Get smarter about your books! The BookSmarts podcast features discussions about publishing data and technologies and interviews with industry experts, deep thinkers, and doers, bringing you insights that will help you sell more books.
Ep 1: Publishers Are in a Moneyball Situation
In this episode, Joshua discusses how he sees some similarities between the state of the publishing industry and the story of the Oakland A’s baseball team as told in the movie Moneyball. Competition is fierce, and solid data practices can be the key factor between success and failure.
Joshua Tallent is an acclaimed teacher and guide on the role of data in publishing, and a vocal advocate for high quality book metadata. In his spare time, Joshua enjoys playing complex board games, playing Minecraft, and fiddling with his 3D printer.
How Penguin General (UK) used NetGalley to create positive word of mouth before publication, as well as making sure there were an unmissable number of reviews when the book was finally released.
Osman made his name as a television producer and performer, but his high profile
did not necessarily guarantee his debut novel would be a success. Penguin General
therefore created a stand-out campaign that blended celebrity-style publicity
(television, radio, print interviews) with a more traditional crime fiction promotion,
of which NetGalley was an integral part.
Taylor, Senior Campaigns Manager, and Ellie Hudson, Campaigns Officer, from
Penguin General share how they helped make The Thursday Murder Club the
bestselling fiction title of 2020.
were the key goals for The Thursday Murder Club?
Our key NetGalley goals for The Thursday Murder Club were
reaching a core bookish audience; building buzz and excitement
pre-publication, and accumulating a large
number of consumer reviews to confirm the book’s quality.
Osman already had an existing fan base, but we also wanted to reach a general
fiction reader – and we know NetGalley is a great way to do this. The Thursday Murder Club is an uplifting,
funny, brilliant novel that matches Osman’s quintessentially British brand and
reads like Agatha Christie meets The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. We
knew we had a fantastic debut novel and we wanted to ensure that general
readers weren’t put off from what they might perceive as “celeb fiction” so
building reviews pre-publication was a key aim from the very beginning of the
is often tempting to keep a title ‘exclusive’ when you have a big book. Why did
you decide to proactively look for reviewers and other influencers?
were confident that we had a brilliant novel and we wanted the online bookish
community to fall in love with The Thursday
Murder Club as much as we had. We also knew that this was the
beginning of a series and one of our campaign goals was to establish Osman as a
brand author. It was therefore important that we introduced as many readers as
possible to The Thursday Murder Club. We
didn’t want the book to feel exclusive or elitist – we knew that NetGalley
members who read and enjoyed the book would then go on to champion it online
and that was far more valuable to us.
you coordinate the NetGalley campaign with a physical proof mailing? Or was
that complicated by the pandemic?
NetGalley became a lifeline during the first lockdown when our warehouses were closed and we were unable to send out physical proofs for a while. During this time, we used NetGalley to send DRCs out to press and media, but we kept the title private until later in the year. We wanted to wait until the eBlast in July before we made the title available to Request to make as big a ‘moment’ of it as possible. We wouldn’t normally run an eBlast just 2 months before publication date, but we suspected demand would be high and waiting would allow us to work the eBlast into the buzz-building campaign we were running in the lead up to publication.
eBlast featured links to request and to pre-order. What was the thinking behind
ran the eBlast for The Thursday Murder Club in July, following lots of
buzz and excitement for the title online (film news and lots of endorsements
from respected authors) so we suspected that there would be some NetGalley
members who would want to order a physical copy as well as request to read a
digital version. We therefore linked to the Waterstones special edition, which
also allowed us to support an important retailer.
entice NetGalley members to request the book, we used a creative that
highlighted the numerous, amazing endorsements from big-name, well-respected
authors, which highlighted its quality and portrayed our confidence.
did you go about managing requests for such a popular title?
our dedicated eBlast, we received 1,064 requests to read the book in under 24 hours,
which was greater than we could have hoped for! We wanted the novel to be
widely available to all bloggers and reviewers, as previously stated, but in
order to manage such demand for a title, we raised our usual benchmarks for
approval, granting access to those who had a higher feedback percentage. For
those whose requests were therefore declined, we created a sampler of the first
few chapters and included a link to this in our Decline Email.
NetGalley reports or analytics are most important to you and your team? How do
you use them?
and I work on commercial fiction at Viking, Penguin General, so NetGalley is
always a key tool in our campaigns. Reader reviews are incredibly important to
us and the reach of the NetGalley platform allows us to engage with the wider
book blogging community.
on NetGalley can often shape how we are positioning a title and in some cases,
very early feedback has even prompted us to tweak the content of the book if
there is a particular scene/plot point that readers are struggling with. The
wider analytics are also helpful and we monitor them frequently, but we find
that taking the time to read the reviews – good and bad – is most valuable. We
gain a greater understanding of how consumers are responding to elements, which
can then be utilised in our messaging, and we frequently use them as a gage of
how successful we think the overall campaign will be.
