If you’ve been following my blog for the last few months, you probably have seen my guide to how to get ARCs: how to request them, where to request them and what alternatives you have for getting eARCs. And maybe you even got lucky and got an ARC (or more), so in this post, I’ll be trying to give some tips and tricks on what’s next. Not just reviewing, but also planning and organizing and what publishers expect of you, will be discussed.
Step 1: Reading
Of course, before you review a book, you have to read it. Personally, I always try to read a book in the month before it releases, so I have enough time to review it and am not too early with my review. I’d like this time-frame, because publishers usually prefer to have the review posted around the time the book comes out. I’ve looked at what some publishers prefer, and it seems most like to have reviews posted within the month or two weeks before the release.
While reading, there are a couple of things you can keep in mind. A lot of people make notes about what they think while reading so they can use them for their reviews. I don’t do that, but I do mark/tab quotes I love. I usually can remember quite well what my opinions of a book are while reviewing, so making notes only distract me from reading. This is of course a personal thing, so you do whatever works best for you.
Step 2: Reviewing
This is the main goal of ARCs: to review (but also promotion). I can’t really give you a guide on how to write a review best, because everyone has different methods that work best for them. But I can give you some tips and pointers!
- Be honest, but not mean. Honesty is very important for reviews, because if you don’t give your honest opinion, how can anyone trust your review? (I think I’ve talked already way too much about this haha)
- Give good points and bad points. Not every book is for everyone, but that does also mean a book you didn’t like, might be someone else’s next favourite book. If you don’t like for example, the writing style, it does not necessarily make it a bad book. It just means it’s not your type of book, but it might be someone else’s type of book.
- Recommend it to people that might like the book. For example, if you’ve read another book that was a bit similar, it can help to say ‘if you liked this other book, you might also like this book’.
- Focus on a few points. If you give a very long list of thoughts and ideas, it might become overwhelming. Instead, try to focus on a few points that you think are most important. I always try to keep it to 3-4 points. These points can be the characters, worldbuilding, writing style and so on.
- Wrap up your thoughts nicely. I always like to end my reviews with a rating and a quick summary of my thoughts, so people who haven’t read the entire review still know what I think of them. Ratings can be really nice but also tricky, so again, personal preference.
- Add a little sparkle maybe? I always like to add some quotes from the book, but you might like to add aesthetics, if you like that. You can always do something to give your reviews a bit extra!
Step 3: Posting
As said before, when you post a review can be important to the publisher. Some publishers have guidelines, but if you’re not sure what they are, I would try to stick to within the month before the release. On Netgalley, a lot of publishers have guidelines for when to post reviews, but also say something about what they expect of you. You can check out the publisher’s page to find out more!
What if you are too late with your review? You’re incredibly busy, or just forgot? That can of course always happen, so don’t stress yourself! You can always post a review later than the publication date and if you send a note to the publisher explaining the situation and apologizing, I am sure they won’t hate you. Do try to avoid this if you can, and check publication dates beforehand! I try to avoid this by keeping track of how many review books I have per month. I created a shelf on goodreads so I can check which ARCs I need to read and you can easily see publication dates on there too. I highly recommend keeping track of publication dates in whatever way works for you, you can make a list in your diary or online, there are many ways to do this!
You hated the book
Nobody can like every single book and there are definitely books I’ve hated I had to review. There are two options in this situation: you don’t review the book or you do. You are never obligated to post a review! If you’re expected to review a book that you just really couldn’t finish or hated, but you don’t want to, you can always contact the publisher and explain. I’m 99.999% sure they will understand. Netgalley gives you the option to provide feedback for the publisher, and you can always post your explanation there. Remember that publishers are also just people, they can’t (and don’t) expect you to lie in your review about how much you loved it when it is completely opposite.
After you’ve posted your review, you can cross-post it on different retailers’ websites. Cross-posting is incredibly helpful for authors and publishers, because that’s where people buy their books. Amazon is tricky sometimes, because it requires you to have spent a certain amount of money on their website before you’re able to post reviews. I post all/most my reviews (or a shortened version) on Amazon (UK), bol.com (a Dutch retailer), and of course goodreads. Amazon does not allow reviews before the release date, so try to remember when the book is released to post it on there too. Usually, I don’t cross-post right after posting my reviews but pick a day to take an hour to cross-post everything.
One reminder: you are only expected to review a book if that is the mutual agreement. If publishers asked you whether you’d like to read a book for review, or if you’ve requested one, you are expected to review it. If, however, you’re on a list and you got a book in the main unsolicited: there are no obligations. The publisher would like it if you reviewed it, but if you can’t or don’t want to, you don’t have to.
Step 4: Then what?
Once you’re done with your review and everything else, you can pass on the ARC to someone else. Or not. Remember that you can in no instance sell an ARC! But you can exchange it with someone else for maybe another ARC you want or just give it away. Check the #arcsfortrade hashtag on twitter, there are a lot of people trading on there. Another option is to donate the ARC. You can also keep it. Sadly, these are not options for eARCs, you can only keep those.