Let’s have a chat… about ARC bans!

Hello, lovelies! It’s time for another one of my infamously rare spur-of-the-moment discussion posts. 😂 Today…

Let’s talk about ARC bans.

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ban

[ ban ]

  • verb
    1. to prohibit, forbid
    2. (archaic) to curse; execrate
  • noun
    1. the act of prohibiting by law
  • bonus definition
    1. “ARC ban”: when your status as a library employee has destroyed your Edelweiss account, Netgalley ratio, and reading life in general

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When I first started requesting ARCs at the beginning of 2017, I did what everyone does — over-requested — and have been keeping myself steadily busy with ARCs ever since! Usually, it’s not a problem for me. In all of 2018, I averaged 20+ full novels read per month, and I never requested that many, so I stayed afloat without any real difficulty.

2019, however, has been a whole new ballgame for me.

So much has changed this year! I was a stay-at-home mom when I started blogging, and stayed at home until early January of this year. I didn’t think going back to work would make much of an impact because it was only 19 hours a week, and I felt like I could pretty easily shift around my time management and keep the same track record.

What I didn’t account for was:

  1. the way everyday work-related stresses would impact me when I got home
  2. the fact that I’d be bumped up to near full-time status after a few months
  3. my sudden unexpected craving to get back into video games and horror film marathons (I’m watching a Jason movie as I type this post)
  4. the biggest change of all, how many publishers would auto-approve me or add me to their mailing lists as soon as I told them I handle kids/teen acquisitions (book ordering) now!

All of that in mind, it’s no wonder why my reading speeds have suddenly dropped so tremendously. 

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I’ve spent the last few months trying and failing miserably to stay on top of things. In 2018, my normal month ended in my having one, MAYBE two (rarely) unread ARCs leftover from that month. This year, my average month… *sigh*

I’m legitimately embarrassed to admit this: I calculated it up, and during every month of 2019 so far, I’ve had an average of sixteen review copies left unread at the end of each month. 16 per month on average! Some months have been better than others, with May being my worst so far (by a wide margin).

All of these overdue ARCs are creating such an immense amount of guilt, it’s made reading them lose its fun altogether.

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The guilt makes reading a chore, and that makes me read slower, which causes these overdue ARCs to build up more and more until I’ve reached the point I’m at now, where I’m barely reading anything at all because I’m miserable. Don’t get me wrong: I’m so grateful for these review copies, and I still LOVE reviewing them and posting about them on my blog! But I’ve come to the understanding that this situation isn’t good for me, and it isn’t fair to the amazing publicists who have been so patient with me and kept faith in me despite my lack of consistency this year.

I was giving my recent reading habits and my ARC schedule a long, hard look last week, and I decided that something has to change, immediately.

I can’t do anything about the ARCs I already have, besides working my way through them as soon as possible, and I can’t just un-request the upcoming releases I’ve been granted, but I can stop the situation from getting worse! So, I’ve decided to do something I swore I would NEVER do:

I’m going on an ARC ban.

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How’s this ARC ban going to work?

First: for the first time since I created my blog, I CLOSED my review requests. They’ve been set to “open but picky” for a long time, but as of this week, I’m not accepting any requests, period. Even from authors I consider personal friends.

Second, and more drastically, I’m limiting myself to requesting no more than ONE (1) ARC per week.

I know you’re probably thinking, “But Destiny, that’s still four ARCs per month!”, and I hear you, but consider a few facts:

  1. even at my severely reduced ARC reading rate, 4 per month is no problem for me
  2. this helps prevent me from having that “end-of-ban losing-my-shit free-for-all” feeling so many of us get after a long, strict ban
  3. most of all, it allows me to request my most highly anticipated titles that I feel like I can’t possibly wait to read!
* fine print: this new rule, obviously, isn’t including the requests I already have pending on Netgalley and Edelweiss, or the print copies I’ve accepted that haven’t been sent to me yet. I can’t “un-request” or “un-accept” them.
* fine print, pt. 2: in a bit of leniency for myself, if I don’t use a week’s request, it’s allowed to roll over to the next week, so that I’m not tempted at the end of the week to just blow my request on a title I’m not 100% excited for.

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So, that’s it! Those are the new rules. I’m making this discussion post for a few reasons:

  1. to ask you all to help hold me accountable — if you see too many review copies in my State of the ARC, haul, Stacking the Shelves, etc., please feel free to call me out! It might sound silly, but this isn’t going to be easy for me. My mental illness displays itself in severe lack of self-control when it comes to over-indulging, including in ways such as over-buying and taking on too many ARCs.
  2. to open a discussion — I know from chatting with many of you that a LOT of my blogging friends feel like they take on too many ARCs, but they don’t know how to address that. Let’s talk about it! Is this something you struggle with, too? We can be accountability partners if you want to go on an ARC ban with me!
  3. to ask for tips — have you ever been on an ARC ban? If so, how did you stick to it? One thing I’ll be doing is keeping up with my requests with a Google Doc that has a list divided into “week of” lines, and each week, I’ll write in that space what I requested, or if I’ve rolled over my request. Then, if I’ve already requested something for that week and find something else I want, I’ll make a note of the new title on the next week’s line to help me remember to request it later.

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Let’s talk: have you ever been on an ARC ban, or would you consider going on one? What do you think about book bans? Let me know in the comments!

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Just a 26-year-old children's librarian trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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