The NeBUloUs Topic of ARCs

I am obviously *not* the expert on ARCs. I only request one or two a year, despite being a virtual blogging veteran at this point 😉 So perhaps I should keep my trap shut and let other more experienced bloggers take the lead on this topic… but then when have I ever managed to do that? I guess it’s about time that I address the NeBUloUs topic of ARCs (and why there’s no need to get in a tizzy over them).

What “inspired” me to talk about this was the latest twitter drama: an author having what can only be described as an unhinged rant about how people with small followings aren’t entitled to arcs. Which, naturally, made me want to rant I DAMN WELL AM ENTITLED TO ALL YOUR ARCS 😉 JK I just thought “wow this is a good way to put people off buying your books darling”. And more importantly, most people don’t care about your ARCs, chill out.

Really, there are a lot of perks not being too invested in ARCs. For starters, as The Literary Phoenix pointed out in her brilliant piece “Five Reasons I Kind of Hate ARCs”, they allow publishers to continue to undervalue bloggers. While they’re seen as compensation for blogging/vlogging/whatever, they’re actually more of a free marketing tool for the publisher. Ironically, the reward for all our hard (unpaid) work is… more work?! I dunno about you, but that seems a little off balance.

Admittedly, there has been a lot of (good-natured) discussion about Tiktokers getting paid and getting all the ARCs. Which seems part of the course at this point- when it comes to blogging, there’s always someone else on some other platform getting all the perks and opportunities. Luckily for us, as Krysta @Pages Unbound wrote in her fantastic piece “I’ve Accepted That Publishers Aren’t That Interested In Book Bloggers” there are definitely upsides to this. Not being valued as commercial commodities actually gives us the freedom to write what we want and say what we actually think!! I wouldn’t trade that for all the ARCs in the world… and yes, I do realise I’m saying that as someone who’s not a part of the ARC-machine 😉

Clearly, we don’t blog for the accolades and money and prestige. And that’s why I can safely say that ARCs don’t really matter to me as a reader. I personally have no desire to read every ARC. Especially given I’m perfectly content to read from the backlist, to get to the popular books after the hype dies down and to not be tied to deadlines. Reading is supposed to be fun after all!

This is not to disparage anyone who enjoys getting ARCs. And honestly, more power to you- I know what kind of graft you have to put in to get them nowadays. That said, it’s never going to be the end of the world if you can’t get hold of the latest ARC. After all, if you’re just looking for free books, you can always head to the library 😉

So, what do you think? Are ARCs important? If so, how important? Really wanna hear your thoughts on this one!

21 thoughts on “The NeBUloUs Topic of ARCs

  1. I have been receiving eARCs for long and more lately and I don’t mind be them but I don’t request any more as I’m on list of getting preapproved netgalley widgets. They’re good way getting free and should I emphasise Costly books that saves a lot of money. And no I don’t get them in library as I live in county and city that has more regional literature than international English novels in my preferred genre. But I also support that part of not being paid or not given physical ARC while people on other platforms gets it all. it’s annoying. And I don’t know how I never come cross such twitter drama!

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  2. Not important to me. But I have the patience to wait a year or two until the book is publicly released. Or even longer to wait until it goes on sale OR the library buys it for me 😀

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  3. I don’t understand the drama around ARCs at all. They really aren’t typically as heavily policed as people think they are. Even when ARCs get sent to book professionals, who arguably have more impact on the market and “deserve” them more, they aren’t necessarily being used the way the public imagines. I knew someone who worked at a bookstore where ARCs were just left on a table for workers to take. Could the worker perhaps read one or two and then MAYBE end up recommending it? Sure… But are they going to make the book a bestseller? No. Were they in charge of ordering more copies for the store? Also, no. Did they conceivably affect the sales of said book at all? I doubt it.

    And with libraries, I see people on library Twitter giving their ARCs away or saving them up for prizes to give to teens. These librarians often don’t seem to be in charge of purchasing for the collection, so they aren’t creating more demand or selling more copies that way. If they give the ARCs away to teens, that’s obviously nice, but the teens presumably don’t have marketing power and aren’t going to go review the book online or anything, and make the title a bestseller.

    So what’s the difference between this and a blogger with a small following? We accept that a random bookseller MIGHT one day recommend a book and that’s good, but a blogger with “only” 500 followers “doesn’t deserve” ARCs?

    The reality is that sending out ARCs is just a shot in the dark. Publishers send a bunch out and hope some of them land in the right spot and get traction. The publishers obviously aren’t concerned about this model, so I don’t really see why other people feel the need to create rules and regulations about who “deserves” the ARC most.

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  4. I have no opinion one way or the other, lol. I have never gotten a book in advance though. I just read to enjoy and if I have to wait, that’s fine. Maybe it’s the whole “instant gratification” our society has turned into? But I try not to binge on tv series, and I like waiting for a book =D There’s something soulfully satisfying about having to wait. I enjoy reading what other people may think beforehand, but…I think having “rules” around reading a book, puts me off. If I was to watch someone’s ARC of a book, it’d be someone without rules. That they simply do it because they enjoy reading. I rambled a bit there, lol

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    1. I believe that in traditional publishing, how well a book sells in the first month or so that it comes out is a really big deal. That determines how much more promotion a publisher will do of it, whether they will publish other works by that author, etc. So, authors and their agents (and maybe publishers too) are under pressure to drum up enthusiasm for the book before its release so that it has a great initial week, sort of like a movie. Hence the emphasis on ARC reviews.

      Golly, I feel exhausted just after typing that paragraph! 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I sit somewhere in the middle in this. I do request some ARCs but not loads (my reading rate is nowhere that I’d some bloggers so I need to be able to fit them in) I know I’m not likely get any of the ‘big’ titles still having a relatively small following. It does make me smile when I get an ARC though, it still feels special.

