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Writer Wednesday: A Deep Dive into NetGalley

Hello writers and week to the middle of another week. Today is a big day for many reasons here in the U.S. as we are in the process of transitioning leadership. While some of us are glued to our screens, others are just getting on with their day, juggling remote learning, essential work, or jobs from home.

So, authors, today on the blog we are doing a small deep dive in a service I have mentioned before as a tool for authors to help signal boost their work. That service is Netgalley, a site founded in 2008 that makes its bread and butter by providing a virtual platform to apply for E-Arcs, or the Galleys of a book, months ahead of their release.

The Reader Side

There are a few ways a reader can acquire an Advanced Reading Copy or ARC for a highly anticipated book. A reader can apply for an ARC directly on a publisher’s website. Most of the Big publishing do have some form of facilitating ARCs to readers, though your chances of getting an ARC are higher if you have somewhat of an influencer platform as books are a business and ‘Word of Mouth’ is king.

If you are a dedicated reviewer or reader but don’t have a huge platform, there are a couple of long standing established platforms available for E-Arcs that may give you a better shot at receiving ARC requests, especially if the author or publisher sets the vetting on ARC requests to a more open standard. Edelweiss and NetGalley are the most well known sources for E-ARCs, each containing a vast offering of E-ARCs in every genre under the sun. The Reader expectation for receiving these ARCs? Read and leave an honest review, because every review helps boost a book’s signal to other readers.

The Writer Side

Why Even NetGalley?

Above I mentioned Edelweiss and NetGalley in the same sentence but of the two, I consider NetGalley a stronger option for Indie Authors for a few reasons, but mostly it boils down to affordability and accessibility. But before I scratch at the surface of those two factors, first why use NetGalley at all? Indie Authors often operate on a much more constricted budget, even with a publishing house in their corner. The window between ARCs and releases tend to be much smaller and condensed, and self published authors sometimes opt for a rapid release of titles, relying on the snowball effect of series to help push them through the book malaise.

If you are an Indie author with titles coming out once or twice a year, NetGalley could prove beneficial for you in procuring pre-release reviews to signal boost your book and create a maintained buzz. However, it is important to note that NetGalley is not always a set guarantee. Like any marketing tactic, it comes with the risk and reward balance, pitting the risk of not paying off versus a surplus of reviews. Though your chances for ARC requests often improve with a strong cover and blurb. Building a strong visual foundation for your book will help catch a potential reader’s eye in the line up. Maintaining that eye throughout a book’s tenure on NetGalley, you, as author, want to ensure you send a relatively clean version of your ARC, aka the Galley version, where you have already done the bulk of edits. Readers do expect a few errors here or there from Galleys but will note a book’s quality in early reviews that could help or hinder further requests.

If you have a strong base in place, NetGalley offers a wide range of readership, from librarians who could in turn recommend your title to their catalogs and teachers who might recommend your book to their classroom, to influencers who will boost your book on blogs, instagram, booktube, and more, and of course, common readers, who lend their voice in their review and help build general word of mouth. All types of readers are valuable, including critical voices or lower rated reviews, because what doesn’t appeal to one reader may work for another.

Affordability & Accessibility for the Indie Author

At a glance, NetGalley is expensive. Not all Indie Publishers offer NetGalley as part of their marketing package, though some do. If it’s left to the author, it’s a matter of risk and reward. The $400 plus promotional package for a six month stint is out of reach for many Indie authors however, NetGalley can be affordable for the discerning Indie Author thanks to the existence of Co-Ops.

Co-Ops are third party platforms, usually via Book Tour Marketing services such as Xpresso and Victoria Editing, that offer a limited stint for either a one time payment or a buy-in to the co-op at a much more affordable rate. Co-Ops are invaluable for an Indie author because they help make NetGalley accessible to a much larger base of authors. The more affordable price tag means an author can make NetGalley part of their marketing plan, instead of their whole marketing plan, and that is how it works best: as a piece of the overall whole to help boost a book’s signal, paired with any planned release tours, ads, and other marketing options. And most importantly, it makes the risk viable if a yield of reviews is smaller than expected.

When researching for a Co-Op, see what Co-Ops have the highest returns, which ones let you set the vetting on requests (if you can set your request to any level of influencer which opens up the reading pool or narrows it, both which come with positives and negatives), and one that is affordable to your marketing budget. A good Co-Op service will have plenty of buzz in the writing community.

One last deep dive note: A NetGalley stint is also something that can be done after initial release to help boost a book and gain reviews. On the downside, there is the loss of the initial release hype, however the upside to a post release stint is getting more eyeballs on your title, giving the book a second wind, and garnering reviews to mire through various bookseller algorithms.

Resources & Further Reading

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