Rambles, reviewer aspirations
Comments 25

Reviewer aspirations? Things you should know about Netgalley.

Netgalley

Starting to review books can be a bit daunting, and so I thought I might impart a bit of wisdom that I’ve gained during my time as a book blogger. I may actually make this into a series, focusing on a different aspect in each post.

Today I thought I would cover Netgalley, the website that bloggers use to obtain ARCs from publishers. It can be a bit confusing, and I’m still not completely fluent in their ins and outs myself, but here are some things I’ve noticed.

Netgalley is probably the most frequented site by book bloggers to obtain their ARCs. Netgalley has an extensive catalogue of books available for review. Some are openly available (you can find these by selecting the ‘Read Now’ filter). Read Now books are great for someone just starting out because they don’t require approval. To gain access to most books available on Netgalley you will need to be approved by the publisher. Once you obtain a book from Netgalley, you simply read it, review it, and send your feedback to the publisher.

While it’s fairly easy to use, it does have some annoying features one should be aware of before diving in.


1. Your profile – Don’t be modest.

To optimise your chances of being approved for a particular title you’re going to need a really good profile. But what does a good profile contain? you ask. Well, it took me a long time to figure out what was needed, and I’m sure there is still stuff I’m missing. But the main thing is that you need to make publishers want their book on your blog, and this is no time for modesty.

Firstly you will need a little blurb about yourself and your blog including your area of interests and your audience (i.e. YA or Adult fiction etc.). Some publishers even like an indication of the frequency of posts.

Secondly you will want to include your blog stats. As I run two semi-connected blogs, I include both in my profile. As for the stats you will need, I’m sure there are a range of stats you could include but there are three main ones that publishers will be interested in:

  • Follower count – I provide a rough combined follower count (which I update frequently as I gain new followers).
  • Pageviews – This is the total number of pageviews, and this is usually displayed as per month. 
  • Unique Pageviews – This displays the number of individuals who accessed your site, and is also usually displayed per month. 

These stats are probably enough, but don’t be afraid to include any other stats that make you look impressive. For example, I also include the number of notes (reblogs/likes) my tumblr account receives each month.

Thirdly, and this is probably the easiest part, you will want to include all your contact information. This should include an email address (it’s best if it looks like a semi-professional), and links to your social media accounts associated with your blog, eg. Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc.

So there you go. Now you have a nice profile, what are some of the other things you need to consider?


2. The dreaded approval/feedback ratio

One of the most frustrating things with Netgalley is that once you’ve requested a book, and you have been approved you are expected to read and review it. Netgalley has what they call the 80% Approval/Feedback ratio, but what bloggers tend to call THAT F*@%ing SON OF A B*!*# STUPID A*$ BLOODY BANE OF MY EXISTENCE RATIO.

Now, you may think, “Oh, you’re only expected to read 80% of the books you request. That’s not too bad. That’s fine.” But it’s actually extremely difficult to maintain. I have never been able to maintain this ratio for more than a few days.

Why? you ask, thinking I must just be some kind of slacker, but it is actually really difficult as you cannot change your mind between request and download and numerous things can go wrong:

  • The Disappearing Download – Books are only available on Netgalley for a limited amount of time before they are Archived, and you can only download books during this window (and in adobe digital editions they are only available for 50 days).  This can cause all sorts of issues. 

For example, I had my ereader stolen (possibly lost, but I think stolen) and I was unable to read three books, and by the time I replaced my ereader, these titles had been archived and couldn’t be re-downloaded. So now those books are just sitting there, mocking me.

I have also had issues with being approved for a title the day before the archive date, and having it no longer available the next day when I go to download it. But there is a way around this.

TIP: If this happens to you, you can simply put that the title wasn’t available for download in the “Notes to publisher” section of the feedback form. This will count as feedback sent.

  • The Surprise Sequel – it does pay to check the books you plan to request on Goodreads before doing so.

I have been caught out before where I have requested a title only to find out later it was the second book in the series. Being more than slightly pissed off and thus not wanting to purchase the first books myself, I simply didn’t review it. I strongly believe this is one of the biggest downfalls of Netgalley, and you definitely need to be aware of it.

  • The Incorrect Format Gamble – PDFs. Man do I hate books provided in PDF format. It infuriates me because you cannot find this out prior to requesting the book. 

If you’re someone who can read just fine off a computer screen, this probably wont concern you, but I am a 100% eInk person (or paper of course, but no computer screens!). It’s not just that I want to be difficult, it’s that reading off a computer screen makes me feel like I’m going to vomit. And we all know that electronics and vomit don’t mix. Anyway, PDFs are terrible to read on ereaders.

Now, I am a rather spoiled person who has both a Kobo Aura and a Kindle Voyage, so if the Kindle version is available, I will usually choose this option as I know they will be in Mobi format. But not all books are available for Kindle. For the non-kindle variety you will need to take the epub or PDF gamble, and more often than not you will find yourself with a PDF copy.

