Let's have a chat… about ARC bans!

June 10, 2019

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.



[ 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

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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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    1. I am wishing you so much luck (and will-power) with this!! Just don;t do what I did, which was “I’ll get both of these, but I won’t get one next week”, but then when the next week rolled around then I got another 2. Or 4. And then it just spiralled!! ? (Except this was just with books, not ARCs… the number of books on my backlist list, and my 2019 published books list are horrendous and I am ashamed!!)

      1. Thank you love! Sadly, I only stuck to my ban for a few weeks before failing pretty hard, but I’m planning on re-instating it this week so I’m going through these comments and trying to motivate myself to do better! ?

    1. I love this! I don’t go on technical bans, but I do refrain from having too many “open” ARCs at a time. If I feel the obligation or “due dates” I get some serious anxiety.

      1. I feel you! I definitely have anxiety about my unread ARCs right now. 🙁 I didn’t stick to this ban long enough but I’m picking it back up this week and hopefully that will help with my mental health regarding the whole thing, if I can see the number actually start noticeably dropping!

    1. Wow Destiny! I’m in awe of you! How did you even manage to read so many books in the first place? I went back to work in January too and I’m having a really tough time trying to balance my job and my child. When I finally drop on the sofa I’m so tired I can barely read anything. *lol* So you’ve all my respect for still being so productive. XD As for the ARC ban, I totally understand. I stopped accepting ARCS in February and I still didn’t catch up. I really hope I’ll be able to undo my ban soon.

      1. Awww, this is such a late reply but thank you so much for the kind words! <3 I hope you've had some luck in finding a little more balance and "you" time since June? I know it's so freaking hard to juggle work and parenthood and everything. *sigh* Sometimes I wish I could just quit my job just because I miss being a stay at home mom and having more free time!

        1. You’re welcome! Better late than never. 😉 Well, more or less. It’s still hard but I’m working on it. XD So true, I feel you! Now that my little one is old enough to go to kindergarten I could actually have a little bit of time for myself but I had to go back to work and now this time is spent working instead. *lol*

    1. Good luck, this is a tough position to be in but not the end of the world. Here’s my two cents on auto approvals: you might be grabbing ALL the auto approved titles you can, even if you really aren’t 100 percent sure you want to read them. When I see an auto approval I think I might want to grab, sometimes I’ll think, hey, it will still be there tomorrow or next week or next month. I can come back and get it later. When I wait, sometimes I forget about it all together! Problem solved?

      1. Late reply, sorry, but thank you! <3 Yes, I definitely have a problem with auto approvals. :/ That's such a good idea though, to just tell yourself to wait. I feel like there are SO many review copies that I would never haul in the first place if I made myself really sit and think on them for a few days, because I bet I'd forget about or change my mind about a lot of them!

    1. I’m rooting for you on this ARC ban. I think you made the right decision, especially if it’s getting to the point that it’s not enjoyable anymore. I think that’s the worst part, but I’m glad you’re taking steps to avoid that. I’m not sure how long your ban will be, but I’m rooting for you and I’ll definitely keep cheering you on and supporting you.

      1. Thank you, love! <3 I stuck to it pretty well for a couple of weeks and then totally failed lol! But I'm getting back on that ban wagon (haha) this week and actually am trying something new to motivate myself that I'll be explaining in this week's State of the ARC post, so fingers crossed it will help 😀

    1. I understand what you say in a 100%, I going through the same sensations, I’m always SO grateful to be able to have and read a book before its release date, it’s something unique, but sometimes they accumulate and that makes me have a lot of anxiety and I ended up for neglecting my older books, it’s a weird feeling. From now on, I only accept those books that I really DIE to read, I think it’s the most sensat thing to do ?❤️

      1. Thank you for getting it, Sofii! You saying you only take the books you’re DYING to read really resonated with me because I know that such a low percentage of my review copies are books I just feel like I cannot live without, lol. I need to be more picky! 😀

        1. It’s getting better. Only because I’m not really worrying about ARCS. They get read when the time comes. Even it it’s past the release date. Keeping up with that was so stressful.

    1. I respect you so much for going in this arc ban! Luckily, I didn’t request a lot of books when I first started book blogging, so I didn’t fall into this trap. But I respect people who stay on top of their arcs so much. I can only imagine the pressure. And I respect that you are letting yourself take a break! I truly hope that you are able to stick to it and that it will help you get on top of all of your arcs! Good luck!

      1. Awww, thank you! And wow, major kudos on not over-requesting because I feel like that’s such a hard thing NOT to do! :O I over-requested a little bit when I first started blogging but I guess my big problem with it has only kicked in since working at the library. I didn’t do so well with this ARC ban but I’m getting back on the wagon for September!

