Advanced Review Copies.
One of the acronyms that run ramp in the reading and writing world.
(I know… both those phrases had capital letters and periods but neither were propper sentences. I’ve been noticing this stuff more and more as I’ve been editing Mandated.)
Late in their refining process and early in their marketing process, some authors choose to send out copies of their manuscript to readers for free, or rather at the cost of feedback and reviews.
Late last night as I was trying to sleep, my mind was churning and processing my feelings towards the ARC system. Here’s where I landed:
Being an ARC reader makes me feel hypercritical from the outset and yet I know that my feedback is super valuable to the author of the book.
The hypercritical part
Is it because there’s a deadline? Is it because the book doesn’t yet have the seal of publication? Is it because the position feels so official compared to reading a book with no commitment?
Whatever reason, when I’m chosen to read an ARC, I suddenly feel so nitpicky about every detail of the prose, almost by virtue of the fact that I have an ARC reader status. I’m not saying this is a good reflex. Actually, I’d say just the opposite. I dislike this disposition I assume as if by default. For both the dear author’s sake and for my own, I’d like to be able to just sit back and enjoy the book.
So would I avoid the ARC reading experience altogether? No, because…
The super valuable part
As an author, I realize how valuable feedback and reviews are, both positive and “negative”. Any insight into the readers’ experience is a window into the minds of the people whom I seek to reach and impact.
Genuine compliments are fuel but the book wouldn’t thrive in the real world without the backbone of constructive criticism.
So how do I reconcile the pushing and pulling of these conflicting sentiments? I wasn’t intending to spiritualize this, but 2 Corinthians 10:5 flashed in my mind. I won’t quote the verse because the contexts don’t align, but basically, its counsel is to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
When I’m ARC reading, I want to be super intentional about what I do and don’t say. There’s a soul behind the words I’m critiquing. Before I translate thought to written feedback, I want to strain it through the mesh of, “will this serve to build up the author?” and “will I be representing Christ well if I say this?”
ARC reading opportunities
I don’t think that authors are intent on finding super-qualified readers to read their ARCs. I know that I’m not, anyway. The quality of an ARC reader comes from the thought they put into communicating their unique reading experience. And “lots of thought” doesn’t automatically translate to “length of essay”. Two honest, helpful sentences are worth more than five paragraphs of flattery.
If your mind is starting to change about your eligibility as an ARC reader and you’re thinking this is something you’d like to try, let me introduce you to Livy Lynn.
As one of her multiple services, Livy mediates between authors and bloggers, recruiting the latter to participate in online book tours. This service has been a great resource for providing me with ARC reading opportunities. Livy might just find the favor to be mutual if you signed up and became an outstanding ARC reader. 😉
I don’t think she has a static webpage where you can sign up, but you can opt in when she’s in the process of organizing a tour. She’s not currently seeking readers for a tour, though, so I’d advise you to either keep an eye on her blog for future opportunities or even try contacting her and asking to be added to her list for the future (I don’t know if she works that way).
- What do you think of using 2 Corinthians 10:5 in the context of ARC reading? Is it relevant, irrelevant but harmless, or downright wrong?
- Are you an experienced ARC reader, or is this something new for you (or, you know, do you fall somewhere in between)?
- Do you know of any other bloggers who offer ARC reading opportunities?
- This is a new subject on my blog. Do you relate, or was it hard to engage with the post?