All About ARCs: the Pressure, the Privilege, and the Issue of Payment for Creators (aka Compensation)

I think we can all agree that the concept of ARCs is really cool.

I mean, getting to read books before they release? Without having to spend money? THAT’S REALLY NEAT.

Unfortunately, the reality of ARCs is a little less cool.

Today I’m going to be discussing some issues with ARCs that exist right now and aren’t being talked about enough. I think it’s super important to discuss these issues so that we can work towards finding a solution, because these are things that can and definitely should be improved!!

Disclaimer: I am fully aware of my privilege in being able to receive ARCs from publishers, and I am very thankful and grateful. This is not a post complaining about my privilege; rather, it is about how yes, ARCs are great, but there are issues with it that need to be addressed and discussed.

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This is a… “less serious” issue than the other two issues I’ll be talking about later, but it’s still something I find really important?

As a whole, I think the book community really puts ARCs on a pedestal and acts as if getting ARCs is the final step to succeeding as a blogger. Obviously, success is subjective, and I feel GREAT when a publisher accepts me for an ARC, but it shouldn’t be treated as “oh wow if you don’t get ARCs you’re a bad blogger”.

I’ve also seen some bloggers talking about how they feel like they even HAVE to read ARCs, especially because everyone else is doing it. Some of my blogger friends have said that they’re going to stop reading ARCs for some time because it’s just not something they want to do anymore.

It sounds like such a little thing, but it’s… not? Just earlier this month I was getting a lot of anxiety over the ARCs I had to read. The PRESSURE of having to read and review all these books by a specific date just got to me and made me super stressed.

And reading isn’t supposed to be something stressful for me; it’s supposed to be enjoyable and a way to escape from the stress that already exists in my life.

This issue is also made worse by publishers accepting bloggers’ requests for ARCs late. This happened to me with an eARC on Netgalley. The publisher literally accepted me for the book a week before the release date—which wasn’t enough time to read and review it (especially since it was releasing the day I left before vacation).

I think this is an issue pretty easy to solve, or at least compared to the other two issues. The book community HAS to stop making people feel like they have to get ARCs, and publishers need to make sure that when they accept bloggers for ARCs, they will have enough time to read and review them in time.

(And obviously, if you get a lot of ARCs and end up stressing out because you leave them all to the last minute… I can’t help you there. As in, this is what I do and I CAN’T STOP PROCRASTINATING.)

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Privilege is definitely something I’ve talked about before, and it’s not something I’m going to stop talking about. Privilege is a HUGE factor into whether or not bloggers are able to get ARCs.

The first privilege is: whether you live in the US or not. (There are also some international countries that are at more of a privilege than others, but it’s not my place to talk about that as a US blogger.) Physical ARCs are mostly sent out to US-based bloggers, and a lot of publishers mail to Canada as well. Even eARCs now are being limited.

This issue is something that’s really difficult to “fix”, because international shipping truly does cost A LOT, and to publishers, sending a book to a blogger overseas for $30+, when they may not even like it and be able to fully promote it isn’t worth it.

eARCs though is just… why. It costs nothing to send eARCs DIGITALLY to INTL readers. Though of course, I haven’t done a LOT of research on how eARCs in different regions work. (Maybe something is just… I don’t know????)

The second privilege is: popularity in regards to marginalized readers. I KNOW, I KNOW, I KNOW. Many popular people work SUPER hard to get to where they’re at. For example, I worked extremely hard to get to 1K followers, and the reason I’m not getting 1K followers in 10 months anymore is because I’m putting my mental health first.

But. There is a very common scenario, where super popular WHITE bookstagrammers/booktubers* get ARCs that represent POC. It happens all the time. And it REALLY FRUSTRATES me.

I’m not saying the popular people don’t deserve it. I’m not saying the marginalized people don’t deserve it more. But what I AM saying is that marginalized people deserve ARCs/books that represent them and they aren’t getting it.