    1. I respect you so much for going in this arc ban! Luckily, I didn’t request a lot of books when I first started book blogging, so I didn’t fall into this trap. But I respect people who stay on top of their arcs so much. I can only imagine the pressure. And I respect that you are letting yourself take a break! I truly hope that you are able to stick to it and that it will help you get on top of all of your arcs! Good luck!

    1. Good luck, Destiny! I had to do something similar a few months ago, and it’s helped a bit but not fully, lol. I just have a few more to get through before I’m going to say no to ARCs for a while. I understand the guilt aspect, which is a difficult feeling to reckon with.

      1. Thank you! I hope it’s going better for you now. I didn’t stick to my ban well but I’m trying something new with it for September and hoping to haul practically NOTHING for the rest of the year so I can finally play catch-up, lol.

    1. Wishing you a lot of lucks! I’m actually on an ARC ban right now. I won’t allow myself to request any ARCs unless I finished the ones I have (it’s not even around 15+ but it’s stressing me out big time). And yep, I agree with how reading became a task or an obligation rather than something I enjoyed doing. I really wanted my old self where I just let myself get lost in the world without thinking I should read this fast because I still have a lot of ARCs to read. I stopped accepting reveiw requests on my blog too for more than 3 months now. I’ll cheer for you!

    1. Wishing you luck!
      I totally get you, I am at the point where I’m not requesting any arcs. I went through the guilt stage, the stressing stage and then the total pressure stage. I didnt feel like me and my love for reading left the building….and it’s taken me 6 months to get myself to stop requesting (it’s an obsession!) but now I feel totally different and my love for reading is back!

      1. Thank you, and that’s awesome that you were successful! I definitely fell off my ban after a few weeks but I’m picking myself up and getting back on there this week! September is going to be a very low-haul (or no-haul) month, I’m determined! 😀

    1. My review requests are at your previous stage of ‘open but picky’ haha. I’m quite good with my ARCs. I am not a very fast reader, so I tend to only request a couple at a time. So I can never really fall too far behind. Oh, to be a fast reader 🙁

    1. I’m sorry that arcs have made your reading experience so stressful! I’ve only gone on quasi-bans myself. I mostly do this when I have too many TBR books in general: library, owned, arcs etc. What I do then is I limit myself in all areas. I return library books. I stop requesting on NetGalley. And I try playing catch up on things that have been on my shelves for a while, or that have release dates that are fast approaching, or have already past.
      My problem tends to be restarting my borrowing, requesting, and buying too early on. If I have a goal to read 10 books before acquiring something new, I will make it to about 8 before I break. Which is still pretty good, but not quite enough for me to feel like I’ve accomplished anything. I think that your method allows for more flexibility though, which will hopefully make the ban easier. I hope it helps you regain your love of reading!

      1. Thank you, love. <3 I love how you said you do your bans, with basically just cutting off everything for a while. That's a really good idea and I'm going to have to try it! I'm bad about over-borrowing at the library, too, and have to try and hold myself back.

    1. Reading shouldn’t feel as a chore! So I guess for you this is the best solution!
      I hope it works out well!

    1. Reading definitely shouldn’t be a chore! We all get into those feelings every once in awhile – wanting to do something we consider fun like ARCs or Reading Challenges. But when it becomes a chore you feel like you need to complete, it is time for a change. And you are doing the right thing

    1. Oh man, I totally feel you regarding not having fun reading anymore due to the huge amount of ARCs. I’ve had my request closed for a while now, because I have way too many NetGalley ARCs. I’m not sure if I can be of any help with supporting you. Of course I’ll yell at you for requesting too many if I see you doing that, but when it comes to tips.. I guess all I have is ‘don’t do it’. I know it’s not always that easy though, so maybe something else I would recommend is look at when the books you want to request are being published and maybe incorporate that into your schedule. Because if you really want to request more than 1 a week, and one of those books won’t be published for 6 months, that one can easily be read a month later, but maybe not requested then anymore. That’s pretty much all I have, but when I think of more, I’ll return!

      1. Thank you so much! <3 I sadly didn't stick to my ban very well for more than a few weeks, but I'm getting back to it for September (well, starting this week, really). I think I've come up with something that should hopefully help me, and I'm going to try and explain it in this week's State of the ARC post, but I don't know how well it'll translate to text haha. I'm bad at explaining things sometimes. ?

    1. I hope this works for you!
      Being an Indian reader, I am not accepted for ARCs often and am only able to wish for many due to my location but somehow I ended up receiving 10 this year at the same time that I was in a reading slump.
      IT was sad and I am struggling to read them all since they’ve been pending for quite a while and yes, the guilt is bad but well, at least you’re trying to make it all better, so yay!

