I’ve been around in this corner of the interwebs blabbering on about books for (a few days short of) two years now and this has recently brought two things to my attention:
Bloody hell, two years? How did that happen, and;
I CAN’T DENY THE JEALOUSY OF SEEING OTHERS RECEIVE ARCs, no matter how hard I try.
So I thought I’d discuss that today. Sound good?Hello, everyone! I hope I find you well. I will start this off for those of you out there unfamiliar with this arrangement of capitals letters, “ARC”, by explaining that it stands for “Advance Reader Copy”. A.k.a, when publishers send you books to review before their releases (or potentially around/just after) to boost publicity and in turn increase readership. You’re basically being roped in to doing the dirty work and getting the book noticed. Although is less like dirty work and more like OMG I LOVE MY LIFE.
What, you ask, prompted such a discussion at this point in my blogging career? Well, it was all sparked from the moment when I went to step outside of my house and nearly squashed a rather obnoxiously large package addressed to “Upside-Down Books”. It’s the moment we all, as bloggers, wait for. It’s like the arrival of our Hogwarts letter – FINALLY, we have made it.
But it’s also a topic I’ve pondered over many a time: why do I feel like I need to receive ARCs to say: yeah, I’m a blogger. For realsies. Let’s discuss, shall we?
The Jealous Snapdragon of Envy
Physical vs. E-book
For me, I feel like there is a difference between receiving something from NetGalley in its e-book version, versus seeing a parcel arrive. When you’re sitting there on YouTube or reading other people’s hauls and they’re whipping out books that have been so graciously bestowed on them by the gods (read: publishing companies) it’s hard to not feel that pang of jealousy.
It’s certainly much easier to get your hands on e-ARCs when you’re starting out but this is still awesome. I have received many of the books I requested on NetGalley to review and that is awesome and fun. But nothing compared to the moment last week when I ended up tearing open several packages and landed myself with five shiny, new, REAL books to review. My TBR let out a sob of despair before I silenced it with a look.
I guess the end point I’m trying to make here, is that any book you receive in any format is an honour. Someone out there has approved you and said, that person there Bob, you see them? They’re going to help this author be something great. All ARCs are cool to get and just think of all the people out there who will only have access to the book, just sent to you for free, by purchasing it in a bookstore. Probably by your recommendation, too. *raises eyebrows meaningfully*
Why You Shouldn’t Be Jealous
What’s wrong with my reviews? You might ask yourself. Maybe you’re questioning why you’re even bothering with blogging. The first thing I say to that is REMEMBER, LITTLE MARIA, you are here because you love it; if you are here for the free books, for the fame or for anything other than passion or the enjoyment of being a part of this community, then what are you doing? If you truly love blogging and intend to find yourself accidentally two years down the line spending an inexplicable amount of time typing waffly, enthusiastic posts about books, remember that you’re here because of that passion. ARCs are nothing compared to friendship, fun and a platform on which to VENT THAT ANGER BECAUSE WHY J.K. ROWLING, WHY? Ahem.
But, going back to the aforementioned question, the honest answer is probably nothing. And the other thing that’s worth remembering is that receiving ARCs does not “make” you a proper blogger. Sure, that small part of you is still going to maybe run gleefully around the house and text EVERYONE when you do receive a physical book, but the important thing to remember is that YOU make yourself a proper blogger.
Don’t be jealous. You can’t really help that, so feel the feels and sigh sadly every now and then, but remember: if you truly want ARCs then your passion will show through in what you do and one day you’ll get one. I did, it took me two years, but I finally did it. And now I have even more books to read so THE STRESS IS HIGH. WHAT HAVE I DONE.
That Being Said . . .
It’s perfectly okay to want them. Alright? Don’t let jealousy dictate your moves, don’t let it drive you to throwing money at your schemes to boost readership/followers and force success on yourself. But you’re allowed to want someone to say: hey, I like your work, please review this title for me.
And you’re allowed to ask for them. Screw what the world says, you’re amazing: ask those publishers whenever you want to at whichever point in your reviewing career because WHO. KNOWS. Well, within reason. You are acting as a publicity point for the publishers; you need to have some reviews to show that you will review it and that at least a few people will read the reviews you write. But otherwise, go for it! Unless this is literally day one, that’s probably the only time I’ll say whoaaaa there, little Jimmy. Have a biscuit and give yourself just a bit more time.
In a way, for me, I’ve seen receiving ARCs as a milestone, a fairly egotistical milestone maybe, but a milestone nonetheless. I mean, it’s been two years. Partially it’s my fault for simply not asking for them sooner, sure, but there was something about receiving a book from Bloomsbury that made my heart soar and say, you did it. So please, set your goals and aim for those ARCs if that is something you want out of your blogging career.
Because you know what? When you’re the one receiving the ARCs, when you’re the one pumping out those opinions on release day, you’ve become one of the people who sets the trend and provides the springboard people need to take the dive and buy the book. And that, is awesome.
How Do You Get ARCs?
I have read an exhaustive amount of advice posts by all the bigwigs out there telling me that I need thousands of follows, 600 years of blogging experience and Walt Disney’s personal number in the afterworld to get my hand on the slippery little devils. It’s depressing and those websites 100% put me off even trying, until recently.
So, here’s how it’s done:
You jump online. You find the publishing company whose books you’re interested in (I like fantasy, YA and historical fiction, so publishing companies like Bloomsbury were a good start for me). You find a publicity e-mail on their contact page or thereabouts. You use that e-mail to write a nice letter saying who you are, why you think you’d be a good review for them and bow dramatically. They either say yes or no. If yes, voila. ARCs for you.
It’s that simple. Just go do it.
My Own, Personal Experience
This is something I never really see, I guess? Maybe I didn’t look hard enough but I’m hoping it will encourage someone out there who is disheartened like I’ve been so many times over the issue. I wanted to break into the world of ARCs like every Tom, Dick and Harry seemed to be doing, but I didn’t know how.
Like I’ve said, I’ve been here for two years. That’s a relatively long time, but I’ve only got just over 650 followers. When I say “only”, I mean that in the sense that no, I don’t have thousands of followers and that number certainly didn’t get me any interested glances. To me? 650 followers is
fucking fantastic. So screw anyone who tells you your readership isn’t big enough.
I’ve made great friends in this community and it was indeed one of them, Casey @ Adoptabookaus, who encouraged me to take the leap and contact the publishing companies. Everything you’re doing on your book blog is about having fun and making friends, connections and experiences. I don’t make money from this blog, I don’t have a ridiculous following, I don’t get a tonne of likes for each post (seriously, like 10 on average), I don’t have thousands of views (more like 1000 a month if it’s a good one) and I certainly find it hard to keep Twitter and Instagram accounts running alongside this blog (and now even a YouTube channel, I think I’m actually trying to kill myself) to boost “traffic”. I hate that word.
“Traffic” implies that you are here just for people to walk on your content and be a number. You’re here because you love books. I’ve loved every second of this blogging experience, I never want to stop, and it was my love of what I’m doing – not the numbers – that have meant that every single publishing company I contacted, said yes.
So think about that next time you’re feeling down.
I believe in you.
~~ Kirstie ~~