Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Proactivity with the Dur Factor

I re-read the interview I did with Mrs. Magoo (because I did it at least a month and a half ago and I couldn't remember what I wrote!) and it brought to mind some things happening in the YA book blogging world currently. Namely people shilling for free ARCs and books. When Sophie asked me for three tips about blog promotion. Part of my answer was, "Want an ARC? Don't wait to get contacted. Contact the author and ask." Considering the badgering authors have been going through (or so it seems, I tend to stay out of stuff like that), I feel a need to expound on that just a little.

First, I stand by that statement. If you really want a certain ARC, don't be afraid to ask for it. I'll elaborate on that in just a second.

What are ARCs? Aside from Advance Reader Copies, they're promotional material printed up at cost to the publisher as a means for promoting a book. A limited number are printed because they're not supposed to be handed out like business cards. They're supposed to go to reviewers who will be the mostly likely to garner as much viewage as possible. And give you a good review, of course. Not all will, but the bottom line is, they're supposed to go to the people whom the author/publisher/agent thinks will do the best job in promoting the book.

So you can see why shilling for ARCs is a dumbass idea, right? RIGHT? I've seen authors with some pretty strict guidelines when it comes to giving away their ARCs. And rightly so. Why should they give them to book bloggers who've had 500 page views in 6 months with three posts a month? What good is that going to do them? It defeats the purpose of promotion. Does it make the author bad? Not at all. They need to utilize their limited means of promotion effectively and that means they have to be choosy as to who gets and ARC.

So back to my statement. Yes, if you want something ask for it. But don't be a moron. Do some research. Don't ask for an ARC because you want bragging rights or want to up your ARC collection. You're not impressing anyone, least of all the author. You're just an ass that's making the rest of us look bad. Stop. Or I break out my wooden spoon. You don't want that. Trust me. Just think of where splinters can end up.

Just like when you're querying an agent for representation, you want to know that the agent is a good fit for your work. You want to make sure you're a good fit for the author. What are the page views to your blog? What's your comment ratio? How many followers do you have? How many entries to contests do you have? How often do you post? Do you know diddly squat about the author in question?

If you don't know anything about the author, haven't read any of his or her books, don't ask for an ARC, you dorkwad. What good is that going to do the author? Believe it or not, this exchange isn't about you. It's about the author and what can be done for the book in question. Such is the purpose of the book blog. To promote reading, and stuff. Do your homework. Make sure you're a good fit for the author. What does that mean? You like his or her work. That's really the bottom line. I'm not about to jump on Stephenie Meyer and ask to review her next ARC. That'd just be a dumb move. JK Rowling on the other hand, I'd beat people to get to it. You want to make sure you're compatible with the source material. When asking for an ARC, explain why you should get one. What was it about his or her prior books that intrigued you? That you liked? What is it about the upcoming one that you'd love to read? Why should you be chosen to get an advanced copy?

Really, it's common sense.

I equate those ARC whores to the jerks in the slush pile that type their query letters in all caps and then go on AgentFail and complain about how they were wronged and nark on about the conspiracy against the next great bestseller they have in their hands. Y'all make the rest of us that follow the rules, utilize that lump three feet above our asses and play fair look like schmucks by default. I don't like that. It makes me cranky. You won't like me when I'm cranky. See: wooden spoon.

Right now there are two that I'd like to get my hands on for a couple of different reasons, but I haven't read any of the authors' previous work. So I will. See what the odds are of me liking the book in question. Then I'll proceed from there. But normally I don't ask. I'd just feel weird. And considering my TBR pile of doom, I just can't take on books like that.

So peeps, the bottom line is, use the brain Darwin gave you. If you want a particular ARC, don't be afraid to ask for it but be prepared to explain why you should get it. It's only fair. They're not Help Wanted posters than can be stapled all over town. If you don't get one, don't get discouraged. Keep plugging away at your blog. Promote yourself. Get involved in the community. Build yourself up. And then try again. Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones that has the author contacting them. If so, good for you! If not, don't be afraid to ask. But don't be afraid of getting turned down either.

And for the love of christ, don't be that asshat that completely ignores the 'I DON'T HAVE ARCS' notice on an author's website and ask for an ARC anyway. You'll hurt my brain if you do. You're probably sending unsolicited manuscripts by snail mail to agents that only accept e-queries under strict guidelines. I hate you so bad.


Jen said...

Thanks! Justine Larbalestier was talking about ARC fiends on her blog a while ago! I think its good to mention that you should look to the agent or publisher ^_^

Steph Su said...

Another great post from you. I still have trouble believing there are ARC whores in the blogosphere, but maybe I've been living under a rose-colored snowglobe. Me, I'm terrified of contacting authors because I'm so darn shy, but the view whom I've contacted have responded really nicely for interviews and guest posts. I prefer authors contacting me, but hey, that can't happen all the time. You're right: if you really want something, you gotta go for it.

Although that doesn't make me feel any less scared to do so.

Love your writing style, by the way. I think you should write a post about query letters. I have no idea what to do with those, how they're supposed to be like, etc. It would be interesting to see what you think of it!

Donna said...

Jen, I remember that. Another blogger was talking about it too. Reviewer X, I think.

Thanks, Steph! I'm in the same boat when it comes to contacting authors. I just turn the brain off and go at it. You'll never know if you ask!

And believe it or not I'm closing in on querying my own work so I might have to dig into formulating query letters! I'll need all the help I can get! Whittling down 55,000 words into a 100 word hook is not going to be easy.

cupcakewitch said...

i think you invented the term dorkwad... so awesome.

Donna said...

LOL! Nah, I got it from somewhere else. Not sure where, though.

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