As reported at GalleyCat, Dear Author is revising its review policy to achieve two goals. First, we want to encourage publishers to move to digital arcs as an option for reviewers. Second, we want to enable our own reviewers to accomplish their reading/reviewing in as painless a way possible.
As authors may know, almost all houses are cutting back on the number of ARCs being produced and being sent to reviewers. There is some belief that bloggers do not need much lead time as opposed to print publications. Unfortunately, this is not true. Reader/bloggers almost exclusively run their blogs in their spare time, as a hobby. They are not paid for their time or the product that they produce. Therefore reading/reviewing has to be shoe horned into spare moments of the day. Advance copies make it easier for a reader/blogger to plan ahead, preview books to be read, and schedule timely reviews. Finished review copies are nice, but don’t allow enough time for us to read and review in a timely fashion.
Generally, finished print copies are not mailed until 3 weeks before the date of the release. I collate them and send out a review list. The reviewers return the list to me within a couple of days and then the books are shipped out. This process usually takes two weeks from the time I get the books in to when the book arrives on the doorstep of the reviewer. This time lapse is not the responsibility of the publisher in any way, but just a reality of book bloggers who are widely separated by geography.
We certainly sympathize with publishers and authors that review copies and postage can be very expensive but we do believe that digital arcs is an inexpensive way to resolve the balance between a bloggers’ need for early copies and the publishers’ need to reduce costs.
To that end, Dear Author will be giving review priority to any book provided to us in digital format and at least two months in advance of publication. Second priority will be given to books we purchase ourselves and finally, we will consider the reading and reviewing of finished print copies. It is not likely that a finished copy will be read/reviewed until 1-2 months after its release date.
Therefore we urge publishers (and I have emailed all the publicists that I regularly have contact with about this) to allow reviewers the option of digital arcs so that we can continue to give timely coverage for books being released.
Note: We will still accept paper ARCs, but priority will be given to digital arcs.