Using authentic, creative enthusiasm to connect with new audiences
Having previously published nonfiction, Chelsea Fagan knew she’d need to tap into a new audience with her novel. Creating an author platform is no easy feat, and in this interview Chelsea shares more about how she pivoted to reach fiction audiences with organic, authentic efforts.
What were your initial goals in listing A Perfect Vintage on NetGalley? Did those goals change or evolve over time, and if so, how?
My initial goal was to reach a wider audience with my novel – since my previous books and current platforms are in the nonfiction space, I wanted to find new readers in my new genre (romance) in an organic and mutually beneficial way. This didn’t particularly change with time.
A Perfect Vintage is your debut novel, but it’s not your first book. How did your prior experience inform your independent publication process this time around?
I’m very familiar with the publishing process, and have always been extremely hands-on with my other books, even when traditionally published. So I basically knew how I wanted to do everything, and really enjoyed the ability to have control over the creative and marketing decisions.
A Perfect Vintage was named a 2023 Harper’s Bazaar Best Beach Read, received praise from bestselling authors like Ashley C. Ford and ST Gibson, and was covered in BookRiot and The Skimm, among others! What role did you as an independent author play in securing media coverage for A Perfect Vintage?
I’m lucky that I’ve worked in media essentially my entire career, and I have a fabulous marketing partner with whom I’m profit sharing on the book, so between the two of us we were able to secure a lot of really organic, authentic media coverage between people we knew or had worked with over the years. I took a lot of care in sending out galley mailers with personalized notes and ribbons, even doing themed gift boxes for some recipients – and though that whole process took a lot of time and energy (and standing in line at the post office), it was hugely worth it. People respond to authentic creative enthusiasm.
What strategies, tools, or features in your NetGalley client account did you find most useful in turning NetGalley members’ impressions and requests into Feedback and reviews?
I found it to be quite seamless all around, but I did like being able to see a bit about the profiles of people requesting – if they’re someone who doesn’t at all read my genre typically, that person might be a lower priority than someone who is a big fan of the space.
Now that A Perfect Vintage is published and out in the world, do you have new or additional goals while you continue using NetGalley as your title is still active on the platform?
Making sure it has as wide a level of visibility as possible with booksellers and librarians!
As we alluded to earlier, in addition to your work as a novelist, you are the founder and CEO of The Financial Diet. How did founding and running your own business prepare you for your debut novel’s publication?
I’m very organized, thorough, and single-minded when it comes to pursuing professional and creative projects I’m passionate about. I understand media, I understand creating healthy business models, and I know what I can afford to invest (both in terms of time and money). I also enjoy a four-day workweek at my primary job, so I was able to dedicate regular time to this project without overwhelming myself.
On a personal note, I am obsessed with your cover image! Could you tell us a bit about it? Who was the artist? Did you go through multiple drafts?
Thank you! It’s an original oil painting that I commissioned from the artist Elizabeth Lennie (whose work I love, and whose paintings have previously been licensed for books such as Every Summer After). I hope to continue working with her throughout my romance career, as the cover has been such an integral part of this book’s success!
A Perfect Vintage was selected for free Homepage Placement on NetGalley about a month and a half before its publication. Two weeks later, it was a Featured Title on NetGalley in the Beach Reads (Fiction) theme. What effect did NetGalley Promotions have on your book’s performance?
It automatically reached a much wider audience – when I began this process, I was very reliant on my own platforms, which luckily are sizable. But those features especially allowed me to meet readers who weren’t previously aware of my work.
I understand music was a key influence for A Perfect Vintage — it has its own playlist! How has music shaped your writing?
In every way! As my primary work is more serious, educational content about finance, I want my romance work to be purely about vibes! Enjoying myself while writing is of the utmost importance, and having a fabulous playlist to accompany the process is essential to maximizing the joy. (And people have really loved it, about 1,500 people have saved it on Spotify alone and a lot of people have told me it’s been their favorite summer playlist – I’m honored!)
What’s next for you? What do your readers have to look forward to?
Really exciting things are happening over at The Financial Diet – a fall tour (the theme will be money & love, tying together my two big focuses this year), a totally revamped video series, etc – and then I’m starting work on my next summer romance, which I’m excited to place on NetGalley as soon as it’s ready!
Chelsea Fagan is a writer, home cook, and the co-founder and CEO of The Financial Diet. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and dog.
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!
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.
How an indie author and online writing coach kept engagement high for her debut novel across platforms, turning her audience into a launch team
By the time Abbie Emmons was ready to publish her first book, she had built up an audience as a blogger, YouTuber, and Bookstagrammer. But having an audience doesn’t automatically mean success; eyeballs don’t equal engagement. So when Abbie Emmons was getting ready to publish her novel about two teens with disabilities who fall for each other, she knew she was going to have to work to turn her audience into her launch team.
Emmons strategically engaged with her audience across platforms during her pre-publication push for 100 Days of Sunlight. She kept her community in the loop through her writing process, with the cover reveal, and once she had review copies. As soon as 100 Days of Sunlight was available on NetGalley, Emmons brought her pre-existing community there, as well as finding a new audience of NetGalley members browsing for their next read.
As a writing coach, Abbie Emmons has thought a lot about strategies that independent authors can use to launch their books with limited time, budgets, and resources. And as an author, she was able to put those strategies into practice.
What was your path to becoming an author? What about a writing coach/educator/resource? Which came first and how did you make the pivot to the other?
