Discussion: Kicking ARCs to the Curb (Sort Of)

discussion

In my previous discussion on book slumps, I talked about how I’ve been having a lot of trouble with “okay” books lately and feeling like I was just being too hard on books recently. The more I thought about it, it wasn’t necessarily that I was being too hard on any particular book but the more I keep on reading, the more I realize quite precisely what I like and dislike, and more particularly, the more my TBR stacks up with books I really want to read and books I sort of want to read. My reading habits and TBR tackling-strategies tend to waffle back and forth between reading on a schedule and throwing caution to the wind but I’m really starting to lean back to the “caution to the wind” side of things again. 

Like I have in previous times, I think part of my reading slump was due to reading too many “obligation” books. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with publishers and I’ve gotten better at saying no and picking up only the books I’m really interested in but I also think I still have a little room to improve on that. I’m sure you’re asking, “Why ‘obligation’ books? You’re choosing them yourself, aren’t you? This isn’t school.” Why you are correct. I am choosing those books for myself. BUT once I’ve made a commitment to read a book or read it on a specific timeline, it starts to feel like an obligation. Even if it’s a book I wanted to read anyway, once I make a commitment to read a book and send a review back to the publisher or to participate in a blog tour, a lot of times it becomes — dun dun dunnnn — WORK. It’s silly because reading is always fun but then I have a stressor there of having to read it by X date and make sure my blog post is done so I can post it or send it along.

So here’s my recent (or really not recent at all but recurring) issue: ARCs always have dates attached to them. No matter when I receive an ARC, I always feel like there’s this little clock looming over my shoulder counting down to the publication date. There are still so many times I totally forgot that a book was coming out soon and I see the “book birthday” tweets on social media and feel just terrible that it was another book that I didn’t read “on time”. So then I scramble to try to read it and push more books to the side that maybe I want to read more than my “commitment” book. Then I don’t make time for my must-reads because I’m too busy playing the vicious cycle of catch-up on all of these ARCs.

I will admit that it’s very, very hard for me to turn down the nice and shiny and new. I’ve been blogging for over four years now and some of the shininess of ARCs still hasn’t lost its appeal. One thing I am resolving now — like, right now — is to really fight that urge to request (or simply accept) some of these ARCs that I don’t need to read right away. I had started slowing down on ARC and egalley requests a while ago but I was still having a hard time when being directly presented with an opportunity — a blog tour, a review copy, a chance for promo — and those were still stacking up on a list of things that I had to accomplish and frankly, my time to read and relax these days has shrank even more. The last thing I need is a list of “things to do” for my hobby when I can’t even finish my list of things to do around my house. So as of right now, I am making a better attempt at really only requesting and accepting the review copies of books that I really want to read RIGHT NOW. If it’s not a book I want to read RIGHT NOW that means I’ll push it aside. If I push it aside, it’s not something that I need a review copy or advanced copy of. This allows someone else to read the book who may have a lot more time to read it than I do, who may appreciate it more than I do, and who might be able to do better promo than I can right now and I really want that person to have the book instead of having it sit on my shelf until I can get to it. If time passes by and I still want to read it, I can always borrow it from the library or buy it and then it’s back to being a leisurely read and not something that I feel like I have to finish by a certain date.

This is not commentary on other bloggers’ habits or reading habits. This is not commentary on how others use (or don’t use) ARCs. No matter what anyone’s opinions are on that, this is not the post for it. This is my own personal statement and promise that I want to be held to because at a time where my must-read books are going unread, it’s time to take back control of my TBR pile!

I’m not saying goodbye to ARCs for good. I love working with publishers and having books presented to me that I might not otherwise know of or choose for myself. I’ve found some awesome surprises thanks to publisher recommendations and review copies! But I am making a sincere effort to read those books that are truly calling my name and I am still more than happy (understatement) to get my hands on my most-anticipated books early in the form of ARCs (I’m eyeing you, HEARTLESS and GEMINA and others) and taking a step back from the maybes for now. I do still like mixing things up and requesting something that may be flying under the radar or requesting an ARC on a whim but for now, I think I’m pulling way back — at least until I can get my TBR stacks more under control!


What’s your relationship with ARCs? Are you swimming in unreleased titles? Overwhelmed with current releases? Making your way through backlist books? Have you pulled back with requesting as well?

19 thoughts on “Discussion: Kicking ARCs to the Curb (Sort Of)

  1. Charlie @ Girl of 1000 Wonders

    I find myself stuck in that same situation after I realized how NetGalley worked. I have slowed down my review tour books quite a bit and am very selective in choosing those now so I can read my backlist of titles. I also only look at books on NetGalley from my auto-approved list and am VERY choosy. I’m trying to get around to more of those titles now.

