Hello lovely readers, I hope the day is treating you well! Today I want to talk about ARCs. ARC stands for advance readers copies. This is probably one of the best perks outside of the book community itself to book blogging. It is where you get free copies of a book with the understanding that on some platform you will leave a review. As a lover of books this is amazing! However, it’s also really easy to overwhelm yourself if you’re not careful. In this post I’m going to discuss general ARCs stuff and also some precautions about what I call the ARC trap.
Where can you get ARCs?
NetGalley– my favorite site. Full of professional publishers
Edelweiss+ – also full of professional publishers. Haven’t personally used.
BookSends ARC – sends you an e-mail with ARCs you can choose. Very small selection. The deadline to read is usually very short compared to other sites.
Reading Deals – the first place I ever got an ARC. They’re very clear on book review expectations and etiquette which was nice, but their selection isn’t very good.
I’m sure there are even more than this, but these are the ones I’ve either heard of or used myself. You can also always personally ask the publishing company or author for an ARC though with no following and limited experience you probably won’t have much luck.
How do I get approved for ARCs?
This is the golden question. For smaller companies that handout ARCs like BookSends and Reading Deals anything you request you can usually receive no problem. Fairly straight forward. I’m not really familiar with Edelweiss+ so honestly I can’t really speak for that website, but I’ve heard a lot of people use it so I wanted to include it. NetGalley is where I get all my best ARCs from. It’s a great site! Now, NetGalley is hub for a variety of publishers that receive your requests and then either approve or deny them. If you look at the publisher’s preferences you will see that almost every publisher has the right to approve or deny your request basically just because they want to. However, there are some things you can do to really improve your chances. 1. You need a platform. I’ve been approved when all I had were Amazon and Goodreads accounts, but it’s not the best. A platform such as a blog really tells the publishers that you have a following and that you’re taking this seriously. You don’t even need a large following so don’t worry about having tons of followers! 2. You need to keep an eye on your feedback ratio. Your feedback ratio is the number of books you’ve given reviews for compared to the number of ARCs you’ve received. Some high profile bloggers may be able to get away with low ratios, but starting out I’ve found a low feedback ratio tends to be why I get denied a book.
Beware the ARC Trap
What is the ARC trap you ask? It’s when you requested lots of ARCs, think you didn’t get approved for any of them, and so request more only to later get approved for all of them and then you have six or more ARCs and limited time to read everything. Plus, your feedback ratio is now horrible. Now, if you’re thinking that’s oddly specific then you’d be correct. This has happened to me multiple times and I don’t want it to happen to you. It puts you under a lot of pressure that you don’t necessarily need or want to be under. Publishers are very busy and probably receive hundreds if not thousands of requests for books every day. It can take a publisher anywhere from a couple days to a month to see your ARC request. I didn’t realize this at first at it put me under a lot of pressure to quickly read a lot of books that I didn’t necessarily have time to read. I would encourage you if you’re just starting out as a reviewer to only request one or two books at a time. Most publishers are kind enough to e-mail you that they have denied your request for their ARC so you should usually know if the publisher has seen your request or not.
So, I would say there’s definitely some ARC etiquette I would personally recommend that bloggers/reviewers follow. If you are getting a free ARC it’s important to remember that the author and publisher are giving you a gift. They worked very hard on it and probably put in a lot of love. What does that mean for you? You need to actually take the time to read the book. Don’t skim it, don’t give up on it even if you don’t like it. Read it. Now, there of course can be an occasional exception. I have DNF-ed one ARC, but that should be a rare occurrence. Once you’ve finished it, give a thought out review. It is 100% okay to give an ARC a bad review. Honesty is the best policy my friends and if you’re not being honest then you’re not helping anyone. But, if you’re going to give a single star to a book then there needs to be a reason just like if you gave it five stars. This is part of why you were given the ARC in the first place. Honor that responsibility.
Transparency is also important. If you were given an ARC it’s important to make sure you let readers know you received it as a free ARC. This has personally never changed how I feel about someone giving a review for a book, but again I think honesty is the best policy and letting readers know is a good trust builder.