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  6. I’m a bit in the middle these days, when I first started requesting arcs I went a bit overboard and would request anything that slightly interested me which wasn’t a great thing to do as I ended up with a lot of books that I just felt very meh about and now while I still request the occasional book I’m a lot more picky about the ones that I do pick up.

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  7. I didn’t see the Twitter rant but I don’t get it anyway. The reviews get posted on Net Galley or whichever site you get the ARC from and also on Good Reads, Those reviews get read by anyone who is interested and the size of your following doesn’t matter. ARCs are a useful way for publishers to guage feelings about the book as well as a great way for book lovers to get free books. One comment I would make is that through comments on my blog, I ‘ve come to realised just how many people don’t have access to a free library system and so ARCs might be more important for those people. For myself, I get declined for books fairly regularly and that might well be because I don’t have a huge number of followers but there are plenty of books that appear on my shelves so I don’t cry over the few who are fussy.

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  8. When I published my first indie novel, I thought ARCs would be a major marketing strategy cause I didn’t have any other one. I figured I’d send out an ARC to every book blogger I had a relationship with, and if they all posted a review — good or bad — that would get quite a few reviews out there and allow readers to find my books. I also sent copies to other people I admired who weren’t necessarily bloggers, but who had some influence in the small world of people who might enjoy my genre.

    I was wrong on all counts. Not all my blogger friends were interested. For many of the copies I sent out (especially to non-bloggers), I still don’t know whether they arrived. Not everyone who did receive their copy, got around to reviewing them right away … or, in some cases, at all. For those few who did, it was fun for me to read an assessment of my book by someone who knows their way around fiction, but that’s pretty much it.

    So, now I still don’t have much of a marketing strategy except keeping publishing books. I’ve come to realize that sending someone an ARC is like sending them a little packet of obligation, and I hate to do that.

    I do wish more people who enjoyed my books would post even short reviews on Amazon to let the algorithm know that I have readers. I myself post reviews of a good fraction of the books that I read, either on Amazon, Goodreads, my blog, or all three, because that is just part of my process. I enjoy writing reviews. But I guess it’s a much more onerous task for some people. Also, these are books I read voluntarily. I feel moderately loomed over by my TBR, but it would be so much worse if I had books to read as obligations with a deadline. So I completely understand why you don’t want to be sent something ahead of publication, with all the pressure that entails! And when it comes to trying to keep up with new releases, upcoming releases, drama in the publishing world … forget it! I don’t need the doomscrolling!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I request ARCs once in a while, but I definitely try to stick to things I really want to read. I agree that this whole system benefits the publishers more than it benefits bloggers, so why would I want to stress myself out by having 50 books I need to read on a schedule and then keep track of and send the feedback to the publisher, etc.? I honestly prefer ARCs I happen to win in giveaways and not the ones directly from the publishers because then I feel much less obligated to do anything in particular with it. I can decide never to read it at all guilt-free because the publisher doesn’t even really know I have it.

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  10. Haha the only “ARCs” I get are the ones from NetGalley and I’ve… not been requesting. I feel like ARCs come with expectations of liking the book and posting a review on time, and I’m just more interested in the backlist nowadays.

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  11. I think arcs are a great way to read the latest books for free, especially if the library doesn’t have them or you can’t afford to buy them. But they often have weird formatting or mistakes so aren’t that easy to read.

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  12. I can’t see the appeal of requesting loads of ARCs unless you have a personality which leads you to always be the person with the new stuff. I don’t happen to feel that way and, like you are very happy reading books that have been around for a long time. If something new takes my interest I’ll see if there is a copy on NetGalley or order it in the library (not all that reliable) or I’ll wait until it becomes available in paperback.

    The whole argument about the unfairness of who gets ARCs and who doesn’t is frankly very tiresome. There are far more important issues to worry about…..

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I feel like you would get a more honest opinion from a smaller blogger, but I am assuming authors only use ARCs to get some good reviews pre release from someone that has a big audience. I’ve always been somewhat indifferent about ARCs and it has never stopped me from reading the book. There’s been a few times an ARC has received a terrible review and I’ll dig around a bit more to see if it was an anomaly. Great post and I am really enjoying your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sometimes I try out ARCs (1-2 every other year) and most of the time I’m surprised when I actually get one. Sure, they’re not the big titles, really, but I enjoy the fact I was given the go-ahead to read a little earlier. Even so, ARCs aren’t a must for me. I like to read when the books hit the shelves and everyone else has access. Then we can all talk about it! haha

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  15. As an indie author, I hope to get ARCs to as many people as possible, large following or not. Instagram has a lot of readers, so I’m aiming for them, and book review bloggers who read dark romance. I gotta do what I can to promote while working on the next book.

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  16. I was in the habit of using ARCs when I was a school librarian – it was quite handy to pre-read new authors and things I wasn’t sure about. My budget had to stretch a very long way! I had an in-house Insta, and the students enjoyed seeing what I was reading and sending me their comments on which we should buy. Since retirement I have only requested the occasional book, but I am still on some mailing lists, so sometimes things just arrive. I just don’t review (or even finish) anything that doesn’t catch my interest, so I guess I probably am one of the people that doesn’t deserve free ARCs!

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  17. I only read a few ARCs a year myself, so it doesn’t bother me much that bloggers don’t get recognized for it. Even though I feel bloggers work harder than TikTokers, but then again, it’s not that easy for me to go in front of a camera and talk about a book I read. I’m better with the written word than speaking. Besides, you’re absolutely right about the fact that if we don’t get paid we have more freedom in speaking our minds on our blogs 😄

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