Thoughts

Thoughts #63: I Am A Bad Blogger!

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I am officially a bad blogger.

Not only have I been really awful at keeping things updated and writing new posts, but I’ve also let my review copy pile get a little bit out of control. This has always been a problem – when I started blogging I went a bit crazy on Netgalley, and it was only at the end of last year (after four and a half years of blogging) that I reached the recommended 80% requested books reviewed.

Now it’s my physical review copy pile that’s the problem – I have about five books read and still waiting to be reviewed, and AT LEAST 20 other books waiting for me. I try to decline all review requests now because the guilt is really building up, but I still get a lot of unsolicited copies, and sometimes I just can’t pass up the chance when something amazing comes along, or I’m offered a book I’ve had my eye on for a while.

I think my main problem is that I am a mood reader. If I piled up the review copies and told myself that they were all I could read until I was done, I would either really start to resent those books and read veeeerrrry slowly, or do anything else but read. I need to pick and choose what I want to read in that moment. Maybe my best solution is to look at those books first, and if nothing takes my fancy at that point then choose from all the others.

How do you deal with a review copy backlog?

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Thoughts

Thoughts #62: An ARC Related Conundrum

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Recently, I received an unsolicited review copy from a publisher, that was the third book in a science fiction series. Whilst I have read the first book, I haven’t read the second.

This has happened a couple of times – I’ve been sent books that are halfway through a series, or I receive the first and then a later installment. And this got me thinking: what do my fellow reviewers do when they receive a book that’s part of a series, and they haven’t yet read the previous installments?

I’m a bit torn about this. Firstly, it was an unsolicited review copy, not one I’d asked for, so I don’t feel there’s as much pressure to review it. But I also really love this particular publisher, and appreciate the crazy amount of books they’ve sent me over the past (almost) five years. I suppose I would have a few options here:

  • do not read the book
  • offer the book to a fellow blogger who has read books one and two, so that they can provide the publicity I cannot
  • buy or borrow the second book in the series as soon as possible, so that I can catch up before reading the third
  • just read the third as it is and review it, but then chances are I won’t enjoy it as much as I’ll have missed out a whole chunk of the story
  • read the third book after reading a detailed plot synopsis of the second book – but I don’t like the idea of this because what if I have a chance to read the second book later on? And it kind of feels like cheating
  • keep the book, read the second if I can get round to it but do not rush or prioritise it, as it was an unsolicited review copy

To be honest, the last option feels like the best one for me. I’m already quite behind on reviewing books I requested (story of my life), so this doesn’t feel like a big priority. It still leaves me feeling a bit guilty though!

Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do, or what would you do in my shoes?

Thoughts

Thoughts #60: Book Sources

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Recently I’ve been thinking about where all my books come from. According to my last count (last month, so it has most likely changed since then), I own 520 books (excluding e-books). And I normally get these in a variety of ways:

  • Gifted: of course my friends and family know I’m a bibliophile, so books are – or rather were – frequent birthday and Christmas presents. Now though, it’s a bit of a risk as chances are I might already have the book, so people are more likely to give me book tokens than actual books.
  • Brand new: I don’t tend to buy my books brand new unless I’m really treating myself, they’re part of a special offer that I just can’t resist (3 for £10 on paperbacks!), or I REALLY want the book and don’t think I’ll find it second-hand very easily.
  • Second hand: this is how I get most of my books. My local charity shops are excellent, my favourite selling books for as little as £0.50 each. I’m not bothered about buying second-hand – as long as the book isn’t falling apart. Why spend £8.99 on one book when I could buy 18 for that price second-hand??
  • ARCs and finished review copies: as a book blogger, I get sent books from publishers on a regular basis – some ARCs, some finished copies.

As I was so confident about how my book buying would break down, I wanted to look into my collection to see just how many books come under each of these categories – and here are the results:

What surprised me is that I own nearly the same amount of brand new books as second-hand ones – and I think this is entirely down to book blogging. I’m much more aware of new releases since starting this blog, and in a way I guess I feel more pressure to read them sooner rather than later, because of all the hype.

