July 07, 2016

Why I Don't Suffer from ARC Envy (I Swear I Don't)

...And now you're thinking "the hell you don't".
Have I ever lied to you, my friends? my enemies? my in-betweens? The hell I did :).
In my little corner of the net, I rarely catch wind of bookish-blogging drama - usually, I hear about it from fellow bloggers who have a much more massive follower count, both on their blogs and on their social media accounts. Anyway, it sounds like ARC envy is, indeed, a thing. And you know, I don't understand.


Mind you, I do realise that ARCs are a symbol of blogging success. Not to mention, potential readers are usually more interested in your reviews if they are about ARCs. Not to mention, the lucky fews who do get the same ARCs probably bond over them. But if you want the truth, ARCs have their own minuses - besides NOT being the end of the world, one way or another (that is, either because you got one or because you didn't). And here is why one can NOT suffer from ARC envy...completed with my beloved song-title headings ;).

GETTIN' REALISTIC

I like to say I'm just a small fish in a sea full of bloggers. It's just the way it is. I'm not consistent, because I don't have the time. I'm not popular, because I don't do "popular" things. Therefore, with my small follower count (or even Twitter clique), I can't expect authors and publishers to throw ARCs at me.


I sometimes get one (always on PDF, of course, also because hello? I'm in Italy), but never from the "bigwigs". It's the smaller publishers or the debut/indie authors who are willing to take a chance on me. And when I say "smaller" or "debut/indie" I'm NOT saying or thinking less of them, goodness forbid. It's just a matter of proportions, and some of those authors could really go places and I'm sure they will, and if not there's no justice in this world, and all of them are wonderful because they have a story to tell and they trust it in your hands and are willing to listen to what you say about it and understand where you're coming from. And those smaller presses are rock stars, because they believe in said still undiscovered talents and keep us (equally) smaller bloggers going. So their ARCs are real treasures for me, and I don't care that they're not physical - if not because it would be easier for me to read (and reread) them if they would. But they're not less worthy or precious because of not being on paper. Anyway, the point is, I know I'm not in the "usual" ARC league, and I'm sure I never will. So why should I envy those who are? They worked hard to get there. I can't. Also, who would send a physical ARC all the way to Italy?

UNDER PRESSURE

And then there comes the time when you get an ARC. Now, ARC actually means Advanced Request Copy, but most of the times it's the publisher who decides to send it to a lucky blogger - or so I hear. Anyway, sometimes it's an actual request on the blogger's part that is met by the publisher in question. And in that case...well, unless it's the work of an author you're already familiar with, it can go either way:
  1. you enjoy the book as much as you thought you would when you requested it;
  2. the book falls short of your expectations.


Now, N°2 happened to me a couple of times. In 2014-15, I emailed a few debut authors whose projects sounded up my alley, asking if they could be so nice to consider my blog for an ARC review. Most of them kindly replied, often pointing me out to their publicists. And a couple actually complimented me for my blog (yes, I have proof that they visited it, or at least the page whose link I had included in my email, where I collected all the books in the same genre as theirs) and went out of their way to help me get a FREE copy of their books, because - like me - they thought we could be a good match.
Except it turned out we weren't THAT good eventually.
Mind you, those weren't bad books by any means. Only, not the breathtaking ones I thought they were, based on their blurbs. I had requested them just out of genuine interest, and the authors had been so nice, and I felt bad for tricking them into sending me their ARCs - except I hadn't actually tricked them, but that was the final result anyway. So I ended up giving both books an additional half star because I felt guilty...and that has been plaguing me ever since (the half star, not the guilt). I don't want to inflate my reviews. I want to be honest (though not BRUTALLY honest). And while it's a little easier to do that if the publisher sends you an unrequested ARC, it's too painful when you have actually solicited it from the author. Too much pressure. In that case, it's better to get no ARC at all.

THAT'S NOT MY STYLE

Finally, I didn't set up a blog with the hope to receive ARCs. I didn't even know that ARCs existed back then. I decided to open a blog because I had read a bunch of wonderful, underrated books, and I wanted the world (well, turns out, a couple of friends ;)) to know about them. So why should I suffer from ARC envy?

This one never gets old LOL
 
My blog is not about ARCs. It's about hidden gems, and books that didn't get the attention they deserved, and authors who haven't found the right people to believe in them and give them a boost toward success. This may include ARCs sometimes - or it may not. And you can find the occasional hyped book here sometimes, because heck - I don't live in a void. I don't go out of my way in order to avoid hyped books. I read the blurb and peruse the reviews, and then I decide if I want to go with the flood or not. I don't have to read ALL the books. I want to read MY type of books, that's all. And more often than not they're not hyped, and they're not ARCs, and you know what - it's all right. So enjoy your ARCs everyone - I'm glad they exist, and I'm glad you're getting them, and I'm not trying to say I'm ABOVE ARCs or something. I'm just trying to say I don't necessarily need ARCs in my life, and I value your friendship and books in general far more than having a still unpublished stack of paper in my hands :). (Though right now I wouldn't be adverse to reading And the Trees Crept In in place of Kate Midnight Book Girl...;)).

How do you feel about ARCs? Do you think ARCs are truly special? Have you ever suffered from a sporadic attack of ARC envy? (Don't worry, I won't judge you if you have... ;)).

