ARCs are strangely powerful objects here in the book community. They can help promote and build buzz for upcoming books! They can make any day you receive one feel like Christmas! But they have a darker side too. They’ve been known to cause jealousy and major feelings of self-doubt in book bloggers. And these seemingly innocuous books can also cause a lot of tension between authors and readers in the community.
So today, I’m going to talk about the things I love about ARCs as well as the things I hate about them. I’ll also share some tips and tricks for making the ARC experience a good one for everyone!
Why I Love ‘Em!
- ARCs help spread the word about upcoming releases! They build buzz about books, which helps both the publisher and the author sell copies!
- Getting ARCs is exciting! Getting to read one of your most anticipated books months early or discovering new books you hadn’t thought about reading before is THE BEST!
- Posting reviews of the ARCs you receive and read can help other readers decide if they want to pick up the book as well!
- ARCs are free! Or they should be anyway. Never buy an ARC from anyone. Not even once.
- Receiving an ARC gives you the power to help make a difference in the overall sales of a given book!
- Positive reviews, Bookstagram photos, and squealy Tweets about ARCs help sell books!
- Posting about ARCs that you receive helps you build a platform!
- Receiving a highly-coveted ARC gives you tremendous feelings of self-validation as a book blogger! But…this is also a downside, I’ll get to that.
- Reading ARCs you love and promoting them can help you build wonderful relationships with authors!
Why I Hate ‘Em!
- When bloggers aren’t receiving some of the more highly-coveted ARCs, feelings of self-doubt can start to creep in. It makes bloggers question the quality of their content and whether or not people value their contribution to the community.
- ARCs are uncorrected proofs. As in these are versions of the book that are not as good as what the finished book is going to be.
- The FOMO is real! When all your friends are posting about an amaze-balls ARC they’re all reading, and you didn’t get one, you feel majorly left out, and that’s never fun.
- ARCs are addictive! When you first start receiving ARCs, you’re gonna want them all! The problem comes when you’ve requested or received too many, and you then have a pile of ARCs to read and review the size of Mt. Everest. This is the fastest way for bloggers to stress out and burn out.
- ARCs come with deadlines. ARCs are promotional material, meaning the publicist sent them to you (or approved you on Netgalley/Eidelweiss) with the intention of having you post about the book on social media/your blog and also have you READ the book and post a review. When you have multiple ARCs your juggling, those deadlines come up fast.
- Publishers sometimes send ARCs out to people who have large, established platforms, but who aren’t going to actually take the time to read the book. This means that other bloggers, who would have very happily read the book, miss out.
- People who receive ARCs don’t always review them. For an author’s book to hit the algorithm on Amazon they need to have at least 50 reviews. (I’ve recently heard this has gone up to 100, but the jury is still out on that one.) Part of the intention behind sending out ARCs is to help authors hit that number of reviews.
- Some people do review ARCs they receive…but then they tag the author in a negative review. DO. NOT. DO. THIS. Publishing houses will make authors aware of any reviews they need to read. It is not a reviewers job to do that. The author’s poor, fragile soul really doesn’t need it, you guys.
- People sell ARCs. Despite the fact that it says right on the cover that they are not for sale, they do it anyway. And not only do people buy them, but they buy them for way more than an actual hardcover copy of the book would cost. I’ve seen ARCs go for $100+ on eBay! People are paying that much money for a version of the book that isn’t even as good as what the $20 copy will be when the book actually releases!
- The fact that so many people are selling ARCs creates a divide between authors and readers. Authors are, understandably, suspicious of people who ask them to sign ARCs but not personalize them, because some of them end up for sale online at an even higher rate, since they’re signed! That suspicion is, of course, extremely hurtful for the 90% of readers who would never, ever even consider doing that.
- Readers frequently try to reach out to authors directly to ask for ARCs. Don’t do this. Authors have a much more limited supply of ARCs than you think they do, and they have to use them to promote their book to the best of their ability. They have entire marketing strategies built around the number of ARCs they receive. This is their career, and while they appreciate your enthusiasm, having you get upset when they say no, just creates a big rift between authors and readers.
How to Win at ARCs
I have very complicated feelings about ARCs, as you can probably tell by now. But here’s a few simple things I think we can do as a community to bridge the gap between readers, authors, and publishers when it comes to ARCs and galleys.
- Bloggers and readers, your value as a contributor to this community is in no way measured by the ARCs you receive. Your words, your photos, your blog posts, your squealy Tweets all make an impact and are important. You are appreciated! Your work is valued! You are wonderful! Always keep that in mind.
- Publishers, we know you’re trying to do your best to get ARCs into the hands of readers who can best sell the book! And we appreciate you! But please try to make sure you’re sending ARCs to the people who will really read and champion the books and not only the people with massive followings, who may not even get around to mentioning it.
- Authors, we understand that people selling ARCs online makes you justifiably suspicious of people who want to have them signed and not personalized. Please know that the vast majority of readers would NEVER do that, and your suspicion can be hurtful.
- Bloggers and readers, do not sell ARCs. Do not request ARCs directly from authors. And do not tag authors in negative reviews.
The bottom line here, you guys, ARCs are not the big deal we make them out to be. They are promotional material. They are unfinished books. They are lesser versions of the actual book that will coming out within months. They are nothing more than that. They can be fun and exciting, but they should never be a source of stress or self-doubt.
Happy reading, everyone!