And other things I learned from reviewing

Hi all! The summer months are upon us, and so is my anniversary of starting my book blog. In July it will be five years old and in that time I have learned a lot from both reviewing and working with publishers. I figured I would impart some knowledge to those who are maybe starting out, looking for tips, or just curious.


Bookstagram is a changing landscape. It has changed A LOT since I first joined back in 2019. Over the years engagement groups and pods became popular, and I joined a few of them. It felt very rewarding because I could see likes and reach going up. What I didn’t know at the time (and what has also changed) is instagram now counts that as artificial inflation, and it doesn’t really help in the end. Other reasons that these groups are not worth it:

  • Stressful. These groups are stressful and require you to be so active.
  • If you’re in too many you can end up in instajail or action blocked. Neither are fun things to contend with.
  • Rules are arbitrary, and some people just don’t reciprocate.
  • Artificial inflation — it doesn’t really show your true reach.
  • Publishers are less likely to work with you if you use these.

I want to talk about the last point for a minute. In several conversations with multiple publishers and at a Q&A panel at Apollycon, the publishers that attended said they do not look favorably upon those who use groups like that. They say it doesn’t show true numbers. They’d rather have smaller reach and numbers than artificial and fake numbers.

Your posts DO NOT NEED TO BE AESTHETIC. If you’re excited for a book show it! You do not have to have a perfect feed. Publishers at an Apollycon panel were very adamant about that. Aesthetic is not the end all be all anymore.

Requesting arcs

Following along with bookstagram, I wanted to talk about physical arcs. It wasn’t until last year that I really started to receive them regularly. That was four years worth of growth. It took me a while to get to that point, but what the turning point for me was I had finally established myself enough with consistency and reliability.

One thing to note is that you do not need to request an ENTIRE catalog. In fact, publishers would appreciate if you didn’t. You’ll get funny looks. Only request ones you’re honestly interested in reading.  

They’re more inclined to keep sending arcs or send you an ARC if you show passion about the author and/or title. This does not guarantee you an ARC however. Many times physical arcs are not available. Instead, publishers utilize e-ARCS. There could be several reasons for this, including there are none, they’re just for libraries or bookstores, or certain publicity outlets. And sometimes they’re for events and so on and so forth.

Physical ARCS are great, but I can admit after two years of receiving them I am fast running out of room to store them. Publishers have more e-ARCS to give out, so you’ll be more likely to get those.

You can say what you want but…

Yes, yes, you can say what you want. But it doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences. In a panel (Berkley, Tor, Bloom, HarperCollins among them) the publishers talked about what they see online from reviewers.

One of the things they talked about was if they see someone trashing a book/an author etc. even if it isn’t one of their own, they’re less than likely to pick you for an ARC. They said there is a difference between trashing and an honest review. They like honest reviews because it can help them market the book, but if you’re just trashing it to trash it…don’t expect to be getting an ARC.

On the other hand, your reviews do not need to be long. They don’t expect them to be long paragraphs!

In conclusion

Consistency and passion are key. Having big follower numbers or huge amounts of engagement no longer always determine if you get an ARC or not, a lot of other factors go into it as well. Social media is a changing landscape as is book reviewing. Now there are many ways to review, promote and support books and authors, and just like us, publishers are navigating that world.

I’ll be posting a part two on how I fill out my Netgalley, and send emails requesting ARCS. What else would you like to know?

Have questions? Post them below!