State of the ARC is hosted by AvalinahsBooks
I recently spoke about where I get my ARCs, how good (or bad) I am at reading them, and countless other things under the “how I deal with review copies” umbrella of conversation. I’ve learned that I’m really not terrible about keeping up with them overall, but there are still plenty I leave unread at the end of the year. I don’t want to ignore my review copies from previous years completely, but I need to figure out my new approach to reading ARCs from 2019 to stay on top of things.
I am the person who reads a book and writes the review within the next 1-12 hours at most. Yes, every single time. This is partly because my memory is garbage but also because I’m just DETERMINED to do it. I like to be on top of things. This is why I don’t have a problem reading books super early – I end up with posts scheduled months in advance. It feels good to have a more full blog post calendar; I love getting to the next month and realizing I already have at least a few things on there, scheduled and ready to go. I read the book and write the review immediately. Period. No matter the pub date.
I’ve been trying to be better about reading my ARCs early enough, mixing in some backlist ones while getting ahead on future ones. One day you’ll see me reading an ARC I got from 2018 and the next one I read will not be publishing for another 6-8 months. I just like to balance things out a little bit, but that sometimes leaves me with “publishing soon but not published yet” books that I get behind on. I can’t seem to strike the right balance between catching up, being on track, and getting ahead. I need to halt all of my review copy requests for like 6 months in order to do this, and we all know that’s not happening.
I shared my spreadsheet in the aforementioned ARC analysis post. My current spreadsheet looks more like THIS (the “read” books are hidden because I don’t want to see them when planning my next read!):
I currently have review copies set up all the way through July, including backlist ones I haven’t gotten to still because I am the worst. Some months have just a couple and some months have more than I could even attempt to read. I don’t like reading ALL review copies in one month either because I almost always have a library book, book club selection, or just a book I really want to read on deck. When you read 10 books a month, approximately, and you have 7 review copies publishing in that month, it becomes a bit difficult to balance everything else. Here’s my current breakdown of just egalleys as of this week…
- February: 4
- March: 5
- April: 3
- May: 6
- June: 4
- July: 1
How do you strategize your review copy reading?
I love curating a monthly TBR even if I don’t follow it every single time. I have had a lot of success recently, though, because I include a solid mix of books – genre-wise, age target-wise, and format-wise. I used to be horrible about following TBR lists and organizing my reading because I was too rigid. This system somewhat reminds me of what Andi did and I tried for a handful of months, which is great!
- Review copies – mix of backlist, upcoming, and far-away-upcoming
- Books for challenges or themed read-a-thons
- Library books currently checked out
- Audiobooks I’m in the mood for
- Owned copies I really should read
- Other required reading/titles – blog tours, book club, etc.
I decided to apply this “categorization” to my egalley-reading specifically for each month, which I’ll talk more about below!
Future Thoughts and State of the ARC
Because I often have more review copies per month than my TBR/reading schedule will allow, there will always be some books that I fall behind on. In slow review copy months, I should work on getting ahead by reading books that are publishing in months where I have too many review copies already. This habit should be reflected in my monthly TBR posts… which is why, going forward, I will develop a systematic approach to my review copies until I feel that they are more manageable. I will likely read somewhere between 4-6 review copies per month, including physical galleys or finished copies from the publisher. Now, each monthly TBR post will feature a list of egalleys that looks like the following:
- One backlist, already published review copy that I need to read (preferably from 2018 or 2019)
- Two upcoming review copies, publishing with in a month of the TBR post/when I read it
- One upcoming review copy with a pub date farther in the future (2+ months)
- One “dealer’s choice” depending on my mood, review obligations, etc. – any pub date, past or future
Because I have a couple of books still to read that published between January and February, it could take me a while to read them. I will probably have to make my “dealer’s choice” a backlist pick for a few months to catch up on them. March and May have the most review copies coming up, which means I should definitely be reading ahead for those months ASAP and in April. I’m glad that many of my most anticipated books are publishing in those months so I won’t have any trouble getting ahead!
I’ve read two ARCs already for February at the time of this post and will likely get to the three in the middle as well. All of them are anticipated reads I won’t wait on, but I’m also a part of the SMALL TOWN HEARTS blog tour coming up.
I have a lot of egalleys for March, which means that 4/5 of these have to be March releases. I try to read before the pub date in most cases, but these are all too early in March for me! I have ONE NIGHT AT THE LAKE on here because I knoooow I won’t be able to wait; it’ll be my one non-March choice and will be the best.
April is another one where I have a few egalleys to read. I’ll hit the main three here, mix in the June release I’m DYING TO READ, and one backlist from February. I have to put it off until this month because I just don’t see myself getting to it during busy-ass March.
(Note: there is a typo – the last book should say May instead of April!) May will focus on May releases, for the most part. I might end up reading some early because of my moods though! I have one more Jan/Feb release to read in May as my backlist pick, plus WE CAME TO FORGET as my later-on choice, since it comes in July.
There’s one May release I’m not sure I should have requested because I’m not overly in the mood for it after pressing that button. I have a feeling it’ll be a backlist pick during June as a result, if I get motivated! I have two remaining June releases to fit in during that month and then the others are up for grabs based on Netgalley approvals and seeing how the other months shake out! [I got approved for THE WEDDING PARTY this week too, so I will probably read that soon.]
Physical ARCs / books from publishers
This is always a little stickier for me to keep on track with. It’s mostly because I FEEL less accountable for these books – there isn’t a percentage or measure of success (like a Netgalley ratio) to keep me on the right track. Someone sends me something and I just… shelve it like an asshole. Here are the physical review copies I have still to read; some are finished copies but from the publisher and most are galleys.
I’ll be honest: there are a few I’m not exactly interested in, so I’m not sure if and when I’ll read them. My goal, in general is to read at least 1-2 physical ARCs per month mixed in with my usual reading. This might be catching up from previous months; it might be getting ahead and reading what I’m super in the mood for instead.