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?
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