And these PDFs cant be simply converted to epub using Calibre as they contain DRM. You can strip off the DRM with designated software, but trusting software designed to do something illegal can be a bit dicey.

So you can choose not to read these books, but then you are going to take a hit in your ratio.

  • The Netgalley Newbie Rampage – It is completely unavoidable for any Netgalley Newbie to not go and request a bucket load of books as soon as they set up their account.

In an free-book induced haze they rampage through the catalogue downloading anything that vaguely looks interesting in an absolute frenzy, and then later, in the light of day, when the haze has cleared from their eyes they look at their now unmanageable TBR pile with horror, as all those books that looked so interesting to their frenzied mind now look actually kind of boring and not that great and you now have absolutely no desire to read them. And you are stuck with them. There is no changing your mind.

  • The Pesky Preview – some books on Netgalley actually aren’t full books at all and are in fact, only previews. 

This has happened to me twice now. I am the kind of person who tends to hit the Request button before reading the entire blurb on the book, and twice I have been so over excited that I failed to realise that I was actually only downloading a preview. It may not actually be at the top and may be underneath the synopsis. And this is a problem you see, as I refuse to review half a book on my blog. I just wont do it. So the only option really, is to then buy the book. This is particularly annoying with ARCs as you then need to wait for them to be released. So that book sits on your shelf, dragging down your approval ratio until the book actually comes out, which can be months. So before downloading previews, decide whether or not you are willing to post a review of half a book. It’s actually a really weird thing for publishers to expect.

  • Great Expectations of Publishers – Some publishers have specific requirements for reviews and they are not always available before you request the title.

Some publishers not only expect a review, but they expect it in a certain time frame, usually one week on either side of the release date. Now when that release date is right upon you it can be a struggle to get that book read and reviewed in time. But what if that release date is months away. That is months of that book sitting on your shelf dragging that ratio down to the depths of Hell.

TIP: Send feedback early. Now this may prohibit you from including a link to your review on your blog but it will get it off your unread shelf and allow you to increase your ratio in the meantime. Include a note to the publisher with the date your review is scheduled for posting. You can also go back once the release date rolls around and edit your feedback to include the link.

So there are so many things that can prevent you from achieving that coveted 80% Approval/Feedback Ratio. And let’s not forget that even if you do manage to reach that ratio, the next book you request will drag that ratio back down again until it is also reviewed.


3. Rejection 

We have all suffered a myriad of rejection from Netgalley, and sometimes it can be difficult to figure out why you were rejected. There are all sorts of reasons why publishers will reject you. Most often it will be because you are simply in the wrong region. Sometimes it might be that there were only a certain number of copies available and you simply got in too late. Try not to take rejection from publishers too harshly.


So have you guys had any other problems with using Netgalley? Or do you have any other tips you would like to share? Leave a comment below, lovelies.


25 Comments

  1. The best thing I have found with NetGalley is that I only request one or two books at a time and then review them before requesting more. If you use wordpress, you can use the shortlink generator at the top of the edit view on the post to get a link before the publication date, and just note to the publishers when the release date is on your blog.

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  2. Great and very useful article !
    I want to join netgalley, but I think I’ll wait a little longer (my stats aren’s that great, yet.)
    but they only provide e copies ?

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    • I believe they do only provide e-copies. there are some other sites that provide physical copies such as bloggingforbooks.org (but only if you’re in the US or Canada. Other regions only get ebooks). The easiest way to get physical books is through publishers directly.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cait @ Paper Fury says

    Awk, I’m bookmarking this to share on the weekend because THIS POST IS BRILLIANT. It’s so detailed, too! WELL DONE. 😀 I’ve been on Netgalley for…oh. Let me see. Maybe 2 years? I like the changes they’ve made now. (I’ve found that even if a book is archived I can still send back reviews late, so YAY.) But the 80% ration hasn’t really bothered me because I only ever get out one or two books at a time. THE REJECTION IS WHAT KILLS ME. I think it’s the number #1 reason I don’t hang out on netgally so much. I think it’s absolutely stupid how most books are for Americans only. *growls* It’s an ebook for crying out loud. I WANNA READ IT. XD So despite having like a 99% ratio and good stats, I’ve only read like 20 books on there in 2 years.

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    • How hard is the rejection! It’s soul crushing especially when it’s a book you really really want and you have no idea why. And what they really need is a ‘filter by region’ button!

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  4. Pingback: July Wrap Up + Book Haul Part Two. | Read the Bloody Book

  5. Karen Blue says

    I use NetGalley so much. Recently I have been stalking Edelweiss and sometimes if I am rejected on one, I look for that book on the other. I am at 84%, but it is a CONSTANT struggle. Also, I get rejected a lot despite being awesome and putting all of my stats on my profile. I think I get to books late, and that may be my main issue. I am constantly late to the party.
    Great post! I love how you managed to capture everything we love and hate about NetGalley in one post. I’m sharing this post!

