As you’re reading the title, I can already see you going, “Of course not! You’re supposed to be honest while reviewing.” And yes, I agree. The whole point of being an advanced reader is that you provide the author/publisher with real, helpful feedback. However, and maybe this is a thing that only I do, whenever I read an ARC that I don’t love, I still maintain in my negative review that “it’s just my opinion” and “you should still check it out for yourself.” The whole point of a book review is to hear what someone thought of it and you decide whether you want to/don’t want to read it too. If I tell you that you should read the book to know how it is, what was the point of reviewing the book at all?
I am a very small book blogger so I don’t have publishers running left, right and center yearning for my attention (though hey publishers, if you want to, I’m not complaining 😉 ) so if I want an ARC, I send a request for it. Obviously, I request books I want to read and I think I’d like (though alternative discussion topic – Should we only request books we think we’d like?) based off the summary or the author or the fact that a lot of other bloggers enjoyed it. If it’s approved, I read it, collect my thoughts and write a review, as I would for any other book I decide to review. If I enjoy the book, like I though I would, well and good – I give it a glowing review and hope that all the readers read it! BUT, if I don’t like it so much, I have a bit of a dilemma.
Publishers have a limited number of ARCs of books so being approved at all is amazing and something that I am grateful for which is why it absolutely sucks to have to be like, “hey thanks for the book you gave me before everyone else but it’s terrible.” One of the main reasons ARCs exist is to create buzz about the book, get people excited to buy and read it when it’s out along with of course, giving the publisher feedback on any issues you have with the book. When I am someone who was chosen to read a book before it’s out and was sent the book for free, I feel a bit guilty saying I didn’t like it and giving a book. It’s even worse when an author, who is very sweet in their emails, sends me a book and I have to tell them I hated it.
So far, I’ve spoken only about how bad I feel when I give an ARC a low rating/bad review but I still do it anyway and you should too. Here is why:
- As an advanced reader, it is your duty to tell the world (slight exaggeration) what they’ll be investing their money in buying
- It is pertinent to give honest feedback to authors/publishers who have deemed you worthy (what is my word choice) of reading it before everyone else. They asked you for a review because they want your authentic, unbiased opinion on it so that they can improve
- A review is your opinion on something and people read it to know your thoughts about it, so you will lose credibility as a reviewer if you are dishonest
- (this one is a bit cheesy) You need to be true to yourself (awwwww)
In conclusion, getting ARCs is awesome and something I am thankful for, but I will still be honest in my reviews, whether I like it or not. What I want to start doing is stop apologizing in all of my negative reviews because you know what? It’s my opinion and I’m not sorry about it.
What do you think about giving ARCs a higher rating than they deserve? Do you do it subconsciously/out of guilt? Do you think reviews should always be honest?