Georgia Taylor is a Senior Campaigns Manager at Penguin General, delivering marketing strategies and campaigns for commercial fiction brands such as Richard Osman, Cara Hunter, Josie Silver, Tana French and more. In her spare time she writes and manages a bookish YouTube channel called Rose Reads.
Ellie Hudson is a Campaigns Officer at Penguin General, creating and implementing buzz-building marketing campaigns for debut and established authors including Richard Osman, Cara Hunter, Jane Corry, Lizzy Dent and more. In her spare time, she shares her love of books on her Bookstagram page @Ellie.is.reading.
Interviews have been edited for clarity and length. Read the rest of the NetGalley case studies here!
NetGalley is a vital promotional service hundreds of publishers and authors use to enhance their marketing and publicity campaigns, but with so many ways to use NetGalley we know you may be wondering where to start! From widgets to wishes, promotions and reports, NetGalley offers tons of features to ensure your books get the enthusiastic launch they deserve. Whether you’ve just started with us or you’re a longtime user in need of a refresher: Hello, welcome, and read on for some NetGalley publisher must-have information!
1. How do I invite contacts to view my title?
Seamlessly send pre-approved digital copies of your books to your own trusted contacts using the NetGalley widget. The widget can be used anywhere a link is used—just copy and paste it into an email with your custom pitch. YOU retain your personal connection with the recipient, while ensuring they can easily access the book on their preferred device.
Secure widgets use an email address or a list of emails to secure your title. Only recipients who log in to a NetGalley account with this pre-approved email address are authorized to use that widget.
You can also choose to create an Open widget, which is not assigned to any email addresses, and can be used by anyone who receives the link. We recommend sending open widgets to trusted contacts, like an editor who will assign the title to a reviewer. No matter what, you can always see who has accessed your titles in your NetGalley publisher account.
Here’s some suggested language to use, which includes a link to our Device Guide and support team. We encourage publishers to customize the template language, but this should give you a strong foundation!
Find this information by navigating to the Title Details page of your book and clicking on Approval History in the left-hand sidebar. This will take you to the Members with Access page, which breaks down these members into various categories—Approved, Auto-Approved, Read Now, Widget Invites, and Wishes Granted. You can see if a member has clicked to read or listen to your book. You can also find this information on your Detailed Activity report.
3. What is the difference between Private, Read Now, Available for Request?
Publishers have complete control over who can access their books on NetGalley. You have a few different options: Private, Read Now, and Available for Request.
Private: NetGalley members won’t know your title is available on the site unless you invite them to view that book using the widget, or if you use the book’s link to collect wishes.
Read Now: Members will have instant approval, so it’s best to use this option when you want to approve all requests automatically. Publishers often use the Read Now option for special promotions—like making a title available to Read Now for a limited time or number of downloads—or for special content like samplers, excerpts, catalogs, or backlist titles.
Available for Request: You will make the decision to approve or decline each member’s request to access that specific title. You can also allow requests from only certain member types for specific time periods—for more information, click here.
Many publishers have a VIP list of readers, like ALA-member librarians, trusted reviewers at media outlets, and bloggers who reliably provide great reviews for your titles. You can make their day by auto-approving them! Once a member is on your Auto Approved List, any requests they make for your titles will be automatically approved, so they don’t have to wait for you to see and approve them manually.
5. What file types are best to upload to NetGalley?
NetGalley publishers can upload 3 different file types for digital review copies: ePub, mobi, and PDFs. Audio publishers can upload zipped MP3 files.
An ePub file is preferable for most books on NetGalley and, if an ePub is uploaded, there’s no need to upload a PDF– the ePub will always take precedence over a PDF file, because it provides a better reading experience for our readers. Our file recommendations can be found here.
Testing files on your computer is simple; you can do so directly from your publisher account!
To test the NetGalley Shelf app and Kindle app, you can begin by using the widget to grant yourself access to the book. Be sure you have a member account to test with! First, create the widget in your publisher account, then paste the link into a new window or tab. Please note that before navigating to the widget URL, you must sign out from your publisher account—or you may want to use a private/incognito window. Once you click the link, simply sign in to your member account and follow the next steps:
Recommended: To test on the NetGalley Shelf App, first download the app to your iOS or Android device, sign into your NetGalley reader account, and you’re done! If you’ve already accepted the widget you sent yourself, the book will automatically appear in yourNetGalley Shelf App!