And I hate to say it but… it’s unrealistic to expect publishers to send diverse ARCs to marginalized bloggers that don’t have a large following, right now. We live in an EXTREMELY capitalist society, where publishers care more about money than representation. I wish wish WISH that everyone could get at least one book that represented them, but it’s just not realistic at the moment.

But… what about the popular marginalized bloggers? What’s holding publishers back from getting diverse ARCs to them? Why do [A LOT OF UNSOLICITED] diverse ARCs representing POC go to white people ALL. THE. TIME. when there are literally popular POC bloggers BEGGING to have that ARC??

I know for a fact that publishers care about stats, because the more followers you have, the more people you can promote the book to, and the more people will buy that book, and the more money they can make.

But pubs also need to start branching out and reaching out to growing bloggers and GIVE THEM A CHANCE. ESPECIALLY the marginalized bloggers. It’s not always possible, but I mean. ONE person can’t hurt right? And that’ll be one more marginalized person getting the chance to see themselves represented in a book.

And I don’t know the specifics of how publishing works. I don’t know whether they have a selection of people they send ARCs to, or whether they truly try to reach out. Or maybe some publishers do and some publishers don’t.

But what I DO know is that: publishers need to start at least CONSIDERING giving diverse ARCs to marginalized influencers. Because I’ve spent too many times watching non-marginalized bloggers get ARCs I’d chop a hand off to have**, and half of the reason why (besides how good the book sounds) is because it represents me. That’s how important representation is.


*Not many… bloggers I’ve seen? Which is weird. But that’s a discussion for another day.
**This sounds like I’m super super jealous and like. I guess in some weird way I am. But not in a “I deserve it and THEY DON’T” way. More as in a “they’ve always been able to see themselves in a book and I haven’t and they have a book that I could possibly see myself in and… I don’t” way. I CAN’T EXPLAIN THIS BUT I SWEAR I WANT TO TAKE THE ARC FROM THEM I JUST WANT THE ARCS TO BE BETTER DISTRIBUTED.

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(aka compensation, but alliteration)

Book bloggers really don’t get compensation for the work they do producing content. Travel bloggers, food bloggers, lifestyle bloggers—they often get sponsored or sent money. It’s definitely not the same for book bloggers. (Which is stupid.)

Some people think that getting ARCs is enough compensation. For me, personally, at the moment, because there is literally no other option, it is.

But that doesn’t negate how much hard work goes into getting ARCs and making sure you will continue to get them. In the end, ARCs just aren’t going to pay bills or get food on the table, and blogging is often a job for many people.

To get ARCs in the first place, you have to have a large audience (because publishers want to see that you will promote the book to a lot of people so they will have more sales). To get a large audience, you have to write good blog posts, comment on other blog posts, reply to comments, and interact with people.

And after you get the ARCs? You have to review them and promote them, which takes TIME. I now take at least an hour to write book reviews, which is an hour I can spend working on school work or doing other blog-related stuff to grow my audience so, you know, I can get more ARCs.

Yes, you get a free book out of it, but you still have to write a whole, detailed review about it, spend time reading it, and work hard to be even able to be accepted to get an ARC. And who knows if you’ll get another ARC.

Getting money is a totally different scenario. You can pay bills. You can get food. You can buy books too! Book blogging is often treated as a job by SO many book bloggers, and it needs to be recognized as one so it can be properly compensated for. Proper compensation would help so many book bloggers out.

I don’t know what the best solution for this is, because there’s a whole bunch of factors that go into this, not to mention a lot of grey areas, but I just think it’s important to get this conversation started because I haven’t seen it mentioned much. Book bloggers should ! get ! compensated ! and ARCs are really not proper compensation.

(Of course, some bloggers don’t want to be compensated and are blogging as just a hobby, which is totally cool! But bloggers who work hard and treat it as a job should have the option to get compensated, depending on what they’re doing.)