I fell in love with stories at a very young age. My mom introduced me to the world of reading, and I was enraptured by the magic of storytelling. I started writing stories of my own as soon as I learned how to hold a pencil, and I haven’t stopped since.
Becoming a creative writing coach was a natural “next step” for me – it blossomed out of my passion for storytelling. In 2016 I started blogging about writing, which turned into creating videos, and it’s been about one year since I launched my YouTube channel. It’s been amazing to connect with other writers all over the world and share my insight and my authoring journey.
I mostly provide coaching through my video content, but I’m in the process of creating digital products to provide my community with the opportunity to go deeper and learn more. WritersLife Wednesday also has a Patreon community, which allows me to connect more personally with committed writers and offer them a one-on-one experience. Within the Patreon, there’s a private Facebook group where I connect personally with followers and also a monthly podcast where I answer specific story questions real-time.
Tell us a bit about your YouTube channel. How does it intersect with your work as an author?
My YouTube channel, WritersLife Wednesdays, is all about making your story matter. Through my videos, I teach writers how to harness the power and psychology of storytelling and transform their ideas into a masterpiece. I also share my experiences of the publishing process to help other authors take the next step with their book.
I love teaching about story because it intersects so beautifully with my writing. I’m constantly learning and improving my own writing processes, which helps me give better, clearer advice in my videos. It’s a journey of experience and growth, and I’m so thrilled that other writers are joining me in this pursuit of writing meaningful books.
In September, 100 Days of Sunlight was the #1 best seller in Teens & YA fiction about Disabilities and Special Needs on Amazon. What do you think resonates with readers about your representation of disability in the book? Did you focus on reaching audiences who might be interested in narratives about disability? If so, how?
I wrote 100 Days of Sunlight in hopes that it would resonate with every reader – whether they have a disability or not. That’s the reason why I focus so much on my characters’ emotional journeys in the book; because even if you’re not going through a physical challenge like Tessa and Weston, you might be very familiar with the feeling of fear, despair, or helplessness when life takes an unexpected turn.
My research process involved tons of reading and investigating. Not only did I reference experts for medical details, I consulted real-life accounts and experiences of people with the disabilities I wrote about. I read lots of blog posts, articles, watched videos, asked questions, read more, and constantly referenced true experiences throughout the writing and editing process. Researching this book was a fascinating and educational journey, and I’m humbled and honored to be able to include representation of these disabilities in 100 Days of Sunlight.
After the publication of 100 Days of Sunlight, I did actively target readers who are interested in the Special Needs genre and who love comparable titles and authors. I was so thrilled to see 100 Days reach #1 best seller in its category on Amazon!
How did NetGalley fit in with the rest of your launch plan for 100 Days of Sunlight?
I found NetGalley at just the right time – about 4 months before my release date. I was seeking a way to efficiently deliver my book to my ARC team, with as little back-and-forth communication as possible. As an indie author, I have to manage a lot on my own, and I knew my ARC team was going to be sizable.
I was able to send everyone from my YouTube channel over to NetGalley to request the book, and that first rush of requests helped me to rank high in my category [appearing in the Most Requested section], which in turn gave my book more exposure to new ARC readers. I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out!
How did you determine the right timing for 100 Days of Sunlight‘s time on NetGalley with regards to its pub date and your other marketing and publicity efforts?
Every author has a different publishing timeline that best suits their schedule, but mine is roughly 6 months – starting the moment my book returns from my editor, and ending on the pub date. Of course, there’s post-release marketing, but that’s another animal.
Because of my shorter timeline, I decided that 3 months pre-publication would be a perfect amount of time. I wanted the book to still be fresh in my ARC readers’ minds when the release date rolled around, to create more buzz and conversation around the book launch.
100 Days of Sunlight has nearly 400 reviews! How did you get the word out about it once it went live on NetGalley?
I told all my people, multiple times. I made kind of a big deal out of the announcement – posting on my blog, YouTube channel, social media, and contacting all my email lists. I also continued to remind my followers on social media, urging them to go to NetGalley and request to read my book if they hadn’t already.
I received a lot of requests and happily accepted most of them. The result was a huge, fabulous ARC team who was excited to share their reviews of my book. I think it’s also worth noting that I had built up the hype for this novel long in advance, teasing it on my blog and YouTube channel – which made my audience all the more excited when it came out.
How have you kept momentum up for 100 Days on NetGalley throughout its time on the site?
Throughout the book’s listing on NetGalley, I continuously reminded my followers and fans to request to read the book. I also created an ad campaign on Facebook directly targeting librarians and teachers, sending them to NetGalley request my book. A book launch is really all about conversation – the more conversation you can create about your book, the more people will pay attention.
I worked hard every day to keep that conversation going, and it paid off. The number of requests I received for 100 Days helped move it up in the rankings in both the Women’s Fiction and YA Fiction categories. I couldn’t have been more thrilled!
How have you engaged with members who have requested or reviewed? Have you followed up with them or shared their reviews?
I personally reached out to readers who loved the book and asked them to share their reviews on Amazon and BookBub, as well as NetGalley. They were happy to crosspost their reviews, and it greatly helped the book’s early days on Amazon. I also continue to share excerpts from reviews in outreach and marketing campaigns for 100 Days of Sunlight.
We love that you have a dedicated website for your press kit and for supplemental material. Tell us why this digital presence is important to you and how you went about building it.
