Writing this post is giving me a major imposter syndrome because I don’t consider myself an expert on this subject in any way. As an international blogger, I’ve only received a handful of ARCs and only one physical ARC in 3+ years of book blogging. However, as an experienced blogger, there are a few tips I would like newbie bloggers to know and be aware of, so I felt compelled to talk about it. I will be linking to resources where I think others have said it better than me, so I highly encourage you to check them out. With that out of the way, let’s move on to the good bits of my guide to ARCs.
Step 1: Requesting
There’s no denying that ARCs are very much a status symbol in the book community. It is easy to get caught up in that and try to get your hands on all the books everyone seems to be talking about. However, I approach things a little differently now that I’ve been blogging for a few years and see that as a rookie mistake.
Let me walk you through my thought process behind requesting ARCs instead in this guide first. I start out by keeping a list of books that catch my fancy when I’m on Twitter or Edelweiss and NetGalley. I try to narrow it down later depending on the synopsis and other factors.
I only review SFF books on the blog and I read an average of 7 books per month, which are a mix of new releases and backlist titles. Keeping that in mind, I go through my list and pick out 2-3 books coming out in a month excite me the most. When I go on Edelweiss or Netgalley next time, I request those titles I really want to read and will surely review on my blog.
With this method, I minimise the stress surrounding ARCs and make sure I have the time to read them all comfortably. I have found that it also increases my chances to get approved as I review them consistently. This is why I think that it’s important to be deliberate about requesting ARCs rather than go on an impulsive spree every now and then.
Jenn @ Jenniely has a very helpful guide to ARCs and working with publishers if you are trying that route. Amy @ Bookish Heights has put together a comprehensive guide to NetGalley, Rain @ Book Dragonism has the best Edelweiss tips and tricks post and Ashley @ Nose Graze breaks down the process of getting physical ARCs. If you are looking for a master post that has all the information in one place, check out this incredibly detailed post on requesting ARCs by Austine @ Novel Knight.
Step 2: Tracking
After putting in the hardwork and requesting an ARC, it’s very easy to get complacent, especially if the release date is months away. As with the previous point I made, you can make things a lot easier for yourself by taking a few minutes to be organised. I must confess that I didn’t use this method until 2020 and I can attest to the fact that there has been a significant positive impact since I changed my ways.
I regularly check my email and platforms like NetGalley and Edelweiss to see if any approvals have come through. When I get approved for an e-ARC, I immediately make sure to send it to my Kindle as there is usually a limited window to download them. I then update my database of approved ARCs with its details so I can keep track and refer back if necessary.
The reason that helps me out is that I’m aware of how many ARCs I need to read and when to pick them up depending on their release date. If a book is coming out next month, I make sure to add it to my TBR this month so that I can give myself enough time. Even though I’m a mood reader who often deviates from a set TBR, I try to get my ARCs done beforehand so I’m not delayed on any review commitments or blog tours.
Another reason I recommend it is that it helps me refuse unsolicited requests if I don’t have the space for it. I accepted more than I could handle in 2019 because I didn’t have a tracking system in place and I’m still struggling to clear my backlog. I’ve seen a lot of people struggling with this and hope that this organizational tip will make handling ARCs a little less stressful.
My ARCs database is just a tab on my 2020 Book Blogging Spreadsheet, which Kal @ Reader Voracious graciously provides for free. While this is an older post, I think 7 Ways to Make Your ARC Pile Less Overwhelming by Book Bumblings has some really good tips regarding organising your ARCs. I also want to point out some readathons that are exclusively about cutting down your ARC TBR such as ARC August and NetGalley Readathon, which are fun ways to get through your ARC backlog.
Step 3: Reviewing
For me, this is the most difficult step in the process because it takes a lot more time and effort. The ARC database comes in very handy here because, as I mentioned, I try to read my ARCs in advance and schedule my review on the blog once I’m done. However, I still find it challenging to cross-post them and promote them on my platforms.
I make sure to post the review on my blog on the date or week of release as a rule because that’s when the hype is at its peak. I have found that it’s not only what most publishers prefer but also increases my views because many people are paying attention to the book around that time. That said, there is absolutely no harm posting it later or doing a spoiler-free review much before its release.
After posting my review on the blog, I also post it to NetGalley and Edelweiss soon after. This is especially important on NetGalley because your feedback ratio affects your future approval rates. Since I maintain my reading progress on Goodreads, I post an abridged version there with a link to the full review on my blog so there’s a chance I can convert that into blog traffic.
Another tip I have is that it helps to cross-post your review to sites like Amazon and B&N, which also influences your chances of getting ARCs. I have columns in my ARC database that I tick off once I post my review on different platforms, so I can keep an eye on that. I must stress that it is of utmost importance to declare that you have received an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion in your review, without which your review might be removed for violating protocol.
My last piece of advice is to review each book honestly so that your readers come to trust your opinions. It is tempting to review books favourably so publishers have more incentive to approve you for ARCs, which I absolutely do not encourage. Not only does this lead to loss of credibility in the bookish community, but it will hamper your growth in the long run.
Even though I find the reviewing process daunting despite my experience, I have compiled all my wisdom into my 7 Easy Tips to Write a Better Book Review post. We Are Bookish, the book blogging side of NetGalley, also has a post with their Tips for Writing a Good Book Review. Finally, here is Amazon’s FAQ about book reviews, which has helpful do’s and don’ts if you are looking to post reviews there.
Did you find my guide to ARCs helpful? Do you have any tips that you want to share? In which platform do you have the highest approval rate? Let me know in the comments section down below. Hope you are having a magical week, readers from Earth!