We all know that ARCs are not for the general populace. They are early review copies provided so that reviewers, critics, other authors and publications such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Locus can provide blurbs and reviews. I know myself and many of my fellow bloggers replace ARCs with finished copies once our reviews are complete if we enjoyed the book.
Recently I saw drama floating around regarding some higly sought after ARCs from BEA and then also questions were raised about the different expectations that various publishers have. So I asked several publicists for feedback on ARC usage and this is what I got back.
My questions: What would the publicity department prefer we do with these ARCS once we are finished with them? Below are common things I’ve seen bloggers do once they are finished with an ARC – are these sorts of things acceptable? If not what are some etiquette rules bloggers should go by?
1) passing the ARC along to another blogger / reviewer for them to review?
2) Hosting a giveaway for the ARC copy on their blog?
3) Donating the ARC to Toys for Tots, the library or another charitable organization?
From Senior Publicist, Lisa @ Pyr Books
I guess the number one thing we’d like to see happen to ARCS is for them to be passed on to other bloggers for possible review. We try to generate a buzz with reviews from these copies so the more reviewers they’re able to reach the better! The blogger community is such an awesome place that you guys can easily think of a friend who is the perfect fit for a certain book. And since there are so many reviewers and bloggers chance are pretty decent that we might not even know about this person, so when the review pops we can in turn reach out and voila! A new connection is formed!
Giveaways are possibly as important to us as passing ARCs on to fellow bloggers. After all, the ultimate goal is to reach readers, and readers are the ones entering these contests so the book is automatically (even if only momentarily) on their radar. You see the book a couple of times and maybe you add it on Goodreads. We know adding a book to your shelf on Goodreads in no way guarantees you’ll actually get around to reading the book, but if you take the time to make a couple extra clicks it means we did something right.
As for donating…we definitely won’t say no, but honestly our ARCs might not hold up that long on a library shelf! Actually I believe libraries can’t shelve ARCs but don’t quote me on that. One author once took a picture of his ARC on the shelf at Amvets. Yes, the cover clearly said “Not For Sale.”
I guess as long as you’re not selling them or using them to start forest fires, we’d be happy with any sort of positive use! A friend of mine does these “wild releases” (check out http://www.bookcrossing.com/) in which she literally sets a book free in a public place with a little note on the inside. I’ve left a couple ARCs in an airport before hoping to brighten someone’s day (and my lighten my carry-on) and a coffee shop table just can’t be beat.
But we’re always here in case you have a question about a specific ARC or plans for it, so don’t be shy about reaching out. Publicists don’t bite 🙂
From Publicity @ an adult Sci-Fi & Fantasy publisher
Some of my thoughts on ARCs:
At its very simplest, ARCs are not freebies given out to readers from publishers. They cost far more than the actual published book (economies of scale) and it’s a quid pro quo: we give out ARCs to reviewers in exchange for their time and opinion, with the aim being to – ideally – sell copies of said book to readers. I am always aware that for every ARC I send out it’s that particular reviewer’s valuable time I am asking for, but I sometimes (read: often) wonder if the reviewer realizes that they’re receiving something that has cost the publisher money and time to produce.
One of the biggest issues I’ve met with ARCs is this sense of ‘entitlement’ we tend to see from reviewers. This can range from angry emails when people are denied ARCs (whether they’re ebooks on NetGalley or physical) to a ‘give me all the ARCs’ attitude – often comes with noise on Twitter/Goodreads that “I was denied x by y but received a by c from the same publisher”. Perhaps publishers need to convey to reviewers more that each book has individual plans, requirements, and not every reviewer can receive every book.
Regarding physical ARCs, once reviewers are finished with them, I am more than happy with that reviewer running a giveaway; if our ARC can also help them with content for their site/blog/magazine/podcast that’s great, and if it also gives something on to the reader/listener, brilliant. The same with passing the ARC along to another reviewers; as long as that reviewer genuinely wants to review the book and we’re not potentially losing a sale. That can be a key issue for publishers; there’s always the worry that with eARCs or physicals being passed around, we’re potentially losing sales. If the passing on of an ARC is done with good intentions like a charitable organization or library, I don’t have a problem. Getting a book into libraries is huge and if an ARC were to get traction in a library, hey – I’m not going to complain!
I had a conversation with another publicist recently about whether ARCs being numbered or stamped in some way would apply accountability to each recipient. If ARCs are being sold on, for example, if the original recipient of that ARC was to be blacklisted by that publisher, it might be harsh but it would go a long way to showing that we value each and every one of our books. Whether that book is an early or final copy, they all represent – potentially years of – hard work and money, from the author to the publisher, and perhaps reviewers need to remember this. I would be keen to hear what reviewers think of this; would they take it as an insult or would they see that the actions of a few can be damning on many?
Tabitha here again
I totally understand why the second publicist wanted to remain anonymous because they had some very strong and forthcoming opinions on the matter. I appreciated the honesty and I hope all of you do as well. I completely agree that I have witnessed the attitude of entitlement from some review bloggers that was referred to. Has anyone else noticed this? Frankly it’s that kind of behavior, along with the selling of ARCs and pirating of eARCs that that has the potential to make the entire community look bad.
Book blogging is not all about ARCs, who gets them and who doesn’t. To me it’s about sharing my enthusiasm about books (good and bad haha) and interacting with the wonderful people I’ve met. I would love to hear from all of you about your thought on ARCs and would you still blog without them? Have you ever been told by a publicist / publisher what was expected you’d do with an ARC when finished with it? What are some of the ways you handle them when you are done with them? Do you replace with finished copies?