We live in an age of immediate access to all the information we need – and I knew that my book and author presence had to meet that standard. If someone comes to my website looking for specific information and materials, I want them to be able to find what they need as quickly as possible. It’s one of those small things that can make a huge difference.
How have you been leveraging your reviews outside of NetGalley? Have you been sharing them on social media or elsewhere?
Reviews are social proof, and nothing is more powerful when you’re trying to get people to pay attention to your book. I share reviews on my social media, my blog, my website, and in all the marketing campaigns I produce, such as Facebook ads and influencer outreach.
Positive reviews are invaluable and I have NetGalley to thank for connecting me with so many amazing readers, as well as librarians, educators, and booksellers.
What is your top tip for authors listing their books on NetGalley?
Send as many of your people as you possibly can to request your book on NetGalley as soon as it’s available! That first rush of requests is vital to rank higher in your category, and thus gain more visibility on the site. New readers will discover your book and the word will continue to spread organically – and, I hope, exponentially. I recommend NetGalley to all my author friends and followers – it’s an absolute necessity if you want to make your book launch successful. Best of luck, fellow authors!
Abbie Emmons has been writing stories ever since she could hold a pencil. What started out as an intrinsic love for storytelling has turned into her lifelong passion. There’s nothing she likes better than writing (and reading) stories that are both heartrending and humorous, with a touch of cute romance and a poignant streak of truth running through them. Abbie is also a YouTuber, singer/songwriter, blogger, traveler, filmmaker, big dreamer, and professional waffle-eater. When she’s not writing or dreaming up new stories, you can find her road-tripping to national parks or binge-watching BBC Masterpiece dramas in her cozy Vermont home with a cup of tea and her fluffy white lap dog, Pearl.
*Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
Bethany House curates an engaged community of faith-based and general readers on NetGalley, earning impressive review counts and social share numbers
Sometimes at NetGalley, we field concerns from faith-based publishers that books with religious themes won’t perform well in our catalog. Publishers aren’t always sure that their books will find their readers if they have religious or spiritual underpinnings. But Bethany House demonstrates that with strategic use of NetGalley’s tools, faith-based books can become major successes on the site. Their contemporary romance Falling For You received over 75 5-star reviews and was named a 2019 Christy Award winner by the ECPA. The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White, historical fiction set in the world of WWII’s British code-breakers, earned 150 reviews, a 4.6 average star rating, and over 300 social shares.
Amy Green, Senior Fiction Publicist at Bethany House, shares how she used tools like the widget and the Auto-Approved list to build pre-publication buzz for the latest historical fiction from Roseanna M. White. Plus, how she thinks about the intersection between a faith-based readership and a general one.
As a Christian publisher, how do you think about promoting your titles to a general audience, as well as a faith-based one?
One of my favorite things to see as a publicist is a NetGalley review that starts something like, “I don’t usually read Christian fiction, but this book was amazing…” You’d be surprised how often we hear that sort of thing. Readers who might never wander into a specific genre’s section of a bookstore or library will see a stunning cover or compelling plot description on NetGalley and request to read it. The barrier to entry is pretty low, and oftentimes they end up loving the book and seeking out more from that author. Christian fiction (also called inspirational fiction) has changed a lot over the years, and many readers outside of a faith background tell us that the spiritual aspects of the stories feel natural to the characters and the development of the plot. We love granting requests from people outside of our usual readership!
How do you use NetGalley marketing?
We’ve used placement in NetGalley newsletters to launch debut authors in particular, especially ones with striking covers like The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright and Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes, which we had featured in the Mystery/Thriller and Summer Reads newsletters respectively. It’s a great way to get the names and work of authors just starting out in front of a wide range of influential readers.
What kinds of members are you most interested in connecting with on NetGalley?
We love the connections we’re able to make through NetGalley with collection-development librarians, bloggers, and media. The ability to zip a NetGalley widget off to a reviewer has made it much easier for me to schedule interviews and blog tours. Some contest coordinators even request NetGalley to send copies of entrants’ books to judges, giving them additional time to read and choose finalists—and eliminating the worry of copies getting lost in the mail. Most recently, we sent widgets to judges for the Realm Awards, a competition for speculative fiction books written by Christian authors.
162 members from your Auto-Approved List accessed The Number of Love. How do you build this list and engage with its members?
We want our Auto-Approved list to be a targeted group of readers and influencers with a high capacity for reading across multiple genres. These are the folks who aren’t just interested in the latest release from one favorite author, but who want to promote all subcategories of inspirational fiction. One way that we do that is by accepting applications from interested readers. They answer a few questions, like “Send us a link to a review you’re most proud of” or “What’s something unique you do to promote authors and their books?” If we like what we see, we’ll invite them to join the team. Other cases are even more specific. I saw a Bookstagrammer gushing online about being Auto-Approved for Bethany House—”It’s like I just won the reading lottery!” It was great to see someone excited about reviewing our books…and I took note of a few of the influencers who commented on that post to message them about joining our team of reviewers as well.
Some of the members of the Auto-Approved list are just added without much ongoing maintenance required (a reviewer for an online publication, for example). But we have a newsletter list for about 200 of the top influencers we’ve identified and Auto-Approved. We send them updates about new books added to NetGalley on a monthly basis along with our recommendations.
How did you incorporate the widget into your launch strategy for The Number of Love?