    1. I’ve definitely gone on a NetGalley ban for now, I’m doing blog tours and catching up on my backlist of ARCs, my reading appetite was unrealistic lol, good luck with your ban for sure!!

    1. I am so proud of you for not only going on an ARC ban but also talking about it with your audience, because the over-requesting & guilt is a pretty universal thing in my experience among book bloggers. Even I am struggling right now when objectively I have ample amounts of time to read on account of being on medical leave from work, but I have had some of my worst reading months in years. I keep missing publication dates because mood reading and slumps, and the guilt is getting worse every single day! Even me, who has limited herself to 4 ARC releases per month for almost a year now, am having trouble and have a full-on ban on requesting anything coming out before October at this point.
      Good luck, love. And feel free to talk to me if you need to complain or get talked out of the button!

      1. Thank you for the support, and for being so transparent about the struggles you’ve been having, too! It’s good to know I’m not alone. I swear the slump-age has been REAL this year. I didn’t stick to my ARC ban well lately, but I’m picking it back up this week with some new motivational methods in hopes of keeping myself on track, and I think I’m going to try and start talking about my ARC ban progress in each week’s Sunday Post so that hopefully talking about it with everyone will help me want to do better.

    1. WOW the reading guilt is SO REAL, especially arc guilt!
      I think 4 arcs per month is completely fine! I mean, they aren’t all going to come out in the same month, and there’s still 2020. ALso, I feel like still being able to still request some arcs is probably good because this way you’ll probably (hopefully) buy less finished copies out of reflex. Honestly, whatever works for you, and helps you to stress LESS!
      I have never been on an arc ban, specifically. But, I have given myself hard limits before. I used to have NetGalley at the top of my bookmarks bar on my laptop, but I noticed that as soon as I got rid of that, and it was out of my eyesight I was thinking about it less. That being said, I think the main thing that has helped me to request books less is to get into the mindset of only requesting books by authors I am familiar with (have read from before) and am 90% sure I will enjoy their next book.
      Honestly, limit the number of publishers you follow on social media, don’t look at the catalogues they send you and try your hardest to avoid arcs as much as you can.
      This kind of method usually helps me because I only really request new lgbtqia+ books or books from my favourite authors, and because of that, I request a lot less.
      I hope this helps, Destiny! You’ve got this! (also, once your ban is over or your arcs settle down you should totally write a blog post about how you went about your ban and how you requested less books etc.) ??????????

      1. Thank you so much, love!! <3 These tips are so helpful. I'm just now catching up on the comments on this post because, to be honest, I failed at my ban after a couple of weeks and felt so guilty, I avoided this comment section like the plague (which I know is silly, but it is what it is). I'm getting back on my ban this week, though, so I decided to come look at these to help motivate myself and this comment really helped lift my spirits and make me feel that I can do this! ♥♥

    1. This has got to be SO hard, but I commend you. I have recently started getting approved a lot more as well, so I have to be more careful with my requests. It’s so hard to limit yourself with books that you want, but I think that you can do it. Being public about it is a great way to keep yourself accountable.
      What I have noticed is that I have very few ARCs for this summer, but already have TONS of Fall ARCs. I am going to be reading ahead, but feel weird about publishing reviews 3 months ahead of time, so I’m probably going to try and wait to post them. BUT I NEED TO GET AHEAD, otherwise I will have way too many books to read in fall.

      1. Thank you! <3 Haha you are actually such an inspiration to me. It feels like you stay on top of your ARCs SO well and I remember when I used to be like that, and I miss it so much! So I guess I wanna be like you when I grow up. 😉 lmao! But seriously, I know this reply is really late but your support means a lot and I wanted to say so. I failed at my ban pretty badly this month and in most of July tbh, but I'm getting back on track this week!

        1. I really try to stay on top of all of them, but honestly I always still wind up requesting more than I review. So trust me, even if it looks like I am SO on top of it all, I’m really not. Plus I’ve basically been reading ONLY ARCs for the past like… 4 months and those backlist books are calling to me. But I got ahead back when I wasn’t posting many reviews months ago and then ever since then I’ve tried to stay ahead. For a while I was only posting one review a week and then reading more than that and I just stacked up a bunch of reviews for the future. Once you get a bit ahead it’s a lot easier to stay that way. My game plan is to post reviews within the 2 weeks before publication and to post reviews on Tuesdays and Thursdays. But I’m probably going to run into an issue in September or October bc I have more ARCs than there are Tuesdays and Thursdays. I basically read all summer to try and get ahead of it all, but I don’t know how the posting schedule is going to work out yet.

