This is a post I never saw myself ever writing. Around this time last year, all I wanted was to get my hands on physical ARC copies and nothing more. Now as I write this, it’s funny because I recently just re-homed all of my physical ARC copies including some published books that I wouldn’t really cry over.
This post is dedicated to physical ARCs and how light you can feel once you’ve gotten over the hype.
First order of business: what is an ARC?
If you aren’t aware of what an ARC is, it stands for Advanced Reader’s Copy and this is the closest thing a reader can get to a first edition prior to publishing. ARCs allow readers and/or reviewers to read a book way before it’s published, ranging from 2 months to an entire year prior. It is promotional material that may not be sold as it is not the final product. ARCs more often than are incomplete (dedication, maps, visuals, POV markings, etc.) and may contain typographical errors.
Why are ARCs important?
For the longest time, I personally saw ARCs as a sign of blogger recognition. I made a post as to why ARCs matter especially to international bloggers and it summarizes why ARCs carry more meaning than just a book you can read ahead of everybody else.
Don’t get me wrong, I still stand by everything I said in that post, I’m only looking at the issue from a different vantage point.
The ARC hype
Truth be told, receiving an ARC is a sign of blogger recognition given that you need a certain number of followers, interactions, and other stats to be sent physical ARCs by publishers. Digital ARCs aren’t as fickle, but it’s a good indicator to know that you’re doing well enough for publishers to take time and consider you. However, we should try not to let it get to our heads. ARCs aren’t everything. Just because you can’t read it now doesn’t mean you won’t read it ever.
Sometimes we (yes, me included) get so crazy about the idea of being able to read and have something before everyone else that we act like it’s the end of the world if we’re not granted access to certain ARCs. These so called “unicorn” ARCs turn us into something borderline hostile and toxic. We get too arrogant, we get too entitled. It needs to stop.
Getting over the hype
ARCs aren’t the only indication of success in your blog. Think blog posts, think author recognition, think about the friends you’ve made in this amazing community. There are many things that we take for granted because we are so focused on getting that damned ARC.
Once I started looking at ARCs as less of a recognition and more of a privilege, I learned to appreciate other things like people I get to interact with on Twitter, the books published so long ago I thought I forgot about but won’t hesitate to reread, and the joy book blogging gives me. It’s all about the outlook we have on the issue. I like to think that we read and review books because it brings us joy, not because it’s a competition as to who can read the most books ahead of everyone else.
The art of letting go
When the #bookwish hashtag came out on Twitter, it put things into perspective for me: there are people who would die for ARCs that I’m letting gather dust in my shelf. I used to hoard ARCs myself, thinking that the more I have, the more prestigious my blogging status would look. Nowadays ARCs carry the connotation of prestige which turns ARCs into more of a competition between readers instead of promotional material for authors.
I looked at ARCs as medals and nothing more. But then I thought, since I won’t bother rereading some of the ARCs I have in my shelf anyway, why not just give them to someone who would appreciate it more than I would? So I let go of one ARC, then two, and then three. The next thing I knew, I gave away all my existing ARC copies. What’s weirder is that I actually felt lighter on the inside. That’s when I realized I finally decided to stop letting ARCs define my entire blogging life and it felt so good.
Of course, I still want ARCs, but I can tell you for a fact that I’m a lot more picky now. Sometimes you have to stop and ask yourself: Do I really want this ARC or do I only want it because everyone else does? When I applied this to my ARC wishlist, the numbers dropped by a huge margin. In fact, I only want one ARC now (The Wicked King by Holly Black) and even if I still want it, I’m not as crazy about it as I used to be. If I get an ARC, great; if I don’t, then I wait until it gets published. It’s not rocket science, it’s a matter of patience. If you’re interested in reading it but not keeping it, try participating in local blog tours where you can read an ARC copy for a few days before passing it on to someone else.
At the end of the day, we all need to reevaluate how we see ARCs in this community. The hype can blind us and sometimes it can get to our heads and damage our self esteem. If you look at your ARC stack and can’t remember the last time you thought about that copy, maybe it’s time to check that #bookwish hashtag and see if someone else would appreciate it more than you do.
And if you stop to think about it, ARCs are like raw cookie dough–not the finished product. Eating a little raw cookie dough tastes good, but have too much and you’ll find yourself with a bad stomach. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
This post does not intend to harm or target anyone specifically. I made this post to express how I feel about ARCs and the hype it has in the book community. If I have offended you, please know it was not my intention to do so and you can DM me so we can talk.
If you found this useful, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter. Thanks for taking the time to read this!