So in the past year as a blogger I’ve started to get sent ARCs (advanced review copies) and in my yearly wrap up I found that on average I rated ARCs quite a bit lower than I did books I chose to read, so today I want to examine why this could be.
(note this post is probably of more relevance to book bloggers than general readers)
Before we get into why I think I rated ARCs lower on average I want to examine where I get my ARCs from. A lot of the ARCs I read in 2017 were ones I got via a self published author’s request to help more people know about their book. A few ARCs I read were ones I requested on edelweiss, these were usually debut novels. And some of the ARCs were ones I was sent unsolicited by publishers in my area.
The key words in these sentences are “self published” and “debut” and “unsolicited.”
While I am in no way saying that self published or debut novels are of lower quality, an author’s writing gets better with time and practice so debuts are often not the author’s best work. Their later work will almost definitely be better. And the resources provided by publishing companies in terms of editing and supporting an author can make a difference in the end product. Some self published authors could do with another round of edits or the formatting of their book isn’t the most constructive to a positive reading experience.
Novels I am sent unsolicited are often outside of my preferred genre so if I read them at all, I am less likely to enjoy them. They are also typically books that publishers want to create some hype for and don’t think will sell as well. To an extent this is also true with authors requesting I review their novel. I don’t want to say no unnecessarily so if it sounds like a book I may enjoy I usually go for it. And while I have read some amazing novels this way, there have also been a few that weren’t exactly what I thought they would be from the synopsis.
This also applies to books I got from edelweiss, they haven’t been published yet so there aren’t many reviews out there. Hearing other reviewer’s opinions of books on my TBR plays a large role in whether I pick them up, so without that guidance I read more books that aren’t tailored to my style. I also think the time limit placed upon readers for ARCs makes the reading experience more rushed and means you can’t wait until you’re in the mood to read the book.
But as for the key question, are we harsher on ARCs, I think the answer is yes. While bloggers are more likely to review an ARC from a genre they aren’t typically interested in just because it’s an ARC and that’s exciting and brings traffic to their blog. And even though ARCs (at least the ones I get) may not be an author’s best work quite yet.
I am more critical on ARCs than I am on other books
Why? You ask. Well in reviewing an ARC I am shaping the early opinions of a book for the rest of the bookish community. I am influencing their opinions of it, and possibly introducing it to them for the first time. I want to portray a balanced view of not only what I thought the strengths and weaknesses of the book were, but what other people may view as a positive or negative about the book. I want my review to be helpful to those who read it rather than just me fangirling about a book no one has read yet.
There are a lot of books I rate three or four stars but looking back they didn’t deserve a rating that high. I don’t want to rate an ARC well unless I am still going to be able to agree with that rating in a year’s time. I don’t want to be the reason someone picked up a new release and didn’t enjoy it, especially if I can somewhat agree with what they are saying. In a book that is already out I can rate it high and say I was in the right mood to enjoy it even if there were some flaws because there are already a bunch of reviews out there of the book.