Why I Stopped Requesting ARCs

August 17, 2020 by Bec | Blogger Chatterbox, Chatterbox

If you’ve been part of the online book community for any amount of time, you’ve no doubt heard about ARCs. These early review copies, provided by publishers for free, can be highly coveted and are pretty vital for getting reviews out and building buzz for a book around its release date (unless you’re already a well-known, popular author with a large established audience. Then you can get away with things like surprise book releases *cough*JLA*cough*).

How does one obtain ARCs? Sometimes publishers will send them out unsolicited, but mostly you need to request them. The creation of websites for digital eARCs, namely Netgalley and Edelweiss, makes this process easier and more accessible for many reviewers, especially international bloggers. Sometimes reviewers will giveaway ARCs to their followers (also one of the things I really loved and wish I saw more of was bigger reviewers giving away ARCs to up and coming reviewers so they’d have the chance to review them too) but that’s pretty rare.

I want to take a moment to point out there is a slight difference between ARCs and review copies. ARCs usually come out a bit earlier, with limited physical copies, and it isn’t uncommon for them to have unfinished/ different covers. Review copies are finished editions of the books. For the purpose of this post, when I say ARCs I’m referring to both ARCs and review copies.

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to read and review a few ARCs, mostly eARCs. I didn’t get many, not compared to other reviewers, but it was always exciting getting the notification you’d been approved for a copy, or having it arrive in the post. However, a few years ago I decided to no longer actively request ARCs and honestly? I think it’s one of the best blogging decisions I made. You really don’t need ARCs to be a successful book blogger.

But why did I stop requesting ARCs?

The obligation to review

When I received an ARC, I often felt obligated to review that book in time for the release date. Is this a set-in stone rule? Not really, but it is the ideal I suppose? In any case it was something I really struggled with at times. Still struggle with, actually. I have four or five unsolicited ARCs I received two or more years ago waiting to be read.

I’m a massive mood reader, and unfortunately it felt like 80% of the time I never felt like I was in the right mood to read an ARC before its release date. What did I do? Was it better for me to push through the mood and force to myself to finish the books, or wait until I was in the right mood and have a better reading experience? I never really figured out what the best approach was.

Lack of Time

More than anything else, this was the biggest contributing factor to why I stopped requesting ARCs. Between vet school and work, I barely had time to read. I was lucky to finish a book once a month. This only added to the difficulty I had reading and reviewing in time for a release caused by my mood reading. I didn’t think it was fair to ask for an ARC when I could not guarantee a decent turn around for review time.

I didn’t feel like I was a “big enough” blogger

For those of you who don’t know me well, I’m a pretty anxious person. With this anxiety comes a healthy dose of Imposter Syndrome for pretty much anything I do.

Happy Indulgence might be one of the biggest blogs I’ve been a part of. Before I was here, I was posting at Readers in Wonderland. At RiW I’d say we had a pretty decent following, but I couldn’t help but compare myself to other, bigger blogs and I never felt like I was up to par. I would wonder why I would receive an ARC when there were so many other, bigger blogs that could attract more attention competing for the same ARCs, so I didn’t even try.

Being rejected is disheartening

This follows on nicely from the Imposter Syndrome part. Because my following wasn’t big, a lot of my review requests were ignored or rejected. Which for the bigger, popular releases it was something I’d expect but when it happens again, and again, and again, it really gets disheartening. It makes you wonder why you bother trying to request any review copies to begin with.

My TBR was about to crush me

My TBR pile is over 200 physical books high, and I’d have at least another 100 ebooks waiting on my ereaders. With so many unread books waiting for me, I feel guilty enough buying new books, let alone requesting upcoming releases.

Because I’m not so worried about new releases and am more focused on getting through my TBR I’ve found some amazing forgotten gems! I love having the opportunity to promote the backlist books that came out 3 or more years ago that might not have gotten the same buzz as the big releases.

Guilt when I didn’t enjoy it

There’s nothing worse than receiving an ARC of an exciting upcoming release and then not liking it. I hate writing negative reviews for any books, but the guilt triples when it’s for an ARC you were lucky to receive. One of the reasons publishers provide ARCs is promotion, and it feels like you’re doing the opposite when you write a negative review.

This is not helped when, a few times a year, an author gets up in arms because they took a negative review too personally and creates subtweet drama on book Twitter. Thankfully the vast majority of authors aren’t like this and fully support reviewers, but there is still a lingering fear of it happening to you.

Something to remember: the main point of providing free ARCs is to generate honest reviews. I tend to enjoy reading a mixed review that outlines exactly why a reviewer didn’t enjoy a books more than glowing reviews (how many times has hype led to a disappointing read?). Mixed reviews help adjust expectations when you go into a book and can really improve your reading experience.

I felt guilty for asking

Every now and then (not often thankfully) I stumble across a tweet or something which claims “Bloggers only ask for ARCs because they want free books”.

Um, no. That really is not the case. But that’s a whole other kettle of fish and not the point of this post.

This negative mindset made me feel guilty when I asked for a book to review. Was I being annoying (another overlap with the Imposter Syndrome)? Was I taking a copy away from a more deserving reviewer, someone who could love the book more than me? Was I just wasting someone’s time?

Do you request ARCs? What do you like or not like about them?

