe some avid, popular Goodreads users, I guess).
- Losing interest or you’re really not in the mood for the ARC
This is a huge problem for me. Especially for books I request via email. Netgalley not so much because usually the book only becomes available when the ARCs are. For the one through email I tend to request them many months before the book actually comes out so even ARCs aren’t available yet (I discuss in more detail why I do this in my “All About ARCs” discussion post). So sometimes by the time I receive it the mail I’ve totally forgotten I requested it and may have lost interest. Or I’m just really not in the mood to read it then since I’m a big mood reader hence why I don’t ever make monthly TBRs or reading goals-they just never work out and I hate to dislike a book just because it wasn’t the right time for me.
- Trying to frantically catch up on the list of ARCs; eventual ARC reading/reviewing burn out
I expect this to be probably the most common among book reviewers of all these cons. I know it’s not really an obligation (though you can’t be requesting books and never reviewing any of them; that’s not good either) but the fact that I know there are titles waiting for me to read makes me have qualms when I pick up a non-ARC. So, I guess, I do feel like I must get through my ARCs list before I get to books I’ve purchased. It’s hard to describe this feeling of unconscious obligation, but it’s just there.
- Producing a review you may not be as proud of; perhaps, your rating isn’t a true reflection
The way I worded this makes it totally interpretable in many ways. Like how sometimes other sources (nice author or publicist, other reviews, etc) can influence your rating or review. But actually what I meant is that sometimes to meet a deadline I’ll read a book I wasn’t really in the mood for just to meet the release date. If I’m pushing myself to read something, I’m also pushing myself to write a review too. My best and favorite reviews of mine are the ones where I took some time off between reading and reviewing the book, that way I think through what I want to say and what I found to stick with more (or didn’t stick with me). For extreme reviews (1 star of 5 stars) I don’t have a huge problem with reviewing them right after closing the book because it’s likely I felt strongly about them. But for books that were meh and are 3 or 4 stars I have a hard time deciphering how I really felt about the book. Sometimes the words just don’t come to me. But yeah. I know I haven’t explicitly shared this but there are reviews where I don’t feel as proud of.
- Being the first to read and review a book can be burdensome (perhaps?)
I don’t really feel this way myself because I mean there’s really no right or wrong review. Your opinions are uniquely your own whether it fits popular opinion or not. But, with ARCs, you’re one of the first to share your thoughts. It’s likely you haven’t read other reviews or talked about the book with that many people. So I just wonder if you guys feel a burden because you’re one of the first to review that book. Like do you guys think that reviews for ARCs aren’t as fleshed out because there’s no external influences (book chats, previous reviews, critic blurbs)?
- Reaching a point where it’s terribly hard to say “no”
I feel like a terribly biased book blogger and reviewer to admit this but since the summer of 2015 I’ve been closed to review requests on my review policy. In part, because, at the time, my reviewing queue grew ridiculously overwhelming. I’ve gotten it a tad under control but I’m still not accepting requests. However, I’m still out there making them myself with Netgalley or via email with publishers. It makes me guilty not to be able to support indie authors or lesser known works, but I’ve noticed that I rarely enjoy the plot in a lot of self published work authors make requests for. I hate that I’m ruling them all out just because I had several bad experiences… but I’m hoping to open up the request form when I get the pending ARCs list under my belt. But also, in the past I said “no” more than “yes” to request and hated having to do that, too. Hence, why I closed it completely (for now). Sigh, confession made.
Now I have to say that I’m pretty proud of where I’m with with ARCs. I’m still behind, yes, but I only request books I really, really want now. I’ve finally reached a healthy, moderate pace, so I know that by the time I finish the ones I have left I’ll be able to return to tackling that TBR with books I purchased myself (A Little Life, The Winner’s Curse, Six of Crows, Soundless, etc).
- Did any of these cons catch your attention or sound familiar (agree/disagree)? Do let me know!
- What type of requester are you (request crazy, request in moderation, or don’t request at all)? If you’re one that does it in moderation, how do you keep this balance?
- Bonus (I’m just curious, lol): If you could be granted access to any book at this minute, what title would it be? (Mine is Lady Midnight 😄 ) Or what ARC do you currently possess and can’t wait to read?
As always, thanks for reading, everyone! Until next time! 😀 Oh and happy groundhog’s day! Will we have an early or late spring?