Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The ARC Conundrum

I'd like to talk about a somewhat sticky issue...ARCs or advanced review copies of books. Since there are 3 parts to my "romance" personality--reader, reviewer and writer--I am going to examine this from 3 different points of view. I am definitely conflicted about this topic since I am approaching it from 3 different places.

As a reader of romance, one of the most exciting parts of this addiction for me is the sanctity of release day. It's the equivalent of Christmas morning for anyone nursing a romance novel obsession. There's nothing like waking up on Christmas morning and ripping open those presents. When reviewers spill the details about an upcoming novel prior to release day, it's like finding all your xmas gifts in your parent's closet and peeking. Takes all the fun out of xmas morning and makes it a big let-down. I still haven't read Lover Mine because so many folks were discussing it prior to release day that my excitement for the book sort of fizzled out and died. (I am already cringing thinking about KMM's Shadowfever book...if the secrets are revealed before release day it will be a bloody, blooming shame...I surely hope she is not planning on sending out ARCs for that book....)

Furthermore, it sometimes feels like a slap in the face to us regular readers/reviewers not privy to an ARC when others are already jabbering about it. I'm sure that's not their intention, but nevertheless, it's not a good feeling.

I get requests all the time to do ARC reviews. Every once in a blue moon, I say yes, but very, very rarely. Why? Because I don't want anyone dictating what and when I read. I am very selfish about this's the only thing in my life that is free and clear of responsibilities, and I like it that way. I am not a professional reviewer; I'm not getting paid for this. If I want to read an old Julie Garwood novel, I do it. If I want to check out a new mystery, I do it. I pay for my own books to support the authors who are gracious enough to write these wonderful stories. Sometimes I feel like writing a review and sometimes I don't. If an author offers me a book to review that is something I planned to read anyway, I'll say yes. Then, I still BUY it later, just as I planned, to support the author in the best way increasing her sales figures.

I published my first book in 2009. Promoting it is a tricky and difficult business. You need some buzz generated prior to release, but not too much. You need lots of reviews and interviews and contests around the release day to help promote your book. Many awesome reviewers and bloggers offered to read ARCs for me and write reviews. These were absolute god-sends for my sales. So, from a writer's point of view, sending out ARCs is a critical part of promotion. I asked almost all of the reviewers to wait until release week and after to post reviews. Big name authors like JR Ward don't need to rely on bloggers for publicity; they have marketing departments at their publishing houses. However, small independent writers and e-book authors have to take care of their own promotion, so sending out ARCs is key. Thank God for non-professional reviewers willing to accept these advanced copies.

So, in conclusion, you can probably tell that I am really conflicted about this whole issue. On one hand, I hate having the magic wrecked by so many folks reading books before I get my hands on a copy, and on the other hand, I am eternally grateful to reviewers willing to read them from an author's perspective. I'm not sure what the answer is to all of this, but I can tell you right now that I'm not reading twitter or goodreads or checking out my blog list prior to Shadowfever coming out. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is going to ruin my enjoyment of that book. It will be a festive Christmas morning on January 18, 2011 when Penelope cracks open the front cover....

I would love to hear some of your opinions about this issue...bloggers? authors? What do you think?

All my best,