On a Kindle device: First, ensure that your Kindle email address is on your NetGalley member account in Settings, under Reading Preferences. Also be sure that kindle at NetGalley dot com is approved to send to your Kindle. You’ll only need to do this once.
After you’ve accepted the widget you sent yourself, simply click “Send to Kindle” from the title details page for the book in question.
If you prefer to download to your computer or another Adobe-supported device, you will need to download Adobe Digital Editions on your computer and sign in using your Adobe ID. Afterward, go to the Title Details page of your book, where you’ll want to click the orange arrow next to Upload/Preview Files in the left sidebar. Click the file type you’d like to test (PDF or ePub), and your file will download.
NetGalley reports are an incredibly useful tool for a publisher using the site. You can find them by navigating to a title’s Feedback page or by clicking the purple gear icon on the right-hand side of the Manage Titles page. We have five reports available on NetGalley: Detailed Activity Reports, Feedback Reports, Snapshot PDF Reports, Opinions Reports, and Active Title Reports. Whether you’re looking for consolidated information about reviews submitted for a title (try the Feedback Report!); want to see a summary of the activity for all your titles that are not archived (we’d recommend the Active Title Report!); or if you need to know about every interaction between a title and the NetGalley community (the Detailed Activity Report is perfect for this!), we’ve got you covered. Our reports can help you understand trends, identify media contacts interested in connecting with an author, and even show what your readers are most excited about regarding your titles.
8. How can I book additional marketing promotions?
NetGalley’s marketing promotions are extremely effective tools to highlight your titles on the site and to access our member community. There are many creative promotions you can book through NetGalley US, with options for any budget and type of book. View the 2021 Media Kit here. (Our UK promotions are available here!) We encourage publishers to book promotions early, since dates are often booked months in advance. Please note: In order to participate in our promotions, your title must first be listed on NetGalley.
9. How do I receive/change email notifications? To change the email address that receives all alerts, simply navigate to your account Settings, by clicking your publisher name at the top right of your dashboard. In the Email Alerts section, you can change the frequency of these email alerts, as well as who receives them.
If you’d like a colleague to receive the email notifications for a specific title, just go to the Title Details page of the book, scroll down to Settings in the sidebar, and look for “Email Alerts.” The email address you add here will receive request and feedback notifications for that title only.
We—or our cats—all click something we didn’t mean to every once in a while! Though there is no way to undo an approval once it’s been made, you can override a decline. If you decline a request by accident, or if you change your mind, you can send the member a widget inviting them to view the title.
More in-depth answers to these, and more, questions can be found on our Publisher Knowledge Base. Pro tip: use the search bar to find the relevant articles to answer your specific questions!
NOTICE OF DATA BREACH
December 23, 2020
On Monday, December 21, 2020, NetGalley experienced a data security incident. What initially seemed like a simple defacement of our homepage has, with further investigation, resulted in the unauthorized and unlawful access to a backup file of the NetGalley database. Our database backup was stored in the Amazon Cloud. There was a temporary lapse in security protocol for one of our testing servers, and the credentials became easily attainable by a hacker.
What Information Was Involved?
It is possible that your NetGalley Profile information was exposed as a result of this incident. This information includes your login name and password, first/last name, email address, and country. Also, if supplied by you, your Bio, mailing address, phone number, birthday, company name, and Kindle email address. There is no financial information stored in the NetGalley database, so none was lost.
What Are We Doing?
We re-secured our testing sites and updated our protocols to ensure their security going forward. We have also:
Revised our database backup procedure to ensure this data is never again exposed
Changed all legacy passwords that had access to any NetGalley systems or data
Added new security features into the site to improve the security of your personal information
We are continuing to investigate this incident and ensure that no further damage is incurred.
To better protect your account security, NetGalley is requiring all members to reset their passwords. Starting December 23rd, you’ll be required to reset your password before signing in to your NetGalley account.
Other Important Information:
We have informed the FBI of this data breach, and the situation is under investigation. We will use this notice to update you with any definitive new information related to the breach. The California Secretary of State, and the EU authorities have also been notified.
Your privacy and the integrity of our service is very important. We are committed to improving our protection of your personal information.
In many ways, 2020 is a year that we’re all ready to put in our rear-view mirrors. In spite of the challenges we have all faced, it’s been inspiring to be reminded of the resilience and creativity that imbues our publishing industry. From Big 5 publishers who suddenly found themselves without access to their warehouses, to independent authors who embarked on digital marketing for the first time, we at NetGalley are proud and thankful to be a trusted partner to so many.