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Bec is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves all types of novels. Fantasy, sci fi, and historical are my usual go-to genres. If I’m not binge reading, I’m usually gaming, trying to take decent photos for bookstagram, or freaking out about silly things.

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26 responses to “Why I Stopped Requesting ARCs

  1. This is a really interesting post, Bec! I have almost entirely stopped requesting ARCs and review books as well. My requirement now is: if you get rejected will you buy or at least borrow this book? If it’s a ‘no’ then I don’t request it. If it’s a ‘yes’ then I do and if I get rejected it doesn’t matter because it’s a book I want to read badly enough that I know I’ll find some other way to review it.

    I feel like the publishers are also narrowing down to who they send out ARCs to, as well. It’s always just the same group of people which I find really disheartening. I think sending ARCs to folks without 10K followers but dedicated people who read their reviews and actually go and buy or read books is more important but I’m most definitely in the minority here.
    Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity recently posted…#LoveOzYA Books That Should Be AdaptedMy Profile

    • Bec

      I get rejected sometimes and I’m from AUSTRALIA. I really feel for you guys from other, non UK/US countries! With eARCs I think it’s getting a little bit better, especially on Netgalley, but still it’s hard!

  2. Meg

    Yes, sometimes I do feel guilty about not reviewing ARCs quickly, especially if I’ve requested one. But it’s very hard to judge how busy I’ll be with work or other deadlines, so I just do my best to read and post, and try not to worry about it if I post after the launch date.
    Meg recently posted…Five Books For FoodiesMy Profile

    • Bec

      The guilt is strong if it’s an ARC I requested!! I don’t feel so guilty with unsolicited ones because I didn’t outright ask, so didn’t really make a promise. But yes, the main thing is getting it done

  3. Some of these points is why I had stopped requesting arc and rarely blogged but that also made me feel bad. Glad I am not the only one! At times I do feel like blogging is a little too much work

  4. My ARC requests have significantly decreased over the years. I have only emailed publishers a few times since I live in Ecuador, so eARCs from Negalley or international book tours are easier to get.

    Even though I hang out a lot on bookstagram and you can get so caught up in the beautiful books being released, I do feel like book Twitter used to feed my need for ARCs and the FOMO more. On Instagram if a book is popular, you can definitely see it too, but in a way, I feel like the urge to read it is less aggresive.

    Fear of not liking a book also has had me double checking synopsis and my own schedule to make sure I’m not making a mistake by requesting it. Even then, mood reading can be a pain though!
    Pamela recently posted…How these social platforms fit in your overall blogging strategyMy Profile

    • Bec

      Yeah, it’s SO difficult to get ARCs if you’re an international reviewer.

      The FOMO used to be so strong blogging! I never really spent enough time on Twitter to be sure, but you’re right about ARCs and Instagram. I also feel like physical ARCs are a lot less common now than they were a few years ago when blogging was big.

  5. Loved this post Bec!
    Being an overseas blogger, I have always gotten eARCs. Honestly at the beginning of my blogging life, I used to enjoy it even though I envied bloggers who got physical review copies. My enjoyment of ARCs lessened and the burden of getting the review out in time increased. Although I haven’t completly stopped with ARCs, I have notably reduced the amount which has definitely helped me.
    Poulami @ Daydreaming Books recently posted…Daydreaming Discussions: Book Slumps and Accountability List!My Profile

  6. Lovely post! This is something I keep meaning to do, and then a book I really want to read pops up so I request it with the hope I might get access to an early copy so I can yell about how much I’ll hopefully love it in advance. Going forward, though, it’s something I’d like to stop doing; like you I’m a mood reader, so there are many times when I don’t get to a book ahead of the release date and I feel so guilty. I’m glad to hear making this decision has made you a much happier blogger!
    Jess @ Jessticulates recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday | Books I’d like Netflix adaptations ofMy Profile

    • Bec

      Thanks! Sometimes it can be really hard to resist the shiny new books sometimes!!

      I still request a book every now and then, I’m just a lot more selective.

  7. I’ve recently started my book blog. It hasn’t even been a week ahah
    Probably that’s why I’m enjoying (so far) receiving the ARCs. But yes, I could completely relate to the deadline part. Also, I do feel like, despite DNFing being an option, there’s enough room for feeling guilty about not finishing a book you received for free.

  8. I also quit requesting e-arcs for the pressure to read a book in certain time and I am not in the mood for. Now I have like 4 arcs I need to read but I have not before the original release date. I feel guilty and pressured to read them though. I relate so much to this post omg

    • Bec

      The pressure can be so intense! Don’t push yourself with those last few, just read them to enjoy them when you feel like it.

  9. Ooh I relate to a lot of these i’m thinking of quitting more mailing lists…it’s just the guilt of not loving a book is HARD, plus I never seem to be in the right mood for the unsolicited ones that pour in and it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and guilty?! So ARCs can be wonderful and an honour to receive, but it’s definitely a complicated relationship too.

    • Bec

      It’s really nice not having the pressure of review copies sometimes. I don’t worry too much about the unsolicited books because I didn’t ask for them, so it’s easier to ignore them haha

    • Bec

      Yeah now I have a bit more free time I can see myself requesting some again once I get my TBR down a lot more. But I’ll be highly selective.