The Dark Side of Advanced review Copies
One of the best parts of running a book blog is receiving ARC or Advance Review Copies of the books. Sometimes it is not only advance review copies, but promotional copies the editors and marketers sent to the reviewers.
You might wonder if it is so good that you get free books to read, why would anyone not want it?
Because there is a downside of it!
Having accepted so many review copies, I experienced some of it first hand. In the last 1-2 years, I have stopped taking the review copies completely.
Gradually, many publication houses have also stopped reaching out to me. Maybe I am on the black list of many due to the rudely honest review I do of the books.
I am trying to be better critique – but I already stopped accepting the copies. I only read what I can buy and whatever I want to read.
In this blog post, I am going to quickly go over some cons of accepting ARCs.
#1 Expectations of the Sender
Nothing is free. When someone sends you the book to read, you think it’s free. But there are hidden expectations that you will do a positive review of the book. You will promote it to your circle and recommend it to your friends.
It is called review Copy, but it’s always a promotional copy. The editor or marketer sitting at the desk will read your review, and if he find it negative, he will ask you to remove the review or change the tone a little bit.
Most of the time you change it because you care about the marketing person and you do not want him to lose his job. But at what cost?
At the cost of your morals and ethics. You think of yourself as an honest reviewer, but you sold it for a free book.
Not only review, the expectations would be to do an Instagram post, a twitter post, an amazon review, and much more. You might end up getting a list of doing things after reading the review.
Congrats you are unpaid labor.
#2 Guilt & Pressure
Then there will be this guilt of selling yourself out. You might sleep on it, but years later, someone will genuinely read that book and will unearth your book review.
He will be surprised that you have done the positive review of the book – and in an instant he will realize that you sold yourself. And there goes the credibility of all your book review and book blog. It happened with me when I read the Everyone has a Stroy and then read the Goodreads review – only to see all the popular reviewer doing the positive review of the trashy book.
It happened with me recently when I read a ‘positively reviewed book by expert’ only to find that book is not good at all. Now I don’t see those people as expert. Its a terrible state to be in.
Compared to other type of reviewers, gadgets, movies, and automobiles, book reviews have more moral responsibility to be honest.
#3 Terrible Books
Doing all of it, and at the end of the day you are not even enjoying the reading. 9 out of 10 books I received were terribly written.
There were editing mistakes, punctuation mistakes, repetitive dialogues, poor plotting, stupid climax, fluffs and badly written characters. You get the book and you read it and then you wish to hit your head at the wall.
Plus you have to review the book and have to write positive things about the book. Because you are in conflict with being good with the book sender and being honest with yourself.
#4 Unwanted Criticism
Not the worst, but still one of the bad parts is the unwanted criticism of your ideas. I agree when you put your work outside, you are open to feedback and should take it humbly.
But when the remarks are not about your work but about your life, gender, race, caste, and religion, you cannot just accept it as feedback. People are too attached to their work, no matter how shitty it is.
The point of technology has open up the opportunities for many people. The content is subjective, and one negative review does not mean that your work is poor, but it’s just that you have not found your audience yet. There are fans of John Green, Brandon Sanderson, Colleen Hoover and there are also fans of Bukowski , Lovecraft, Hegel, and Peake.
What I am saying
Getting review copies sounds nice and charming.. But be careful. Sometimes you don’t even know when you might start hating reading because of the terrible books you are reading.
Reading poor literature for a long time could end up lowering your standards. Be sure that you do not get pushed around by the marketing departments and don’t lose the credibility of your book reviews.
If you have experienced the same thing, let me know in the comments or twitter.