Over ARC-ing

Posted April 15, 2015 by Kara in Imaginative Discussions / 14 Comments


So I have a confession: I may have overdid it on the ARC requesting for spring. I know, I know. There’s been a lot of talk around the blogosphere about requesting ARCs and not reading them, and here I am telling you all that I definitely took on more than I could handle. I like to think that it’s more to do with excitement and optimism than it is about carelessness. You get the catalogs, browse Edelweiss and NetGalley, and you get so, so excited about all the titles scrolling by. Before you know it, the ARC pile is starting to feel insurmountable.

I’m one of those people who are definitely guilty of not reading every ARC that passes over my desk. I physically can’t – and I don’t think I’m alone in that either. What I do do (ha) is give every book a try. Once a month, I gather up the books I need to read in the upcoming weeks and I give them a go. I read the first 10 or so pages, reread the synopsis, and take a look at the reviews. Then I have to cut it down to the amount of books I can realistically handle for the month (which these days, isn’t that much.) It’s not the best system, but I like to think it’s as fair as possible – to myself and to my books.

My ARC System

Once this cycle of ARCs is over (fall catalogs are starting to circulate nowish) I plan to do an overhaul of how I approach review copies and reviewing in general. Since I started blogging, I haven’t been very organized in how I request ARCs. I get the publisher email or I browse the digital galley sites, and I just go for it. It isn’t until weeks or months later, when I plug the titles into my spreadsheet, that I see exactly what I’ve gotten myself into.

UntitledA small sample of aforementioned spreadsheet

Pretty soon I’ll be headed to BEA and I generally come home with 30ish books every time I go. I won’t hold onto all of those, but most, I’ll be adding to this spreadsheet. I’ll push through autumn with this schedule, but the madness ends there.

The Overhaul

So once I get through my BEA books, that’s it. I thought about limiting myself to four books per month, so one review per week, but I don’t think so. I tweeted last night that instead of limiting, I’m just giving it up for good. No more requesting, no more auto-approved downloads. I’m not saying I’m going to go cold turkey or anything, or that I’ll pass up every ARC opportunity that comes my way, because I won’t. We all have those books that we just can’t turn down. But from here on out, I’m only going to accept review copies of those types of books. The ones by auto-buy authors, the ones that I will go crazy waiting for.

I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging and reviewing and how it affects my real life. Blogging, while a blast, is the cause for a lot of stress in my life, and I have only myself to blame. So I’m going to start taking a more laid back approach. I can’t commit one hundred percent to every review copy I have access to. I can’t dedicate all of my free time to blogging anymore. It’s been great to fully immerse like that for the last four years, but it’s not a sustainable system. There are tons of already-published books sitting on my shelves that I need to read – I can live without ARCs.


Are you like me? Do you over-request and later become overwhelmed when you see exactly what you’ve gotten yourself into? How do you approach ARC requesting and ARC organization?


14 responses to “Over ARC-ing

  1. I kind of overdid it for late May/early June. I have no idea how I’m going to finish all of them, but I am determined too.

    I read the ones I requested first(in order of publication dates), and then I move on to the unsolicited ones. It makes me feel less guilty, but still… there are so many!
    Erin @ The Hardcover Lover recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (22)My Profile

  2. Ana

    I go through feast and famine ARC cycles, but I’m doing so much better since I started tracking my reading on spreadsheet not too different from yours. It really lets me see when I just need to admit I’m not going to read a book, and reminds me to write the reviews for the ones I read.

    I’ve also cut down my requesting in a similar way. Unless I really love the author or excited about the book, I don’t bother to request.

  3. I used to be absolutely terrible for this. Especially with NetGalley, I’d request so many books with the idea that even if I didn’t read them soon, I’d read them eventually. Really, I honestly and truly will.

    Flash forward a few years to the time when I realise I can only get through about 100 books in a year and yet am requesting and/or receiving far more than that.

    I’ve cut back dramatically. I maybe end up requesting a handful of books a month, and I still get some awesome unsoliticited ones in the mail (which will never not thrill me). I’m better than I was, but I still have more books on hand than I can read. I’ve started organizing my spreadsheet by books I absolutely want to read and review by the publication date, and books that I want to read but aren’t as high on the list. I prioritize the first batch. Once I’ve finished those, I can move on books in the second batch. Sometimes a month goes by and I only have 3 books that were on the priority list, allowing me more time to catch up on my backlog and on the lower-priority books, which is awesome.

    I still don’t get around to everything. Sometimes I have to pass over a book that I really want to read because I simply don’t have the time for it at the moment. Or I’ll at least make the publisher aware that I do want to read it but that I can’t guarantee a before-the-street-date review. But this method of organizing has really helped me be better aware of what I have on my shelves, and thus what I feel I can safely request or accept if offered.

