Thoughts #19: Reviewing ARCs

Posted 18 June, 2014 by Rinn in Thoughts / 54 Comments


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?

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54 responses to “Thoughts #19: Reviewing ARCs

  1. I really like your spreadsheet, although it must be so overwhelming looking at those 70 unread ARCs. I’ve started making TBR lists for every month in a Word document, where I list the ARCs that are being published that month and the school books I have to read that month to keep up. It helps giving me a goal each month, while not being bound to a certain order in which the books have to get read.

    That being said I still have at least 60 unread eARCs and around 25 unread physical ones. Funnily enough I too have yet to read my Netgalley copies of Ironskin and Ashen Winter (and countless others) from 2012
    Celine recently posted…Reading TOO Fast & Reader’s Resentment

    • IT REALLY IS UGH. It doesn’t stop me from requesting more though. I think I like torturing myself/feeling guilty. I actually had an email from Netgalley, which I guess they’re sending round to everyone under 80% feedback ratio, saying I had a large number of books without feedback. I’m at 55% at the moment, I’m trying!

      That sounds like a good way to organise things 🙂 These past few months I have made a list of what to read that month, but it’s getting tricky because I have all these ARCs with pub dates coming up, and also a load of physical books (both review copies and my own purchases) that I want to read before I go off to the Netherlands.

    • I normally do, which is why I have this problem I think 😛 I’m trying to work on it though. It doesn’t help that I’ve been distracted by a few game series lately…

  2. This is so bad but I literally have no order to it at all. I stick little dots onto all my unread books but that’s pretty much it. I should definitely do a spreadsheet or something as well though! But I have this dream that one day, I’ll have so few to read that I won’t need an awesome system. A girl can dream right? Haha 😛
    Laura Plus Books recently posted…Getting Over It: Fingerprint Magnet Book Covers

    • Haha, that’s a nice little system – at least it’s immediately obvious when you look at the shelf!

      That would be nice… got to get that Netgalley ratio above 80%!

  3. Your spreadsheets look awesome! I wish I could do something like that…but I get lazy 😛 Normally I try and focus on my physical ARCs and go by the pub date but sometimes I just don’t feel like reading them so go for whichever takes my fancy.

    • Thanks 🙂 I have to make sure to add something as soon as I receive it, or I forget and it disappears into the void of unread books… I think I’m way too behind to concentrate on publication dates, so I’ve just started doing that with recent books.

    • Haha, I’ve had lots of comments on how organised it is but I just don’t feel it really is, myself! I wish I only had five unread ARCs… D: Thanks, Miriam.

    • If I didn’t keep a list I think my Netgalley ratio would be SO much worse. Those big ratio numbers on the site don’t scare me – but the list does 🙁

  4. Wow. You have a lot of ARCs. Wow.

    I only have one e-ARC to read at the moment (surprising), which is why I don’t have to organize everything. I’m just very picky when it comes to requesting books now.
    Valerie recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday #15

    • Yeah I… kind of went crazy on Netgalley when I started blogging. I guess I didn’t realise just how important is was/how often the publishers checked the ratio, and I basically just requested everything that looked remotely interesting. I did have WAY more than this but I lost quite a few when I got a new Kindle, so I had to send messages as feedback saying that unfortunately my copy was lost. So that was about thirty/forty more unread ARCs straight off the list.

      I should take a lesson from you and be way more picky! I’m trying…

    • It hasn’t solved the problem, it’s just made it… easier to tackle, maybe? 😛 But yeah, now I can immediately pick an ARC out of the list.

  5. This is fucking brilliant. It’s no secret that I LOVE your blog, and now here you go again writing this amazing post! I have a very similar book overload problem as you…and I’ve been trying to deal with it in a decent way, and I thought that I was doing okay. But after seeing all of the glorious, glorious organization that you’ve got going on with that spreadsheet. OH MY GOD. I want in. I’m totally going to copy you and make something like this for myself. I need this in my life!!
    Miranda @ Tempest Books recently posted…My Controversial Thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey {Discussion}

    • Awww, thank you so much Miranda, it’s so lovely to hear praise like that! <3 Do it! Google Docs is so good, and it's nice to have everything laid out like that, even if it's kind of depressing to see how many books there are...