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    • It is a constant struggle. I have never been approved for a title on Edelweiss. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong. I don’t have too much trouble on Netgalley (I think the main issue is, as you said, getting in late). but I have no idea what Edelweiss wants. I just can’t get accepted for anything and people I know with a lot worse stats than me dont have any trouble so I don’t know what is going on there.

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  6. First of all, your profile photo is so recognizable, and I’ve seen it floating around Tumblr a lot. So hi, it’s nice to see someone else from Tumblr book blogging out of Tumblr. People rarely ever do that, and I can’t really find anyone with the same sort of crossover.

    I have 16 unreviewed books on my shelf, and my goal for the first two weeks of August is read them and review them all. It’s a struggle to stay away from requesting, but I will attain that 100%. And it’s going to stay for a long time, because I’ll be in college, probably too busy to be even tempted by Netgalley. *evil laughs*

    Also, for your Edelweiss comment up there, it’s really more of the publisher. Macmillan, Penguin, and Harper are more active on there, and in the case of Harper, they upload their books only on EW. And all three are really picky, so while I may have been approved a lot on NG, the number of books I’ve been approved for on EW is less than 10. 😛 And I’m kinda happy, because I don’t know how I’ll even control my ARC reading otherwise.

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    • yes, I am on tumblr a lot. I will never get to 100% due to the books I lost when my ereader was stolen. *Sigh*
      As for EW I can’t see why I wouldn’t get approved. I know a lot of people get approved for things on there and my stats are acutally quite impressive when including my tumblr (and the friends I speak of who get approved only use tumblr so it can’t be tumblr that’s pulling me down). I think I am doing something completely wrong on there because it’s a really complicated website. I can’t find anywhere to put a profile or anything…

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      • *stares at your profile pic* Seriously, those books are so pretty. And I shamelessly send DNF notices even when I don’t plan to review the book. I don’t know if I would shamelessly send a lost Kindle notice, though. That’s tricky.

        And a profile? When you request a book, there’s a space called, “Description of Your Role.” That’s kind of the profile.

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      • I’ve never DNF’ed a book for review. I have trouble DNF-ing books full stop. I know that’s silly. I did actually send a message to Bloggingforbooks.org explaining the situation with the lost ereader and they did wipe the book from my account (but it’s a different one-book-at-a-time website). But it seemed like a bit much for three books. So I am just trying to get my ratio back up there.

        Okay I had no idea what to put in the ‘description of your role’ thing. I figured it was kind of like a profile. I just don’t know why I keep getting rejected. I have good stats.

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      • I actually feel more okay DNFing ARCs because I didn’t buy them. It’s like, I don’t have to get my money’s worth.

        Literally joined BloggingforBooks just for Armada. *shrugs* And was it a Kindle? I also had a Kindle but the screen broke, but all of the books are in my account, so I can access them all through the app.

        And I just put my stats in description. But I rarely get approved; only Simon Schuster ever approves me. I think I have low stats, though, and if you have high stats, I don’t know why publishers are rejecting you. Have you ever tried requesting from Simon?

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      • I haven’t tried requesting from S&S. I might try next time. It’s also just an awful website to try to navigate. It wasn’t a Kindle that I lost, it was a Kobo Aura. It was just that by the time I had replaced it they had been archived. I could have read them on my computer, but I just cant read off that kind of screen. blogging for books is a bit weird because it has so few books and it says that once your Klout score is over 40 you get more, but my Klout score is 60 and I don’t get any more than I did before.

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  7. curiousdaisies says

    I just recently joined the site so this was really helpful. thanks so much! 😀

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  8. I hesitate to say it (since it’s likely to jinx me!), but I haven’t had an issue keeping my ratio at 92-100%. Mostly because I try not to request more than a few books at a time. I’ll read at least one right away, schedule the post and send in the feedback. And then request another if I happen to see one I ‘have’ to have. I was always afraid if I requested too many, I’d never read them all. So I’ve gotten picky instead and only request if it really sounds like something I’m going to like.

    This is most likely also why I haven’t had many rejections. Though 2 books I requested over a month ago are still sitting in the ‘pending’ area. I’d almost rather be rejected just so I knew if I was getting them or not!

    I also include my comment count for the last month in my profile. More comments = more interaction and that can only help when publishers are looking over your stats. Then too, the more you request from a particular publisher (and get approved and send in feedback), the more likely they are to approve you in the future.

    I totally wish I had come across a post like this when I was first getting into Netgalley. It’s super comprehensive and is sure to be useful to lots of people!

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    • I know now not to request too many books. My biggest problem was the three books I lost when my ereader was stolen. So those will always be dragging down my ratio. I’ve never thought of including my comments before. Although I don’t have an awful lot of comments. I do include the number of notes I get on tumblr (because it’s around 80k a month so that sounds impressive). I think I need a better comment system on my blog as I think I’m limited to only wordpress users at the moment. I need to figure out how to change that. 🙂

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  9. Have you worked out a way to be selected for books that require a published review elsewhere other than Amazon/GoodReads/Blog? I am looking for publishing suggestions!

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