Just when you think you´ve seen it all some questionable person comes along and proves you wrong. And boy, was I proven wrong. What I witnessed just takes the cake. No. It takes the cake to a new level of “You kidding me?!“.
I´m going to skip the formalities and ditch any kind of etiquette for this post because what I´ll show you just shows how much respect us book bloggers are given when it comes to wanting to read ARCs ( Advanced Reader´s Copy).
If you don´t approve or accept profanity then I kindly suggest you ignore certain words or just… leave my blog. It´s up to you. I don´t feel like wasting my time trying to come up with a replacement for the word “fuck”.
You all know ( or probably not ) that I´m not new to the book blog world. I´ve been in this business for close to a decade. I was there when the big book blog boom happened. I saw the births of many book blogs and also watched these either grow or collapse.
Trust me when I say: I´ve been there. I´ve done that. I bought way too many shirts.
This is by no means me being an arrogant little turd. This just means I´ve witnessed a lot and lived through 9 years worth of book blogging stuff. Especially when it comes to the Indie – Self publishing community. Nothing should surprise me anymore.
Right now, I´m living the easy going book blog dream. I´m having as much fun as possible. I buy books, I accept ARCs and I request ARCs. Then I review.
For those of you who aren´t familiar with requesting ARCs:
You can do this by using a popular platform that offers ARCs ( Netgalley ) or you can request ARCs directly from the publisher OR (!!) you´ll see an ad somewhere on social media from an author / PA, specifically looking for book bloggers who are willing to read said book.
From all 3 options, I´d say Netgalley and publishers are the easiest route when wanting an ARC. There´s no hassle. You request a book and you either get approved or you don´t. Indie / self published writers seem to make more of a fuss over the whole I´m – looking – for – readers – who´ll – review issue. There´s never a guarantee a book blogger will receive a requested ARC of a book they´re interested in… but it´s always worth a go. You never know if you don´t try, right?
And I fully understand WHY Indie / self published authors go the extra mile with their ARCs. Some of these folks have no clue about marketing. They have no idea how to spread their work and gain footing in the writing business. So, they´ll use whatever worked out for a befriended writer or they´ll copy whatever they´ve seen. TOTALLY FINE.
A few years back I lived for social media ARC ads. Those were simple and easy to manage ( Not easier. Just easy. ) Author X was new and needed exposure and reviews. So, what happened was:
- Authors/ uber cheerleaders of the author would create a google document ( a sign up form ) for book bloggers interested in ARCs to fill out. This was / is done to keep track of book bloggers and their reviews but also to have a clear overview on how often / far a book would travel. A standard process.
- A Blog Tour would take place within a certain timeframe and during this time signed up book bloggers would upload their reviews for said book / author. This is also standard. The only problem with this was ( and still is ): Some people aren´t reliable. Life gets in everyone´s way at some point and because of that reviews have often been forgotten or were uploaded late.
And in the end… everyone´s happy. A book blogger was able to read a not yet released book and an author received reviews. A win win situation. All you had to do was fill out a simple google doc. Insert your name, your blog name, blog URL, social media URL and click the box saying you won´t forward the ARC.
Sometime after this authors / PAs / book promotion sites began including little informative guidelines for ARC reviewers.
“If you are unable to rate this book with 3 or more stars then we will assign you to do another post.”
Meaning: If the ARC I so badly wanted to read turns out to be a 2 star rated book then I´m not allowed to participate in the blog tour with my review. I´ll be given something else to post, e.g. cover reveal, excerpt, author interview.
To be honest – This pissed me off. Authors asking for good reviews only? Nice try. Not going to happen, hombres. I eventually quit the social media ARC ads. Almost every author wanted the same thing and none of them were ashamed to ask for it.
Some of my reviews were never included in the book promo tours because of this issue.
The bottom line here is: I believe no author is in the position to demand good reviews only. This marketing strategy makes these authors look desperate. It´s a turn off. I don´t care how bad or good the book or future books will be… I will refuse to support people who take these steps.