      Let me know if you make your spreadsheet - I can also link you to Faith's formula if you want? 😉

  6. I’ve only recently set up a very basic spreadsheet to keep track of ARCs I need to read. I don’t really get books from publishers because I’ve never requested them. I’m thinking I might try that now. But I do request earcs from Netgalley and Edelweiss and I’m almost always approved because I’m a librarian, too. One of the advantages to being a librarian 🙂

    I try to be really picky with what I request, but I went a little crazy last week, so I thought to make a spreadsheet. Honestly, do I think it will get me to read those books more quickly and in a more timely manner? No. I’m a mood reader, and I’m never sure what I will feel like reading. But I am hoping that it will keep those ebooks in the forefront of my mind, so that I don’t forget about them. Or when they are released.

    Thanks for sharing your spreadsheet. I will definitely be taking some tips from it.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Review: All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

    • Oh, nice! 😀 I bet that’s a fantastic job.

      I’m trying to be more picky. I’m really doing much better at this not requesting thing – a lot of the time now when I check Netgalley, I don’t see much I want to request. Which is good! I’m also a mood reader, so like you said, the spreadsheet doesn’t speed up my reading necessarily, it just reminds me of what I should read – and if I’m in the mood for it, I’ll read one of those ARCs, but if none of them appeal at that moment then I’ll read something else 🙂

  7. Impressive how you’ve made this system with all the extra information. I use an Excel file to order all my things and that does seem to work. I’m not very much behind on my eARC’s, only now because I’m rereading some series so I can read the new and last book.

    In my Excel I have a page where I include: title, author, publisher, source and publication date. Then I have another page in the same file where I put all the things I’ve read. It motivates me to see how many books I’ve already finished 🙂
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Top 10 Tuesday 33. Summer TBR pile.

    • Thanks 😀 I did use Excel, but for some reason I made the decision to move it to a Google spreadsheet – it feels less ‘clunky’ and it’s easily accessible.

      That’s a good idea! I did start a ‘reviewed’ spreadsheet but never finished it… maybe I should, since there’ll be more books on there than the other one and that’s got to be good motivation, right?

    • Oh I don’t think I could do a preferred order, too much shifting around! It really helps to have a spreadsheet though, doesn’t it?

      What will you read next? 😛

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one with a silly amount of books to read! And seeing as my ratio is 55%, I’ve already read and reviewed about 75 books, which is quite a lot I think.

      Maybe just add the ones you request from now on to a list, so you can keep track?

  8. Ooh, that is so awesome how you have it all set up! I currently don’t have a system, I just pick up a book and then read and review. I’m better at reviewing ARCs and books I’ve been given for review than I am with other books I read even though I do want to review the majority of them. *sigh*

    Definitely need to come up with a system after BEA, however! I don’t know how I’m going to get through all those…

    Mind if I “borrow” parts of your spreadsheet criteria?
    Christine recently posted…Booking Through Thursday: June 19

    • I’m better at reading ones I’ve bought myself, unless it’s something I’ve wanted for a while – mostly because I have unread books on my shelf that have been there for years.

      Of course you can! 😀

      • Yeah, same here. Especially when it comes to e-books as well, because since I can’t see them, I sometimes forget they’re there. Whoops….

        Thanks! 😀

        • Exactly! I only just discovered that I actually bought the ebook of Cress by Marissa Meyer. Because it was hidden away on my Kindle I totally forgot…

  9. I have a spreadsheet like that too! I have the titles grouped by month to see when I need to read them. I don’t get that many, but I always try to read them the month before they come out and they are the first books on my monthly TBRs. That helped me to not fall behind.
    I still have a ton of books I need to read though that I requested when I started using NG. Not sure how to ever get rid of all those 😀

    For scheduling reviews: have another spreadsheet that is like a calendar where I plan all my blog posts. (I like spreadsheets :D)
    Crini recently posted…Flashback: 05/16/14 – 06/16/14

    • That sounds like a good way to do it. Way more organised – I am just too far behind, and also right now I don’t feel like reading all that much :/

      I have a printed calendar so I can immediately see what’s going up when. I kind of prefer actually having a paper copy of that for some reason 😮

  10. Ooh, Ironskin is one I’ve actually knocked off my list 😉

    Our NetGalley habits are eerily similar: I’ve got 143 requested, and I’m currently within 1% of your feedback ratio!

    I know exactly what you mean about being organised not necessarily helping though – I basically find that I try to be organised, but I just can’t invent any more hours in the day, so it usually means I get to watch the publication dates approach…and then zoom by.

