Okay, book bloggers,
I couldn’t sit on this topic for any longer. And for my next discussion post, I want to talk about the most recent social media spat.
Back in January, Twitter blew up with many bloggers discussing/arguing about ARCs. Susan Dennard, the author of Bloodwitch, stirred up the issue. You can see her Tweet below:
Now, as a marketing and publicity intern at a small publishing house, I do agree with her to a point. Yes, ARCs are expensive to print, ship, and depend on. It’s one of the publisher’s first line of marketing tools that target the right audience. When I see the print quote for ARCs, I want to make sure that all copies will reach the right readers and contact them to see if they’ll post their review.
As a blogger, I don’t agree with Susan completely. I’ve seen Instagram market books quicker and better than just a traditional review. Some of the biggest bookstagrammers like Bridget from Darkfaerietales_ and Kristen from My Friends Are Fiction have large followings. I’ve seen other bloggers admit they don’t always have time to read every single book they receive from publishers. However, a photo and publicity on Instagram are golden though.
So to get back to Susan’s comment, should we bloggers give up an ARC that we won’t read? Should the book community even bother to argue over this situation? Depending on your blogging influence, I don’t think we need to. We can provide a different type of marketing on another social media platform like Instagram.
But there are some factors we need to consider when asking bloggers/reviewers to give up ARCS:
Honest reviews are meant to be honest, not a thank-you review for receiving an ARC
As per Nicole’s response, I doubt this point of view will stand up. Honest reviews come from unbiased thoughts and opinions. Even if you received an ARC, it does not mean you must give a glowing review for it. I recently DNF’d one because I couldn’t handle the storyline emotionally. So I informed the publisher immediately and asked if I could do an excerpt, which still promotes the book. Demanding, or even suggesting, that bloggers should give glowing reviews if they’ve received an ARC will destroy their credibility in this community. It will destroy their reputation. Trust me. I have stopped following bloggers because of this issue. So do not expect bloggers to give a biased review.
They may not have the resources you think they do
Many bloggers do not get compensated for their time. The marketing publishers receive from them is free. So please don’t expect them to ship out a book to another blogger. When I set up a book giveaway for A Court of Wings and Ruin, I didn’t expect the shipping to be almost $30 CAD. Yeah, that price hurt, especially when the book didn’t cost me half that to purchase. I can’t afford to ship out another book since I don’t have a huge budget to buy books for myself.
Even though reviews are great, Instagram is a growing platform for publishers
Instagram is the place to get your books to the right readers. But it can be cutthroat and challenging though. But authors and publisher need to understand that a photo on a big-time bookstagrammer’s account can be just as effective as a review. So demanding reviewers to give up their ARCs doesn’t help your opinion or your cause.
Even if they want to give up that ARC, they may not be able to give it to someone else
I live in a region with 82,000+ people. And I know of only one other reviewer in the area. So even if I wanted to hand off that book, do I honestly think that ARC will reach the target audience or receive a review? I doubt it. And no, my library doesn’t accept ARCs, just finished books. And I rarely head into Toronto, which is the closest publishing hub. So for my case, I don’t see the point.
International bloggers simply can’t promise that request
I live in Ontario, Canada. I am a part of North America. But some publishers down south do not acknowledge us Canadians. We have many laws up here too. So in some cases, I would never receive an ARC from an American publisher. So I cherish and keep mine (in theory, I have one printed ARC). As an international blogger, I don’t have the luxury of doing the same acts American bloggers can. It’s hard enough for some publishers to see the value in Canadian bloggers. We Canadians do have international publishing headquarters (HarperCollins Canada and Penguin Random House Canada) here, but we do not get the good merchandise like posters, pins, or sometimes even pre-order giveaways.
So even though I see the book community’s side on this ARC issue, sometimes you simply need to take a step back and ask yourself if that blogger can do said suggestions. Most can’t. Most can’t afford international shipping. Hell, national shipping for me is absolutely atrocious. So even though ARCs are marketing tools, they aren’t always used for reviews. Bloggers have a wide array of marketing options to offer publishers and authors. So please do not expect them to bend over backward if they don’t read said ARC.