Despite the global pandemic, it’s clear that readers continue to turn to books in all formats. NetGalley’s member community grew by 23% in the US (now over 550,000 members!) and 16% in the UK, where we’re on track to break 100k members in 2021. This growth equates to more eyes on your books, which results in even more early Feedback! We are thrilled to report a 30% increase in Feedback/Reviews when compared to last year. Across NetGalley.com and NetGalley.co.uk over 960k Feedback/Reviews were submitted for over 25,000 books and audiobooks.
NetGalley experienced record-breaking traffic and engagement in 2020, especially after the launch of the NetGalley Shelf app and Audiobooks. The NetGalley Shelf app is a simple and streamlined experience for members, making it easier than ever to access the books and audiobooks they’re approved for. In 2021, we will introduce streaming audio to ensure an even more seamless listening experience!
Publishers are approving requests from Librarians and Booksellers at a very high rate–over 90% of requests are approved. This may be because you can easily auto-approve ALA librarians and ABA booksellers from your Settings page. In 2020, these members alone left over 110k Feedback/Reviews!
We know how influential Librarians and Booksellers are, especially when they are nominating books for LibraryReads and Indie Next, in addition to making recommendations to their patrons and customers. If you’re looking for ways to connect with Librarians and Booksellers, consider our monthly Librarian Newsletters or ABA Digital White Box services.
It’s worth noting that the Reviewers on NetGalley have submitted nearly 380k Feedback/Reviews! Reviewers are the largest portion of our community, making the most requests–so even though the approval rate is a little lower than other member types, they are the most significant in terms of overall approvals and Feedback/Reviews.
When approving requests, keep an eye out for members’ individual feedback ratio and remember that you can click through to see all of the reviews they’ve submitted on NetGalley. Here’s more about what you can see in members’ profiles.
In the UK, even though approval rates across both the DRC and audiobook format are extremely similar, it’s clear that UK members (Librarians in particular) are responding very strongly to the audiobook format. Be sure that you are associating your DRC and audiobook formats when both are available on NetGalley! This will ensure that members can request the most relevant format for their interests, and is likely to result in a higher rate of return for Feedback/Reviews.
July was a record-breaking month here at NetGalley! With the launch of the NetGalley Shelf app and audiobooks, members have been engaging with content more than ever across the site. This July NetGalley.com saw a 47% increase in the number of sessions over last July, while NetGalley.co.uk saw an increase of over 62%. These sessions resulted in 8.4 million pageviews across both platforms!
NetGalley members are thrilled to be browsing audiobooks from audiobook publishers, and their excitement has spilled over into their reviews. Approved members have submitted over 14,000 Feedback and Reviews for audiobooks in July and August.
And it’s not just audio that’s benefitted! In the first two weeks after launch, we saw over 30,000 downloads of digital review copies in the NetGalley Shelf app. Now, two months in, we’re up to nearly 70,000 DRC downloads! Feedback and Reviews submitted for digital review copies has increased since the launch as well. Activity across the entire NetGalley platform continues to trend upward!
Today we are thrilled to celebrate the launch of two major enhancements to the NetGalley service in both the U.S. and U.K.: the NetGalley Shelf app and Audiobooks!
The NetGalley Shelf App
The NetGalley Shelf app is our first mobile app, available for free on both iOS and Android devices. This app makes it easier than ever for NetGalley members to start reading or listening to books they’ve been approved to access.
There are several reasons that we are introducing the NetGalley Shelf app right now: it provides members with a more simple and streamlined reading experience, as well as adds further support for various types of content (including highly illustrated books and audiobooks).
How It Works
After a member downloads the free NetGalley Shelf app from the Apple or Google Play Store, they sign in using the same login name and password as their account on the NetGalley website. Once they log in, the member is presented with their NetGalley Shelf (the books that publishers have approved them to access). As long as you have enabled the NetGalley Shelf app as a Reading Option in your publisher account, your books will automatically appear in approved members’ NetGalley Shelf app.
The NetGalley Shelf app presents members with a seamless reading experience. When publishers enable the NetGalley Shelf app, approved members will be able to access the digital review copy as a protected file, on up to 5 devices associated with their particular account. NetGalley tracks when the file was downloaded and to how many devices. If more than 5 devices associated with a particular member account attempt to access the file, the license is revoked entirely and it can no longer be accessed on any devices for that member account. Files cannot be printed or copied, and you can choose if the file will expire. To learn more about the DRM protection for files available via the NetGalley Shelf app, click here.
