So if, like me, you have a problem with ARCs, this post is for you.
Let me explain:
I love ARCs. I really do. I love being given the chance and responsibility from publishers to read books early and provide them with an honest review. It’s not something that any blogger should take lightly, because it’s a very privileged thing we’ve been given. Websites like Netgalley and Edelweiss have made it even easier — for the most part, depending on your location in the world — to receive ARCs. Not to mention if you happen to be part of a blogging / review team, you always have the chance to read and review ARCs.
That being said, I think I need to quit. At least for a little while.
Now, I fully understand this is entirely my fault, so please don’t come after me in the comments, but I have a tendency to request way too many ARCs — even some I’m not interested in. Why, you may ask?
Because of the hype!
I love when readers and bloggers hype up a book that hasn’t been released it. It’s so good to support authors and books, even before they’re published because that will lead to more sales, but I tend to get swept up in the mania. And I think a lot of other people do too.
When I see someone hyping up a book and then find that same book on Netgalley or Edelweiss, I request it. Then I may or may not be approved for it, but if I am, I am immediately filled with regret. Why did I request this book? I’m not interested in such a novel! Of course I have no one to blame but myself, because my decision has left me with quite a few unread ARCs on my shelf … even months after they’ve actually been published.
And what’s worse, in my opinion, is that my approval for a certain ARC might mean that someone who really wanted to read it, missed out. Sometimes that might be a marginalised teen who shares an aspect of their identity with the main character of an ARC.
The best example of this was when ARCs of Sandhya Menon’s There’s Something About Sweetie were released on Netgalley (or Edelweiss, I forget which site). A lot of bloggers were requesting this book and being approved for it, which lead to many reviewers and readers of colour — many of whom were fat (as Sweetie from the novel is fat and Indian) — being left out. Now the conversation surrounding the privilege of white reviewers being given ARCs about POC by publishers is best saved for another day — and by someone who has more knowledge and experience than myself — but I felt that this was grievously unfair on the part of readers of colour. And I didn’t want to be that person who took an ARC away from someone who not only really wanted it, but deserved it, when all I had felt for it was mild interest — because of the hype. I can’t remember who said it, but someone I follow on Twitter said it perfectly: “Please, white reviewers, let fat women of colour have this [ARC].”
Which leads me to my next point:
THE BOOK WILL BE OUT SOON ANYWAY!
I think, when it comes to ARCs, a lot of reviewers and bloggers get into this terrible mind-frame: they have to have it. At one stage I was like that. I would get so excited over an ARC that I was blinded to the larger issues surrounding the acquisition of ARCs and who is prioritised over who. I remember seeing a lot of conversations on Twitter last year, during BookCon and a number of other book conventions. Two stories particularly stick in my mind: of two older — like in their late 20s/early 30s — women knocking into a teenager in their quest to get an ARC of a book, and other older woman discussing how many ARCs she wanted to get, regardless of whether or not she actually wanted the books. I think we can all agree that’s pretty shitty behaviour.
A lot of us have a tendency to forget that, at the end of the day, this is an advance reading copy of a book that will be out in a few months anyway. If, like me, you are someone older in the book community, there’s a good chance you can wait those extra few months and purchase the book yourself.
I’m not trying to tell anyone off here, so I apologise if it comes across that way. If you’re interested in a book, you have every right to request it. This is just how I’ve been feeling recently, and, as I hadn’t been requesting as many ARCs during the end of 2018, I’ve actually been feeling a whole lot better. I’ve seen the hype for a book, stopped myself from requesting it, and then, when faced with the decision to spend my actual money on it, have thought long and hard about whether I’m actually interested in the book or if it was just the hype.
Which leads me to my pledge …
I, Laura, solemnly swear to only request an advance reading copy of a novel if I’m actually, 100%, totally interested in it.
I solemnly swear to not be taken in by the hype and to think properly about whether or not I find the ARC in question intriguing.
I solemnly swear to only go on websites like Netgalley and Edelweiss no more than once a month and to instead focus on my ever-expanding backlist of books on my TBR.
What do you think of my 2019 ARC pledge? Do you have the same problems with ARCs? Do you ever feel left out when you don’t receive an ARC you really wanted? What are your thoughts about ARCs in general? Let me know!