Guide to Reading and Reviewing ARCs | How to embrace the ARC’s DNF

Unlike the title might suggest, this is not an actual textbook guide. I have been blogging for over a year now and reading and reviewing ARCs for almost the entirety of it. I cannot call myself an expert but I can share my process with you and maybe you will find it helpful, you are also welcome to leave some of your own tips in the comment section below!

Lovely Kathy from Books&Munches gave me this idea, sharing the process of reading and reviewing ARCs. Thank you, Kathy!

Here are my answers for some of the most pertinent questions:

When do I read ARCs?

As you all know sometimes you might receive an ARC of a book that is coming out in a few days, weeks or sometimes even months. I know a lot of people try to read them closer to the release dates, but I get anxious when things start to pile up, so no matter when the ARC is due I try to get it read ASAP after receiving it.

I found out that is what works best for me and for my “control freakness”, keeping the pile of unread books to the minimum and not falling too far below that magical 80% on NetGalley.

When do I review and post?

Even more than a pile of unread books, I hate a pile of unwritten reviews. Nothing can be worse and I forbid myself from starting new books before the review is written and stored away! Basically I write my reviews either immediately after or within a week of finishing the book.

When it comes to posting my reviews there are two situations to consider:

  1. If I get my ARC from NetGalley, I post the short version of my review on their platform immediately after it’s written and edited;
  2. If I get my ARCs sent to me either by post or by e-mail from Publishers or Authors, I usually notify them by e-mail on the day the review is up on my blog and provide a direct link.

The reviews go up on my blog, on Amazon and on GoodReads on the day of book’s publication or within that week, if their publication day clashes with some other posts I have already pre-scheduled for that particular day.

What do I do when a couple of books are released on the same day?

Personally, I don’t like posting more than once per day. I don’t mind breaking my schedule a little bit and post everyday when it’s needed, but always maximum one post per day.

So what do I do where are multiple books coming out on the same day?

This happens more often than you can imagine. In May, for example, 3 books I reviewed were published on the first Tuesday of the month!

Instead of posting everything at once, I try to spread these reviews throughout the week and hopefully insert some different posts here and there to mix it up.

What do I do with ARC’s DNF or low rating?

This can be a sensitive matter, but let’s talk about it anyway!

There were many many ARCs I rated 3 and lower. There were many ARCs I absolutely hated. So how do I deal with them?

I, as many other people, don’t like to be negative on my blog, but I always give my honest opinion no matter what. These are some of the rules I set up for myself:

  • stay behind your opinion, even if it’s not a positive one;
  • provide constructive criticism;
  • always have in mind that everyone’s opinion is different, and a book you detested might be loved by someone else. Respect that!
  • there is no point for trash talk, this is your blog and only you know what you want people to find here;
  • don’t be rude!

However, sometimes we might dislike a book to a point of not wanting to talk about it at all. That also happened to me a couple of times. Or when we DNF a book for all bad reasons. What to do then?!

In these cases, I usually post a small feedback on NetGalley with the reasons why I did not finish reading the book or send the same feedback to Publishers or Authors and excuse myself from publishing a full review on my blog.

Afterall, my first and most important priority is to make sure that I am truee to, and proud of everything that goes up on my blog.


These were all the more common situations I could think of. Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments down below! How do you deal with all of these as a blogger, reviewer or reader?

With love,

Alex

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21 thoughts on “Guide to Reading and Reviewing ARCs | How to embrace the ARC’s DNF

  1. Wonderfully written Alex! I also have left respectful feedback when I felt I couldn’t review on my blog. I go by the saying “if you have nothing nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” Lol! I’m as honest as can be on my blog & if I don’t love a title, I make sure to point out something I did enjoy. Like you mention here, no need to be rude to express how you felt about an authors work;)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, hun ❤ There are sometimes books that I disliked but still I had something to say about them, point out what exactly was wrong and still make it into an interesting review. Other times, I just didn’t feel like talking about that particular book at all. Rather not post anything than post something I am not proud of.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Don’t be rude?!?! Oh my, best not look at my blog!😂😂😂

    I have to admit that I just read what ARC’s I want, when I want regardless of release date. Lots I read before but some a while after and like most bloggers I’ve got some I’m yet to read! Hell, I’m waiting on a book from a publisher and it’s released tomorrow, can’t review before the release date if you don’t receive it until afterwards.😂

    I really don’t understand why people don’t want to be negative on their blog, we unfortunately can’t like all the books that we read, it’s impossible!