The NetGalley Shelf app is for NetGalley members to read and listen to approved books. Members will continue to discover, request,and provide Feedback for books on the NetGalley website.
Audiobooks on NetGalley
NetGalley members have been excitedly anticipating the launch of full audiobooks. The sustained growth of the audiobook market over the past several years has led audiobook publishers to seek new ways to promote their books and increase discoverability of the format. NetGalley’s existing platform allows publishers to efficiently distribute review copies, and audiobook publishers can now benefit from the robust tools, reporting, and engaged community.
“NetGalley has been helping publishers to build buzz, receive feedback and reviews, and discover early trends for their digital review copies for over 10 years.,” says Kristina Radke, VP, Business Growth and Engagement. “We’re thrilled to broaden the service to support audiobook publishers. We believe early feedback about new books (no matter the format) is good for all books, and we’re honored to be the place where over 550k reviewers, booksellers, librarians, educators and media discover and review.”
Considering the unique timeline for audiobook production and shorter lead-time for pre-pub promotion, we are excited to offer tools and reports that can immediately expand the work audio publishers are already doing to promote their titles (both frontlist and backlist). It’s our privilege to begin this partnership with audio publishers and continue to evolve to meet their growing needs.
The NetGalley Shelf app is the exclusive way for members to listen to audiobooks made available on NetGalley. Audiobook files are downloaded within the NetGalley Shelf app before playback begins so members will be able to continue listening even if their device goes offline.
We proudly welcome the audiobook community to NetGalley!
NetGalley’s team is based across six countries and three continents, without a centralized office. As more and more publishers implement a work-from-home policy, we want to share our experiences as a virtual team. Over the years, we’ve had our fair share of trials with technology, the odd dropped conference call, and dodgy Wi-Fi connections, but we all love working from home and hope we can offer you some insights into how to work from home effectively.
Today we’ve gathered recommendations, hints and tips from the NetGalley team – but the important thing is to find a rhythm and routine that works for you. After all, working from home should never be more stressful than working from the office.
Make your own dedicated workspace
When we surveyed NetGalley staff, setting up your own dedicated workspace was by far the most common piece of advice. Amanda, for example, says “It helps me get in the mindset that I’m at work. For me, I have to make sure I have a door, too, that I can shut when I really need to focus on what I’m doing without any outside distractions.”
The same sentiment is shared by Alyce: “I set aside a small space in my home that I use only for work (a little desk by a window). When I sit down at my little work station in the morning, it helps me mentally focus on the work part of my day, and when my work time is done, it’s nice to be able to physically step away from my ‘work place’ and focus on other parts of my life.”
We know this isn’t always easy – as Katie points out, “Not all of us are blessed with a home office, but this doesn’t mean you should be working from your bed” – but we think you will certainly feel the benefit.
Give yourself time to adjust
For those who do not often work from home, the move can be quite disconcerting. Tarah acknowledges, “Working from home isn’t going to feel completely natural overnight – you’ve now merged your personal life with your work life, so you need to learn how to create (and maintain) boundaries.”
In those first few days, make a to-do list and look at what you’ve achieved at the end of each day. Try to think what worked and what didn’t and try to address these the following day.
Maintain a positive routine
As Brianna suggests, “Keep a routine and stick with your regular work hours.” Something echoed by Amanda:
“It’s so easy to overwork when you don’t have to worry about train schedules or beating traffic in and out of the office, and there have been many nights my husband has carried dinner up to my desk without me even realizing how late it got while I was nose-down in work.”
Dana, along with other NetGalley staff members, also notes the importance of having time before starting work. “I always aim to wake up, get ready for the day, and get that first cup of coffee in before the work day begins,” she writes. “It’s easy to fall into the routine of wake-up-and-start-work because there is no commute. Waking up and logging on immediately makes early meetings very difficult and it takes longer for me to be fully productive.
Communication is Key – (also, Don’t Fear the Phone!)
Regardless of which apps you use, make sure that everyone is using the same ones – you will be relying on them more than you’re used to. With this comes a tendency to rely solely on text-based communications. But don’t come to fear the phone, says Lindsey:
“We’re fortunate that virtual communication is easier than ever but the power of a real human voice cannot be overstated. Occasionally, email chains have the tendency to drag out longer than necessary when an issue or question could’ve been resolved quickly with a short phone call. Consider picking up the phone if it appears your words/tone/intent have been misinterpreted or can be easily clarified. Plus, talking through ideas verbally can really help to flesh them out in a way that is different than typing.”