In our initial marketing strategy calls with authors, we always mention that their book will be available on NetGalley as soon as editorial approves a manuscript for us to use, often four to five months before release. That way, both the author and our marketing team can plan to have a standardized e-copy of their book ready to use for any initiatives where that would make sense. For The Number of Love, we planned to use the widget to send to advance endorsers, launch team members, and blog tour participants who preferred an ebook copy.
Tell us how you used NetGalley for The Number of Love‘s blog tour and to support Ms. White’s launch team?
Several of our authors, including Roseanna White, love to send physical books to launch team members, sometimes with notes and goodies. However, that takes time for shipping and packing, and often readers on their launch team want to read the book long before we can actually get a package to their doorstep. By using NetGalley, we’re able to catch that early “buzz” from some of the author’s biggest fans and make sure other readers think, “What’s this new novel we’re hearing about everywhere?” during pre-order season. It also helps the launch team members, many of whom juggle busy lives with their book blogging, podcasting, or Instagramming, to be able to work ahead of schedule and have a review ready by or before the release date of the book.
NetGalley members shared feedback for The Number of Love over 300 times. How did you encourage them to share their influence so widely?
Something I’ve been doing recently is reminding bloggers and influencers who use NetGalley that, at Bethany House, we often notice and pass along especially glowing reviews to our authors. It can be a huge incentive to review a book if the reviewers genuinely feel that their words aren’t just increasing their chances of being approved for future books (although that is true), but could also be encouraging to a writer who might be discouraged and under deadline for a future project.
Amy Green is the Senior Fiction Publicist at Bethany House Publishers,
where she connects authors with readers by arranging interviews, sending
out review copies, answering social media questions, and occasionally
serving cake at authors’ launch parties. You can find her writing about
all things bookish at bethanyfiction.com, or check out Bethany House Fiction on Facebook or Instagram.
*Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
How Random House used NetGalley data to refine their marketing messaging and proactively find engaged readers for a big summer debut
Taffy Brodesser-Akner is by no means an unknown writer. As a staff writer for the New York Times magazine with a prolific Twitter account, she already has an audience. But when launching her debut novel, Fleishman is in Trouble, the Random House team treated her book just like they would for any debut novelist coming out with a big summer book.
They dug into NetGalley data to see what was resonating with readers about her book , used NetGalley reporting to find fans of comp titles, and targeted book club leaders and readers. Plus, they leaned on Brodesser-Akner’s own self-promotion efforts via social media.
Jess Bonet, Marketing Manager at Random House, shares how she helped turn Fleishman is in Trouble into one of the hottest summer reads, and a New York Times bestseller.
How did Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s unique position as an established writer and debut author guide your campaign strategy for Fleishman?
For Fleishman, we pulled out all the stops as we would for a debut author: Heavy consumer-reads push on platforms like NetGalley and GoodReads and major book club leader outreach. Random House has a built-in book club platform called The Random House Reader’s Circle. Using that platform, I was able to reach book club leaders through the RHRC newsletter, social media and physical mailing address lists. I also targeted Instagram book clubs like Pure Wow that ran pre-pub giveaways to engage their fans. I provided book club leaders with eCards featuring blurbs and media praise for Fleishman is in Trouble.
But what was unique about this project is that we were also able to use Taffy’s strong platform (she is a natural on social) to drum up excitement in the months leading up to publication. s.
We also ran advertising on the New York Times website to convert fans of her journalism into fans of her new novel.
Plus, we ran advertising in Shelf Awareness and included a link to NetGalley on the landing page for easy bookseller access.
How did you involve Brodesser-Akner in launch campaign?
Brodesser-Akner played an integral role in the launch campaign for Fleishman is in Trouble. She did a fantastic job promoting the book on social and making her fans aware that her debut novel was coming soon, even though she did not specifically promote its NetGalley listing on her own channels.
How did you proactively engage NetGalley members and communicate with them?
We shared NetGalley widgets with reviewers of other Random House titles in the same category. I pulled Feedback Reports for users who requested similar Random House fiction titles, and gave access to people who rated the comparative titles 4 stars or higher.
We also emailed all reviewers [who submitted Feedback for Fleishman] and provided them with social assets on publication date to push reviews to retailer platforms and get the book in as many social feeds as possible. Social buzz was one of the major drivers of this campaign, and it continues to grow which is wonderful to see.
You included Fleishman in two different NetGalley newsletters in March 2019 – Women’s Fiction and Debut Authors. Why were these newsletters and this timing the right marketing choice for you? What impact did you see?
For the blasts, we knew we wanted to capture both audiences: Women’s Fiction readers and the spotlight for Debut Authors. The fact that they were both in the same month was a great benefit to us, because it drove more awareness on the site, creating a snowball effect that led to increased number of requests driving to publication. For members subscribed to both newsletters, it’s always great to hit that audience again and make the reader feel like this is a book of the moment and read because they are seeing it everywhere.
How did you go about managing requests for such a popular title?
We were liberal with accepting requests for this title because we wanted to saturate different segments at the same time. We wanted to get engage booksellers, Instagram influencers and bloggers, as well as librarians.
Which NetGalley reports or analytics are most important to you and your team? How do you use them?
The Feedback Report is the tool we most commonly use. It’s so helpful to see what’s resonating with readers before a book goes on sale, so we can adjust our messaging accordingly. Around 3 months before a book goes on sale, our team will meet and discuss review feedback, largely from NetGalley, and adjust copy as necessary.