For such an avid book buyer, I’m also pretty good at getting rid of books, mostly due to available space. I happily send ARCs that I’ve read on to friends for them to enjoy, if I don’t think I will re-read the book, and donate back to the charity shop from which I get many of my books. I’m also more likely to donate second-hand books than new ones, which might be why my new book collection is larger than I thought it would be.

Where does your book collection come from? Do you tend to buy new books over second-hand, or vice versa?

Thoughts

Thoughts #56: What Do You Do With Your ARCs?

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This is something I was thinking about recently, and also probably something that has caused a little bit of a stir in the book blogging community, because not everyone agrees on what the current thing to do is. So, here is the big question:

When you have finished reading an Advanced Review Copy of a book, what do you do with it?

For me, it really depends on the situation, including what I thought of the book, what it means to me, if I think I will re-read it and (sometimes) how pretty the cover is. Mmm, pretty books, my favourite.

  • If I enjoyed the book a lot, then chances are I will keep the book, especially if it has a gorgeous cover.
  • If I liked the book, then I might keep it, depending on shelf space, or I might pass it on to a friend who I think would enjoy it.
  • If I disliked the book, then I’ll most likely get rid of it after reading – either donated to charity or sent to a friend who I think would enjoy it.
  • Occasionally, if there’s a book I’ve really enjoyed but don’t see myself re-reading, I’ll send it to one of several friends (including Claire from Bitches With Books).

I would never, ever sell an ARC. It seems wrong. I will happily trade them for other books, send them to friends or donate them to charity for others to read – but I’ll never sell them. Publishers have entrusted me with these books, and I don’t want to profit off that.

What do you think? What do you do with your finished ARCs?

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Thoughts

Thoughts #19: Reviewing ARCs

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I’ve previously discussed how I had a problem with book overload – requesting too many ARCs and then reading other things, going on crazy book buying sprees in charity shops and taking out far too many books from the library. However, what I wanted to discuss today is how you read those ARCs. I’m talking about ARCs in particular because often there’s some sort of deadline, either to get the review written and published around the publication date, or within a few weeks of receiving the book. I’ve noticed that some people are REALLY organised when it comes to reading and reviewing, and it makes me feel a bit useless!

I have a spreadsheet that I use to keep track of all my ARCs, hosted on Google Docs. It’s viewable to everyone and I link to it on my review policy – so people can see my awful requested to review ratio at all times. I prefer to use Google Docs than something like Excel because I can access it anywhere, even on my phone (or *coughcough*at work*cough*). Within the spreadsheet I have tabs for each ‘source’ – Netgalley, Edelweiss and from the author or publisher.

My ‘to review’ spreadsheet, complete with ratio formula.

As soon as a book is received, I add it to the list and include title, author, publication date, received date, number of pages (helpful if I want to quickly read a few review copies), whether I was auto-approved for the book or not and any notes such as a target date for the review. The latter is a more recent addition, one of my attempts to sort out my review pile. I try to colour code books – high priority (which is sometimes to do with publication date and sometimes to do with how badly I want to read the book!), currently reading, read and review to be written, or read and review scheduled. I also have a formula (that Faith shared with me) that lets me know how many Netgalley books I need to read to reach each percentage mark.

I also have another doc for publication dates, which I’ll often use for choosing an ARC. This document is actually pretty shameful – I have ARCs dating back to September 2012, just after I started blogging, that I still haven’t read. I’m mostly concentrating on books sent to me by Hodderscape and Headline at the moment, as they’re physical copies as opposed to ebooks, and I will only have access to them for the next two months!

Although I feel a lot more organised with my spreadsheet and document, I don’t feel it has really helped me to review books any more quickly. It’s more obvious to me now when target dates for reviews are coming up, but unfortunately the only way I can make sure to reach them is to push myself! Or perhaps just not request quite so many books from Netgalley… although I am getting better at that.

Too many books, and not enough time… story of my life.

