Hey everyone--I've thought long and hard about how to write this blog post without sounding like an entitled asshole. Many thanks to Kelly Jensen for assuring me I am not. I hope that's true, and that we can continue to have open discussion about review copies and how they can best be used in the online YA community.
In 2015 I did something that my organization-loving self had never before attempted: I recorded and kept track of every review copy that I received during the year. It was partly because I always say I receive more books than I can read, and I wanted hard numbers to back me up, and partly because I keep track of books I own, books I read, books I want, and books I have to read, so it just made sense that I'd take a stab at keeping track of the books I receive for review. (Also, Kelly gave me the idea. Thanks, Kelly, for a year's worth of excuses to procrastinate!)
First, I created a simple word document, and then I brainstormed every possible way I could organize this document. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, but I also wanted to keep track of more than just the title, for purposes I'll get into later. I ended up dividing the document into two sections--solicited and unsolicited. This is the biggest divide when it comes to my book mail in general, and I should note a rather new development in the history of YA blogging--publishers have more recently started asking us what exactly we want to receive, which I personally think is awesome. At the beginning of 2015, I figured that 60% of the books I receive would be those that I request via response forms attached to catalogs, and the remaining 40% would be random books that get sent to me and show up like little surprises on my doorstep (which can also be good, because sometimes these surprises are books I never would have picked up otherwise, and I end up loving them).
Spoiler alert: Those percentages were actually reversed. That's right--40% solicited, 60& unsolicited.
I also color-coded the titles, to indicate finished copy vs. ARC or bound manuscript. I assumed most books came to me directly from their publisher, but I also annotated if they came to me via independent publicist, through my workplace, or if they were passed along "unofficially" by a friend or colleague. I had a little annotation to indicate if I received a book from the author, but I only used it once, when my close friend gave me an ARC of her new book--as most bloggers know, authors rarely have extra ARCs or review copies to pass along, so don't even bother asking. In parentheses after the title, I also recorded if the book arrived with any freebies/goodies/swag other than bookmarks or postcards.
So how did the numbers stack up?
In 2015, I received 138 different titles for review, and 139 books total (one title was accidentally duplicated).
Of those books, 86 were unsolicited and 52 were solicited or received in conjunction with a blog feature. Of those, 4 copies were unsolicited duplicates (finished copies following ARCs).
Of those books, 72 were ARCS, and 67 were new, finished copies.
I received the majority of the books from the publishers directly, but 15 were received from independent publicists. I received 3 ARCs from friends/colleagues, 1 ARC via my workplace, and 1 bound manuscript from an agent for blurbing purposes.
Overall, 9 books arrived with swag or goodies. These goodies ranged from journals, luggage tags, tea, hot chocolate, travel mugs and cups, temporary tattoos, nail polish, magnetic poetry, cookies or candy, buttons, posters, calendars, and gift cards to coffee shops. Interestingly, the swag arrived with unsolicited books only--all part of a larger marketing plan, I'm sure. My favorite extra to receive this year was the magnetic poetry--it's on my fridge and it makes me smile every time I see it.