That’s truly my favorite part of using NetGalley: being able to see feedback in real-time about what readers are actually responding to, versus our messaging. We came to realize that readers were really responding to Taffy’s raw honesty about dating and marriage in the 21st century, so we played that up in our ad copy and our copy feeding to retailers.
Jess Bonet is a Marketing Manager at Random House, working on campaign
planning and marketing strategy for authors including Chelsea Handler,
Brené Brown, George Saunders, Jia Tolentino, Téa Obreht, Salman Rushdie
and more. In her spare time she writes and produces an upcoming
comedy-horror web series, Are You Afraid to Adult?
Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
How The New Press used NetGalley to engage Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom’s fanbase, while finding new audiences
The New Press publishes books that straddle the lines between academic and mainstream. Often, they publish works by academic authors geared towards a popular audience. This means that their marketing strategy needs to appeal to several kinds of readers – academic readers need to be assured of the intellectual rigor, while mainstream readers need to feel invited to engage in complicated discourse.
Brian Ulicky, Director of Marketing and Publicity at The New Press, used early NetGalley reviews to demonstrate the effectiveness of pre-publication marketing efforts to Dr. McMillan Cottom. Seeing these early reviews encouraged her to share the NetGalley listing on her own social media platforms, engaging an audience that already loved her, whether or not they were on NetGalley. As NetGalley reviews rolled in, buzz for Thick really picked up, resulting in editorial attention from Goodreads and inclusion in a Kindle Gold Box deal (not to mention reviews from the New York Times Book Review and Los Angeles Review of Books).
Thick comes out in paperback on October 1.
How does NetGalley fit into the workflow at a small indie publisher like The New Press?
For a good number of our authors, their first book with The New Press is their first book period (or at least their first non-academic book) and I think for any new author their book may not start to feel truly real until they see reviews of it in the world. Sharing NetGalley feedback with authors is a particularly gratifying part of the run-up to the publication date and has become really important to us in garnering early consumer reviews for our path-breaking works of nonfiction. We are particularly proud of our bestselling progressive education list (a very different subject area from my previous houses), and we wouldn’t be so successful at this publishing area without the support of teachers and librarians who adopt our books into their work and communities. I have loved connecting with educators and librarians on NetGalley for books such as on Monique Morris’s Sing a Rhythm, Dance a Blues or James Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me: Young Readers Edition. The latter has been a particular hit for NetGalley users putting together home-school curricula.
In the past, I worked on quite a bit more fiction than I do these days, and fiction is clearly a large part of the NetGalley community and a big part of my past experience with the platform. The New Press publishes select works of fiction, much of it in translation from the French, and we’ve had some great success with our fiction on NetGalley, like last year’s Slave Old Man by Patrick Chamoiseau or this year’s Minutes of Gloryby Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o..
What were your goals for Thick on NetGalley?
Our goals were to build word-of-mouth buzz among booksellers, librarians, and book buyers on Goodreads, Amazon, and other consumer reading sites and social media. We felt from day one we had a very special book in Thick and I couldn’t wait to see that gut feeling confirmed with as-early-as-possible reads. And it paid off when, for example, Goodreads selected it for one of their spring editorial newsletters based on the strength of its reader reviews (which also led to a Kindle Gold Box deal over the summer).
You ran a homepage title promotion for Thick in the week after Thanksgiving. Tell us why that timing was the right choice for you.
The book went on sale the first week of January 2019 – this can be a sort of tricky spot as the big fall publishing season winds down and people tune out a little during the holidays. We had review copies landing in the world right after Thanksgiving and so I also wanted to make sure we had a stream of consumer reviews coming in shortly thereafter, just as we were doubling down lining up author media appearances first thing in the new year. Also that cover is pretty iconic and appealing – I just wanted to see it everywhere.
Thick was listed as a Read Now title. Tell us how you came to that reading option and what benefits it gave.
Thick definitely has an intriguing package and title if you already know the author’s work, but if you don’t know it, I didn’t want there to be any friction or hesitation if someone came across an essay collection by a new author and had the impulse to check it out. Listing it as Read Now meant that anyone who was even a little intrigued could check it out and fall in love with Dr. McMillan Cottom’s voice.
How do you handle the challenges of promoting a book that might seem inaccessible or academic to a broad audience?
The core of The New Press’s mission and publishing program is to bridge the gap between a broad reading audience and new ideas and voices in the academic and social change worlds. We try to make sure our titles, subtitles, and jacket designs are appealing and put you in the picture without requiring too much prior knowledge from a reader; we work hard to get blurbs from recognizable names; and we aim for as much mainstream media coverage as we can get. We know there are readers out there who are hungry for books that challenge and inspire – it’s our job to find them – and sometimes on NetGalley, they reveal themselves!
The cover art for Thick received overwhelmingly positive feedback. How do you use Cover Ratings data internally?
Covers are one of the most important pieces of marketing any book gets and if the NetGalley community loves our designs, we must be doing something right. It’s helpful to have early feedback inform and confirm our very involved, iterative process of designing and choosing covers.
24% of members with access clicked to read Thick because they were familiar with Dr. McMillan Cottom’s work and 40% were drawn in by the book description. How did you think about connecting with these two different groups – the ones that were already fans of Dr. McMillan Cottom and those that were taking a chance on a new-to-them author?
