Kernels of Nonsense: Are ARCs Worth it?

Kernels of Nonsense (2)Kernels of Nonsense is a discussion feature where I like to tackle various book and blogging related topics. This week I’m discussing ARCs and if they are really worth pursuing as a book blogger and reader. I know this isn’t a new topic around the blogosphere, but this is what my mindset currently is with regard to ARCs.

I have a confession to make. I’ve been avoiding NetGalley. I recently submitted a review that made my feedback ratio 100%. It’s been a while since I’ve had every NetGalley request reviewed and I think for the time being I’m going to bask in this sense of accomplishment.

There is another reason why I’m avoiding NetGalley and that’s the added pressure that comes with these ARCs. As a mood reader, having to read certain books by a certain time can have a huge impact on how I enjoy them. I’m not always in the mood for a certain genre or a certain book and when that happens, I put down the book and pick up another. I can’t do that with ARCs because they come with deadlines attached to them. And while I understand that I’m not going to be disciplined if I read an ARC after its release date, I sort of feel like I’ve entered into an agreement with the publisher that I will read and review these books before their release dates. And so I do.

When I first started blogging, I wanted it to be fun and low-pressure. Things don’t always work out the way you intend. Although I will say that blogging can be really hard work, it can be the kind of hard work that’s worth it. I’m proud of the fact that I work hard on my blog. I’m proud of the fact that writing a review doesn’t always come easy, but I still get through them. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve grown both as a blogger and a reader since joining this community. Still, I’m learning that there has to be a limit to how much time and energy I devote to blogging. If I’m overwhelmingly stressed when it comes to blogging, it’s no longer a hobby but an obligation.

I confess that another reason I’m less excited about ARCs is because I end up not enjoying most of them. The last two ARCs I read received 2-stars ratings from me and really, I’d rather be spending my time reading books I enjoy than ones I don’t. Below is a graph of NetGalley ARCs I’ve read by rating (please note that 5-star percentage was rounded up, so it’s actually below 3%).

netgalley-arcs-by-ratings

I ask myself why I am still requesting these ARCs. Is it the blog stats? We know there’s a desire for early reviews among readers and these ARC reviews are a way to drive traffic to your blog. Is it impatience on my part? Sometimes I want a book so bad, waiting a few extra weeks to buy or check it out from the library seems impossible. Neither of these reasons seem good enough when I’m trading my time for ARCs I’m not loving.

So as of right now, I will not be requesting any new ARCs on NetGalley. I don’t know how long I’ll be on this “ARC strike,” but I’m aiming for the summer. And if summer comes around and I’m still not feeling the need to request, I’m not going to force myself to get back into the swing of things.

How do you feel about ARCs? Has your opinion changed since you started blogging? Have you ever looked at how you rate the ARCs you read? Do you think the added pressure is worth it when it comes to ARCs? Let’s discuss in the comments!

cc-banner-march-1Special Note: Sign-ups for the Winter 2017 Comment Challenge for March are now open. This is the final month for the winter challenge and we’d love for you to join us. We’ll be partnering you with another book blogger and all month long you will be encouraged to comment on each other’s blogs. Click the image to the left for all the info. Special thanks to all those who have participated this season! Note: the final day to sign-up will be the 25th.

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51 thoughts on “Kernels of Nonsense: Are ARCs Worth it?

  1. I’m afraid that this will happen to me eventually so that’s why I only request arcs of books I’d otherwise buy on netgalley, I don’t want to ruin the fun of arcs for myself by making it into a chore.

    Liked by 2 people

    • How funny. I stay away from requesting NetGalley titles that I plan on buying. I didn’t mention it in the post (and I really should have) but another reason I’m not a big fan of eARCs is I generally don’t enjoy reading on my tablet. I’d rather have a physical book in front of me. I think if you pace yourself, you should be alright.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just started using Netgalley properly last year, and I’ve had relatively good luck with it so far, but I totally get what you mean about the stress of it all. I tend to only request books from authors I love or am really excited for and so far that seems to be working, though I don’t always get them read by release date!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can understand your position, and I don’t like feeling stressed, either. As for disliking them, I have become VERY picky with regards to ARCs. I don’t request from authors I haven’t read or heard great things about. I space the release dates so that they are spread out over a period of time. And I stop requesting when I have five or six books already.