I was pretty damn successful in ignoring Social Media ARC ads. Until I saw something on Instagram.
So, authors were using Instagram to look for potential reviewers? Okay. That made me smile. Instagram- out of all social media sites….. Seriously? But hey- I´m not here to complain. So much time has passed. Maybe indie / self publishing authors turned back to being humble and…. excited that anyone wanted to read their books.
And with my luck, the ARC ad I spotted was for a book that actually interested me!
All I needed to do was comment, take a screenshot of the ad and post it on my Insta feed. Yuck! Why? Why post it on my feed? ( don´t answer that. Lol. I know WHY.) Why force someone to show how MUCH they want the arc? Aren´t PMs and google docs enough? Apparently not. Okay, fine. I was game. As I´ve said- It´s been years since when I requested my last ARC. Shit, I was excited.
This is where I knew I made the biggest mistake in my book blogging career.
Beware! This is a full on screenshot show ( from my own phone ) of the google sign up form from the ARC I requested. Names and book titles will not be revealed because I´m not a complete asshole. This is to show you to what lengths people will go to for exposure.
- Ooookay. This is actually a standard opening. Although- the line about not being interested in first time reviewers does leave a bad taste behind. Shut down before having a chance. Outch.
2. So far so good…. No. Forget that. They require my age? Since when is this important to review an ARC? Why? What will my age tell them? I´m not afraid to say I´m 36, but… this is weird and in no circumstances appropriate. Who the fuck cares? If you don´t truly need my age then why ask for it?
3. * SCREECHING TO A HALT * Excuse me? Why I did click on the google doc link in the first place? Because I was interested. And YOU determine ( after making me read a sample of your book ) by my response if the book and I are a good match? HAHAHA. I´ll be the judge of that one.. right after I read the book. At this point I wasn´t even interested in reading the damn book anymore. Such arrogance.
4. Please DO NOT ask me to post a link from a different book to one of my reviews on Amazon. To a review that has NOTHING to do with the ARC I´m requesting. For fuck´s sake! What is wrong with these people? This is not only disrespectful towards me but also towards the authors who´re already struggling with Amazon reviews. I see what this question for what it is and I find this a pathetic attempt to spread the word. And I don´t care if there´ve been difficulties with Amazon. You want to see if I´m able to post reviews on Amazon? Try going there and finding mine. Or, take my word for it.
5. Hahahaha. You sleazy….. To which Goodreads review shall I add the link? To the one review I did for a NYT Bestselling author or are you okay with me adding the link to a self published author who only has 5 fans? I will not do this for ANY author. But I will give my Instagram and blog URL.
6. First I will steal one of my daughter´s color books and color out a picture of a squirrel. Then I will add your name and frame it. Then I plan to remove all my clothes and make a beeline towards the huge trampoline outside and hop on to that and jump the soul out of my body, while holding the picture frame and screaming your name from the top of my lungs. If that doesn´t attrack enough attention I can try roller skating ( naked, of course ) down at the football club and scream and shout. That´s my fan art promo. And if that doesn´t do the trick I could do cartwheels… even with one hand… I might break a few bones because of my AGE… but hey, I´m trying to be creative and shit. If my enthusiasm doesn´t excite you then I might have to sell my body.., all for the sake of promoting the book. WHAT DO THEY THINK A BOOK BLOGGER DOES WITH BOOK PROMO? IS WHAT WE DO NOT GOOD ENOUGH? I find this questionable beyond words. I will promote your book but I won´t bend over backwards for you without being paid. Since I´m positive you´re not willing to pay I´d say you warm up to the idea of me being naked on your behalf.