UPDATE: Just wanted to add that by compensation I don’t mean compensation for ARC reviews! I stuck this topic in this discussion about ARCs because a lot of people believe ARCs to be proper compensation, and I know for a lot of people it isn’t. While it would be great, getting compensation for reviews would have a lot of issues.

shall we chat

I know this is more geared towards the readers who are privileged enough to get ARCs but here are some general questions!: do you get ARCs? do you WANT to get ARCs? do you think book bloggers should be compensated? and what are your thoughts on these issues as a whole?


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42 thoughts on “All About ARCs: the Pressure, the Privilege, and the Issue of Payment for Creators (aka Compensation)

  1. “Book bloggers should ! get ! compensated ! and ARCs are really not proper compensation.” — I’m quite torn about this statement, though. To some extent, I agree that book bloggers should not be treated differently from lifestyle bloggers, food bloggers, etc., who ACTUALLY get money from what they do. But at the other end of the spectrum, we blog because we do it for our passion for reading. Money or not, it’s actually something we do for ourselves and for our fellow readers out there looking for reviews and recommendations. 🙂

    I agree that ARCs aren’t enough, and here you left me thinking what should be enough? Hmm. Great post May, I’d definitely follow the discussion/comments on this one! 🙂 xo, Kat

    Liked by 1 person

  2. With regards to diverse books, I really think publishers should prioritize own voices reviewers. Sometimes I reach out to publishers via email to request an own voices ARC but I get refused due to being international. That doesn’t make sense for me since e-ARCs are also available…?

    I’m don’t fully agree with needing compensation for ARCs as it’s something I enjoy doing. I think, if the post is sponsored or is an ad, then yes, a compensation would be good! Book bloggers do deserve to get paid for the work they do but I don’t think money & ARCs would be a good thing.

    Great post, May! You touched on a lot of good points here!


  3. Great points… I get ARCs but I don’t stress out about it. As at the end of it, they want publicity and reviews, and they are getting it on time or delayed. So I am cool, I don’t usually see what date book is releasing. There are lots of other books I want to read too. I will read them for my own enjoyment. I don’t want to be in stress on book reading. It is my escape.
    As far as compensation, I haven’t thought about it so far. If they start giving, I am fine. If they don’t, then…
    Basically, books are my escape from reality and that’s what they will be.


  4. THIS whole post! I really believe arcs shouldn’t be first in first served and that they should go to readers who may have a higher chance of relating to the mc. I do understand someone’s frustrations though if they’ve worked on their audience and have been blogging for years/months/etc. and then their most anticipated arc goes to someone with a lower audience.
    All up though, arcs ARE a privilege and you are privileged if you get them, so the baseline for me is that marginalised audiences should be considered first and should get more consideration, in general from publishers.

    Brilliant discussion!


  5. This is honestly my favorite blog post of 2018, May. Seriously, I’m always so proud to be your friend. I honestly agree with every single thing you’ve said, especially about getting (the bare minimum) eARCS into the hands of ownvoices reviewers, regardless of the country they live in. And I know that compensation gets into weird territory when it comes to honest reviews, but we could be paid to promote… other things besides review? I don’t know, it’s for sure a grey area. But everything else? This post is perfection, love. 💕xx


  6. Thank you for putting this in the internet.. I agree to your points here girl. Like seriously, this is just so true..
    However, I don’t mind not getting money from reading and reviewing books because it’s what I love to do and the book and the chance to read it is enough compensation for me. When it comes to advertising the book and making your followers buy it, I guess that’s when it is the right time to ask for compensation.