    That works for me, but I have had issues with them before. And another thing I’ve done: I completely stopped accepting books for blog tours (not a NetGalley issue, of course). Those used to make me crazy! LOL.

    Enjoy finding what works for you, and thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know exactly what you mean. I’m really trying to limit my Netgalley use because it’s just too easy to get carried away. The books all sound so good at the time but when it comes to actually having to read and review them all the pressure can just get too much.

    I’ve decided to try and only feature one ARC a month and see if that eases things up a bit. I’ve got a bit sick of not being able to read what I want when i want to so I’m trying to claim that freedom back!

    Hope you find a solution that makes blogging fun for you again!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with everything your saying. I only have two ARCS to read and review right now. One of them is highly anticipated and one that I would buy/borrow from the library. When I changed the direction of my blog and heard about ARCS I felt some pressure to request them. It got to the point where it was overwhelming.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a great discussion post, Alicia! I definitely understand the burdens of ARCs- I’m always anxious that my percentage on Netgalley isn’t high enough, and that I NEED to read certain books at certain times. It’s become frustrating now because I’m in college, and I barely get enough time to read as is – if I spend it all reading books for a deadline rather than books I WANT to read, it’s a bummer. I also feel you on the ratings front- for some reason, ARCs usually get lower ratings from me too. Maybe because I request a ton of them based on synopses and covers (lol) rather than trusted reviews? Either way, I’m really glad you made the decision to dial back and take a break. It’ll be good for you! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! It can be really hard to keep up with everything blog related when life itself can be overwhelming. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve freaked out because the release date of an ARC was approaching and it felt impossible to find the time to sit down and read it.
      And that added pressure can really mess with how I enjoy the book. I think that might factor in to my low rating of ARCs as well. I love a pretty cover and intriguing synopsis, but these do not guarantee the story itself can live up to either. Appreciate you saying so, I think I’m going to be a happier reader because of this break.

      Like

  7. Oh you perfectionist you. 😉 Jokes aside, as a NetGalley patron, I know how hard it is to maintain even the 80% completion percentage recommendation. So, bask for as long as you’d like my dear. I’ve put the brakes on ARC requests too. Though, I just did request 3! Hahaha. There goes my will. P.S. Just came back from Target and they have buy 2 books, get the 3 free. Yes, my will is totally mush now.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I must admit when I first started blogging I knew about ARCs because at the time, I was watching Booktube and they talked about them ALL the time. Also at that time, I thought it was really cool and highly looked upon if you did get sent them. I think the idea of ARCs is fun, but I’ve learned to not really focus on them, especially if they’re not books I’m interested in. I only own…three? ARCs, and only one of them was given to me outside of trades, lol. I was always that jealous person who envied those people that just got sent ARCs randomly, but now that I think about it, I’d rather have the finished copies than the unfinished. But again, the idea of having a novel that hasn’t been released yet is pretty cool! Great post, Alicia! (:

    -Jess @jbelkbooks

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do think there’s a sense within the community that the more ARCs you get, the more successful you are as a blogger. And in all honesty, I think if you’re enjoying what you’re doing as a blogger, that’s a success in itself, ARCs or no ARCs. It’s really easy to see other people with ARCs and want them too, so I totally understand being a bit jealous. I agree, I’d rather have finished copies of books I love than ARCs. Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yeah, definitely! Success comes when you are happy with your content and you are enjoying your experience as a blogger. I know it’s difficult to think about statistics and ARCs, and it’s really easy to compare ourselves to others. But with all this enthusiasm and good-hearted people, the community is pretty great. Thank you again for such a great discussion post! (:

        Liked by 1 person

  9. That’s so interesting! I hadn’t thought of taking a look at how I’ve rated review books in the past before. I might make a post as an answer to yours, if that’s okay? I’ll obviously mention and link to this one 😀

