Ever since I started blogging, I’ve noticed how publishers will send ARCs willynilly to the biggest book bloggers/tubers/etc without thought to who would be better suited for the book. Marginalized people are being left behind, as more white, allocishet people are getting ARCs meant for them.
ARCs, or Advanced Readers Copies, are there for book reviewers to read and review before publication, so the publisher might get an idea on how well the book will sell, and what the author did right or wrong. Reviews, however, are mainly there for other readers, to help determine if they should read the book.
However, it’s been often discussed on how a white person can’t identify racism, or how a cis person can’t identify transphobia, because either aren’t a POC or trans. It’s simple, a person not of the marginalization cannot determine if something is offensive to that marginalization.
So, when novels are written with marginalized identities, like, say, a specific queer ID or a certain race, etc, then how will marginalized readers know if they’re safe or hurtful to them without allies or people of the marginalization to have read the ARC?
A problem I’ve been noticing, ever since I joined the book blogging community, is that ARCs with diverse characters are almost never going to the people it represents. I’ve seen many people offer to send ARCs they randomly got to #OwnVoices reviewers, because 1) they don’t have the time to review them because they got so many ARCs and 2) because they obviously aren’t represented in the novel.
If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m a nonbinary person who uses they/them pronouns. All of the main stream novels that actually feature NB people, however, never get sent to NB reviewers. I had to ask a friend of mine if she would be willing to send me her copy of Mask of Shadows, which has a genderfluid main character, because I was denied a physical ARC from the publisher, as well as was locked out of my e-ARC. That’s right. I was locked out of my copy of the e-ARC, despite being given it by the publisher. Why is it this hard for marginalized people to find books that represent them? Why is it so hard to get review copies for diverse books into the hands of the people they represent?
It basically feels like that the publishers just don’t care.
There have been steps towards being more exclusive, I will say that. I recently got an email offering a highly anticipated novel that has a nonbinary character, as well as an email from an author-friend that was sending me an ARC of their book with a genderfluid MC. There are also publishers that exclusively publish marginalized IDs, and from them I have seen steps to get ARCs into #OwnVoices reviewers.
Another thought I had, while writing this post. How are others supposed to gain reach when all of the ARCs are being sent to the same three people. Like holy shit, I’m sorry but that really pisses me off how the same group of people are getting all of these ARCs while everyone else (as in, marginalized people) have to trade around the same three ARCs.
So. Publishers, though I really doubt any actual publishers are reading this ranty post from a queer teen, but how can you start getting diverse ARCs into the hands of diverse people? Here are a few resources:
Ava’s list of Marginalized Book Bloggers You Should Be Following
Xan’s list of Reviews of Trans and/or Non-binary Lit by Trans and/or Non-binary Reviewers
The tags #OwnVoices, #DiverseBookBloggers, and #BooksForTrade on Twitter.
The Diverse Book Bloggers Directory
Richard Ford Burley’s List of #ActuallyAutistic Book Bloggers