Until a few months ago, I’d never even heard of NetGalley. But when one of my author friends mentioned it, I soon figured out it was huge.
Basically NetGalley is a place where readers, librarians, book buyers and reviewers can go to download free copies of e-books. The way it works is, authors and publishers pay a fee to list their books. Members of NetGalley then look at the site and request the titles that interest them. These requests are either approved or denied by the authors/publishers. If the request is approved, the requester gets a free, digital copy (either epub or mobi file from what I understand) of the book in exchange for an honest review. If you want a better explanation, you can check out How It Works on NetGalley.
Sounds like a fantastic system that’s advantageous for all parties, right?
My answer to that would be yes and no.
In theory, I think NetGalley is an awesome idea. It’s quite expensive to list books on the site, so when my author friend organised a group of us (Indie Inked) to go in together, I jumped at the chance. The price divided between 12 of us, brought the cost down to about $165 USD per title, for a 6-month subscription (including the start up fee). In that time, we can list, as a group, up to twenty titles. I paid for my one title slot and have so far listed two of my books on the site (one title at a time).
Once my title was up I could log on to the Indie Inked NetGalley page and approve or decline the requests. Each requester has a profile with important information on it – the date they joined up, the amount of requests they’ve made and how many have been accepted or declined, plus the amount of feedback they’ve left. There is also space for them to leave social links, a paragraph about themselves and the genres that most interest them. It gives the author an idea of what the reviewer can offer and I do like the way it’s up to the author’s/publisher’s discretion who will get a copy the book.
As you can imagine, checking out each request can take a very long time. In fact it’s become so time consuming, I’ve had to ask my PA to help me out. She now logs on once a week and goes through them for me.
So far, between my PA and myself, I’d say my two titles have been approved to nearly 200 members of NetGalley. I guess my expectations were way too high, but I was assuming in the two months since I’d joined, that I’d be seeing a fair share of reviews posted on either NetGalley, Goodreads or Amazon. But no such luck. I think I’ve had about 4 NetGalley reviews come in and I can’t deny I’m disappointed.
I do admit that one NetGalley reader loved Unknown (The Elements Trilogy, #1) so much she asked if I would be happy for her to feature it on her blog. Yes please!!!
She ended up doing a feature on the entire trilogy and gave me three separate posts, which was wicked. I was really happy with that. But other than that one awesome incident, my reviews from NetGalley have been few…as well as pretty harsh.
Now, I’m not complaining about honest reviews. I’d rather readers tell me what they’re really thinking, but some of them can be very cutting. A few of the Indie Inked girls have had to endure some pretty scathing reviews along with the good ones. That’s a risk I was aware of beforehand, so I’m not too fazed by this. I guess my main disappointment is the fact I was hoping for more for my money. I think 4 reviews from 200 requests is really low and I think when that six month deadline comes around, I won’t be signing up for a second stint.
I don’t want to be really negative about NetGalley, because I do think there are some really positive aspects for both readers and writers. It’s a great chance to discover new authors and for authors to be discovered by new readers. It’s technically a great way to build up reviews around your books and get some buzz going. Also, because NetGalley is so huge, your books are getting listed next to some pretty big name titles and that can sometimes do wonders at getting your book noticed.
But from my perspective, it’s a pretty pricey way to do things. I have run giveaways on my blog and handed out Advanced Reader Copies of my books on my Facebook Page in exchange for reviews and had a much higher return rate. Those two things have cost me nothing.
Maybe I need to give NetGalley a few more months to really prove itself or maybe I need to be fussier over which requests I approve. If you are considering checking out NetGalley, I encourage you to investigate it thoroughly before paying. It might be just the thing for your books, or you might have other strategies that will be more effective…like I did.
Are you a NetGalley user? If you are, what do you like about NetGalley? Are you glad you signed up?