The recipe for success varies from author to author. We knew that Thick gave us an opportunity to publish a book by an author with both a substantial following and the potential to reach many, many more readers with her sharp mind and her signature dexterity on the page. The marketing, title, cover, positioning are key to reaching new readers, and for a book as smart as Thick, getting early reads and reviews from NetGalley users plays an important role in spreading the word.
Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom has over 90k Twitter followers and made a point tolet her Twitter followers know that Thick was available on NetGalley. How did you work with her to help bring new readers to NetGalley to access Thick?
We want our authors to see how much we’re doing to promote their books and we always point out NetGalley as one of our tools. I think Tressie saw the power in early reads pretty soon after the manuscript was done. We posted the final pass as soon as we could, shared with her a few of the first positive reviews we got, and the rest is history.
How did you use the positive reviews you received on NetGalley? Did you share them internally, use them in your pitches or press materials?
All of the above. We shared them with the author (fair to say Tressie loved seeing them roll in), with media, and with our sales reps and bookstore partners. It’s always great to have fresh material and feedback in your third or sixth or fifteenth conversation about an upcoming book.
NetGalley members shared their reviews of Thick to social media over 700 times! What did you do to encourage that social engagement or what do you think inspired members to share their feedback so broadly outside of NetGalley?
I think one of the things Tressie is uniquely brilliant at in Thick and on social is connecting the big picture with the personal in a way that clarifies both vantage points. When she’s talking about structures she’s talking about herself, and she inspires (and encourages) her readers to do the same. So it was rather organic. Her readers clamor to spread the word about her writing.
Brian Ulicky is the publicity and marketing director for The New Press,
an independent not-for-profit publisher of books to build social change,
where he oversees publicity, marketing, advertising and digital
strategy plus institutional development partnerships and strategic
communications initiatives. Before that he was in the publicity
department at Simon & Schuster and was publicity director at Blue
Rider Press, where he planned and executed campaigns for multiple New York Times bestsellers. He lives in New York City.
How Chronicle is using NetGalley to promote their most anticipated cookbooks
We love when publishers experiment with their titles on NetGalley, especially to try new categories, expand the tools they use to promote their titles on and off the site, and how they involve the authors in the process. That’s why when we saw how Chronicle promoted Smoke, Roots, Mountain, Harvest by Lauren McDuffie, we knew we wanted to share their strategies.
Chronicle recently started putting cookbooks up on NetGalley, using Read Now availability to save time and ensure the widest possible reach. They are using NetGalley data and reporting to guide internal strategy and to equip their sales teams with early analytics. And, in the case of Smoke, Roots, Mountain, Harvest, involving the author in creating special multimedia extras like a Spotify playlist, and encouraging her to share member reviews on her popular Instagram page.
Cynthia Shannon, Food and Lifestyle Marketing Manager at Chronicle shares the steps behind Smoke, Roots, Mountain, Harvest’s success:
What were your goals for Smoke, Roots, Mountain, Harvest on NetGalley?
We wanted to drive early awareness of this debut cookbook by getting reviews in advance of publication. NetGalley is a great way to distribute the eARC of the book among readers who talk about books, whether on NetGalley, Goodreads, Twitter, or their personal blog. It was a key tent pole in our early marketing strategy, which also included the author producing a video trailer and creating a Spotify playlist.
What did you learn about how cookbooks are received by the NetGalley community?
There is a lot of potential to sharing cookbooks on NetGalley and we are looking forward to exploring more ways to further optimize our NetGalley strategy. Adding cookbooks to NetGalley was a new strategy for us for Spring 2019, and I was pleased to see the overwhelmingly positive response. We saw many NetGalley reviewers commenting on the beautiful photographs and the level of complexity of the recipes or ingredient procurement, and how much they were inspired to try some of the recipes. More importantly, they’d comment about how they can’t wait to get a print edition of the cookbook so that they can add it to their collection. Chronicle Books prides itself on creating beautiful, physical objects that people will want to buy for themselves or as a gift, so having these endorsements helps customers make their book buying decisions.
We’ve increased the number of cookbooks we share on NetGalley in advance of publication for our Fall 2019 list—for example, we have Tartine, Ama, and American Sfoglino, three of our most anticipated upcoming cookbooks, available for review on NetGalley now—and we’re exploring the many tools and services that NetGalley offers to further connect with reviewers.
How important is it for you to have reviews that address the recipes in addition to the other aspects of this book (or other cookbooks)?
We were curious to see how readers would respond to the unique structure of the book, which is organized by seasons and weaves personal stories and anecdotes about growing up in the Appalachian South with modern recipes and cooking techniques. Reviewer response was overwhelmingly positive—the average rating for the book is 4.3 stars—with many also commenting on the beautiful photography that make this cookbook stand out from the rest. While it’s very regional, we were happy to see that it appealed to readers all over the country.
We loved that Lauren McDuffie created a special Spotify playlist to go along with her book! Tell us how and why you chose to include the playlist in your launch strategy.
The book was inspired by a song (Emmylou Harris’s version of “Country Roads”) so it seemed like a natural way to evoke the feeling of Appalachia through another medium that could be used in tandem with the book. After all, it’s not unusual to listen to music while cooking, or creating a playlist for a dinner party! It also provides further connection with the author, who took the lead on compiling her favorite songs. We shared the link to the playlist wherever we could incorporate it online, and it provided the author with another way to talk about the book on her blog, Harvest and Honey, and on social media in an authentic and charming way
Smoke, Roots, Mountain, Harvest was available as a Read Now title. Tell us why that was the right availability setting for this book.
