Saturday, April 24, 2010

What is Timely?

I've seen a few posts around lately with tips for bloggers and blogging etiquette and professionalism and mainly I've seen a lot of posts indicating to review ARCs in a timely manner but no frame of reference is actually given. Given the ambiguity of the word 'timely' as it is, plus the subjectivity of it's very definition, it's hard for any blogger (myself included), especially new bloggers, to tell just what timely is.

We've explained the processes of requesting ARCs and hit home the fact that as a reviewer, you can't shirk your responsibility in posting the review as that's essentially your end of the bargain in that exchange. We all know that just sitting on ARCs and reviewing them six months or a year down the road isn't good juju so we say don't do that. But what should we tell them to do?

When we're working with a specific date, like signing up for a blog tour or the publisher/publicist gives you a posting date to aim for to match up with a pub date, that's much easier to work with. Such hard and fast guidelines are pretty infallible and really easy to follow. But what about the rest? What should we do with the books that get sent to us without those guidelines? Is it okay to let them sit for a month or so or are we somehow obligated to crank them out?

Of course it's up to each individual blogger to put their foot down when it comes to accepting and/or requesting ARCs. They have no one to blame but themselves when they have a stack of ARCs five feet high (unless you're someone like Kristi at The Story Siren that's pretty much on an automatic ARC list with publishers and gets books she doesn't even know she's being sent). But what are some tips for balancing what's already in the pile?

Personally, lately when I've received ARCs, they're in bunches. In some cases it has taken me months to get to reviewing a book sent to me, in which case I apologize profusely for the delay and I crank out the reviews (at the natural speed I read, of course). It hasn't affected my relationship with the publicists/publishers any. I do think they know that they're not the only ones sending books out, I don't read at warp speed and they'd much prefer something quality over quantity when it comes to a review. They also know that the books will get reviewed so when I request more, they actually are willing to keep sending them because they know I'll get the word out on their books.

Right now I have 8 ARCs on the burner for review, two with specific blog tour dates they need to be reviewed on. So those for my ambiguity argument are pretty irrelevant. But the rest? I've actually changed the way I read in order to accommodate more ARCs. I do want to get them out in a timely manner so instead of reading an ARC and then reading a couple from my standing TBR pile, I've switched to just focusing on the ARCs until I get their numbers down. I've even amended my challenges lists to adjust to that because I'll be damned if I fail my reading challenges because I'm too rigid with myself!

I am OCD after all.

The thing is, within the last year or so, I've been horrible with keeping track of time. No one's fault but my own, of course, but what I think is a week in responding to an email turns out to be a month. It's just gone (I have a 2 week vacation in September so I'm not really complaining here). So when I look at my ARC pile and I think, "Oh I just got that," it's really longer than I thought and I start to feel a little guilty.

But I still don't know what timely is. I could always ask the people sending the books to me how long is too long but that just seems weird. I just work if they don't give me a time frame, I'll read it when I get to it. But the way everyone speaks about being timely, it seems that there is some kind of legitimate time frame that I'm missing. I know 6 months is too long but is 3? 2? Should I be reading them as soon as I get them?

What do you think? I've been mulling over this for a little while now and I'm wondering if I'm reading too slowly (at most I can read 2 full books a week if they're quick reads), if I should step up my game or what. What's everyone else's take on this? What's timely for you?


Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I've been posting on my blog my timeframe. If I am backed up, I mention it. If I get asked for a review I will simply say when I am available and if it's okay with them, then I go ahead and accept it.

For books that are sent to me, which is only from one publisher that I have done business with for many years from my bookstore manager days, I generally review the ARCs within the month that they are going to be released.

LM Preston said...

As a writer and consumer of lots of books, I believe anytime a review is posted is a good time. The reason I say this is because you bloggers do authors/publishers a great service. Once you write a review - it stays around forever. You give of your personal time and energy to get the word out. Don't be pressured to get out a review if it takes away from the joy of what you do - talk about the books you've read.

Lenore said...

Another thing to remember is that publishers don't expect you to review each and every book you're sent. A good percentage of them yes, but not every last one.

Timely could also be a year later when the paperback comes out. Timely could be when the book wins some sort of prize. Timely could be when you have a theme month and the book fits into that theme. Timely is what works with your schedule!

Donna said...

Well now I feel better! I've actually seen some bloggers ripping into others for not reviewing books in a timely manner, as if they were clocking the time the book posts in their IMM post and when the review is posted. It kind of made me a little worried and that's why I reformed the way I read.

But hearing from you guys relaxed me a bit. Thanks!

~Jennifer~ said...

There are some great comments here. I think it really comes down to what type of balance works for you. Each of us only has a certain amount of time to devote to reading and blogging. We also have books in our own TBR piles that we would love to read in addition to the books we receive for review. stressing about being timely can suck the fun right tout of blogging.

I personally try to alternate between my own books and review books, reading one then the other. I say try because it rarely works out that way. Review books automatically go towards the top of the pile, but sometimes I'm just not in the mood for that particular type of book. Forcing myself to read it now may effect how much I like the book and I'd rather love it weeks or months from now rather than resent reading it today.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jennifer that there have been some really good tips here. I feel that any mention of an author's book is good. I think that publicists and authors know that most bloggers, if they accept ARCs, are likely to get inundated. I don't believe that they do expect you to review each and every one, unless you have agreed to be on a blog tour (your choice by the way - you don't have to do blog tours with set dates). I also don't believe that they mean for you to post a review on the exact date the book is published or even that month. As Lenore stated, your review is in the public domain. If someone Googles that book, your review is likely to come up. That is publicity.

Too many bloggers end up too hard on themselves and too restrictive and then I think you see people sharing the fact that they feel overwhelmed and it isn't fun anymore. Let's all just take deep breaths and enjoy our reading. Each to do what continues to make blogging fun, which for most of us is sharing our love of books with others.

Steph said...

This is a terrific discussion -- I've been wondering about this too. I feel guilty when the review books start to pile up.

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