    1. Brittany Post author

      It’s hard when you first realize how many books you can request haha! I had to really start being realistic about how much reading time I had. I truly want to get to everything but knowing how much less time I have to read and how much I want to get done, I just need to be that much pickier! Thanks for commenting 😀

  2. Kelly

    That’s exactly where I’m at with ARCs. It is so hard to ignore them, especially in a genre you love or a fave author’s new release. But I am so tired of that obligatory feeling. I have a book I agreed to do a tour for ages ago, one I was very excited to read. Then last night it dawned on me that my tour date is in a week and I haven’t started it yet! I had to put a (non obligatory) book aside in order to make time for this tour book. I’m still happy to read it, but it takes some of the fun out for sure. After this month my number of tours/NetGalley requests is almost nil, and I’m hoping to keep it that way for a while.

    1. Brittany Post author

      Yes! Same! I don’t know why but once it becomes something I “have” to do, it’s just not as much fun, with the exception of maybe a blog tour for like my FAVORITE author and I’m excited to promote the book. The ONLY blog tours I’m accepting now are for must-read books too!

  3. Kristin

    YES THIS! I have such a love / hate relationship with ARCs. I also get really excited for new and shiny things but then once I have them I’m like oh no more things to add to my to do list when I would really rather read X. I hope this will help you get out of your slump!

    1. Brittany Post author

      Thank you!! I think this’ll help a lot. I just have to try to put shiny aside and really focus on the urgency. I can always pick up a book later! 😀

  4. Ashley

    This is the same “policy” I have with myself. I request one ARC at a time and I only request it if I’m ready to read it NOW.

    It works great for me. 🙂

    1. Brittany Post author

      I’m actually really excited haha! I’ll have less on my plate and it means I’ll enjoy reading that much more.

  5. Elizabeth

    I recently went through this. Back in April I had like 10 different ARCs that needed to be read by a certain date in May. I also had my own particular list of “want to read” favorites. I felt like I was sinking. You request these ARCs thinking you’ll get approved for maybe 2 or 3 at the most, but when you get approved for more, it gets to be very overwhelming. I’ve now started sitting on ARC requests. I read the description and then sleep on. I also consult my calendar to see what I already have scheduled. That has helped a lot. I haven’t requested as many ARCs as maybe I would have previously. These “have to reads” sort of bog me down and I hate deadlines!

    1. Brittany Post author

      Deadlines are hard! And when I get overwhelmed, I end up doing nothing productive because I feel the pressure haha. It’s so true too – sometimes you request a few ARCs from a publisher and they send you less than you requested… sometimes more… And then I still feel obligated to read unsoliced ARCs as well (which I really can’t be doing anymore… at least for now). It’s a luxury but also hard to keep up with! I think slowing down the requests will bring a more relaxing feel back to it again 😀

  6. Lauren @ SERIESous Book Reviews

    I was just thinking to myself today that I’ve accepted too many ARCs lately. Luckily, the ones I have accepted have loose dates. They aren’t a part of tours or release biltzes so I have some flexibility and I’ve communicated that to the author/publicist. But I’ve definitely put up the “Limited Requests” tag on my blog and am going to be saying “not right now” for the next little while.

    But I’m with you, it’s really hard. It sucks to turn down a great opportunity 🙁

  7. Tanya Patrice

    I just don’t do them. I’m just not a commitment kind of gal. I even hate to mention books I’m “going to read” on my blog – because then I feel like I have to do so, even if I’m not enjoying it – or in the mood to read them.

  8. Cynthia @ Bingeing On Books

    ARCs are a great perk of blogging, but you are right: they can also feel like an obligation. I swear, when I started blogging I requested EVERYTHING. It didn’t take long to figure out that would not work. I feel like I am better about requesting books that I am only super excited about, but I do feel I sometimes hit that request button out of pure impulse. Ugh. Good luck with your plan.

  9. Kay @ It's a Book Life

    I hear you! I also have this weird thing where as soon as a book seems like an obligation in my mind I am no longer in the mood to read it. lol I don’t request a whole lot of ARCs so I am doing okay, but still. It’s a thing. Good luck! 😀

  10. Chrystal

    I agree with all of this post. I was doing the same for so long. I even have older ARCs that I never did get to – I still plan to read them, but they are the ones I feel most guilty about. I stopped requesting ARCs/egalleys. I rarely say yes to any requests anymore as my life is changing dramatically (new baby due any day) and I’ve been finding that reading for pleasure and in my own time frame is working better for me. Now if only I could get back to writing reviews and blogging regularly that would be amazing!

    Good luck with you change. It completely makes sense to do this and to not feel guilty about saying no more often!

  11. Tasya

    I’m always trying to slow down when it comes to requesting ARCs, but recently I went too far and BOOM. I’m overwhelmed I’m usually try to alternating between what I HAVE to read and what I WANT to read. I think it helps to tackle both my tbr and ARCs

  12. Got My Book

    Around the time I started my blog, I requested a LOT of audiobook review copies all at once. It really bogged me down and I had a short reading slump (I couldn’t re-read my favorites because…guilt; but I was paralyzed by the queue in my ipod).

    Since then I have created a blogging schedule that includes 2 reviews a week. Before I request something (or accept a request), I have to choose a specific spot for it. Then I just add it to the reading schedule. I do a mix of re-reads (my blog is new, so I am still reviewing stuff I already own) and new reads. It seems to be working for me.

    Also, during the last Bout of Books, I finished up all my backlog.

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