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Balancing Reading ARCs and The Rest of My TRB: Seeking Advice

Hello, lovely  veterans of the book reviewer community!

(At least, I hope this post reaches the book reviewer community, because I desperately need some advice.)

the lion king help GIF

In the past year that I’ve started this blog, it’s definitely grown. And I’m so excited about that! I really enjoy writing book reviews, despite the reality that usually, they aren’t that coherent, as they become a hodgepodge of emotions spewed on out the page as I try to accurately formulate ways to properly comprehend and deal with the latest *spoiler alert* from whatever novel I just finished put me through–and it usually destroys my emotions in the process. But it’s been a joy to start participating more in the community and post more regularly on this blog, through both features and reviews. It’s a balance, sometimes, trying to keep up with my main blog and this one (plus my collaborative short story one!) but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I would, however, love to steal some advice from some of the more experienced book bloggers out there (or anyone who has an opinion/tips over this topic). My query, is this:

How do you balance ARCs and your “regular reading”?

I’m really lucky to be working with both Titan and Orbit books, receiving ARCs from some of my favorite authors (and most anticipated reads, *coughBloodyRoseandIhavenochillaboutitcough*), plus discovering new books I otherwise might not have read (which, this being a reality I get to live is just so terribly exciting and I love it). It’s something I truly enjoy and still can’t believe I actually have this opportunity, since my blog is so small and my reviews more on the quirky side. I would like to continue doing so (and potentially reach out to other publishers I admire, as well, like Angry Robot, Del Rey or Tor).

Despite just starting to work with both of them these past couple of months, I’m already behind on the ARCs I requested. Perhaps I was simply overzealous and requested too many at once? I also don’t read as much as I know a lot of other people do (I usually try to read a couple hours a day during the work week, so on a really good week when life doesn’t get in the way, I finish two books, but I’ve been averaging one book a week lately). So, one ARC a week, which means I haven’t read a book that hasn’t been an ARC in a while. Well, actually, that’s a tad bit of a lie, I’m doing that right now, but I also feel guilty, as I still haven’t read all of the ARCs I got from May and yet I just got my first batch for July. But I also have a lot of books I want to read this year and other authors I want to support, yet I also want to get reviews of ARCs out in a timely manner, especially since the publishers are so kind to send them to me in the first place. My ideal goal is to get the review out the same day as publication, to help with the hype (and I even made events on my calendar for when my ARCs are coming out, so I have goal dates to hit) yet I find myself still struggling to balance them.

Since I can’t read as much as I like, I’m trying to figure out if there are any tips and tricks on how to stay on top of ARCs, while also reading other books for fun? Is there a certain timeline that ARCs should be read by, an industry standard, so to speak, that I’m not aware of? Is it rude to deny a request to send an ARC from a publisher? Any advice would be super, super appreciated, as this is stressing me out a little more than I think it’s meant to and though I love writing book reviews, I don’t want my favorite hobby to turn into something that feels too much like work, you know?

Read on!

10 thoughts on “Balancing Reading ARCs and The Rest of My TRB: Seeking Advice”

  1. I just read and review when I want regardless of the release.👍😂 Lots of ARC’s I get read before the release date, some around (the week before, the week of the actual release or the week after) or some ages after. Publishers understand that you can’t read all the books and a review is a review regardless of when it is posted. The world doesn’t end if you miss a release date and often the book doesn’t even arrive until the week of release or after. Also, if you receive an unsolicited ARC then you are under no obligation to look at the book let alone read it.👍

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    1. That’s actually really good to know, because I wasn’t sure if that was okay/allowed to do (here comes my goodie two-shoes nature right here). But there have been a couple books that have arrived to the point where I can’t read them by the release date and now I’m just weeks behind and getting way too stressed about it, so knowing there are other successful and respected bloggers out there who don’t always meet deadlines is really refreshing!

      Thank you so much for that, Drew! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t a blogger out there who hasn’t and doesn’t miss release dates for ARC’s. I’m not even going to mention those who have hundreds of past release date Netgalley books and think that is OK yet when someone has 1 paper ARC the world is ending.😂

        Nah, it’s all good, you can only read so much and being honest, some unsolicited books are great but some you wonder why you were sent them or they just don’t appeal.

        We can’t read them all or even all on time as much as we’d like to be able to.

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      2. That’s a fair point. I don’t do NetGalley because I’m one of those weird ones who doesn’t like to read any form of eBook, so I only have some print ARCs–yet I do agree, I feel a bigger obligation to finish these books on time! But there are als osome really good books coming out that I didn’t get ARCs for or just books I want to read and haven’t yet, so I’m just trying to balance between them all. It’s definitely a process!

        But one day, when they create a job that just pays bloggers to blog and readers to read, I’ll be all over that shit. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Nicole! Great post, I definitely understand the struggle! When it comes to ARCs, deadlines are important but they’re not make-or-break. The whole reason publishers send out ARCs is to create buzz before the release date (and hear feedback from valued readers). Personally, I think it’s important to read and review before the book is released, but it certainly can’t happen every time and publishers understand that. I’d say as long as you withhold your side of the deal and review the book eventually, you’re in good shape! And if someone sends you an ARC unsolicited, you are in no means obligated to read/review it!
    Hope this helps! Happy reading! 🙂

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    1. Hi, Hannah! Thank you so much for your thoughts on this! I definitely want to respect that publishers are sending me their work and want to try and get it as timely as possible. But it is refreshing to remember that reality isn’t always possible and that doesn’t break the relationship with a publisher, either (because I definitely don’t want to do that!). I haven’t received any ARCs unsolicited yet, but I definitely appreciate that, too, because I wasn’t sure how that worked, honestly.

      Thank you so much again, Hannah!! Hope you’re reading some great books!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Officially publisher would like you to review around a month before release dates. Some even prefer two weeks. But I also think that works for after the release date. And we are human so things happen. Things get in the way and so we might not get around to it. That is fine. Publishers are happy if you review them still in the future when you do get around to them. Attention a few months after the release is also still very important. I think now you know how much you read you can take that into account when you request arcs the next time. 🙂

    The balance of reading arcs and your own books is hard. I read a lot a month and even I struggle with that at times. It is the pressure of having to at times, isn’t it? I always think that I can only do the best I can. This is a hobby and I am not being paid. My real life and son come before any book, regardless of it being an arc. As does my mental health. If that means I review an arc after release date so be it.

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    1. A month is good to know. And I think you’re right, I went a little overboard on the requests the first time around, because I was just so bloody excited to have that opportunity (and there are *so many* good books coming out), so I’m going to try and reign it back (because it’s not like I can’t check out a book I didn’t request from the library or whatnot). But I also agree that life does get in the way and you’re right, we aren’t getting paid, so it’s not like I’m doing anything “wrong” if I choose my mental health, my boyfriend, my family/friends or just life in general over meeting every single deadline. But that doesn’t mean I can’t strive to try and hit them, either.

      Thank you so much, Annemieke!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I mean, I, too, am constantly behind on ARCs and I feel terrible about it, but what tends to work for me is just to try to read one book I own, then an ARC I received, and continue that pattern. I also get audio books of ARCs I received and never read before they released and listen to those on the way to work as a way to try and catch up.

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    1. I think I might also try the trade off between an ARC that I got and then a book I own/want to read that isn’t one, so I don’t feel like I’m always only reading ARCs, but also not just completely falling completely behind. I wish I could do audiobooks! I just don’t think I could focus on the road well enough if I was listening to one, honestly.

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