  7. Okay so I can’t say much on this topic since I’ve never received an ARC, Nor have I ever asked for them (because I’m such a mood reader + I know publishers will never accept me) but I do agree that reading ARCs and then reviewing them does require a lot of work. Getting compensation for it I think is different for different bloggers. Some would want it and some wouldn’t. But I totally agree with the ownvoices point. They should send at least one book to an ownvoices reviewer. I mean that wouldn’t hurt right? But otherwise, great post May! ❤


  8. Such a great and insightful post! Though I do think it’s valid for all of us to want to get a compensation, or at least acknowledged for our hard work which is comparably as much as hard work put in by other types of bloggers or booktubers or bookstagrammers, in my personal perspective I am also blogging just for fun and not taking it too seriously to get money. I know a lot of people do have blogging as their main source of income, but as a person who only does this for my hobby I do not really expect to be paid for it 🙂


  9. This is such an important issue you talk about, May!

    I love how you didn’t forget us INTL bloggers, and marginalized bloggers (!!!), and I’m so proud of you for putting your mental health first (which,,, you know, we’ve talked about, but still), “even” if it’s “at the cost” of gaining less followers.

    I’ve stopped accepting/requesting digital (because no publisher would ever send a physical copy to Austria, lmao [not that I’ve tried, though]) ARCs, because I always feel pressured to write a review, which really makes it much less enjoyable to me, and it makes me feel pressured to read the book as well, even if I’m not in the mood for it.

    I hope you’re able to enjoy your ARCs, though, despite the pressure!! ❤


  10. I disagree about monetary compensation for reviews actually. I think a cash payment would throw into doubt the honesty of many reviews. There is already pressure (I feel) to rate a book higher because it was sent to me for free for the purpose of marketing it and I don’t think I am alone in that. Getting money involved would I think increase that pressure even if wasn’t explicitly stated. Will I continue getting ARCs (and therefore money) from this publisher if I rate this book poorly? Will they pay me if I don’t rate it highly? What if publishers include the caveat that you don’t get paid unless you rate it at least 3 or 4 or 5 stars?

    TL;DR I think cash for reviews is just a whole mess that I personally do not want to see come into it. Blogging is a lot of work but there are ways to make money. Amazon/B&N affiliate. WordAds. It isn’t much, but it helps and doesn’t come with the mess of cash for reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean compensation for reviews! I just meant like…blogging in general?? I don’t think compensation for ARC reviews would be a good thing either (especially with the honesty factor)! I just put the topic in this discussion of ARCs because a lot of people view ARCs to be enough compensation, when — to me — it really isn’t. I feel like there might be certain scenarios though where you can get compensated for an ARC review (like a blog tour maybe?), but definitely not for ALL ARC reviews.

      Hope my explanation made a little sense! I totally understand and respect your opinion 💛💛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh okay yeah I read it as payment for ARC reviews so that makes more sense. 🙂

        I’m curious though, how would you work out getting paid for blogging? Like, where would the money come from? I’m totally down for making money for doing something that I love so I was just wondering. I guess there’s always stuff like Patreon or the Buy Me a Coffee website


  11. Such great points! I admit it’s very frustrating that one can spend so many hours and time working on blogging and NOT making any money. Right now, I’m annoyed by that but I keep blogging. But as a working adult, it does seem useless to keep blogging if I can’t make money. Hoping book blogging does become easier to monetize soon!


  12. Wonderful post!
    I can relate to everything you said! The community does make getting ARCs the most important thing of all time and that sucks. Whatever happened to reading just for the fun of it?
    I recently took a break from reading the ARCs I have on my shelf and just started to read older books that I have. My stress levels have been tremendously lower!


  13. This post is everything and I am so happy you are spreading awareness about this topic. There have been several times where I’d request an arc by an Asian author, and I’d mention in my email that I’m also Asian and want to help support an own voices author…. and then…nothing. No reply or ARC. And then I see that same arc all over #arcsfortrade lol. Like, I get it, I love that any arc gets attention but it just makes me sad when marginalized bloggers get overlooked. And I know my blog following is much smaller than my Bookstagram following but I am trying really hard to make good content, be active with followers, and staying true to myself. And don’t get me started on when I receive an arc a week before pub date. lol. Anyways I am really loving this post, May! Thank you for writing it ❤️


