I have a love-hate relationship with Advanced Reader Copies. They’re great! Professional readers (bloggers, booksellers, librarians) can read books ahead of publication so that once they come out (or even before that!), they can talk about those books and help promote them to the best of their abilities. But there’s also a downside: they’re really exclusive and usually only available to US and UK bloggers. Especially for international bloggers, it can be nearly impossible get one! I’m eternally grateful for the few eARCs I do receive, and I love reading them, but I also feel like there’s a lot of problems when it comes to ARCs.
Netgalley & Edelweiss
I love how digital ARCs are a thing. So many more people get to read them now, and it’s a wonderful solution to the expensive-shipping problem when it comes to international bloggers who like to get their hands on an ARC. I don’t have facts or numbers, but it seems like a relatively cheap way to distribute ARCs to readers all over the world. However, there’s a few problems: 1) Netgalley’s “Wish for it” button makes no sense. I mean, why put up a review copy when it’s not actually available? There are a few publisher’s who used this feature to the best of their abilities and they actually communicate about it like “We’re granting [number] wishes today!” But there are other publishers who I feel like don’t do this at all. It all feels a bit misleading to me. 2) I don’t know much about Edelweiss, but it seems impossible to get advance copies through there. I haven’t been on their long, but while the same bio, links and stats get me books on Netgalley, I can’t get a single one on Edelweiss. Why? Giving bloggers ARCs is the best kind of free promotion you can get!
Request, Request, Request!!!
Digital proofs are great, but another downside is that nearly everyone can request them and lots of people get access. I personally blog mostly about YA fantasy, so I barely ever request a contemporary or anything outside the kind of fantasy stories I usually love. I don’t think my Netgalley review ratio has ever been below 50%, because I only request what I know I’ll love (and finish soon-ish) and don’t request more than I can read. Meanwhile, others need challenges to get through their ARC “piles” and actually read them, and it hurts me so much. Do you realise how unfair that is? For everyone who gets an ARC, another person won’t get it, because they only give out so many proofs. Sometimes people who get an ARC don’t pick them up for months, if they ever do at all while another excited reader will be disappointed.
Exclusive Covers & Press Packages
There are a few publishers who give their ARCs exclusive covers, some even with – what seems like – foiling! Honestly, I really don’t like it. I understand how it’s a wonderful marketing tool because everybody wants them and most people who don’t get a proof will eventually buy a finished copy. But t just doesn’t make sense to me. Why spend budget on an exclusive different cover while it can be spend on collaborations with bloggers? Let someone organise a blog tour, pay a blogger to write an amazing sponsored piece about a certain (thing in the) book… The possibilities are endless and it just feels like a waste of money to me.
Press packages are another thing I have mixed feelings about. I love seeing them and they’re another wonderful marketing tool, but I just don’t get it. They always go to the same people and – again – the money could be spend on better things. You know what? I’ve stopped watching Instagram Stories from “big” bookish people because they’re always bookmail videos and I’m bored with them. If this makes me sound jealous, well… too bad.
Book Boxes & Giveaways
When I found out Fairyloot was including a special ARC of a book that wasn’t coming out until May 2018, I freaked out. I needed that box! Lucky for me, I managed to get one! My copy of Furyborn is my first and only physical ARC I own, and I’m so proud of it! But (sorry, there’s always a but with me…) why was it in. book box? I mean, it’s great! But again, why? I’m sure not all Fairlyloot Subscribers are bloggers or reviewers, why should they need an advance copy? Aren’t those meant for professional readers?
Giveaways feel a little similar for me. Why give away an ARC to someone who might not even review it? I’m not saying authors can’t give away proofs of their books, it’s the publishers I’m “worried” about. If a blogger who’s requesting a proof doesn’t get it, why should some random giveaway winner get it? Shouldn’t it be better of with someone who will actually review and promote the book? If you wanna do a giveaway, why can’t it just be done when there are physical copies available?
They’re Hyped Up Too Much
What I’m trying to say, is that I think advanced reader copies and press packages are hyped up way too much. I feel as if they’re marketed as books on their own entirely. Like they’re separate things from the finished copies. Especially over the past year, I’ve seen ARCs go from unfinished proofs to something like holy objects. Don’t get me wrong, I love (getting) ARCs and I hope I’ll be good enough to receive a physical ARC one day, but they also annoy me. While I (as a blogger) have to spend my own money on books to review, other people get books ahead of publication and entire press packages mailed to them for free. It just feels unfair, and it’s honestly one of the only things I don’t understand about book blogging and publishing.
What do you think? Is it okay to “treat” ARCs the way they’re treated? Or are we indeed hyping them up too much?