    I’ve been told by a few publicists that they like negative just as much as positive as it gives an honest representation of the book and any issues that people find with it.

    I do think though that negative should be done constructively, you can’t just hate on a book and proclaim it’s awful how you could love a book and proclaim it’s amazing. Negative needs to be balanced with positives (if you can find any in the book) and it’s only my opinion but I think you need to validate yourself when being negative, it’s unfair to the book, author and your blog readers if you just say you hated the book and it was crap. You need to explain why you disliked the book to give reasons why you felt that way as let’s be fair, a review is only our opinion and while someone might dislike a book, if they’ve explained why then another person might like those things and enjoy the book.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ahaha, I found your writing witty with a touch of sarcasm, but I wouldn’t call it rude!

      When I am saying rude and negative, I mean “I hate this “ *throws rotten tomatoes*.

      Just as you said, it is impossible to like every single book and we should provide all of the reasons that made us either like it or dislike it. A fair and constructive explanation, with a touch of humor can go a long way and sometimes actually attract more readers to a particular title.

      Actually, I prefer writing reviews on books that I didn’t love, because there is so much more to say about them! Instead of “AAAAAAAAH THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING, PICK IT UP IMMEDIATELY”. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I concur with all the points mentioned – in both the OP and the commentary. I came through Twitter (thanks, Lilly (Lair of Books) — I write critical reviews myself, not all are DNF, some are, some aren’t. I’ve been engaging in discussing this topic this week on Twitter – you’ll find them in my feeds – the long/short is we’re not going to ‘love’ every book we read but we can be open & honest about why we’re taking out of a story. I get positive feedback on my critical reviews as it helps to point out what might not resonate with some readers. I try to balance what I liked with what I didn’t like – sometimes, there isn’t much leeway – in one review I remember writing (it was a legal drama) I only could find ‘one scene’ which felt like it held all the promise of what the book could be rather than how the book actually read to me.

    I like to feel emotionally connected to characters; I love to feel viscerally involved with the world I’m visiting – I do look at undertone of stories – is it overtly dark? Is there still some light shining through if it’s a heavy narrative? I do point out things which wrinkle my brow (ie. vulgarity is regularly discussed/outed w/ reasons ‘why’ or explicit violence) however even if there is an issue in these regards, I could still have loved reading the story! Case in point recently was a RomCom – where I felt it was overtly vulgar in language choices, *but!* the comedic moments showed me the author’s quirky humour & narrative style for RomCom. Did I appreciate all the language triggers? No. Am I going to read more of this author? Yes!

    So I agree – sometimes our negative remarks are not entirely negative – their critiques and notes on what affects us as we read. After all, we’re blogging our reading lives – these are the ‘first impressions and observations’ of what a story is reflecting through our mind, heart and spirit. We honestly write what is going through our mind as we read – sometimes stories are something to gush over and sometimes we have to own the fact, they just weren’t our cuppa. I wrote an essay about this via Riffle, which you can view on this List: Stories Seeking Love from Readers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, dear – my link didn’t go through for my List! 😦 Let me share the url: https://www.rifflebooks.com/list/156124. If this still doesn’t go through visit my blog, the link to my Riffle Profile is in the upper left corner by the Twitter icon? Hope it helps others who might feel the same way or are unsure how to proceed if we find stories which aren’t our cuppa.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you, Lilly, for spreading the word and thank you, Jorie, for the comment! I got the link and your post was very interesting.

      I agree that no matter what we read and how much we dislike it, there will always be someone else who loves it 100 times more than we do. People are all so different and as an Author it is incredibly difficult to please everyone, and obviously impossible to achieve. But providing an honest opinion and a constructive feedback can help so much:

      – it can attract new readers;
      – it can start a discussion (heated or not 😀 )
      – it can shine some light on strong and weak points
      – it can help the Authors improve
      the list is endless!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Inspiration Pie
      1. True. If they took the time to approach you about doing a review it seems so much more personal than just a random book that you picked off a shelf, or if you had no direct interaction with them.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent advice, and it’s also very similar to my process. The only differences are that I do wait to read them closer to the review date, only because I don’t like scheduling reviews months in advance. (That’s only my OCD.)
    However, as soon as I write my review, I post a shortened version on Netgalley immediately.
    I do need to be better about transferring my reviews to Amazon though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post!! ^^ Sometimes I go crazy and request a bunch of books from Netgalley, but I’m trying to keep it at a minimum now. I try to plan my TBR, I like having enough time to read & review a book before its release date. I would go crazy if I saw everything piling up too 😛

    Like

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