    Now, if only I had the time to properly read and review the 200+ books from my backlog…
    Bibliotropic recently posted…SPFBO musingsMy Profile

  4. I normally take ARCs only one or two at the time and never promise reading them in less than four weeks… I have to be in the mood for a certain book or genre, and I don’t want to force myself reading them. This is probably why I’ve been trying to stay away from pages such as Netgalley and Edelweiss, and only acept the occasional ARC offered to me by authors or publishers. I’m afraid I will get in over my head if I start requesting a lot of new books, and I don’t want to end up being stressed about not being able to make deadlines… I would love to start reading more ARCs, but I have so many unread books as it is that I will probably end up in a mayor reading slump. I like ARCs and discovering new books, but I prefer focusing on enjoying my reads without worrying I have to finish them before certain dates. 😉

  5. Thankfully, I learned my lesson (for the most part) for egalleys when I first started. I don’t request that many now, and I review what I request. That being said, my NetGalley Percentage of Doom is still 24%. It’ll never get better. I’ve also cut back on my physical ARCs a great deal, and I give a real effort to everything I get, but I’m finding that I’m not liking much of what I read. I used to be incredibly, horrifically picky, and I’m going back to my old ways. The worst part about it is that I don’t have a genre or type of book that I’m drawn to. I’m like the five year old that loves broccoli one week and hates it to the point of gagging the next. I’ll never be a “good blogger”. *sigh*
    Kayla Beck recently posted…Blog Tour (Excerpt): Masks and Mirrors by Sue DuffMy Profile

  6. I probably shouldn’t have started in the first place haha! I have a lot of book at home that I preordered because I wanted to read them so badly and I still haven’t gotten to them. But after a few months of blogging, I decided to try my luck on NetGalley. I was conservative for the most part but all of the books came out in April and May so it’s felt overwhelming! And I’ve sent a few email requests for physical books but those are mainly for series/authors I’m very very interested in. I don’t know how you and other bloggers do it, especially if you get unsolicited books! I feel overwhelmed as it is. Have to pay better attention to release dates if I request at all haha.
    Morgan @ Gone with the Words recently posted…Review: The Winner’s Crime by Marie RutkoskiMy Profile

  7. I do over-request, and it sucks, because deep down, I want to read all of the books but I just can’t, I overwork myself and it’s started to creep into what I do, and that sucks.. I guess the best we can hope for is finding the right book at the right time for us, arc or not, you know? If your system works Bekka, don’t fight, but always remember that reading is a hobby 🙂

  8. MJ

    I’ve never really got huge into ARCs. Edelweiss perpetually hates me-I think I’ve only gotten approved for like two or so books from there. Don’t know why, since I’ve been blogging pretty consistency for about four years now but whatever. Netgalley I’m usually late to the game finding out about titles and miss out. But I’ve gotten a few good ones there. To be honest, I sort of like it for the most part. It makes the whole blogging thing a lot less stressful than it could be. I really hate the mantra though that you have to read every ARC you get. Yeah, it would be nice in theory. But I don’t think it’s possible even for the most dedicated of bloggers. Eventually, you’ll hit burn out.

  9. My goal this year was to focus on my ARC pile solely in order to get caught up so that I could have the time to ‘read whatever’. I’ve been requesting FAR too many this year though and even though I’ve managed to read 15 review books in a row (serious record for me) I’m still no closer to being caught up. And now I just started a second job so I’m even sadder about my review pile because it’s not going to get any better anytime soon. So I feel ya. I really need to request only those that I’m super crazy excited about. And even then maybe not.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Audiobook Review – We All Looked Up by Tommy WallachMy Profile

  10. Great post! I know exactly what you mean. I have way too many ARCs that were published in the months of April, May and June. I didn’t realize that until I created my spreadsheet. I have put a temporary hold on ARC requests and so far, it is going great. I haven’t even browsed NetGalley, which is weird for me. I do need to rethink the way I request as well. It seems like I just request so many books that I would never even buy. Now don’t get me wrong, I have discovered some pretty amazing books that way. But still, I need to start focusing on genres and authors that I love.
    Cynthia recently posted…BOOK REVIEW: Only Ever Yours by Louise O’NeillMy Profile

  11. I hear ya Bekka! I tried to just say no more at the beginning of the year and did pretty well for a bit, and then went crazy again >.>. So I’m going with four requests a month to really make me think about whether I truly want that book or if I would be sad that I requested it instead of something else I really want.
    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings recently posted…Updates from the Lair 4/19/15My Profile

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