    I sometimes think I wasn’t as selective with review books as first because they were free and I was so happy I could get approved. Now, I am so much more selective with what I request, which may show in my ratings? I don’t know, really 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When I first started Grab the Lapels, it was specifically to review books written by women who were having a hard time finding reviewers. This often meant books from small presses or that were self-published. Very quickly I gave up on self-published books. Only two stand out to me as exceptionally, whereas the others were often in the “hot mess” category and came with crazy authors who may or may not write awful emails to me when I didn’t love their books–as if it’s my goal to kick down self-published writers! So I was all about reviewer copies (not necessarily ARCs) at first. Then, I realized I had a LOT of books. I started telling authors and publishers that I would take a book, but I would not promise a deadline for review. The pile got bigger. Some books were reviewed a year after I got them (I felt terrible). Finally, I used Cathy’s (at 746) 20 Books of Summer challenge in 2016 to get through most of the reviewer copies. Now I have 3-4 books left–THAT’S IT! What this has given me time to do is explore new books that really interest me, but also to read old books that I have at home. I tend to collect experimental small-press books and African American literature. I want those on my blog. That’s what’s happening with me these days!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard of bloggers having really bad experiences with authors who reach out to them to review a book and the blogger ends up giving them a negative review. I confess that this is one of the reasons I hated reviewing books that had been requested, not the passive-aggressive (or just plain aggressive) responses, but having to write a negative review when I knew they were authors just looking for a break. Still, I agree, many of these books are just a mess and need a lot of editing. I’m glad to hear that you got through all those review books last summer. It’s so much more enjoyable when you don’t have a stack of books you have to read and instead you can be in charge of what you pick up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, one lady followed me everywhere I went online for a year and kept trying to discredit me. I had to report her in violation of rules on both Amazon and Goodreads (authors aren’t allowed to interact excessively with readers, nor are they allowed to discredit reviewers). Some authors get my reviews and then quit speaking to me. what they have to understand, though, is that self-publishing is a risk, and there are really two reasons people self-publish or start a vanity press: they want complete control of their work (and this is really awesome sometimes; see Jaded Ibis Press author Debra DiBlasi), or no one else will publish their book because it’s a hot mess and the author just can’t seem to agree (which often suggests that author doesn’t have as strong of a grasp on writing as she should).

        Liked by 1 person

  11. When I first started blogging I loved ARCs…now I kind of avoid them unless there’s one that I really want to read. Otherwise, they kind of just sit there, and I get bombarded by so many of them I actually have to keep a running log in a binder of what books I have to read during the month, and what date they need to be read by. Like you said, that really affects how you feel about them – if you feel rushed and forced to read a book, then you probably won’t be enjoying it nearly as much. For the most part, I request ARCs from publishers when there’s a book I’m dying to read, but I don’t request on NetGalley much (or really at all) anymore. I always feel way too guilty when I can’t read a book by a specific time. The amount of time I have available to read these days isn’t nearly what it used to be, especially with a job and two kids, so I try my hardest to fill that reading time with books I actually enjoy.

    I loved this post – it really helped put things into perspective, plus it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in having these feelings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t imagine how chaotic it must have been that you had to put together a log for all the ARCs. Having that release date hanging over you can really mess with the overall experience, especially if you end up hating the book. I can only imagine! You’re time is too valuable to waste on ARCs that you aren’t excited about. Thank you, glad to hear you feel the same!

      Like

  12. Alicia, I’m really glad you shared this post because it really helped me figure out the blogging stress that I’ve been having the last two or three weeks being a newer blogger. I’ve been drowning in ARCs. I am not a deadline reader and that is something that has been a new struggle for me. I want to build my blog, but I don’t want to give up the freedom of being able to read what I want and when I want to read it. But your posts and a lot of the comments totally share the way I’ve been feeling lately with review copies. Thanks for posting this because there are some great thoughts and ideas here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad this post and the responses helped you out in this regard. I remember early on wanting to get my hands on as many ARCs and review copies, that for a time they superseded the books I actually did want to read, which was not an enjoyable experience. Many bloggers have figured out a way to strike a balance between the two, but for now, for me, I want to read what I want.

      Like

  13. This is a really interesting post. I find that for me ebooks (like you get of netgalley) take longer to read so that is another thing to consider, is it better to read a book you kind of want to read that is an ARC or two to three other books that aren’t. Personally I try not to get to many arcs and stick to one every few months.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I remember when I first began blogging I was enamoured with the idea of Netgalley and ARCs and then the majority that I read I didn’t enjoy. I ended up deciding I was only going to request books I knew I wanted to read and would have bought myself. I’ve followed that rule a little less strictly in the past 6 months but since I’m still enjoying more than I’m disliking it’s ok. I think Netgalley is a place we bloggers need to take regular breaks from Netgalley, it’s not always good having all these books. Sometimes it better to concentrate on the books we’ve bought and enjoy what we’re reading. If you fancy requesting a book on Netgalley after that then go for it.

    Liked by 1 person

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