In addition to business communications, Karina suggests that we don’t forget our working friendships. “Try to not only have business emails and work-related online conversations with your colleagues. It’s easy to just stick to those when you’re trying to work efficiently and you don’t run into each other in the office kitchen when grabbing a coffee. But it’s really important not to neglect those types of office-kitchen conversations when working remotely. It can get your mind off a current problem, lift your mood and maybe even bring you the solution to a problem from where you least expected it.”
Fran adds, “While schools are closing and major entertainment and social gatherings are being shut down, we still are human and need social interaction.”
It’s called Working from Home for a Reason…
Just because you’re at home, doesn’t mean that you are there to do all the chores. As Tarah says, “Sure, working from home has a lot of perks, including making lunch in your own kitchen, but when you’re just starting out I recommend putting on your blinders so that your work routine looks very different from your usual at-home routine.”
Israel agrees, “If there are other people in the house, they have to behave as if you were gone to the office. No interruptions, no ’quick questions’, etc. Send an email. If you’re not strict with this rule it quickly fails, so no exceptions.”
…But there’s more than one of us working at home!
If you are living with a partner, housemate or parent who is also working from home (or usually stays at home), there are all kinds of possible flashpoints. As everyone works differently at home, it is a good idea to talk about the kinds of routines you are likely to have. Designate areas, and agree on times that you can talk, perhaps having a run-down of times that you absolutely cannot be disturbed. Sharing your calendars is a good idea.
As Stuart suggests, “Do not comment on other people’s methods of working from home, and don’t be disappointed or upset if you suggest lunch together and the other person says no. You are both at work, and must try to maintain the idea that you are not working at the same office.”
Take Proper, Meaningful Breaks
This is one of the most important things to remember about working from home. It’s usual to feel that you need to be at work at all times, but just as you’re not ‘working’ every minute of the time you’re in the office, neither should you feel that you need to at home.
As Maria says, “I find it helpful to go outside (taking a walk, quick grocery shopping, walking the dog, etc.)”
And Alicia focuses on ways to stay healthy: “It’s very easy to slip into a routine that is less than healthy, but there are plenty of easy things you can do… some days I work on either an exercise ball (which is great for the back) or a standing desk. Many days I even add 5 minutes of chair yoga to my workday. Some days it is essential to take just a few minutes to recharge. Work hard, but don’t forget you can not pour from an empty cup!”
At the office, all the equipment is set up for business – ergonomically designed chairs, desks at a recommended height, big monitors – but at home, it’s a bit make-do-and-mend. Be sure you take care of yourself during the working day.
Tarah says, “Use the best chair in the house while working and make sure your laptop screen is at eye level (utilize the books you aren’t currently reading) and use a wireless keyboard and mouse. This will help your line of sight, and decrease the stress in your back. If you happen to have another monitor around, plug it into your laptop to increase your screen space – you’ll feel so much more organized.”
Organization is absolutely critical when working from home. “Get even more organized than you need to when you’re in the office,” Kristina writes. “There will be fewer people checking in on your progress, so take responsibility for prioritizing your efforts and reporting to your team – no matter your job title! Everyone will appreciate a quick head’s up about the status of your projects, especially when multiple people are working on the same project. Come to an agreement with your team about what this looks like. For my team, it’s a quick end-of-day message on Slack.”
Try to enjoy yourself
At the moment it’s an unsettling time and for your own mental health, it’s best to be as positive as you can. Try to stay away from news websites for a good proportion of the day, and don’t let your social media usage increase compared to your usual day in the office. Trust us, this can be important!
Kristina also suggests looking for new opportunities. “Once you log off for the day, consider new ways to be social with friends and loved ones! I have friends who host a Facetime D&D game monthly, for instance. Or consider honing new skills–look around and you may find that there are many music and dance instructors who are offering virtual lessons if you want to get up and move. These types of gig-economists are struggling right now.”
We hope this has been a useful insight into the way we work! Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if there are any issues raised in this article which you would like to discuss with us. If there is anything we can do to help, just let us know.
Thanks to the NetGalley team quoted throughout!
Amanda Delatorre – QA Manager
Alyce Reese – Marketing Specialist
Katie Versluis – Client Relationship Associate
Tarah Theoret – Director, Community Engagement
Brianna Paulino – Email Marketing Specialist
Dana Cuadrado – Social Media & Administrative Assistant
Lindsey Lochner – VP, Marketing Engagement
Karina Elm – Managing Director (Germany)
Fran Toolan – CEO
Israel Carberry – Engineering Manager
Stuart Evers – Assistant Director (UK)
Maria Bodmer – Managing Director (France)
Alicia Schaefer – Customer Service & Community Assistant
Kristina Radke – VP, Business Growth & Engagement
Why a self-published, New York Times bestselling author didn’t tell her audience her latest book was on NetGalley
Author of the New York Times bestselling Hearts series, Claire Contreras, had never considered using NetGalley until she was getting ready to share the first book of her new series, Half Truths. When most authors use NetGalley, they use it to broaden their reach to new audiences and engage more deeply with the readers who are already following their work. Claire Contreras did something completely different. She didn’t make any announcements to her social following or newsletter subscribers about her latest book being on NetGalley – instead, she’s using it exclusively to find new readers.
