Thursday, April 2, 2015

Friction Fiction (#16): Being Realistic with ARCs

These posts are meant to bring about some conversation, discussion, and perhaps even a debate. These discussion posts can occur at varying days of the week, mostly depending upon what's scheduled on the blog and what I feel like discussing.

When I first started blogging, I had no idea what the heck an ARC was. I would see the word thrown around but didn't think too much of it. I enjoyed blogging about books that I was reading and enjoying, and I was just happy that blogging was helping me to get back into reading again. I became aware of books that I never would have heard of if I hadn't started blogging, and I fell into the blogosphere. I was loving it. I was still mostly reading books I could get from the library, though my TBR list kept growing. I was also blogging about TV shows, reviewing my favorite shows and their different episodes, movies, and music. Part of that was that when I first started, I wasn't reading as much as I am now, and because it was the summertime, I was watching much more television. But my blog has lost a lot of that diversity, the diversity that made me think that my blog stood out against other book blogs. The thing is, yes, I love books, and reading has always been a large part of my life, but other obsessions-TV shows, music, movies, etc-have also become big parts of my life. But I started to become solely book-based. Why? Part of it was that I was reading more, watching TV shows and movies less, but it was also because I began to want to make my splash in the book blogging community a bit bigger. 

While a part of it was just wanting to know that people were reading the reviews I had put so much work into, a part of it was also that I learned about ARCs. I was fascinated by ARCs. I think I actually began to look into what they were when I won a Goodreads giveaway for Emily Liebert's You Knew Me When. It was the first book I reviewed on my blog, and it was one of my first interactions with an author. I didn't realize it was an ARC until I received the book, read it, and then realized the book wasn't out yet. I then realized that I had an early copy, an advanced reader copy. Maybe that's how the spiral began. Slowly and then swiftly, I began to spiral into an ARC frenzy, just wanting to get ARCs without really thinking about them and the responsibility and meaning behind those books. Sure, I was reviewing the books, but sometimes, I was trying to get ARCs just for the sake of receiving them. Just to seem like I was something, anything, in the blogosphere. 

But as I began blogging more, I began to see the downside of ARCs. Suddenly, I was feeling overwhelmed. I wasn't reading all the ARCs I had requested and received. I was putting them aside, choosing to read books I was actually excited about. To some extent, I was still keeping up, but the eARCs were really growing. I began to see other bloggers talking about ARCs and about keeping a limit and about how they were both a good thing and a bad thing. A lot of other bloggers were feeling overwhelmed and were also getting ARC envy. I was beginning to too. But then, I also began to have some hiatuses. Partially because of school, partially because I was feeling overwhelmed and wasn't really loving working on my blog anymore. So I took a break. I took a step back. I breathed. I read what I wanted, at the pace that I wanted. I continued to keep blogging in the back of my mind, jotting down some notes after finishing a book so that I could try to throw together a review once I got back to blogging. 

I also cleaned my book shelf. I don't have a lot of shelf room. All of my books are stored on two and a half shelves in one of my closets, along with DVDs, CDs, and other miscellaneous items. I also read a lot of series, so it's hard to keep them together and have room for everything. I began to pull out some books that I own but haven't read. I realized this even more with my most recent hiatus and book shelf/closet clean. I bought those books wanting to read them. Why didn't I? Because I was getting caught up with reading ARCs. And I realized, yes, getting ARCs is still awesome. It does make me feel a little more important. But I also blog because I want to read awesome books. Sometimes I find them through the ARCs, but I first fell in love with the books that I bought and with the books I found at the library. I want to get better about reading the amazing books I have at home. Sure, I still sprinkle it in with ARCs here and there, and there are ARCs I really want to receive because I truly want to read the book and spread the word, but I don't approach ARCs the same way anymore.

I don't mind not receiving ARCs. Again, it's awesome to get them, but they're not my priority. I still get a bit envious, but then I remind myself of why I'm really doing this. I'm not in this for the free books. I'm in this for the great, amazing books that I can't wait to read and talk about. And thinking this way has freed me in my blogging in many ways. I feel less stressed about reading ARCs on time (the ones I do have still make me feel this way sometimes, but it depends on the book). I've been a really mood-y reader lately, so it's nice to know that I can pick up a book when I want to, not because I need to review it soon. I'm not feeling so overwhelmed anymore. I feel better about picking certain books to request because they're books I really do want to read. I'm trying to get back on track with the books I got via Netgalley. I'm trying to not have that ARC mentality. For the most part, I'm doing well with this, and I'm happier for it. 

One day, I think I'd like to start taking on more ARCs again, and I still can't wait for the day that I receive (an) unsolicited book(s)/ARC(s) (I did receive one from First Second, which is awesome, but I can't wait to get a novel). But I don't place value on my blog or the work I'm putting into my blog based on the number of ARCs I have. It's nice to have them. It's nice to talk to bloggers about books we've already read though it's not out yet. But I'm enjoying myself so much more this way. I've been getting used to blogging on three blogs, while also trying to get into Instagramming more. I've never been happier with my blog and my content, and I'm trying to re-diversify my blog again, including music, movies, and TV shows when I can. I'm being realistic with my blog(s), I'm being realistic with what I can do and what I have time for, and I'm being realistic with ARCs.

What's your take on requesting and/or receiving ARCs? How has your view on ARCs changed, if it has? 

2 comments:

  1. I will admit about 3 months into blogging I became a bit ARC happy on EW and NG. I did that thing where you request a lot not expecting to get approved. Ooops. Well, I've tried to restrict what I request but some months I still go a bit overboard. I really do try to get to them all but I don't hesitate to DNF if it's not working for me. I'm with you though, sometimes I do miss taking everything at my own pace. I do tend to be a mood reader so I typically allow myself to read whatever I want and not worry so much with deadlines. So far it's worked fairly well. great discussion post and I'm glad you are doing what you love and what makes you comfortable!

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  2. This post is me.

    Now, I don't really care what ARCs I get. ESPECIALLY FROM HARPER OMG. Whenever I see people with huge Harper ARC stacks I actually feel pretty happy I don't have them because I'm like "HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO READ ALL THOSE" and "WHERE DO I KEEP THEM?" I actually have an ARC of Panic that is just sitting in a box and I know a bunch of Lauren Oliver fans who would probably want them which almost makes me guilty.

    Now, I'm just like "I will read what I want, when I want." I feel like I spent so much time trying to get publisher connections to send me ARCs and when I finally got the connections, i don't even utilize them as much as I thought I would. Hm..

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