My story with ARCs as an international book blogger

This blog post has been boiling around in my mind for months and months, but I actually never really got the guts to write it all down. As I start writing this, I have no idea if I’ll end up hitting publish by the end of it all, to be completely honest. But I’ve been wanting, somehow, to share my story, so here I am.

ARCs are somehow controversial, at times, in the book community. They are also very, very complicated. ARCs, just in case you don’t know, are Advance Review Copies, sent over by publishers to book bloggers, librarians and other bookish people, for early reading, reviewing. Basically, it’s our job to hype these books up as much as we can in order to help the book and the publisher and just, spread more love towards the book overall.

I did not know ARCs existed until a couple months into blogging. I first found out about it and, the little 21 years-old that I was at that time (okay, I feel old now. Why the heck am I writing this) was astonished that people were able to get BOOKS before their release date and read it and review them and that was it. I mean, when you think about it, it is pretty incredible, isn’t it?

I first found my way into the ARCs world through NetGalley, back when as an international book blogger in 2014, you still could have a request button on 99,9% of the books and might get lucky.

Resources about getting physical ARCs, as a blogger and as an international book bloggers are endless and therefore, I decided to try my luck there, too. Holding a real copy of one of my favorite authors’ books before its release date, being able to be part of the hype for it all, being in touch with big publishers. It all seemed like a dream.

I wanted in, too.

It was a deep want to feel part of the community in that way, too, to be able to get books like others did. What did I that was so wrong? Wasn’t my blog pretty enough? Didn’t I manage to gather around enough followers? The voice in my anxiety-filled mind told me it would never, ever be enough. The voice in my heart told me that I just plain sucked, anyway.

The voice in my head told me that I was not an US-based book blogger and that therefore, my story with ARCs would be way more complicated than this.

It’s that latter voice that was right, obviously. I remember sending my first emails on a late April day, trying to request my most anticipated books of the entire year. Writing down everything properly, checking a trillion times for spelling mistakes. Trying to be eager without fangirling too much. Sharing my numbers, seeming small, but apparently seeming okay according to other book bloggers’ posts. Hitting send and praying.

Waiting a day. A week. A month. Three months. Six months. The book I wanted being released and, a year later, losing all hope of everything.

I maybe sent 3 or 4 emails around that time that April, my heart hopeful to be part of something big. Then, I gave up on it completely.

I kept on blogging my heart out, throwing my love into everything I did, meeting some of my now closest friends, reading, reading, reading, adding to the endless TBR. And, yes, I will admit it, looking sometimes with awe and envy at other bloggers getting books early, especially the books I would scream about until my throat parches and my heart hurts. I didn’t send any more emails. I used NetGalley, prayed and got lucky and I just thought geography sucked and if I couldn’t have my books, I’ll just keep my French baguette and wait until release day.

It was okay. It was just books. I still felt like I was missing something, some crucial part of the book blogger experience. But it was okay, really. I ordered the books I wanted when I could and I read and blogged.

I found out about Edelweiss and tried it out, eyes basically rolling out of their sockets when I noticed the incredible books available on that website. I filled out everything, I tried requesting there. I hoped, without ever any luck.

Two years later (yeah, you’ve read that right…), I sent an email about an early copy of a book. I had absolutely no hopes. I don’t even know what triggered that email sending years later. I just, did. Hope crawled its way back into my skin, into my bones, making me anxiously check out my emails every two hours, waiting for an answer. My email, sent in July, 2016, stayed unanswered.

It was in September, 2016, that it happened. As I randomly refreshed my emails, not thinking about that request anymore, sitting on my couch, it appeared. An actual answer. Asking me for my phone number, because I am living in France and therefore to make the shipping work out. MAKE THE SHIPPING WORK OUT. Meaning, they were sending me a book.

I looked at my sister and screamed. I got up and jumped. I screamed at everyone. For real. I answered with shaking hands right away and double, triple, trillion-checked my email before hitting send.

This email and this book somehow made me feel like I made it. Into some sort of secret book blogging clan, that now, I too, was playing with the big boys. ARCs are certainly not a way to make you feel like you’re doing good as a book blogger, okay. Don’t take this the wrong way. That’s the feeling I had at that moment, though.

I gained confidence again. I thought that I could do this. I really could. I probably could have years and years ago, just as well, if I didn’t give up. Maybe. I will never know. There were a couple books I thought I could really show some love, so I tried again. Sending emails Getting no answers at all.

Hoping.

Seeing NetGalley restricting their titles to international book bloggers and everything disappearing on “wish for it”.

Losing hope.

Getting a random answer months later. Screaming.

Losing hope again.

Getting a wish granted.

Crying.

ARCs have always been a rollercoaster for me especially as an international blogger. And where am I now? Waiting. Wishing. Sending an email. Forgetting about it. Waiting. Wishing Again. Disappointment, then happiness. As always. But most of it all, not relying on it, because ARCs are a privilege, an honor, something I cherish and will always feel really grateful for, but not something I take for granted ever.

Getting ARCs isn’t the end of it all, as a book blogger, nor does it define your worth or well-doing in the community. Sometimes it feels strange, sometimes it feels completely random. Sometimes, especially as international book bloggers, it can feel, yes, unfair. And sometimes it’s happiness knowing you’re holding a book by one of your favorite author of all times.

I know firsthand how complicated and nerve-racking it is to be an international book blogger already, especially regarding ARCs. We all have our share of struggles and there are so many things we can’t change. There is also a whole bunch of love in this community, for books, and for each other, too.

So whether you’re one super lucky blogger requesting and getting everything you want, or an international blogger, like me, terrified to hit send on an email… keep on going. Keep on spreading the love for books. Whether they’re ARCs, or NOT. Because, like I said, ARCs aren’t the end of it all. It’s your love for books that matters and not the amount of ARCs you might or might not get and, despite the ecstatic feeling I get when I manage to get lucky, I never, ever want to forget that. Because whether you get ARCs, or not, it’s okay. You’re doing okay. You’re loving books and screaming that love and it’s all that matters.

This kind of ended up being really rambly and probably not making a whole lot of sense. Still, I wanted to share my story, so here I am. If you made it until there, thank you for reading.

What is your story with ARCs? I’d love to hear about your feelings, thoughts and struggles, too, because despite everything, ARCs are still something “big”, apparently, here in the blogging community. Let me know your thoughts in comments!

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

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