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I debated writing this post because I don’t want to come across the wrong way. But I feel like it needs to be addressed, especially seeing the posts about a certain influencer program on bookstagram recently.
I am breaking up with ARCs in 2022.
What is an ARC? An advance reading copy of an unreleased book. When I joined bookstagram in 2018, I will admit one of my big motivators was growing my follower account so I could request ARCs. I mean, what could be bad about a free book, right?
Requesting ARCs Becomes Addictive
There are a couple of ways to request ARCs. One way is to reach out directly to the publisher, although it seems they are moving away from this method. Many publishers and their imprints have started influencer programs where you can request ARCs.
The easiest way to request ARCs is through Netgalley or Edelweiss. Set up a profile, share your social media stats, and boom-instant access to request thousands of eBooks.
It sounds like a great system, but there is one problem-you now have to read and review those books.
And you may be thinking, well, isn’t that the idea? Yes, it is, but the problem is you become addicted to the approval notifications. It is fun to suddenly have a free book send directly to your phone or ereader.
Until you realize you have 30 ARCs, and half of them release in the next two months.
Reviewing ARCs Can Consume All Of Your Reading Time
Now you have a problem because you won’t be approved for more ARCs until you read and review the books you already requested.
Now reading starts to feel like a chore or homework assignment, even if it is a book you are really interested in.
It is very stressful to me to have more than 1-2 ARCs releasing in a single month. I have tried to limit my requests and make sure I space them out, but I always end up overwhelmed by my ARCs.
Reading ARCs Before You’re In The Right Mood
I am a mood reader. It’s who I am and I can’t change it. I can set a monthly TBR, but I never stick to it 100%.
I have found that reading an ARC (or any book) before I am in the right mood greatly affects my enjoyment of the book. This always leads to guilt when I’m writing my review. I requested this book and now I am writing a negative review because I read it before I was ready so I could meet a publishing deadline. Then I get stressed because I am afraid I will ruin my relationship with that publisher because of my not so favorable review.
I am not being paid to review that book. It should not be stressful!
Pubs and the Games They Play
Okay story time and one of the reasons I am even writing this post.
Last year I reached out to a publisher I had worked with before to request a very popular book releasing later in the year. I had seen some bookstagrammers already posting they had ARCs from Netgalley, but my request was rejected.
So I reached out to the publisher directly and reminded them we had worked together in the past. I was not offered a copy at the time, but they asked me to review another book in the meantime. It felt like I was being tested or going through an interview to get the book I wanted.
I accepted the book, even though I wasn’t super interested in it and it was releasing very soon, like within two weeks. I held up my end of the deal and made all of the necessary posts then emailed the publisher back.
”Thank you,” was the only response I received. I never heard back about the book I really wanted and future emails were ignored.
I later learned the person I contacted was not even an agent for the author of the book I was requesting. They never mentioned this or tried to put me in contact with the proper person.
Honestly, I felt used. And yes, I could have politely declined the book, but I really thought they were offering me the book with the intention of sending me the book I really wanted in exchange for reviewing a lesser known title.
ARCs Have Become A Popularity Contest
Obtaining ARCs, especially physical ARCs, has become much harder since 2020. There are more bookstagrammers than ever all requesting the same titles. But it feels like the same 10 accounts get all the books now.
How many times have I seen the same few accounts post book stack after book stack of ARCs and finished copies from publishers? Daily.
How many times have I seen an actual review of those books? Occasionally.
In a way, I don’t completely blame publishers. They send books to the accounts with the most followers. But those accounts receive more books than they can possibly read and review each month (unless it’s their full time job). But in sending books to the same few accounts, the publishers have made it clear that ARCs are a status piece.
You finally got an ARC from this pub or that author? You’ve finally made it!
If the books keep coming, wow! You’re one of the chosen ones and have a constant rotation of books to feature for daily content.
ARC Rejections Lead To The Comparison Game
It is hard not to compare yourself when you are constantly rejected by publishers or don’t get the opportunities to review the “popular” ARCs. Even when I am not interested in a book, I still feel FOMO because I feel like I’m the only person not posting an ARC of that book.
Last year was really my breaking point with ARCs though because I really beat myself up about not getting as many anymore. And the ARCs I did receive were never the super popular, “wow omg how did you get that?” titles.
My photos may not be super impressive, but at least I was actually reading the book and posting a review on time. It no longer feels like that is what publishers want. So of course I have been down on myself and my content because it no longer feels good enough.
An ARC Rejection Is Not The End
Eventually I had to have a talk with myself because I was ready to walk away from my bookstagram. I no longer knew my purpose because I wasn’t getting ARCs. I didn’t get to read a book before everyone else.
That’s when I realized..an ARC rejection is not the end.
I still get to read the book when it comes out. I may have to wait longer, but I still get to read the book eventually. And while I wait, I can focus on reading other books I was once excited about but have sat on my shelves for years because I was too busy reading ARCs.
Honestly, the revelation was freeing. And sure, it seems obvious, especially if you aren’t on bookstagram, but I have been so caught up in the popularity of receiving ARCs that I’ve never stopped to consider that it really doesn’t matter. I still get to read the book.
I do have a few 2022 ARCs that I received at the end of last year. Once those are read, I don’t plan to request more this year. I don’t see the point in stressing myself out over ARCs anymore. I am kind of tired of feeling depressed when I am rejected by a publisher or comparing myself to others who do receive ARCs.
But mainly, I want to free up my limited reading time to read whatever I want, whenever I want.
What are your feelings on ARCs? Do you request them? Do you still receive as many as you used to? Do you find it more difficult to get ARCs even though you feel “established” in the book community? Sound off in the comments!