How about you? How do you deal with reviewing ARCs and scheduling reviews?

Challenges

Challenge: Review Copy Cleanup

After my worries earlier this week about my Netgalley ratio, I have been introduced to the perfect solution by several people: the February Review Copy Cleanup hosted by Vicky @ Biscuits and Tea and Celine @ Nyx Book Reviews. These lovely ladies are challenging each other, and other bloggers, to read as many review copies in the month of February as they can. It’s perfect for people like me who may have gone a little crazy with the ARC requesting.

I’ve gone through my ‘to review’ list and my Netgalley dashboard, and submitted a message for all the books I lost when I got a new Kindle. My ratio is now 30.5% (the highest it’s ever been!), but should actually be higher as it says I’ve submitted 36 pieces of feedback, rather than 48. Apparently this is a glitch that Netgalley are working on, so I’m hoping it will be sorted soon to reflect my real ratio. Thank you also to Faith @ Student Spyglass, who has shared a post on improving your Netgalley ratio, including a brilliant formula to work out how many books you need to read to reach certain percentages. I’ve used the formula on my to review spreadsheet, and apparently I need to read 94 books to reach the recommended Netgalley ratio of 80%! I’ll also be putting my Weekly Roundup feature on hold for now, as I attempt to stop buying and requesting books. Madness.

I don’t have a specific goal for February, I just want to read as much as possible – but my overall goal before I start my Masters is at least 65%EDIT: I finally hit over 50% yesterday, when Netgalley caught up to my most recent feedback where I informed the publishers of lost books. 65% should be another thirteen or fourteen books, and now I’ve looked at it that way, it doesn’t seem all too bad! You can see which of my ARCs I will read first this month by taking at look at my review copy ‘to read’ list. If you want to sign up to the challenge, please click the image above!

Are you taking part in the challenge? Do you have many review copies to read?

Thoughts

Thoughts #10: Book Overload

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Hello, my name is Rinn and I think I have a problem.

I may or may not have requested too many review copies of books when I first started out and – okay that’s no excuse. I STILL request too many copies. Recently, I suddenly got approved for a load of books that I requested months ago and completely forgot about. And then I spotted some great new releases from Random House, who I’ve never had a rejection from. But now my policy is that I only request it if it looks AMAZING – BUT WAIT THEY ALL LOOK AMAZING AHHHHHH

HALP ME

I can’t be the only one, right? I know I’m not. But it’s getting rather silly now. That’s my Netgalley dashboard above, and my ratio currently sits at 21.1%. Um. Oops. This year’s goal was to get it above 50%, but I just keep making it harder for myself. Here are my current dilemmas:

  • I’m going off to university in September, and I’ll be going abroad so will only have my Kindle. Therefore it’ll be nice to save some of these to read (which also saves me some money as I’ll be on a tight budget). That means that right now I want to concentrate on reading the physical books I have that I’ve been meaning to read for a while.
  • But I’ll be doing a Masters degree. The blog won’t be my priority, and I’ll probably be posting more discussion posts than reviews. So maybe I won’t get around to reading a lot of these?! I know the large majority of my reading will be course based, not fiction.
  • I should have 98 books left to read and review, but I only have 58 on my ‘to review’ list – which is also what’s on my Kindle. I think quite a few got lost in the Great Kindle Changeover of ’13, even though I backed things up and copied them over… so my ratio will never hit 80% as it is.

I know that this is all my fault and the only thing I can do right now is keep reading and stop requesting! I could perhaps aim to read at least four review copies a month. I’m also unsure whether it’s worth starting from the earliest requests and working towards the present, or just starting back a few months. Perhaps the publishers won’t be interested if it’s been that long? Of course I plan to get around to them all eventually (HAHA SHE SAYS) but I feel like it would be more worth my while to write reviews for more recent releases at the moment. And believe it or not: my terrible ratio has only resulted in one book rejection so far. THEY NEED TO STOP BEING SO NICE.

Help! Do you have any advice for me? I’d especially like to know what people think about submitting reviews for my earliest requests.