8 comments:

  1. You aren't half bad at finding gifs yourself, Roberta ;) I'm kidding- I love these! Anyway, I totally agree with you on this matter- blogging should never be just about ARCs. I don't even know how people handle so many at once- I have three galleys I need to get to soon, but I just never seem to be in the mood for them and as a result I just feel terribly under pressure. *shudders* A huge salute to everyone who manages just fine both with OR without ARCs- we bloggers are all awesome anyway :D

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  2. I know this will sound weird (or slightly dishonest) since I do occasionally get ARC's (& I just posted my ALA haul) but I have to agree. I jumped off that train along time ago for some of the reasons you mentioned.

    One was the pressure to like a book. SO MUCH PRESSURE.

    I was requesting books just because everyone else was going wild for the next big thing. Of course I thought I would love it too but then I realized how much my reading tastes had changed over the years. It just made reading painful.

    Then there's the time constraints. You spend so much time reading for review and little to no time reading for yourself.

    I don't really get approved for many arc's from the big pubs. I get most of mine from small/self pub as well. Authors I've come to respect over the years and who can accept honest reviews or from other bloggers who are willing to share.

    The bulk come from BEA or ALA and I make a point now of making sure to only take things I think I will like not what everyone else is going gaga for. Which usually means shorter lines for me so win win lol

    ARC's bring out an ugly side of people and I'm never sure how to talk about books anymore when I get one. Post a picture to at least thank the pub? Don't post? I don't know. I just do what I feel comfortable with and feel like sharing I guess.

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    Replies
    1. Personally, I don't get annoyed when people post a pic of an ARC they've received. They do have a right to get excited about that, and by posting/tweeting and thanking the publishers, they also spread the word, which is another way to say "thank you" to the publishers themselves. It's people fighting about ARCs, or living (or simply blogging) for them that I don't get. I'm lucky in that respect, because I've never get caught in the middle of a blogging drama (I suppose it's because, though I've been blogging for almost 4 years, I don't have a ton of friends...or I simply have the right ones LOL). But people keep mentioning blogging drama and ARC envy all around me, so I get to live the drama vicariously sometimes. This is why I wrote this post. And because I realised I honestly don't care if the books I'm reading (and sometimes getting for free) are ARCs or not. I would like to be a successful blogger - who wouldn't? But if ARCs are what it takes, and the only way to get more traffic, I'm not interested in paying that kind of price. (Of course, one doesn't usually gets ARCs - at least the "big" ones - if they're not successful already...so it's a catch-22, I guess ;)).

      Also, like you said, the pressure. One feels bad for not liking something they got for free - not to mention, actually requested sometimes. This happens to me with the small presses/indie releases too, but since I try to choose the things that really sound up my alley, it doesn't happen so often.

      Yay for the shorter lines at BEA or ALA LOL.

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  3. Hahaha, I think at the beginning ARCs sounded great. Plus so much pressure to like the book because helloooooo? I requested the ARC in the first place because I THOUGHT I would like the book. Unfortunately not always the case, and it's always weird when I request a book through Netgalley and then get an email from the publicist along the lines of, "Hey, can you send a link of any review or mention?" and I'm like, "Um... unfortunately...."

    After awhile I'm pretty much like, Okay, great... congratz! Wish I could have one, too, but I'll be a good buttercup and get it when the book comes out, eh? Not the end of the world. (Still haven't gotten the nerve to um... request from the publisher. Netgalley is my forte.)

    Although you're right... ARCs tends to be more common with US, with UK and Australia being a close second right behind US.

    OKAY, ROBERTA. I COMMENTED.

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    Replies
    1. AND I AM DULY GRATEFUL, OK? LOL.

      Yes, I suppose it's embarassing when the publisher itself (um, is "itself" right? or should I say "publishers themselves", as in, males and females? whatever) requests proof of you actually reading the book, and it wasn't a particularly pleasant experience. But believe me, it's even worse whe you contacted the very AUTHOR in order to get a copy. In a way, I'm sure it would be easier to admit not liking a book by an author you usually give high ratings to (and maybe regularly talk with) than to fail a complete stranger that you lured into sending you a copy...

      Delete
  4. I think that this is exactly the post book bloggers need to read right now (or really anytime). Like you, I do not really get involved in blogging drama. I tend to cover my ears and close my eyes when I see a conflict coming up because I know that it always gets ugly.
    But for some reason I could not tune this particular drama out. I did not get involved or anything, but I really listened to what people were saying. Through the fighting, I solidified some of my beliefs about ARCs.
    1. ARCs are a priviledge.
    Bloggers are not entitled to ARCs. There were bloggers before review copies, and I have faith that if all ARCs dropped off of the face of the world, there would still be plenty of us chugging along. Like you said, bloggers are here to promote books and authors we love, not to compete for free books.
    2. I blog for myself and my friends.
    I never thought that I would grow to depend on blogging so much. I have met a ton of wonderful people (such as you) and I hope to meet even more in the future. ARCs never have been and never will be friends to me. I cannot chat with them, make jokes, or rely on them to do anything but sit on the table. I guess what I am trying to say is that PEOPLE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAT ARCS!
    As a community, we need to remember that. So thank you writing this post and giving us a much needed kick in the butt.

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    Replies
    1. I loved what you said about not being able to chat with ARCs or to joke with them LOL. And I'm pretty sure many, many of us - probably the vast majority - would continue blogging regardless of ARCs existing of being sent to them!

      Also, I do feel wonderful now...if only for a second. Thank you my friend!

      Delete

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