          1. Awww, well that is comforting actually so thank you for saying that. <3 Haha I honestly sometimes just assume that some bloggers (you being one of them) are just so freaking on top of the game and never let one get overdue, and I'm always over here like wistfully sighing, "Ahh, I wish I could be that great.." haha! I hope you can figure out a good system for September and October, though! Could you maybe do some combo-reviews, like two mini reviews in one post or something? I don't know if that would be too overwhelming though, if you like just doing the 2 per week. Obviously don't stress yourself over it, especially since you know November and December are always slower months so you could just push some back a couple of weeks if you needed to and everyone would understand. <3

            1. I know some bloggers that are ON TOP of their review game, and while I read a lot of ARCs… I also request some that I never get to prior to publication. And let’s not even talk about my feedback ratio. I post about what ARCs I have for the next month at the end of the month and I almost never get to all the ones I have. I have a requesting problem, but I’m trying to get better with it.
              As for September and October… I’m going to try and stick with 2 per week unless the books are already read and one week I happen to be super ahead. It’s going to be quite the juggling act. I feel weird about pushing reviews back, but we will see..

    1. oof, i feel this post to my core. i’ve never gotten too into the arc/review copy world but since working at a library, i’ve been bringing home huge quantities of new books to add to my overflowing tbr. it sounds silly but it’s so overwhelming that it’s made me not want to read at all. so i feel you on that! and seriously, good on you for doing this! i love that you know how easy it is to find ‘loopholes’ in your own bans and have already thought out the steps to account for that and make it less likely to happen. i wish you all the best for the ban and hope it helps you get back on track with loving your reading again ? (and we can definitely keep an eye on your haul posts for you!!)

      1. Thank you darling! It doesn’t sound silly at all, I absolutely know what you mean about feeling so overwhelmed that you don’t even want to read. I think that’s a big part of why I’ve been making such slow progress on my ARC reading for the last several months, is I just have way too many ARCs to read and it’s making the whole thing feel like a big mess! It doesn’t help that I barely stuck to this ban AT ALL after the first 2-3 weeks, but I’m getting back on track this week so definitely yell at me if you see me hauling a bunch of ARCs after August ends haha!

    1. ARCs often seem to me like a case of “too much of a good thing” – I only have a handful of auto-approvals but between that and the “read now” sections I have more choices than I can reasonably handle; I can barely imagine how many you have!
      it sounds incredibly stressful to have simultaneously increased the number of ARCs you can get and decreased the number you get through – I hope the ban works for you ? I think it’s really smart to allow yourself one per week, I know every time I tell myself I’m going on a soft ban (because honestly I lack the self-discipline for a strict, total ban) I end up being tempted by so many titles.
      one of the biggest things that I use to stay accountable is my State of the ARC spreadsheet, which I keep updated with a line for each month, and columns for new ARCs, read & reviewed ARCs, read not-yet-reviewed ARCs, and DNFs. it lets me immediately see how many ARCs I have left (and makes me feel guilty about how many I’ve acquired, especially early in the month and/or if the number is close to the number that I’ve finished) which creates more accountability. I’ve also stopped idly scrolling through Edelweiss and Netgalley since that’s not good for my self-control either, but I think limiting my time on Goodreads has been equally important. (so many upcoming releases, so many ARCs I want to request ?)
      good luck with your ARC ban, you got this!

      1. Isabelle!! This reply is so late but THANK YOU for this comment because this advice is HUGELY helpful. I failed pretty badly at the ban but I’m getting back on track this coming week and decided to look through these comments for motivation/tips, and this comment is everything, seriously lol. You made me feel like I can actually succeed this time! I really like that you keep a running spreadsheet for State of the ARC to help you see what your numbers look like for the month. I’m the worst about sitting down to write my State of the ARC post, tallying it all up, and being COMPLETELY BEWILDERED by how many I’ve hauled that month because it never feels like as many as it is until I’m making the list. I think a running tally in a really clear, visible spot in my spreadsheet would be a little thing that would go a really long way in helping me go, “Okay, whoa, I need to chill out for the rest of this month.” ? Thank you again! <3

    1. Oh my gosh lady you have overextended yourself tremendously! How easily done it is. I think I recall you talking about this not too long ago, it’s like me and my writing, my diet and exercise, and my blogging and and and…and yet, I do admire your ambition, better this than you not wanting to try! Right? Well now slow down! Lol. Good job recognizing yourself and the need for discipline. You can do it! 😀 Such an experience will probably help you set your future boundaries.
      Good luck!

    1. This is a fantastic idea and I’m one that consistently preaches against feeling stress from ARCs and unsolicited review copies. You can do it!

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