books, discussion, review

Discussion: Do ARC Reviews HAVE To Be Positive?

Aren’t you proud of me? Being all consistent and writing discussions regularly for the first time ever? I told you had a list of ideas a mile long – I’m just working through it now.

Anyways. Onto the discussion you came here for.


I’ve seen a handful of bloggers touch upon this topic and I wanted to give my own view of it. Arcs are, especially, a book blogger’s lifeblood – one of my most popular discussion posts is on How To Request ARCs.

And for many of us, they are a perk to our hobby – but they are also a responsibility.

Regardless of your stance on negative reviews in general, we have do decide if its okay to negatively review on ARC.

ARC, simply put, stands for Advanced Readers/Review Copy.

An ARCs entire purpose of existence is to generate prerelease reviews and hype, so that the book sells better. Obviously, positive reviews are whats going to accomplish this, not negative reviews.

But upon reviewing an ARC, we all give a statement along the lines of “I received this book for free but it doesn’t influence my opinion”. I think for most of us, thats not even a conscious thing to write, its a legal, automatic, robotic thing. Like a user agreement – you mark agree and proceed to ignore it.

Even if you don’t consciously tailor reviews because its an ARC, I think it subconsciously motivates us to try and like the book a bit more – we feel bad giving a negative review when a publisher/author went out of their way, and spent money, to have us review the book.

But we need to be honest – thats the only way book blogs function. If our readers can trust us, if our fellow book bloggers can trust us.

If you heartily dislike the book – and you don’t want to give a negative review, maybe contact the publisher and let them know. Give them your feedback.

Otherwise, be careful with what you request or accept – if you’re not sure about it, don’t take it just because its offered – you don’t want to get yourself in that position.

Now, if you are reviewing an ARC, and you didn’t like it, DON’T BASH IT.

Explain why did and why did not work for you – what made you dislike it, its it a personal/subjective reason? Could others of certain tastes like it? Is the writing objectively good? Even if its a low rating, can you mention some positives?

We want to promote books. We want ARCs to serve their intended purpose, but not at the sake of our integrity. Be honest – just don’t be harsh or cruel.


What do you think?

Do you agree with me?

Do you have a different stance?

Let me know!

18 thoughts on “Discussion: Do ARC Reviews HAVE To Be Positive?”

  1. No, ARC reviews don’t have to be positive, the only thing they need to be is honest.

    Publishers want honest feedback be it positive or negative and authors should want the same.

    Saying that though, the feedback needs to be constructive especially if it’s a negative review. You can’t just hate on a book (not just ARC’s but any book) and state all the negatives, you need to temper that with the positives and state what you liked about the book too along with the negative and not just hate.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ARC reviews – or ‘ordinary’ reviews – don’t have to be positive. Like Drew says, they have to be honest.

    I don’t like writing negative reviews; I think I wrote two of them by now? But I only started blogging two months ago and, well, let’s just say I’ve been lucky in the ARC’s I requested and got approved for.
    Nevertheless I remember writing a review on a book I didn’t particularly like, said so and someone else replied with “Oh, you didn’t like that, but it definitely sounds like something I would like because of that!” Which just proves the point that even a lesser review can actually help people find the books they like.

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  3. ARC Reviews, and reviews in general, certainly don’t have to be glowing, they just need to be honest.

    I completely agree that having something for free makes you want to like it more. It’s a subconscious estimation of value… If we pay for something expensive, we expect near perfect quality, whereas the cheaper something becomes (all the way to free) the more lenient we will be with it flaws.

    Maintaining objectivity in any review, regardless of media and regardless of price, is always going to be hard. Personally, I care more about a subjective review, I want to hear how a person actually felt about something without them trying to remain objective… It becomes less honest and more subdued that way.

    Lower review scores also don’t necessarily have to be “negative”, they can be constructive and have relevant critique, or even just acknowledgement that the review wasn’t for the reviewer.

    Great post, really thought provoking!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think about this a lot. A book has to be really truly terrible or have gaping plot holes the size of a crater for me to think it’s really terrible. I usually try to be objective with reviews where I talk about the good and the bad in a book.

    I had this happen with an ARC recently where while I enjoyed reading it, the more I thought about the story the more it didn’t work. It was a thriller with science fiction elements and I noted the world building problems in my review.

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  5. As a writer, that sounds completely fair. I am curious though. If you hate the book, do you reserve the right to publish the negative review on your blog anyway? or do you always ask the author / publisher beforehand?

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    1. Generally, if a review is less than three stars, especially for an arc, I’ll let the publisher/author know, so I can hold off on the review until the book has been out for a while.

      But withholding reviews in general to me feels like censorship, so while I don’t go out of my way to right negative reviews, if I have a lot to say about a book, I will publish the review on my blog, negative or not. I also post DNF reviews, but I try not to be hateful about it, I try to be honest about why the book didn’t suit me, because maybe other readers will enjoy it, perhaps even for the exact reasons I didn’t.

      Great question, thanks for adding to the discussion!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As we receive these books for free from the publisher we would all love to return the favour and give the book a glowing review – but they realize that won’t always happen and they appreciate honesty. Just as long as your honesty comes with clear examples to back up your feelings and you aren’t bashing the book or the author. We are writing reviews for the people who are considering that title and it doesn’t do those readers a favour if we hype something we aren’t behind 100%. Some readers may depend on your reviews if your tastes are close to theirs so if you embellish your feelings on a book just because a publisher sent it to you, you aren’t doing them any favours. I have become very picky about the books I choose for an ARC. I need to make sure I’ll at least like it (if not love it) so that I’m not running into so many negative reviews. Great discussion!

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  7. Absolutely agree. Always honest , no matter if it’s ARC or not. The only thing I do differently is that I don’t DNF, no matter how much I want to. But otherwise my opinion will always be honest.
    Negative reviews do need to explain why and be constructive. Hating on a book just for the sake of hating it is not only unprofessional but also extremely rude.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have had many ARCs I didn’t enjoy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t share my review. When you do receive a book in exchange for an honest review, that means that your opinion could be good or bad. It is best for the review to be constructive, but you also need to say why you didn’t like it. To the extent that books rarely change due to someone’s review, I feel like the review advises others about whether or not the book was good to you. Do you see recurring commentary about an element of the book?

    While I know that an ARC’s purpose is to generate hype, I will not let that get in the way of my review. The best hype will come from those who honestly thought it was good.

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