7. Am I okay with a PDF file? * sigh * I actually prefer PDF files, yes. But after all this I´m being offered a PDF file? I was sure, after such a questionnaire, they´d give out hardcovers that have been dipped twice in gold. My soul and undivided attention is worth more than a PDF file, ladies. To the how many reviews I write in a year – You have my blog URL. Go and check out the review repertoire if you´re really interested. Stop being lazy demanding shits. Back in the day we worked our asses off for others and other returned the favor. And the read / review pace – You afraid I won´t upload quick enough?
8. I don´t want to be apart of a super cool super secret FB page. Why? Because your group / street team probably has super many guidelines and outrageous rules. Who knows, you might want to know what my morning routine looks like or how I hold my book when reading.
So, that was the google doc sign up form. Surprised? Shocked? Or are you not surprised because this is the new normal? Well, it shouldn´t be if it is. This is appalling. I wasn´t applying for a job at some top notch firm. I requested an ARC.
And the worst thing about this is: There are people who will oversee the wrong side of this approach. It´s wrong on so many levels. We´re not at a circus event.
Oh, and if you´re wondering why I haven´t exposed the author – I don´t want to be that person. I´m not out to destroy someone´s career because they made a huge mistake. It´s not my choice to crush someone´s dreams. I´m fully relying on karma.
A google doc sign up form for book bloggers should NOT look like the above. It is NOT right to be picky and exclude first time reviewers. They are willing readers and will do the job just as an experienced book blogger would. Authors have no right to be picky. How dare they?
There is no reason for someone to include their age. I´m not sensitive when it comes to this but I also see no logic behind the request. I´m older. Now what? Will I be sifted out because I don´t fit some pattern?
If the author and people behind the google doc want to see if there´s a match with the book and the reader before hand… then there shouldn´t be any sort of exchange happening. If you are willing to give out advanced reader´s copies then you just have to trust. Because it IS a huge risk. You and I are aware of that. But I have to be the one to lay out all my cards just so you can sleep better at night? You simply cannot cover all bases and think you´ll come out safe by demanding information that shouldn´t be asked.
About the posting “the link” to my Amazon reviews. This should be forbidden. I despise this tactic. It tells me that the author is ready to cross all lines just for the sake of “getting out there”. Every other excuse doesn´t make sense.
Let´s tackle #6. This is ridiculous. Book bloggers are marketing experts. We KNOW what to do. We don´t need to give you a list of things we do to promote books. That ARC ( just as any other ARC ) is never a top priority in life. This sounds harsh, I know. But we´re keeping it real here. I love to book blog and take ARCs seriously. Don´t ask me what I´m willing to do and THEN decide if I´m good enough to promote the ARC. You´d be better off asking straight off the bat for what you´re exactly looking for.
I´m not in any way offended by this. I´m appalled. Because some authors have become picky. I get that ARCs are risky business but this takes the biscuit. I also don´t think the creators of this google doc meant any harm. For them, this was the best option to keep an author from being hurt. But they didn´t think of how this doc would be perceived. Authors usually want to keep things light and fun, just as book bloggers do. But this really isn´t acceptable. Doing something like this shines a bad light on the author. It makes authors look desperate, lazy and entitled.
If you are not ready to accept the fact that you have to work hard for your dreams then you´re not ready to approach them.
I would appreciate if authors wouldn´t take this approach. It´s just too bizarre.
I would appreciate if book bloggers would use their heads and not fall for this.
But above all- I would like for people in the book blog community to know about this. To maybe learn from this mistake and take a different route- A much more blogger friendly one.
Because an author wants something from a book blogger. And a book blogger is ( most of the time ) willing to provide that something for the author.
PS: I wasn´t lucky enough to get my hands on that ARC. Lol. I´m betting that my answers weren´t acceptable.
Now you know what a book blogger goes through sometimes.
I would like to know: Have you had a similar experience with a google sign up doc for an ARC/Blog Tour? I would love to chat about this.
I hope you found this slightly informative or even helpful.
Dear bookish Padawans…. I wish you a wonderful day. ❤ Don´t forget to share the book love. ❤
Take care and be kind.