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How to Reach Book Reviewers via NetGalley

Book publicity expert Ben Cameron describes the Netgalley service used by trade publishers to put books in front of reviewers and book bloggers, to help you consider whether it might be worth using for your self-published book.

Ben CameronNetGalley is an online book review platform that enables reviewers to download, for free, electronic copies of books posted on the site. Essentially, NetGalley is a solution to the problem of getting electronic books into the hands of reviewers in their preferred format. NetGalley can be a very powerful way of getting reviews for your book – particularly on blogs, Amazon and Goodreads, but also occasionally in print media as well.

Reviewers (or professional readers as NetGalley call them) may review for the traditional media (newspapers, magazines or radio for example), their own blogs or may simply post reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. For the most part they are book enthusiasts, particularly of genre fiction. The transaction is that publishers or authors allow NetGalley reviewers to read books for free in exchange for an honest review. Reviewers vary in quality and some do not post reviews or do so infrequently. That said, the site does have many wonderful, thoughtful and influential reviewers who can make a real difference to your book’s prospects if it appeals to them.

The Publisher Pays

NetGalley logoReviewers do not pay to use NetGalley, it is paid for by publishers, publicists and authors who wish to post books on the site. Most larger publishers subscribe to NetGalley and routinely make their new books available. Individual authors and small publishers are able to list books on the site for £260 / title (price as of last spring). Another option for individual authors is to go through a publicity company who can post your book for you at a reduced rate, advise you on how to make your book as attractive to reviewers as possible and look after the not insubstantial administration for you. My company, Cameron Publicity and Marketing offers this service for £199 / title.

5 Top Tips for Effective Use of NetGalley

However you go about making your book available on NetGalley, here are five tips on how to make the most of it:

  • Reviews are honest and uninfluenced and therefore can be positive or negative. Your book needs to be well written, edited, formatted and have a strong cover. Of course that advice applies to any independent author publishing a book in any case.
  • The subject of the book is important. Genre fiction gets the best response on NetGalley – romance, crime fantasy, YA, new adult etc. Specialised non-fiction will receive fewer review requests.
  • The book description blurb needs to be tailored to the reviewers that you are trying to attract. Most are high volume readers who will want more plot description than you would include in your book blurb for general readers on Amazon.
  • Be sure to include any website, blog, trailers or other links in your book listing. Not only do they provide further information but they also develop your profile as an author beyond the book that is listed.
  • You will get the vast majority of requests to download your book in the first couple of weeks. Books generally do not need to be listed for over a month – though there are some exceptions.

Like any book marketing resource NetGalley does not work equally well for every book. But for the right book presented in the right way it can do wonders for your book’s profile and help you to reach your audience.

  • You can find out more about NetGalley at its website, www.netgalley.com, and if you’re a reviewer or book blogger, you can sign up for free as a reviewer.
  • If you’ve used NetGalley in the past and would like to share feedback on how effective it was for your book, please leave a comment below. 
  • Ben is happy to answer any questions about NetGalley, either via the comments section, or by email if you prefer not to put your question in public. 

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19 Responses to How to Reach Book Reviewers via NetGalley

  1. sachin verma March 16, 2019 at 4:34 pm #

    Thank you, great post. I really like your point of view on reading books.
    I find your opinion interesting, but on the second day I got totally different advice from other bloggers, I need to think that thanks for posting.

  2. Australian eBook Publisher August 14, 2017 at 1:03 am #

    At Australian eBook Publisher I’ve published about 500 books, many just to ebook, but about 50 are in print. Most in print are print on demand. I have used Net Galley for about ten of these books. They all received some good reviews. Some books fared better than others. It was as you say above, Ben, the genre fiction books seem to have attracted more interest. For us this meant my fantasy novel Talon, a horror-thriller named The Devil’s Prayer, and even my children’s book ‘Myra and the Magic Motorcycle’. Was it worth the expense? Probably not, but taken together with a reasonably thorough marketing campaign, Net Galley is very good part of the mix. So in summary, by no means is it a magic bullet, but it is a great way to reach reviewers and booksellers, as part of a bigger picture marketing campaign. Ultimately, it is the quality of the book, and its relevance to a target market that will make or break it, in any form of marketing, including Net Galley.

  3. Alison Brodie March 17, 2016 at 9:47 am #

    Very informative for indie authors.

    • Ann Girdharry July 20, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

      thanks for this article, how long does the book stay on NetGalley for?

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  7. Ingrid January 15, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Really appreciate those of you with real (and expensive) experience sharing with those of us who are on the fence!

  8. Dianne Ascroft January 15, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Thanks for the information, Ben. I appreciate it.

  9. Ben Cameron January 13, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    I don’t think that you can generalise too much about NetGalley Reviewers. Yes, some are people who are looking for free reads but others are also professionals who review for national press in the UK and US. I have had one author who has since been published by a publisher who found him on NetGalley.

    Think of NetGalley as an easier way to reach more people – all kinds of additional people. Some are great reviewers some are not – but they are all avid readers and, if you think that your book has a wide appeal, it can create opportunities.

    • Jessica Bell January 13, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

      Hence me beginning my comment with “My Experience” 🙂
      Though I did get an interview with Cath Murphy at LitReactor.com out of it. That was one positive. But, I won’t be risking it again because for ME, the negative outweighed the positive.

    • Michelle January 29, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

      I am a reviewer for NetGalley. I do find that I receive more books than I can effectively review. On the other hand, I only request books that I genuinely want to read, and take the ones I do review very seriously. I enjoy reviewing books by lesser-known authors. However, I also prefer books by publishers I trust, so I rarely request independently published books. I am a New York Times bestselling author, and in my notes to publishers I say that they are welcome to use a quote from my review as a blurb. If I really dislike a book, I will only review it on NetGalley–because it’s difficult enough to put a book out into the world without having reviewers who got it for free try to knock it down. If I like the book, I will also post my review on my blog and on Goodreads. I try to be fair and compassionate, but even so, very few independently published books make it onto my e-reader, often because the cover and/or descriptions unprofessional. If it looks professional and the description is intriguing, I will request it and do my best to read it.

  10. Susan Yanguas January 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    Thanks for the testimonial, Jessica. NetGalley sounded similar to some Amazon programs where anyone can download your book for free, and I’ve seen exactly what you said about bad reviews because people are just downloading anything that’s free, even if it’s not their preferred type of book.

    What worked better for me was publishing through Smashwords and then seeking out reviewers (bloggers, etc.) who are specific to my genre and asking them for an unbiased review. I offered them a free copy through Smashwords, which allows you to make a coupon and give a reader a coupon code for a free download. You can publish in all formats through Smashwords.

    • Jessica Bell January 12, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

      Yeah, from now on I’m just going to seek reviews the regular way. Through my newsletter. 🙂 Cheers!

  11. Jessica Bell January 12, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    My experience with NetGalley was pretty bad. Most of the reviews were incompetent to say the least. And I think that’s mainly because a lot of them just download books willy-nilly regardless of whether they think it is something they’ll enjoy. Which then led to Goodreads bullying, and bookbashing because I” like chocolate not vanilla, and this is vanilla.” I won’t ever use them again. I even VETTED every single request. People’s profiles can be quite deceiving.

  12. Dianne Ascroft January 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

    Does Net Galley accept novellas and other shorter works to offer for review?

    • Ben Cameron January 13, 2014 at 9:48 am #

      You can upload shorter works to NetGalley but I wouldn’t recommend it. They just don’t tend to be what people expect.

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