The free book is a delightful and welcome creature. Even more delightful is the Advance Review Copy or ARC, also called a galley. These are, as the name suggests, advance copies of books – available months before the finished book goes on sale, intended for the purpose of review. Book bloggers can often get their hands on ARCs by emailing the publicity department at a publishing house, requesting them through a system like Edelweiss or NetGalley, winning them on Goodreads, or by attending trade shows such as BookExpo America.
But there’s an etiquette around ARCs, and like so many things in the publishing industry, it isn’t always clearly spelled out in writing. So here are some key do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when you find yourself in possession of an ARC.
DO: write an online review. This is the entire intent of ARCs, and just keeping a free book for yourself is not the point. Free is fun, sure, but publishers produce them for a reason, and the reason is not to shore up a leaning coffee table or give you something to read at the pool that you don’t mind damaging with water and smears of sunscreen. All you’re obligated to do – just one thing – is to write a review. Which brings us to…
DON’T: feel obligated to write a glowing review just because the book was free. Sure, that’s what we’d all prefer (speaking as an author here!), but it’s not a requirement. The requirement is for an honest review, not a positive one. If you don’t like the book, you’re within your rights to say so – just be sure you explain why. Professional reviewers don’t fulfill their obligations with a one-star “HATED IT” on Amazon, nor does any responsible reviewer, paid or unpaid. [Read more…]