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.
NetGalley 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
Reviewers 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.