A few years ago, I was introduced to NetGalley by a publisher at YALC. I told him that I was a librarian and loved coming to book fairs as a way to keep up with what was coming out. I pointed out that by reading the books first I could promote them to my customers and get more readers.
To be honest I just wanted a free copy of the book he was jealously holding as the cover was really pretty.
Not only did I get the book (yay for blagging and fluttery eyes) I also got a fantastic resource to be
exploited… uh utilised later on.
He mentioned this site where I could read books in advance and I was both excited and sceptical. Free reads in advance? Surely not. But he spake the truth.
I went on and immediately started requesting books by the dozens. I was like a kid in a candy store.
Only to be told no. no. no. (Also like a kid in a candy store)
It was a little disheartening, to say the least.
Fast forward a year and I decided to try again, only to be a little more pro-active this time.
3 years later and I almost never get refused for something, but I often hear people on twitter say that they do. So, I wanted to share what I learned and hopefully help someone along the way.
Yes, I am that altruistic.
Step 1. Write a strong bio.
The main reason that I got rejected was that my bio was weak. At first, I just ignored it assuming that it wasn’t important and no one would ever read it. Then when I had one or two rejections based on this, I just added a few words. Still nothing. The books only started coming when I wrote something meaningful.
I told them about my various platforms, how many followers I had and where I would be posting reviews.
At the time my blog was new and had zero followers so I said that it was “growing”. No lie- just a casual misrepresentation. Which is very different from lying.
I also tried to sound like myself. I wanted any publishers to know that I had a personality and wasn’t some drone or someone who wouldn’t give back. I’d be honest (probably more than they’d like) and fair.
So firstly, set up your bio and make it interesting. Let any publishers know that you will review and where. Add some personality into it and draw in those potential ARCs.
Step 2. Don’t be picky.
Yes, NetGalley has some fantastic new ARCs that everyone wants to read and we automatically think that we should go for the ones we really want. What we really really want. (insert Spice girls joke here. Oh good lord, how old AM I?)
But in order to start getting accepted to read those, you have to show that you are serious. Start at the bottom. Maybe look for books that don’t have rave reviews or ones you wouldn’t normally read. You can set your preferences for the order of Titles A-Z, Authors A-Z, Date published, Date Added and Most Requested. Set it to most requested and head to the final page.
All publishers want people to read their books so if you try to go for the ones that no one else has gone for, you are more likely to be accepted. Just like life, join the outcasts and be loved!
Step 3. Read Now
There are quite a few books under the ‘Read Now’ section that do not need you to request them. You can just download and read for free. Admittedly most of these have covers that don’t scream Best-seller but you never know where you might find a hidden gem.
Step 4. Sneaky ways.
How about books that you read quickly, or flick through. I’m talking picture books and non-fiction here.
How long does it take you to flick through a cookbook? Can you talk about the recipes, the ingredients or how easy the steps seem to be? Or a children’s picture book? Can you write about the illustrations, the rhyme structure, how it made you feel?
You can read a child’s picture book in less than ten minutes (once you’ve worked out Abode Digital editions- the absolute bane of my ever-loving LIFE.).
Yes. I’m talking about you. EVIL ADOBE DIGITAL. HISSSSSS
Step 5. Review. Review. Review.
The whole point of NetGalley is for you to review the books you read. By keeping your review score high, publishers know that you want to read and are likely to promote their book.
So if you read 10 picture books and write a small review for each one your feedback score will be 100% and publishers will be all “Yo, this is legit sick bruh. Give them ALL of the ARCs.”
Read two “Read Now” Titles and write a mini description on how the gosh-darn awful cover does not do justice to the majesty within and watch your feedback score bring all of the milkshakes to your yard.
Pretty soon you’ll find that you have way more books than you know what to do with and your digital TBR will outnumber your physical TBR and the fear of never reaching the bottom will send you into a never-ending spiral of anxiety.