I most often blog about seaside topics, but I thought I’d put my publisher hat on for a moment and speak to the dilemma of submitting an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of a book for review. Most of us who have published books in the past have sent advanced reader copies to newspapers, magazines, and review houses in hopes of scoring a review. More often than not, when the book’s publication date arrives, you find, to your dismay, that most of your ARC books haven’t been reviewed, yet many of them have been posted on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s marketplace for sale, priced below your selling price. It’s difficult to swallow the reality that books that you’ve sent to reviewers in hopes of receiving a review are now for sale against your own book on the very first day of your book’s debut.
The solution for many author/publishers is to take out their medium point, black Sharpie and write on their book in a firm hand, “Advanced Reader Copy Only – Not For Sale!” But is this a fair solution to the problem of pirated books? As Linda Richards states, “People who review books love books. This is fact. If you try to take away a book’s value before sending it out to reviewers, you will show reviewers a book without value. And a book without value is certainly not worthy of review.” James A. Cox, editor-in-chief of Midwest Book Review adds, “Most (if not all) of my volunteer reviewers are book lovers for whom books are not mere merchandise but objects of art and beauty in their own right and that figures into their selection decision—and quite often into their review commentary as well.” What a dilemma!
So I sit here with my soon to be released book (6/22/2018), Bay State Skye, in hand, wondering what I should do. I don’t begrudge anyone who has taken the time to read and review a book that I’ve written the opportunity to sell it and earn some compensation for their time. But to those large and small reviewing systems who glance at your book’s cover, or notice your book is from an independent publishing house and immediately discard it without cracking it open, I don’t feel they are entitled to compensation because there was no service provided. In these cases, I feel that the firm or individual could donate the book to one of the many schools or organizations begging for books. That way, the author/publisher won’t lose precious sales, where the proceeds could make the difference of whether that author can afford to keep writing as a profession or not, and it would also help some very deserving books reach the hands of children or adults who would really enjoy them. This would be a win-win for everyone involved.
So will I deface my ARC copies of Bay State Skye that have just arrived back from the printer? After reading a few articles about the subject, I don’t believe I will. Instead, I’ll limit the quantity of books I send out for editorial reviewers.
How can you, as a book lover, help out this situation? If you see a book advertised on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s marketplace for an unusually low price, or with the proceeds promised to go to charity, or one of my favorites, “New, never read, from a smoke-free warehouse” (in other words, their home), please resist the temptation to purchase from these “businesses.” Instead, buy the book from the publisher who has burdened the cost of producing the book and developing the Amazon webpage at which you’re looking. And don’t forget to write reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and the like. They help out more than you can imagine and are so very much appreciated!