Have I compromised my integrity by reviewing free ARCs?

Does ‘free’ influence my opinion?

Ms Bubbles SockieP wrote: “I’m not saying that there aren’t honest reviewers of giveaways or competitions, but I’d like to see those who run blogs that depend on freebies for material, give a dozen 1/2/3 star critical reviews in a row… not going to happen.”

The thread, in which the above comment is from, prompted me to ask myself if I’m biased in my ratings for ARCs. Had I gone over to the darkside? Was I deceiving others as well as myself, all for the prospect of more freebies?

I looked at my ratings.

62% (24 out of 39) of my ARC reviews are 3 stars or lower.

Only one is rated 5 stars.

Looking back over those ratings, I checked to see if I’d perhaps inflated a rating or two.

Answer: Not exactly.

  1. I’ve sometimes rounded up if I’ve given a half star.
  2. If I read those books now they’d most likely receive lower ratings. I’ve found that the more I read, the harder I am to please.
  3. I’ve let ratings and reviews stand on 3 books after learning and experiencing things concerning an original draft/author/publisher which made me lose respect for both them and their books. Two of these date back to 2011, before the infamous Year of Badly Behaving Author/Publicist/Editor controversy in 2012, and the last was 4 months into that horrible year when I just wanted to avoid any extra stress. I’m not sure if I’d do things differently today.

Although I receive ARCs for free, I’m still investing my time, and my time is valuable to me. If I think reading a book is wasting it then that’ll be reflected in my subsequent rating and review.

I’ve been accused of being too critical of an ARC, and books in general, on multiple occasions, but that hasn’t stopped publishers from approving my ARC requests so my ‘overly critical’ opinion must be worth something to them. At least, for now.


4 thoughts on “Have I compromised my integrity by reviewing free ARCs?

  1. Compromised your integrity, hell no. Calling all ARC reviewers dishonest is a bad as calling every independent writer a BBA. Yes there are both out there and I am given to believe that Amazon is swamped with both – Amazon is a swamp and desrves its stingy, bitey creatures to complete the impact.

    It seems that Ms Bubbles SockieP is yet again posting about a process she disdains, with disdain, in order to cause a little jostle. It is fun to watch simply because she has obviously got a few people on her radar that she wants to ‘out’. She won’t mean you or I, or any of us that take honest reviewing as almost the highest personal chivalric code one can attain to. Probably the target are those who let slip they are paid for reviewing, always give 4* and above, and gush about the author, the prose etc.

    The one part I am not clear about is where she says there are blogs who ‘depend on freebies for material’. I am not sure if there are such completely dedicated sites, most that I encounter temper the future with a whole dose of contemporary and the historical, in paper form, but she could be right: she knows more about the business than I ever will.

    Take heart, I follow you because I perceive honesty in your reviews.


    1. Thanks, Bettie. 😀

      I think there are some blogs that have a heavy reliance on ARCs to drive traffic though I don’t know of any who are completely reliant. There’s one in particular that I now avoid because they’re ratings and reviews for ARCs have become overwhelmingly positive for books I was fairly sure weren’t their thing, as I was an avid follower with similar tastes. Their average ratings went up almost overnight.

      I can also see how author interviews and blog tours could compromise a blogger, even if they were long-term fans. I’d question if their current ratings of newly released books were influenced because the author’s eyeballs were likely to see it.


  2. I have to admit, I am faster at DNFing a galley because I do not want to wreck my chances, but I do not hand out good ratings just because it was free. I like to think I compromise when it comes to ARCs.


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