“Do you love to discover new books? Do you review and recommend books online, in print, for your bookstore, library patrons, blog readers, or classroom? Then you are what we call a “professional reader,” and NetGalley is for you. Registration is free, and allows you to request or be invited to read titles, often advance reading copies, on your favorite device.”
First of all, let’s be clear what NetGalley really means. In the publishing world, a galley is the uncorrected or, in some cases, the corrected copies of the books that are not yet printed. And when these galleys are provided on the internet as e-books, you have what we call as NetGalley.
NetGalley offers a wide range of books for reviewers, journalists, librarians, professors, booksellers, and bloggers.
At NetGalley, publishers provide galley proofs to readers in order to get what they call as “feedbacks” and what we call as “reviews.” There are a lot of publishers, including some really big ones like Harlequin Enterprises, Penguin Books, Hachette, Harper Collins, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Pan MacMillan and many others in the US, Canada, UK and Australia.
As a voracious reader and a reviewer (with a book blog, The Reading Bud), I’m a “Professional Reader” at NetGalley. Initially, I was so mesmerised by the whole process and the simplicity with which a reviewer can get books, that I went on a crazy spree of requesting books. I requested pretty much all the books that caught me attention at that time and then I used to happily prance like this:
Then after a while, I started getting rejected by almost everyone for reasons unknown to me. My inbox started flooding with emails saying your request has been denied and for a very long time I was like:
Then finally, I decided to get off my ass and learn the proper way of being a “professional reader.” I google-searched like crazy, totally high on my new-found enthusiasm but it took a while before I understood my mistake. My first mistake was that I dove head first into the endless sea of galleys and apparently was hit by a very sharp rock (so to say.)
It took me almost a year of horrible experiences to finally understand how to have a peaceful reading experience on NetGalley. Today, I have around 300 books on my NetGalley shelf and a good enough ratio of around 50% (that I always try to maintain, no matter what.) I have received more than a dozen invitations from publishers for reviewing specific titles and I’m auto-approved by more than 6 publishers so far (out of these 6 a couple publishers limit their books to some countries or continents only, still I made it to their lists.) Slowly but steadily I’ve learned to be very particular about requesting titles and maintaining a minimum ratio of 55% (give or take.). And honestly, now I’m having a lot more fun.
Here’s a screenshot of how my NetGalley profile looks like: (updated 14/07/16)
If you are wondering how to improve your ratio or how to increase your chances of getting approved then read on, I’m sure this article will help clear your doubts.
How to make an impressive profile?
Your profile is the only deciding factor for publishers when it comes to NetGalley. So maintaining a great profile is the key to getting approval.
- Always mention your email address. “Many publishers will only approve requests if they can view your email address, for future follow-ups,” says NetGalley.
- Provide all the possible links where your reviews get posted or shared. Following order is considered good: Your blog, Tumbler, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit.
- Make your Bio look professional, like a resume.
- Add a good profile photo and not a Facebook photo of yourself eating ice-cream.
- Don’t hesitate to brag about how many followers and subscribers you have for your blog.
- Mention that you receive a lot of traffic through search engines.
- Drop a line about how you are bold and honest about your reviews.
- Maintain a high ratio (at least 50%)
- If you are a member of any Professional Associations then don’t forget to mention it.
- Make sure all the links you provide are working.
- Make sure not to add a fake link, it may seriously affect your image as a reviewer.
What is it with the RATIO?
As far as I know, Ratio the most important thing to keep in mind for a reviewer. NetGalley Ratio is the Feedback to Approval ratio. The recommended ratio is 80%. So if you want to get approved for the books you really want, get ready to give a feedback for each and every book your read.
This poses a problem for reviewers like me, who take their own sweet time (sometimes even months) to post the review of a particular book, either because they are lazy or as in my case, have a lot of books to review already (as I schedule review requests from authors and publishers first.) Here are some pointers for improving ratio:
- Decide a limit for requesting books for each month and STICK TO IT.
- Get to reading the approved books ASAP.
- If you take time for reviewing then just write out a mini-review for the time being and submit it. Later on, you can edit it and write a proper one.
- If you think the book deserves 1-2 stars then don’t waste your time writing a full-fledged review for it on your blog. Just write a short review for the feedback and copy-paste it on your Goodreads and then FORGET about it and move on to the next book. (Don’t do it for the publishers you really like as your blog review link is important if you want to read their books in future.)
Why were you rejected?
- Territorial reasons- If below the request button some names are specified, like US, UK, etc, and you are not from these places, then there’s 90% chance that you’ll be rejected. But, if your profile is solid, there’s always a chance for you to get approved (however small it may be.)
- Mentioning only Goodreads in your “sites” won’t get you accepted by most publishers unless you have more than a thousand friends on Goodreads.
- Wrong links, incomplete profile and poor ratio are a recipe for complete disaster.
- Don’t take the books on NetGalley for a given, they are someone’s hard work and unless you are planning on reviewing it, don’t request it just because you can request it by the press of a button (which almost every newbie does!)
The reasons publishers mention while declining:
- They may have hit their maximum allowance for that title.
- No company association.
- Follower counts and website hit counts are important metrics. They prefer reviewers who have established, regularly updated blogs. They look specifically for blogs that have three months of recent, continuous posting of reviews. If your blog is primarily updated with giveaways, cover reveals, and other promotional posts, they will likely decline your request.
- They do not issue ARCs to reviewers who primarily review on Goodreads, Facebook, Amazon, and other social media websites.
How to get approved
- Your profile should be really impressive.
- Maintain a high ratio and your chances for getting approved simply doubles.
- In spite of the territorial reasons, in my experience, if your profile is strong enough you still have a 5-10% chance of getting accepted. So apply for off-territory books only if you really, really want the book.
To wrap this up here are a few pros and cons of NetGalley:
- Huge range of books per say.
- You can contact any big publisher and if your profile is good enough you’ll get approved.
- Serious money saving on some fabulous books.
- Direct download on your devices (Kindle, Nook, etc.), so no issues of transferring books (check out NetGalley’s device guide here.)
- You get a cool badge that says “I’m a professional reader” (like the one in my sidebar.)
- Publishers mostly prefer reviewers who have book-blogs with the heavy following.
- Reviews are a necessity if you want an endless flow of books.
- Have to maintain the book-blog nicely.
- Have to maintain the RATIO.
- You might have troubles figuring out how to read “.ascm” files.
In spite of all the negative things about NetGalley, I really love it 🙂