My Thoughts on ARC Reading

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:

163-my-thoughts-on-arc-reading

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).

Let’s Talk!

  • 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?
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4 thoughts on “My Thoughts on ARC Reading

  1. It was nice to read your thoughts about ARCS, Jordy! I have been an ARC reader for several authors, so I suppose I fall somewhere in between…definitely wouldn’t consider myself experienced, though.;)

    Interesting comment about 2 Corinthians 10:5 in relation to this topic. In light of recent teaching I have heard about this verse and its context, I would now say that it’s not particularly relevant in this case- however, others may have different opinions, which I would find interesting to read.

    Glad to have you and your posts back again! xx

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    1. Thanks for dropping by with a comment, Emily. 🙂 I have yet to come across a comment of yours that isn’t a positive and encouraging exchange.

      I’m not sure if you were intending on getting yourself into writing an essay—and you don’t need to write one—but I’d be interested in hearing some thoughts from the teaching you hear! I don’t think the verse is all that relevant either, but I’m not confident and I’d appreciate some solid teaching on it.

      Thanks for being in touch. 🙂

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      1. I’ll try my best to explain a little without writing an essay (or causing confusion)…we’ll see how it goes! 🙂

        I had always thought that particular verse was referring to OUR thoughts, and basically that we should “only try to think appropriate and uplifting thoughts becuase that’s what God wants”. Well… Paul is talking about spiritual warfare in that passage, and the idea is that the mind is a very important place in regards to spiritual warfare. Verses 4-5 read “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” The teaching that I only recently heard was basically saying that this brings out a new meaning that we should be alert to the false arguments and “every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” and in some way be able to show that they are not the correct views we should have of God and His words, i.e. “taking them captive”.

        Of course we should strive that our thoughts be honorable to God, for sure! Whether this passage is talking about this view, the one above, or any other, I think it all comes down to remembering that the Word of God isn’t about us, it’s about God.

        Okay, I’m not the best at explaining my thoughts about this concisely or coherently right here, but I tried. 🙂 I’d love to hear your thoughts also!

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      2. Thanks for persevering and explaining your thoughts, Emily! So what I hear you saying is that honoring God with our own thoughts is important, but this particular passage—according to the teaching you recently heard—is about guarding our minds in the context of spiritual warfare not necessarily against our own thoughts, but against any thought or false argument—that is, ‘every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God’. Would you say that’s a good (very short!) paraphrase of what you mean?

        I would agree with this teaching, though I have to say it can be very hard to distinguish my own thoughts from thoughts of the enemy. Sometimes they seem to be one and the same. It reminds me of when I was reading Pilgrims Progress. There was the scene in which Christian was walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. “Wicked ones”, as they were called, would come up behind him and whisper evil thoughts and blasphemies in his ears. The readers could see this and knew what was going on, but Christian, being in the middle of it, thought those whispers originated from his own mind and it grieved him to think he would think such things against the One whom he loved. I think we’re capable of thinking our own “original” evil thoughts, though not all of them originate from our own minds. Perhaps part of the battle is to pause long enough to consider what’s going on in the battlefield of our mind and to ask the Lord for help as we seek to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

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