To NetGalley or not to NetGalley? Is NetGalley the solution to getting reviews for indie authors?

When my first book was published, I immediately went in search of reviewers. As a voracious reader, I instinctively knew that reviews would help sell my book. Later, I learned that Amazon’s algorithm (which is more complicated than launching the Space Shuttle) takes the number of reviews into consideration when adding a book to the Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought area. Need. Reviews. Now. It didn’t take me much searching to stumble upon NetGalley.

What is NetGalley? The NetGalley website explains it best: “NetGalley is an innovative and easy-to-use online service and connection point for book publishers, reviewers, media, librarians, booksellers, bloggers and educators. NetGalley delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles. Professional readers–reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and educators–can join and use NetGalley at no cost.”

Wow! Sounds like the perfect place to find reviewers for a book. But wait – there’s a catch. Of course, there’s a catch. It’s expensive as all get out for self-published authors. So I signed up as a reviewer and forgot about using the service as an author. Recently, however, several blog tour companies have added NetGalley to their list of services. And it’s affordable. I jumped on that bandwagon so fast I bruised my shins.

I placed my most popular book (highest rating, most reviews) on NetGalley for one month at a cost of $60. Was it worth it? Unfortunately, I’m going to have to say no and it’s a firm no at that. I was super excited the first week when I saw 46 requests to download my book. Yes! At first I didn’t understand why my contact had only approved 11 of those requests. It soon made sense because I waited and waited for the reviews to roll in. And then I waited some more.

I decided to do a bit of researching of other authors who had used the service to hear their thoughts and comments. I was more than a little bit shocked to read remarks from several bloggers/reviewers who admitted to downloading loads of books, which they never read. It’s now a few weeks after my month on NetGalley ended and only one-third of the reviewers have reported back. I’m not holding my breath waiting on the others.

Ten reviews for $60 doesn’t sound bad, though. Aaah, that’s because I didn’t understand what ‘feedback’ meant in NetGalley-speak. There is no requirement whatsoever to write an actual review. In fact, I had one person write in his ‘feedback’ that he couldn’t understand why anyone would ever be interested in the premise of this book. What? Why did you request it if you didn’t think the premise sounded interesting? And, by the way, can you be more obnoxious?

And even if a reader does write a review, there’s no requirement to place the review anywhere but on the NetGalley website. In fact, the vast majority of my reviewers did not upload their review anywhere other than NetGalley. A fat lot of good that does me. Thus far I’ve gotten four reviews on Amazon out of my month long stint on NetGalley. At a cost of $60, that’s a bit steep.

So NetGalley doesn’t appear to be the cure-all for getting tons of reviews. What is then? Stay tuned. I’ll talk about some other schemes I’ve tried next week. I’ll actually be flying in a big aluminum tube over the big pond, but lucky for you I’ve finally figured out how to schedule a blog post in advance. Go me!

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  1. I didn’t know any of this about NetGalley and appreciate the information but feel sorry for authors who spend the money there expecting reviews. It would never occur to me to get a book from NetGalley and not post a review there and everywhere else I can think of.

    There has to be a better, cheaper way to get reviews. Good luck with that.

    1. I’m shocked that people think they can use NetGalley as some sort of free book service. I’m still working on how to get more reviews. I’ll talk about what I’ve tried next week. Thanks for reading.

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