We needed to get the book into the hands of as many readers as possible since the NetGalley audience was going to be critical in driving awareness in advance of publication. We were not concerned about it cannibalizing sales. By allowing readers to access the book as Read Now, it minimized the impact on our limited bandwidth to approve each and every interested reviewer. We ultimately received more than 1,500 impressions and nearly 50 reviews, much more than if we had limited the accessibility.
How did you use the data and reports available for Smoke, Roots, Mountain, Harvest?
We included the link to the NetGalley listing and highlights of reviews in reports to the sales team. This helped shed insights into how customers were responding to the book, so that they could share those insights with their buyers.
Did you share the NetGalley listing for Smoke, Roots, Mountain, Harvest outside of NetGalley?
We were pleased to see more than half of NetGalley reviewers cross-posted their reviews to Goodreads, which the author in turn shared on Instagram stories. [Learn more about how publishers are using Instagram stories here]. This is a great example of how one marketing activity can be repurposed across multiple platforms to appeal to different audiences
We’re still exploring the many ways to utilize NetGalley in our marketing campaigns. We definitely recognize the value of getting those early reviews to inform our strategies; in fact, we’ve increased the number of books we’re sharing on NetGalley this Fall and will continue to look for new ways to engage with the audience. I have some ideas, and am looking forward to trying them out!
Cynthia Shannon oversees the marketing for the Food & Lifestyle products at Chronicle Books. Prior to this she worked at Goodreads, Berrett-Koehler, John Wiley & Sons, and Other Press. She was named a 2016 PW Star Watch Honoree and is a graduate of the Stanford Professional Publishing Program as well as New York University. She lives in San Francisco.
How an activist fantasy writer used xer own experiences as a reviewer to get 80+ NetGalley post-pub reviews for a short story collection
As a reviewer as well as author and indie publisher, Ana Mardoll has a unique perspective about what gets a person excited about a new book. For xer*, it’s instant access, plus concrete information about a book’s content – including possible triggers. Knowing xer own likes, dislikes, and habits as a reviewer helped Mardoll optimize the timing, availability, and Title Details copy for No Man of Woman Born. And xer strategy worked – during its time on NetGalley, No Man of Woman Born earned over 80 reviews, with an average 4-star rating.
*Xie/xer/xers are the gender neutral pronouns that Mardoll uses.
As both an activist and a writer, how does writing fantasy provide a platform to explore issues that are important to you, especially around queerness & disability?
The great thing about fantasy is that you have the total power to create your world from scratch. You don’t have to add hatred for queer people and disabled people into your world; that hatred isn’t some mandatory state that all civilizations reach in the journey from fire and the wheel to airplanes and cellphones. You can choose what challenges your characters face and aren’t constrained by the real world. There’s a lot of power in that!
What were your goals for No Man of Woman Born on NetGalley?
My goal was to get reviews and reach a wider audience. As an indie publisher, my marketing budget is extremely low, so book blogs and word-of-mouth sharing from reviewers is very helpful to me. Having been a reviewer myself, I know all too well that we rarely have the time to review everything we request. That helped me set realistic expectations for what to expect, since I knew that a request didn’t equal an eventual review. I was a reviewer for many years and I understand the importance of reviews on a book–and I respect how much work and labor goes into that effort! I’ve always had wonderful experiences with the NetGalley team as a reviewer, so I trusted them to put my book in the hands of reviewers in a respectful, thoughtful manner. I believe they did well.
No Man of Woman Born became available on NetGalley after its publication date. Tell us how you came to use NetGalley as a post-pub tool and why that works for you.
I have ADHD and whenever people hype books in advance of pub date, I get all excited, and then I never end up buying the book because by the time it becomes available I’ve already had my interest snagged by some new shiny thing! (I have the same problem with movie trailers!) So I’m very much about post-publication hype. It doesn’t help your first week sales, true, but as a smaller-name indie that first week isn’t as important to me as the long haul. If I can get people excited about a book that they can then immediately one-click read, review, and buy that very day, that’s a big win for me.
No Man of Woman Born was available to any interested member as a Read Now title. Tell us about why you chose that availability setting.
I want to read a book when I request it, not two days later when the publisher clicks the “Approve” button. It’s just an attention span issue–any delay between “I want the thing” and “I get the thing” means I’m less likely to do the thing. Additionally, as the publisher in question I didn’t really want to have to log in and press the approval button; it seemed like my time could be better spent writing.
In your Title Details you note “…these prophecies recognize and acknowledge each character’s gender, even when others do not. Note: No trans or nonbinary characters were killed in the making of this book. Trigger warnings and neopronoun pronunciation guides are provided for each story.” Tell us why this is important information to include and what you hoped it would tell NetGalley members about your perspective as an author?
A lot of trans literature is inaccessible to a lot of trans readers because a LOT of it is about trans people facing hatred and trauma, even up to and including their own deaths. Trans characters on television are usually victims in crime dramas. There’s effort to change this and broaden the scope of how we’re allowed to see ourselves, but it’s still something to be wary of when approaching a trans book. I wanted to let readers know that wasn’t going to happen here; that no trans characters would be killed, and that any traumas they engaged in would be appropriately trigger warned in advance so they could choose whether they wanted to read that or not.
