I know I am by no means the only blogger who feels behind on their review copies – whether it’s joining in with #ARC Apocalypse, State of the ARC or signing up for the reviewathons that pop up on Twitter, there are plenty of features out there designed to help bloggers catch up on that inevitable backlist.
Although lockdown hasn’t given me a major abundance of free time, I have gained a couple of hours back each day for not commuting, and I’ve been reading more because my evening and weekend plans obviously now can’t be going to the cinema or hanging out with friends. I’ve seen a couple of people recently posting about how they’re working on their NetGalley ratios, and although mine isn’t terrible (74%), I figured now was as good a time as any to really take control of my review copies. I’ve come up with a strategy that will hopefully be a lot of fun, and you’re very welcome to join in with.
The first thing I did was figure out exactly what review copies I had – I went through everything on NetGalley, Edelweiss, and my shelves, and came up with a fairly mammoth list, like Destiny’s. The full list is in another post, but the stats are as follows:
–> 2020 upcoming: 7
–> 2020 overdue: 24
–> Backlist digital copies: 96 [44 EW, 46 NG, 5 LF, 1 Author]
–> Backlist hardcopies: 32
–> TOTAL number of books to read/review: 159
The second thing I did was really think about how much I want to focus on them. On the one hand, I do really want to get rid of my backlist – some of these were from back in my early NetGalley days way back in 2012, and that seems a little bit insane to me! On the other hand, I also don’t want reading to feel like work, because blogging is 100% a hobby, and I want it to feel like that. I was inspired by Becca’s Bookopoly to come up with my own TBR Monopoly Board, specifically focused on ARCs, and these are the rules I’ll be using:
- I normally read a minimum of 6 books a month, and I’d like at least half of my reads to be review copies, so at the beginning of each month I’ll roll THREE TIMES
- The squares I land on, unless they’re a community chest, free parking, Pemberley House/Manderley or one of the taxes, MUST be review copies
- I can then free choose any three other books I like from my TBR – I can roll for my other choices or just pick whatever I fancy, and they don’t have to be review copies. [If I roll for them and choose non-review copies though, they don’t earn stars, they’ll just help me get around the board more quickly]
- If I don’t read AND DRAFT REVIEWS for those three review copies by the end of the month, they get added to the next month’s TBR – eg if I read none of the three in May, I get no free choices in June, because all six of my reads will be review copies
- If I land on a square and there are NO review copies that match that prompt on my list, I can move on a square until the first time I find a prompt I can fit a review copy to (SO unlikely but just in case!)
Those are the general rules, so I figure now is time to share the board and walk through how the properties work and what the tweaks are to regular monopoly!
- Every property is named after a place that ties into a theme, and I need to read AND draft a review for a book that matches that theme to tick it off e.g. Landfall & Wreath, two locations in the Saga graphic novels, need a graphic novel or manga title
- Dice rolls determine movement the same way they do in regular Monopoly – roll two dice, move that many spaces
- Doubles – if I roll a double, I’ll roll again and add an additional title to my TBR for the month
- Snake eyes – if I roll double 1s, I can move to ANY square on the board of my choice (but if it passes go I don’t collect a free choice)
- Instead of placing houses, every time I finish a book that ties to a property, I can place a star on it. Instead of generating profit, a star will give me a movement bonus – it’ll let me move forward or backwards one property. E.g. say I land on 221B Baker Street but I’ve already read a mystery and placed a star here. I can choose to read another mystery (stay where I am), a horror (by moving forward one to Hill House) or a contemporary (move back one to Tyersall Park)
- In Monopoly, four houses = a hotel. In Raider of the Lost ARCs, 4 stars = a book. If I land on a square I’ve already got four stars on, I can swap that TBR pick for ANY book of choice (review or non review copy)
- Train stations have become Hogwarts Common rooms and each has it’s own prompt
- Chance cards – I wanted something that I could put into my bullet journal easily so I haven’t created Chance or Community Chest cards. For Chance cards there’s a choice:
- If I rolled less than a 6 to land on the chance square, generate a random number between -6 and +6 then move that many spaces forwards or backwards
- If I rolled a 7 or more to land on the chance square, I’ll generate a random number that matches how many books are on the review copy TBR at that point, and read the book that corresponds to that number on the list
- Community chest – free choices. There’s got to be a few on the board!
- Jail – the whole point of the game is to work on review copies, so to leave Jail I must draft a review of at least ONE book from the review copies list. It can’t be one of the three I rolled that month because I’d have had to do that anyway!
- NetGalley Tower & Edelweiss HQ – pretty much exactly what they sound like – read something from that platform
- Cheating– there is one ‘cheat’ I’ll allow myself, and one cheat only. REVIEWING the book is the price to unlock a property, so if I land on a square that I could write a review for from the backlist below because I’ve already read something just not yet reviewed it, I can choose to just pay the review and not read the book. There are only a few that might work for, and to be honest, I think most of them I’d just re-read because it was so long ago anyway! But it’s a cheat there in my back pocket just in case.
- The really nasty bit – Raider of the Lost ARCs controls my requesting too! I will be allowing myself 1 ‘credit’ every time I complete a circuit of the board, and that credit lets me request a book. It doesn’t have to be used straight away and I can wait until I have a few and then go on a requesting spree. If I desperately want to request something and I have no credits, I go immediately to jail and I have an enhanced sentence – TWO reviews needed to get out.
- Bonuses – if I review titles on top of my minimum three each month, I’ll award myself bonus credits. One for every FIVE additional books, whether from this backlist or not (yes they stack month to month, so if I read and reviewed 1 extra book for five months, I’d earn an extra credit).
That’s about it really, aside from the mammoth list of books to work through, which I’ll put in another post. If this sounds like something you want to give a go, by all means please do! Tweak the rules if they don’t work for you – if you want to use the board but for any books not just review copies, if you want to tick it off in any order without rolling, if you want to change how many reviews get you out of jail, anything, go for it. Have fun with it, and share your progress – we can cheer each other on!