  14. This is such a great AND very important post, thank you so much for writing it! ❤
    Getting ARCs is a privilege and I have to say that, in my mind, I always used to link "getting ARCs" with "being a successful blogger". I know that they're not linked at all and that you can be a GREAT, successful blogger and an amazing blogger overall without reading ARCs, or choosing to read them at all, but… everyone seemed to be doing it and I felt like it was something I "had" to do .Yet, like you perfectly shared it in that post, it's not all rainbows and sunshines when it comes to ARCs, it's also a lot of pressure and reading should NOT be something that stresses us out and NO, it should be fun and enjoyable and that's important to remember before rushing for everything 🙂
    I completely understand and support your point about getting ARCs in the hands of marginalized readers and readers who can see themselves represented in. I get that they want popular bloggers and big numbers to get as most publicity as they can, but they should also pay attention to that kind of representation, because for me, a blogger seeing themselves in a book will shout louder than a 1K blogger receiving tons of books and not having this particular book standing out because, well, they're not particularily getting that rep. And rep IS so important.
    I 200% agree about compensation and wish it wasn't such a hard topic in our community, it needs to be talked about more and considered more, too.
    Fantastic post! xx


  15. This is a fantastic blog! For me, I feel honored whenever I get an ARC, and so that is plenty for me. I do find the pressure of getting everything read and reviewed by publish date to be stressful at times. It is a shame about international readers getting left out. If I’m not mistaken, even Goodreads now has limited giveaways to US/US territories (and perhaps Canada). To those wanting ARCs, get an account at Netgalley and Edelweiss, build up your feedback ratio, and you will get them eventually. Post lots of reviews on your blog and at Goodreads. My blog only has about 215-ish followers and I still get them quite often!

    I thought your blog was great. Thanks for sharing this, – Shelly

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Amazing discussion I agree with all the above and completely relate to the pressure surrounding ARCS and the feeling of needing a certain amount of ARCS in order to feel like an accomplished blogger. I feel like not enough bloggers talk about these sort of things and I’m super glad you did! Great post as always!!


  17. Well this is a very extensive discussion here! I agree with all that you’ve said and I juts wrote today a post about “Invite Only” ARCs that do seem to bet he new hype!!!!


  18. Ok first off this is an amazing post and offers so many important points that, as you said, really don’t get talked about enough!
    I mean as an international reader I obviously have a lot of feelings about that whole topic but mostly I really wanna add how I do think publisher can and need to do more work when it comes to ARCs. I mean I saw an ARC of The Belles sent to a white Booktuber who hadn’t done a video in like three months. That’s just not ok. And you can’t tell me that’s more beneficial to the publisher then sending that ARC to a black reviewer with only a third of their following. Like even from a completely capitalist point of view these things often don’t make sense to me. Quality over quantity should be the rule here as well… it shouldn’t only be considered how many people but what kind of people. Because if it reaches the right audience, 90% will be interested. If you randomly send it someone, the audience might be bigger but only 20% are interested. And I know that’s additional work for the publishers but imo it would only bring positive change for everyone 💁🏼‍♀️


  19. May, this is such an amazing post! The entire “ARC” thing is such an important topic for any book blogger, and it’s definitely something we need to decide on at some point. Personally, I love reading ARC’s – but I try to not get them from Netgalley. Mostly because the times I have gotten them from there, it’s been within 1 week (max) before release, which I agree is not long enough. On top of that, I like when I get ARC’s from authors I follow and talk with. That makes it more personal, which makes it more worth my while, if that makes sense.


  20. I do get arcs and I agree that there is a lot of privilege for certain bloggers. From my perspective, I’m not sure what to do about it because I don’t get physical arcs for the most part so I can’t pass them on to the people that deserve them, i.e. when we’re talking about minorities and/or international bloggers. Most of mine are digital, so while I can review them to the best of my ability, helping out with giving them to people that might otherwise not have a chance isn’t feasible.