    I’ve come to a total standstill on my ratio at the minute (partially because a few really old requests got approved and bumped it down!) so I’m setting myself a target of 60% by the 1st of August. I don’t think I’ll hit it because I’m engrossed in non-review copies at the minute, but maybe I could at least get past the 56% that’s been my high point so far 😉

    Celine’s idea of a monthly list is a good one, I might try something like that. I’m a definite mood reader (and some months have more publishing than I could read) so I might do something really simple, maybe two or three “high priority” choices each from: review copies, my shelves, new releases/library books and maybe one for revision.

    Good luck, just think how far you’ve come already!
    Faith recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday (#55): Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR list

    • Now I’ve recently re-read Jane Eyre, I feel I should hurry up and read that one 😀 Might bump it up my list, it’s way overdue after all.

      Haha, Netgalley buddies! And yep, unless I gave up my job and did nothing but read, I can’t see me getting that 100% ratio any time soon :/ And recently I’ve started reading books way before the pub dates, but then had periods where I’ve been busy, or haven’t read much, or have been distracted by other books/video games so even with my good intentions, my review is posted after the publication date.

  11. I’ve seen a couple of bloggers with super organised spread sheets – Snuggly Oranges being one, and I think the other was Read Sleep Repeat ( – I linked to her organisation pages from my last award post, there’s so many, and they’re so good! I haven’t made myself an organisational spread sheet yet, but I plan to. I don’t want to overcomplicate it as it will take as much time updating it as it does to do all my other bloggy things, and that defeats the purpose for me. I have a few books outstanding on NetGalley… in fact, I had a publisher contact me recently about a review – eeek! My plan is to finish my TMI reread and book 6 and then get stuck in and clear my ARCs up before reading/requesting anything else! That’s the plan anyways…

    R x
    Rachel recently posted…My Independent Bookshop

    • Yes, Debby’s is SUPER organised and she always seems to have four or five ARC reviews lined up, which really impresses me.

      I think of all my time on NG I’ve had maybe two emails from the publisher about reviews. And not because they were overdue, just asking if the review link could be emailed once it was done 🙂

  12. Love the spreadsheets 🙂 I did attempt spreadsheets at once, but they ended up neglected. I was thinking about starting them back up because it was a pretty good way to keep everything organized. My problem was, though, not sticking to dates. But this is with non-ARC books.

    As far as ARCs, I really don’t request them anymore because I found myself on Netgalley hitting the request button multiple times, getting approved for all of them, and then not being able to keep up. But if I do end up with multiple ARCs, I really just knock them all out- one right after another.
    Kayla Elizabeth recently posted…Jane Eyre June – Weekly Wrap Up – Week Three

    • I wish I could do that with ARCs! But I’m definitely a mood reader who tends to read only one genre for a while, then I move onto another, and another, and go round in a circle. Trying to avoid Netgalley at the moment, though it seems plagued with romance books right now which do not interest me in the slightest – luckily!

  13. I feel a bit overwhelmed, just reading your post he he. I don’t participate in ARCs. I’ve also just totally redone my reading system and I’ve done away with a TBR list. As of today I’m totally list free! I’m now free from feeling obligated to read certain books, and instead I’ll be choosing books based on what grabs my attention while I’m browsing the shelves at the library 🙂 I’ve gone a bit Matrix like over here, lol.
    Finley Jayne recently posted…{Big Changes are Here!} I’m Totally Revamping My Reading System: Part One

    • I really wish I hadn’t gone so crazy for them when I started blogging 🙁 To be free would be nice! I mean most of the time I just read what I want anyway, but I do get a nagging feeling about publication dates etc.

  14. I’ve been considering trying to get in on this whole ARC party…I’ve just created a netgalley account.

    Obviously, I’d have to work hard even to start getting approved for anything but at the same time…it’s scary!

    I can’t imagine being this organised. You are impressive and maybe I should just stick to no ARCs ahaha.
    Natalie Crown recently posted…Dreams of Gods and Monsters – 4/5

    • You have just sold your soul 😛 That website is DANGEROUS. Although I have to say, there hasn’t been much on there that appeals to me lately.

      Nah, read those ARCs but… don’t go crazy requesting like I did when I first made my account, because you will probably never finish them unless you’re very dedicated!

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