Where did you leverage your NetGalley listing outside of the site?
Twitter mostly – that’s where the bulk of my audience is these days. Twitter has been a good platform for me simply because that’s where my audience already is. If I had 20,000 Facebook followers, I’d be sharing there instead or in addition to Twitter.
What’s your top tip for authors listing their title on NetGalley?
Make sure your readers know what they’re getting; the majority of my lower-star reviews were from people who didn’t enjoy short stories and hadn’t realized my book was a collection–that’s fair and a good note to me that I need to market the book more clearly in that regard!
is a writer and activist who lives in the dusty Texas wilderness with
two spoiled cats. Xer favorite employment is weaving new tellings of old
fairy tales, fashioning beautiful creations to bring comfort on cold
nights. Xie is the author of the Earthside series, the Rewoven Tales novels, and several short stories.
Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.
Read the rest of our case studies, featuring authors, trade publishers, and academic publishers here.
How Harlequin used NetGalley tools to give targeted access to NetGalley members and customize followup for a nonfiction book that combines memoir and history
Harlequin’s publicity manager Laura Gianino knew that there would be plenty of interest for The Lady from the Black Lagoon, which tells the story of the woman who created Gil-Man, the monster from Creature from the Black Lagoon…and then never got the credit for it. This hybrid memoir/history has plenty of contemporary cultural relevance, released during a time when there is extra attention being paid to gender dynamics in Hollywood, in the workplace, and beyond. Gianino used NetGalley tools to give access to the most influential and active members, and to target her followup accordingly.
How does your strategy for launching new nonfiction titles differ from the trade fiction titles you work on?
With fiction, it helps to have as many people as possible read and share a story, especially for a debut title. With nonfiction, I found that I had to be a little bit more protective over the content, so that readers would feel like they were still learning something new when they did have a chance to read. Because The Lady from the Black Lagoon had some never-before-revealed information about Milicent Patrick and what the author learned about her, I was more guarded in approving requests.
What were your goals for Lady from the Black Lagoon on NetGalley?
With The Lady from the Black Lagoon, Mallory O’Meara was telling a compelling story about a woman no one had ever heard of before. Being able to launch the book on NetGalley before physical galleys were even printed allowed me to get the word out about Milicent Patrick—the subject of the book—early enough to help create some pre-publication buzz and raise awareness about this previously unknown figure.
It’s helpful when you’re building a campaign months out (sometimes almost a year out) to be able to see who is downloading or requesting a title, and to have that ability—through the NetGalley platform—to follow up and engage with them. My goal was to raise awareness for The Lady from the Black Lagoon, so that as we got closer to launch date, consumers and media alike would have already begun to hear about the book, even if it was just through whispers.
Which NetGalley members were most important to you? How did you go about reaching them?
I was most focused on bookstore owners, librarians, media professionals and seasoned bloggers who I knew would talk about their passion for the book without giving anything away.
I was able to filter the requests to only those who I wanted to approve, which was instrumental in allowing me to reach the appropriate contacts for the book.
I also tend to focus on the requestors who give the most feedback (you can sort requests to easily view members who give most feedback) and I’ve found that those contacts are truly the most likely to review a book once they’ve requested it, which saves me the hassle of chasing someone down for a review.
You had over 130 accepted widget invitations for Lady from the Black Lagoon. How did you use NetGalley proactively to reach important contacts or find new audiences?
I was able to use NetGalley widgets to offer The Lady from the Black Lagoon to interested media who reached out to me before we had physical galleys in house, or in cases where I was trying to preserve physical galleys. I was able to see Auto-Approved members who downloaded the widget through the History tab on NetGalley, including reviewers from some of the major media outlets who ended up covering the book. The data was one of the first indications about who was interested in the book, and allowed me to do really targeted follow up knowing who had already requested and potentially started reading, in a way that I’m typically unable to do.
40% of members with access noted that the description was the reason they were interested in the book. What was the strategy behind the Title Details copy?
Mallory O’Meara’s book is about a little-known, fascinating subject—the woman who designed Gil-Man, the monster from The Creature from the Black Lagoon, whose legacy was stolen by a jealous male co-worker at Universal. The movie is a horror classic, and Mallory O’Meara’s book offers the unknown story behind it about a trailblazing woman in a post #MeToo world. The book is full of fascinating details—with the copy, we were able to pull them out.
How did you engage with members who had access to Lady from the Black Lagoon? Did you follow up with them before pub date or after? Did you encourage them to share reviews?
I followed up with bookstore owners, librarians and media once I approved them for a copy. Seeing a name or an outlet indicated interest, which allowed me to follow up in a targeted way. I was able to coordinate events and press this way. Whenever I approve someone I always suggest they review, but I never had to chase anyone down for a review.
How does the success of Lady of the Black Lagoon fit in with other trends you’re seeing across nonfiction? What does its success say about what kinds of stories readers are looking for?
I think readers are looking for more stories about women. Especially women who didn’t receive the recognition they deserved, whose legacies have been or are being erased by men. This is happening across all industries, not just Hollywood. Mallory’s book is unique in that it’s a biography, but it’s also part memoir. She reaches across time and shows how Milicent’s story is her story too, and, in some ways, every woman’s story. The more stories we have and share like Milicent’s and Mallory’s, the closer we are to preventing this from happening to other women.
Laura Gianino is a publicity manager at Harlequin/HarperCollins.