    One area that I think I can answer, at least a little bit, is about e-arcs and getting them to other countries. It’s definitely a cheaper option and yet I think the reason they aren’t sent out to international bloggers has to do with rights within the country regarding the title in question. There are posts all the time from authors talking about their books being sold to various countries and that means a publisher can legally distribute it within that country. If not, then doing so isn’t allowed and I think e-arcs fall under the same “if the rights haven’t been sold here, we can’t distribute it” marker.

    The pressure is super intense, I agree. It’s not always upfront, but it feels like an undercurrent mixed with FOMO. Also, reviews for books that are yet to be released seem to get more views, so that adds to the pressure to try and get them. If you want more views, you’ll want to be able to offer the content that gets it.


  21. Wonderful post, love! I love the points you bright up, especially the pressure and the privilege! I’m thankful enough to be a US blogger, but I think it’s absurd how it international bloggers don’t receive eARCs! I can’t understand why they aren’t entitled to be same benefits as Americans, but it drives me insane!

    Awesome post! ❤️


  22. Great post May. I get what you mean about how ARCs can be stressful. There can be a lot of work and time management that does into making sure you can read and review then before they’re released. I get what you mean when you said the deadline is sometimes too tight. I got approved for an eARC on NetGalley like a week before the book was archived, which for me definitely wasn’t enough time to read and review it (I still haven’t posted me review a week after it’s been archived!) 😀 There’s a lot of pressure surrounding ARCs and I definitely 100% agree with you on the minority issue. If the author is writing the books for those people why shouldn’t they have a chance to read it first because they can talk in detail about the representation in a way other bloggers wouldn’t be able to as much you know? 🙂
    I’ve never thought about compensation before, but I think at the end of the day is book blogging as big a thing as travel or lifestyle blogging is. Then again if I was getting paid for the amount of hours I put into blogging like I did my job I’d be earning a lot of money! 😀
    Great post. 🙂 ❤️


  23. I’ve never requested an ARC because #1 I know I won’t get accepted for any, and #2 the idea of having a deadline to read and review a book is stressful to me.

    But almost every book blogger I have interacted with sees ARC’s as the “be-all end-all” of blogging success so there’s quite a bit of pressure to be seen accepting ARC’s left and right.

    I do wish that international as well as marginalized bloggers had an equal opportunity to receive these. But the best way we can get to that reality is speaking up about it, which you have just done! Great post!


  24. I never knew ARCs and ARC reviews had such a dark side. All I’ve ever been able to see are the results of reading the ARCs: the amazingly written reviews as well as the blogger saying amazing things about their book. Nobody ever talks about compensation or the fact that sometimes it’s a struggle to read all those ARCs and write reviews. Nobody tells you that the publisher can sometimes send you the ARC late, too late to fully read it or get a well written review in.
    Thank you so much for putting light on a dark subject!! Great post!!


  25. I think another issue is the stress of feeling you have to read the ARCs even if you don’t enjoy them just to hit that 80% target on Netgalley or to continue getting ARCs through whatever means you normally get them. I’ve read a few books I didn’t really want to just to fulfil a percentage


  26. I think that if bloggers want to get compensated, they can. I do want to get ARCs but I understand there is a lot of responsibility to getting one as you have to make the time to read, review and promote. And I definitely think ARCs should be better distributed.


  27. I agree we should get paid for our work 😂 Also, I stress about reading ARCs as well but I’ve learned to just accept that I can’t read all m y ARCs and move on. It’s hard though.


  28. Great post! I agree with you that e-ARCs can be given by the publishers to international bloggers. As far as payment is concerned for book reviews, well, it doesn’t hurt to have some money in your hand. :p


  29. Reading through all of your advice posts and this is SO HELPFUL!! I’ve only been part of the online book community for about 1.5 years, and I definitely feel better knowing that the number of ARCs I get doesn’t reflect how well I am doing; however, I hope to acquire more in the future!


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