Over the past few days there has been a huge outrage about Goodreads‘ and Netgalley’s decisions to turn their backs on international readers and exclude us from the chance to participate in Giveaways and – which probably shocked bloggers even more – to shut down our access to eARCs from American publishers on Netgalley. Instead of being able to request free reading copies as in the past, it’s now only possible to „wish for them“ – which doesn’t seem like a big difference but in reality makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for international readers to still receive those ARCs.
While we can sympathize with the big disappointment felt by the international book blogging community and don’t really understand Netgalley’s and Goodread’s decisions, either, we do want to offer a slightly different opinion on the whole situation. We don’t want to start a(nother) discussion about whether bloggers are entitled to receive ARCs from international publishers or if it’s fair to treat international bloggers the way NG and GR are doing right now. Instead we would like to take a look at the chances this latest development offers us book bloggers and how we can make the most of it – because we’re convinced that not being able to receive free ARCs (anymore) doesn’t necessarily have to be a blogging death sentence! And to show you that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and that we can still be successful and relevant bloggers without Netgalley, here are a few things we could do instead of floundering in anger and a sense of betrayal 😉
Tackle your TBR pile!
Let’s be honest: most of us don’t want ARCs because we run out of books to read and wouldn’t know what do to with our time without them. No, review copies make us happy because they give us the chance to read the newest releases maybe even before their official release dates and be at the head of the pack when reviewing them (theoretically ?). But don’t we all have a pile of shame on our shelves that has been neglected for much too long, maybe even with a few review copies we never got to read? Now’s the time to finally catch up and work on making our huge TBR piles smaller! 😉
We know that book reviews are a huge part of the book blogging business and that’s totally fine – we ourselves love to write about books we’ve read and give recommendations and to browse through other blogs and see how they reviewed certain books we’ve liked/disliked or find out which books they’ve enjoyed.
But we also enjoy posts that go beyond the traditional review! Without access to ARCs, this could be the perfect opportunity to try to focus less on just reviewing books and think about how our posts could be more creative. Maybe start a discussion about a topic that really interests or upsets you, share playlists that perfectly match the atmosphere of the book you’ve just read, take a look at upcoming new releases, participate in weekly/monthly memes (like Top 10 Tuesday) or maybe even go as far as to share cooking recipes that would make your favorite characters happy – there are tons of possibilities to make your blog unique and stand out from the thousand book blogs all over the world. Who knows, maybe getting your access to eARCs shut down is just the push you need to try that new idea you’ve been sitting on for months!
Support your favorite authors!
Of course every review helps your favorite authors to sell their books (unless it’s a really bad one, although even those sometimes make people read books…), but there are plenty of other ways to support authors. You can buy their books, whether it’s a physical copy, an ebook, or an audiobook. (And let’s be honest, there’s a good chance you were going to do that anyway, if you really liked the ARC.) All three formats are perfect for sharing on Instagram, which seems to be one of the biggest ways to promote books these days. You can get the books from your local library or, even better, request that your library purchases the books you want. That’s a great way to bring attention to diverse or indie books that might otherwise never make it to small-town libraries. (Maraia has had great success with her library, so it really can work.) Even if you can’t get an early copy, don’t let that stop you from helping authors promote their books on, before, and after their release dates. That’s an important point to remember – we know that the first two weeks are critical for best-seller lists, but authors also need people to continue buying/checking out their books after the initial release!
**We do realize that not everyone can afford to purchase books or has access to libraries that stock the kind of books they want to read, and our intention is not to shame anyone. If your library doesn’t have English books, for example, this could be a good opportunity to change that by showing what a high demand there is.
Support your local authors!
We won’t deny that it’s pretty awesome if you can read the newest Victoria Schwab novel in advance or get a chance to win the latest Stephen King masterpiece in a giveaway. But there are also lots of great authors right in front of your door, meaning in your own country! So why not give them a try and discover some fantastic new talents all by yourself? Show the world and the international blogging scene that your country has a lot of exciting stories to tell and maybe even make it possible for new national authors to be published internationally by talking and writing about their books if you’ve found a hidden gem no one knows about yet! For example, Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s international bestseller Hex started off as a Dutch horror story, and who knows if international readers would have ever gotten the chance to read this book in their own languages if no Dutch-speaking readers had ever talked about their love for the book. Our friend Iris had already started rediscovering Dutch authors even before this news broke, and she’s been quite pleased with the results! Her post about it is really inspiring.
Discover new independent authors and publishers!
Whether you’ve been blogging for several years already or are new to the blogging scene, we’re pretty sure you all know those emails by independent and unknown authors who ask you if you want to read their books and write a review on your blog. Yes, there are some black sheep who don’t even care what your reading preferences are or if you want to be bothered by review requests at all, and it’s totally fine to roll your eyes at such people and move their emails to your trash folder right away.
But there are also writers who put a lot of work and dedication into their novels but struggle to find a publisher or find only small ones who can’t really do their work justice. If they send you a message to ask you if you’re interested in reading their books, the request is phrased in a nice and personal way, they show you that they looked at your blog and preferences before they approached you, and you maybe even find that their stories sound kinda interesting, why not give them a try? Who knows, you could be the one who discovers the next Dan Brown! Trust us, it’s a much more satisfying feeling to make people love a book they’ve never heard of before than to „just“ convince someone that an already popular book is indeed worth reading.
Write your own story!
We know that a lot of our blogger friends not only love reading but also enjoy writing their own stories and even dream of publishing their own book one day. So why not take it to the next level and instead of reading and reviewing as many ARCs, use the time to work on your own dreams? Just try it out and see how it goes. It’s probably going to be frustrating at least in the beginning, and it’s not a quick fix, but who knows: maybe it’s YOU who is the next Robin Hobb?
We hope our list shows you that, while not being able to receive Netgalley ARCs or win books in international Goodreads giveaways does suck and feel unfair, it could also be just the push you needed to turn your blog into your very own thing, featuring books that tell your readers something about your country, authors you consider to be your own very special discoveries, or maybe even your own stories that you’d like to share with your readers. Let yourself be disappointed or mad, and then use that emotion to bring new energy to your blogs. Remember, the biggest reason we’re all here is because we don’t know how to live without books. Don’t let Netgalley take that passion away from you!