I have really been wanting to dive into this topic for awhile now. There’s lots of talk about ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) on Instagram and Twitter. ARCs are an uncorrected copy of a book that a publisher or author sends you BEFORE the publish date. This means you get to read the book, and hopefully review, before everyone else gets their hands on it.
ARCs are often seen as a sort of status symbol. A certain publisher has seen your online content and feels that you are worthy to receive an advanced copy in hopes that you discuss and talk about this book to build the buzz. But does the fact that you receive an ARC mean you are more than or better than someone who doesn’t? Let’s discuss.
I’m in a lot of Facebook groups for reading and books in general and the main question I see is “How do I get ARCs?” or “How do I get on a publisher’s list or contact a certain publisher?” There are many that are very interested in helping and will offer tips or advice on how to start the process, but doing research on your own is inevitable because not everyone goes about it the same way. This can prove to be challenging. I think that sometimes understanding what makes one person receive ARCs and another person not is similar to understanding the Instagram algorithm. Right? Yeah. You feel me. Publishers have different things they are looking for and it’s not a perfect equation.
I’ve asked these questions to groups myself before and I’m going to be vulnerable enough to discuss it here. I have just shy of 700 followers on IG and 29 on Twitter. Yup- 29. I’ve been told time and time again from other book reviewers that “It’s not enough. Don’t even think about being added to a publisher’s list. You aren’t enough…yet. To even be considered to receive an ARC from a publisher, You should have minimum 1,000 followers”. I have gone down the rabbit hole of focusing on this info. I’ve even thought “Wow. Receiving an ARC would make me feel important. Receiving an ARC would make me feel like someone cared about what I said or what I thought”.
The question, though that NAGS at my brain often is- WHY? Why do we want free copies of books before they are published especially when we can get FREE copies of these books at the library after they are published? Why do we feel we have “made it” or “have arrived” because of these advance copies? Is it social media? Is it our own insecurity? I’m guessing it’s different for everyone.
Do you ever follow someone and see they received five ARCs that week and the publishers are all tagged and you say “I’m not there yet. Wow. How many followers do they have? I’m going to keep posting. Maybe my photos aren’t good enough. Maybe I need a theme. I’m going to tag a publisher in hopes of them noticing me”. I think we ALL do this, if we’re ever BRAVE enough to admit it. I’m being brave here and saying this has been me in the past. I think what we are actually saying to ourselves is “I am not worthy” and that, my fellow readers, is NOT OKAY.
And what about those IG accounts that seem to be boasting about their ARCs. I know. I said it. I actually put the words in visible form. Is it rude of me to say? I don’t think so because I think it’s part of the confusing equation and self worth issue. You know the accounts I’m talking about. It’s ALL they post. Stories and posts full of ARCs they’ve received and how they can’t get to books they actually chose themselves because they’re just so overwhelmed with ARCs- such first world problems, right? I think it’s important to mention that there are far more ARC receiving accounts that don’t do this, but I’m just talking about the ones that do. I feel like a brag is pretty transparent. What do you do when you see this every day? Do you unfollow? Do you feel worse about yourself? Do you try harder to gain a larger following? Does it even matter at the end of the day? I don’t know because I don’t know your feelings, but here’s where I land when I start down this path in my brain (and what is the actual point of this post):
- We are all worthy.
- All of our voices are important.
- Our opinions on all books MATTER.
- Authors appreciate us (I don’t know this for fact, but I do believe it).
- We don’t need ARCs to fill our value bucket up, but they sure are fun.
- We are in a wonderful community of readers and that, right there, should be just about enough.
- We. Are. Readers.
I am enough. Keep saying that. I have valuable opinions and my worth and value is not dependent on the number of advance copies I receive. Do we love them? Oh my WE DO! Do we need them to feel grounded in our place on this earth or in this book community? I sure hope not. I know that when I feel my own mind going down the comparison and value hill, that I bring it back to the wonderful friends I’ve met so far and the wonderful books I’ve read. The ability to escape into a fictional world for a bit in this big and sometimes scary world is such an honor. I’m so grateful for my love of reading. I’m so grateful for my phone that can take beautiful photos of books that literally make me SMILE when I see them. I’m so grateful for all of it, truly.
Keep reading. Keep taking photos that inspire you and make you smile. Keep buying books you don’t need. Keep going because you LOVE it and not because of the potential ARCs. If the ARCs follow then it’s an added bonus, but don’t let that change your course. Stay true to your love of books and your love of imagination.