NetGalley is an incredible way to start receiving review copies of books. In general, getting approved for a book via NetGalley is much more likely than getting a physical ARC of that same book. Which makes sense—publishers can afford to give out digital ARCs a lot more freely than physical ARCs.
Sometimes bloggers are scared to jump into NetGalley, but if you follow a few simple guidelines, you’ll see that there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.
Opening a NetGalley account is incredibly easy, but I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I’ve seen bloggers who talk about all the mistakes they made when they first joined (including me!). Most of us joined without really knowing what to expect and without understanding the “rules” (both written and unwritten) that apply to NetGalley.
I haven’t written a post like this before because most of my readers aren’t just starting out in blogging and already have a NetGalley account, but I was reading the April Wrap-Up over at Geybie’s Book Blog where she talked about opening an account and I realized that newbie bloggers don’t have a lot of good information about NetGalley. They just know it’s this site where you can request books for review.
So, what should you know before you open your NetGalley account?
I’m not going to describe the process of actually opening the account because it’s pretty simple and self-explanatory, BUT if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments. Instead, I’m going to focus on the mistakes that bloggers often make when they open an account.
Don’t request too many books!
This is the first bit of advice I’m giving you for a reason. Practically every blogger I know got overwhelmed with books when they first signed up with NetGalley for two reasons:
- They were entranced by all the beautiful, amazing-sounding books!! Yep, I get it. I do. There are so many books that sound fantabulous that choosing just a few of them almost seems like sacrilege. Trust me, this is an issue you will struggle with your whole blogging career. We love books, and we want them all!! But believe me when I tell you that you are MUCH better off only requesting a few books when you first start out. As exciting as it seems to have a never-ending supply of books at your fingertips, this can get overwhelming fast. (And it will cause you problems down the road with your Feedback Ratio, which I talk about below.)
- They didn’t think they’d get approved. This is another statement I’ve heard time and time again. Bloggers go into NetGalley assuming most of their requests will be denied so they go on a huge requesting spree. Thing is, you’ll most likely get approved for a lot more books than you expect, especially if you’re requesting independently published books or books from small presses. (Though you might be surprised at some approvals from the “big” publishers too—don’t be too afraid to ask!)
Watch your Feedback Ratio.
I had no idea this existed when I started NetGalley (a common problem for newbies), but NetGalley has a system of keeping track of the ratio of books you’ve been approved to review to the books you’ve given feedback for. They recommend a ratio of 80% (meaning you’ve submitted feedback for at least 80% of the books you’ve been approved to review). This is the reason you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with books right off the bat. You will find it nearly impossible to keep up, and it will really hard to get that feedback ratio up to the 80% mark. Remember, any time you’re approved for a new book it will lower that ratio (until you submit feedback for something.)
You can always find your current Feedback Ratio on your profile. It will look like this (specifically the green part):
Pay attention to Archive Dates.
Most of the books that you are approved for will have an archive date. That is the date after which you can no longer download the book. For this reason, it’s best if you download a book you’re approved for immediately. If you don’t download the book in time and it gets archived, you’re out of luck—it will still show up as Approved in your list, but you won’t be able to read it (and submit feedback) unless you get the book yourself once it’s been released. This will mess with your Feedback Ratio!
It used to be that feedback submitted after the archive date wouldn’t count toward your Feedback Ratio, but I don’t believe that’s true any longer. At least I haven’t personally noticed that with my ratio, but I’ve seen conflicting information about this. (I have enough books in my account that a single book doesn’t affect me as much anymore, so I could be missing this? If anyone can verify this for me absolutely one way or the other, I’d be happy to hear from you!) UPDATE: It’s been confirmed that I was correct. You can submit feedback after the archive date and it will count toward your feedback ratio. So just make sure you download it early enough and you’ll be fine!
You can find the Archive Date for each book on your Approved list by clicking on the Give Feedback tab. (TIP: By default, the list is sorted by the Download Date, which in my opinion is the least important date given. I always click on the header for the Pub Date column to sort by that since I typically try to review all books by their Pub Date—though, as you can see from my list, I’m not perfect!)
It’s okay to submit a negative review (or even a DNF)!
Publishers understand that you’re not going to love every book they give you. When you sign up with NetGalley, you’re agreeing to post an honest review, not a positive one. It’s perfectly okay to write a negative review; just use common sense and don’t bash the author or the publisher (which is pretty much a standard bit of advice for reviews in general). And if you DNF a book that you requested from NetGalley, that’s okay too—still submit feedback letting them know that you DNFd and why. If you just never submit feedback it will affect your Feedback Ratio, so you still want to let them know that you tried, even if you end up DNFing the book.
What to put in your Bio:
I know I said I’d let you figure out signing up for NetGalley by yourself, but there is one aspect of creating your account that can be a little daunting: the Bio. Basically, you want to give the publishers enough info about your blog so that they know whether or not you’re a good fit.
Generally, you’ll want to give them a little blurb about your blog and links to your social media accounts, and then you’ll want to provide your blog’s stats (most of which can be obtained from Google Analytics). Don’t lie about your stats! It might be tempting to make your blog look just a little better by upping a stat or two but chances are publishers will figure it out and they won’t look kindly on it. In the end, you’ll be hurting yourself more than you’ll be helping.
Also, don’t forget to update your stats occasionally. I tend to update mine every six months or so (if you look at my example below, you’ll see that I included the date I last updated the stats, which was in January). But if you’re a newer blogger you might want to update your stats more often as they’ll probably be less static.
Here’s my bio as an example for you. (And, yes, it feels sort of weirdly personal for me to throw my stats out here for everyone to see—anyone else have this issue?)
Okay, well this post is already getting really long, so I think I’ll stop there. But feel free to let me know in the comments if you have other questions or if you think I’ve missed something. I might even end up writing a follow-up post (since I can think of at least a few other topics I haven’t covered yet).
Thanks to those bloggers (Terri, Jen, Becky, Morrisa, and Danielle) who responded on Twitter and let me know what they wished they’d known before they started with NetGalley! Terri had a great additional idea of tracking your NetGalley reads in a spreadsheet with title, request date and pub date so you don’t forget what you’ve requested. I find getting that info from NetGalley itself (and putting the books into my To Review list on Goodreads) works well for me, but I know others use a spreadsheet as well!
Anything else you can’t figure out or wish you would have known before you’d signed up with NetGalley? I want to know!
If you’re not a NetGalley newbie, I’d appreciate it if you’d share this post so that it gets to the people who actually need it. You can use the share buttons below!