In this case study, Contreras shares her unique NetGalley strategy, plus her perspectives on self-publishing versus traditional publishing and how she uses social media to connect with her audience.
I’d seen my friends who are published traditionally on NetGalley in the past and figured the publishing houses must have a good reason for using NetGalley, I just didn’t think it was something available to me. I spoke to a friend of mine who’s hybrid (traditionally and self-published) and she told me a lot of librarians read her books via NetGalley and that sold me on it. Before that conversation, I didn’t know how to reach librarians. Once I got on [NetGalley], I realized it wasn’t only librarians, but also media and educators as well as bloggers I wouldn’t normally have reached. That was when I realized NetGalley was a brilliant concept.
How did you get the word out to your audience about your NetGalley listing?
I didn’t. I used NetGalley solely for people I couldn’t reach myself. I feel it really puts the book in front of people who otherwise wouldn’t have seen it. I wanted to get more attention from librarians, media specialists, editors, and [other] people who don’t normally read me.
One of the reasons I didn’t announce to my readers that my book was on NetGalley was that I wanted to see how many new readers I would gain from the site. I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of the members had never read me before, as that was one of my initial reasons for turning to NetGalley. I have incredible readers, but there’s always room for more. I think in this particular case, the cover drew a lot of attention.
[I was most surprised by] the amount of people that requested the book. I was in complete shock to see Half Truths on the front page of most requested for weeks!
Half Truths is going to be part of a series. How are you using NetGalley to build anticipation?
With Half Truths specifically, I knew from the start that I would turn it into a series of standalones (standalone books in the same “world” – academia, different secret societies).
Because I’m using it as a promotion tool for the series, I’m approving a specific group of people. When I get closer to releasing information about book two, I’ll give away a lot more copies to readers (non-librarians/media) for reviews. I like to test things out and give it time to settle so I can see what’s working and what’s not.
I [also] have a mailing list – a snail mail list – that I put together when I was promoting the first book and I fully intend to use it again to send clues out in the mail to my readers as to what they can expect.
I believe pre-marketing and post-marketing are both powerful. However, I hope to have my next book in this series up on NetGalley a lot sooner than the first.
You are both a self-published and a NYT-bestselling author. Tell us a bit about why self-publishing is right for you.
When I first decided to publish, I fully intended to go the traditional route. My college professors and mentors were completely against me self-publishing, and I understood why. It was frowned upon and not something we completely understood. I decided to take a chance and self-publish my first book on a whim, just to see what happened. I figured if no one read the book, I could always take it down and query agents. The book did better than I anticipated and I gained a pretty steady readership, so I stuck to it. It was unexpected, but so far the control and freedom [I’ve gotten from] being self-published has been great. That’s not to say I wouldn’t go the traditional route. I would definitely love to work with traditional editors and be with a traditional publisher when the time is right.
I use social media as a get-to-know-me tool. I find that a lot of people follow me there because they want to know what I’m doing or what my thoughts are on certain things (as random as they may be). I’ve also built a following from my cancer journey, which I shared from the time I was diagnosed in 2014 to today. I keep them up to date with my health and some of my personal life because I think it’s important for people to know that they’re not alone. Sometimes it’s hard to conceive that others are going through struggles when you see them smiling all the time in pictures, so I keep it real with them.
What (or who) are the resources you go to to keep up with industry trends and to make your books as polished and professional as possible without the infrastructure of a traditional publishing house?
I don’t follow trends. I write things that I can’t stop thinking about and try to package them in a way that’s appealing to the masses, but as far as trends go, they are constantly changing and I can’t keep up with most of them so I try not to pay attention to them. I pay attention to the things I can control, which means making sure I have good editors, proofreaders, and cover designers.
When can members expect to see the next book in the series on NetGalley?
I don’t want to say much because I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say . . . You’ve been summoned 😉
Claire Contreras is a New York Times bestselling author who
traded her psychology degree to write fiction. Don’t worry, she still
uses her knowledge on every single one of her characters. She’s a breast
cancer survivor (x2), who was born in the Dominican Republic, raised in
Florida, and currently resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband, two
adorable boys, and French bulldog.
*Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
NetGalley members are always curious about how they can get publishers to approve more of their requests. That’s why We Are Bookish’s Kelly Gallucci interviewed Estelle Hallick, Publicity and Marketing Manager at Forever, about her process for managing requests, and her advice to members looking to improve their profiles. In addition to giving members an inside look at how a publicist is looking at their profiles and their NetGalley activity, Hallick also provides other publicists and marketers with a template for managing requests systemically.
In this interview, Hallick shares the metrics she considers when approving Reviewer requests, how she treats new NetGalley members, and why a critical review doesn’t mean that she won’t approve another request from that same member.
Read the interview below! Plus, if you have a book or an author that you think would be a great fit for We Are Bookish, pitch them here.
Take us behind the curtain: What does the NetGalley request approval process look like for Forever?
I always start by looking at the Feedback Ratio; I sort the reviewer requests and start the approval process with the highest numbers. Since we get so many requests every day, 80% Feedback Ratio is a benchmark number for me.
When I start to get below 80%, I begin reading through bios. I tend to give more attention to the people under 80% because I’m genuinely interested to know why they are requesting the title or what brings them to NetGalley. I hope to see that bios are updated recently, or within a year (to me, it’s an indication that they are active reviewers) and to see if they have a list of authors they enjoy. This helps me decide if they are a good fit for our titles. While Feedback Ratio is important to me, I remember what it’s like to be a new reviewer and try to consider newer members whenever I can–but it starts with a detailed Profile.
What are three common missteps that can lead to a declined request?
I look for Feedback Ratio, correct member type, and updated bio with working links. I see so many Profiles with inspirational quotes or information that feels a little like a dating profile. I love personal details, but, in order to catch my eye, the combination of personal and professional information is important.
Do you look for different information in NetGalley Profiles based on member type?
Every member type should be as detailed as possible.
Bookseller: Where do you work? Are there book clubs at your store?
Librarian: What department do you work in? Are there any programs you run that would be of interest to publishers?
Traditional reviewer: What outlets have you written for?
Blogger: What street teams are you on? Do you organize any annual events on your platform? Do you cross-post? What are your stats?
Traditional reviewers and bloggers should absolutely include links to recent reviews or author interviews that they’ve done.
How often should members be updating their Profiles?
My hope is that reviewers are seeing continual growth on their platforms and want to communicate those updated stats with us. A good rule of thumb is to update whenever there’s something new to add–think of it a bit like a resume in that you want to provide your best and most up-to-date information. Put your best and most accurate foot forward.
We know publishers rely on member stats included in NetGalley Profiles when making approval decisions. Are there any specific stats you personally look for? (Psst, members: To find a publisher’s approval preferences, visit theirPublisher page!)
For bloggers, I do look at social media platform growth. While I look at follower count, someone with a following of less than 500 (just as an example) won’t deter me from approving them. To me, it’s about engagement on the platform and how well posts perform.
Let’s talk about review etiquette. In your opinion, what are three important things members should think about when writing reviews? What do you recommend members do when faced with reviewing a book they didn’t enjoy?
First, I want our reviewers to be honest. Giving a book a critical review won’t mean you aren’t qualified to receive other books for review; if anything it makes it easier for us to understand what kind of books you do enjoy. (Reading is an extremely personal experience.)
Second, the most helpful reviews give a sense of the story but do not give away the entire plot. As a bonus, I love when you share if you personally identified with something in the story.
Third, timing. As a NetGalley member, you’re often able to read books well before they’re in stores or libraries. If you love something, don’t wait to share it! Early buzz is so important to authors and publishers. It also alerts other reviewers about the book. The one thing we ask you to keep in mind is remembering to share again on release day.
As an added note, please do not tag authors in critical reviews. Reviews are for other readers, and authors do not need to be alerted of them by a tag.
What can newer members, who may not have a high Feedback Ratio or strong blog/social stats yet, do to stand out to publishers?
New members should take advantage of “Read Now” books to grow their Feedback Ratio, and also give us a better idea of the books you like. Listing authors you enjoy (so we can think about comparable authors we have) and not overdoing the category/genre options would be a great help. I’d also love to see new reviewers share where they read reviews and their hopes for their review life–all great places to start.
Is there anything we didn’t cover here that you’d like to add?
As a NetGalley member, please be sure to read over the decline email you receive before contacting the publisher. A good letter will tell you why you didn’t meet the qualifications for this particular book. If you are still unsure, definitely reach out for specifics.