As you may know, book marketing is a regular topic on my blog. I've been guerrilla marketing my books for almost a year now and have tried many strategies. To learn about other tips you can try part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6 at each respective link.
I've waited a while to write this post mainly because I wanted to give myself some emotional distance from my experience at NetGalley. For the most part, I want these blog posts to be informative and help authors like myself to better market their books. I do not want this to be a rant post that is neither helpful nor informative. That is why I've waited a month to describe my experience with NetGalley. I will do my best not to rant.
Before we begin, let me give you some information on NetGalley. Here is a blurb straight from their own website.
"NetGalley is a service to promote and publicize forthcoming titles to readers of influence. If you are a reviewer, blogger, journalist, librarian, bookseller, educator, or in the media, you can use NetGalley for FREE to request and read titles before they are published. Publishers can upload their galleys, plus any marketing and promotional information, and interact with members in two ways: * By approving member requests from our catalog of titles * By inviting members to view titles using our email invitation widget. "
NetGalley for the last many years was limited to traditionally published authors, so when I learned they were opening their doors to indies I was very excited. Another door opened to my Indie brethren. (No longer would we be kicked out of country clubs or hissed at on the street. We were being promoted from the kiddie table to the grown-up buffet.) Not only do I like doors opening for indies, but I also like the prospect of real, vetted reviewers checking out my title and posting reviews. I know well the mantra "The more reviews you have, the more sales you have." I figured my new release would be perfect for this. I'd get lots of professional reviews posted to Amazon and it would help my sales. Voila. What could go wrong?
I signed up in a co-op with several of my writer soul-mates. We each paid $350: three hundred for the NetGalley yearly subscription and fifty for the moderator who would set it all up and manage our request for us. That is a steep price point and it was a hard choice, but I figured it was worth it. I'd have reviews pouring in and I'd see the money back in sales. So I paid my money, uploaded Eyes Ever to the Sky and waited.
Reviewers quickly requested copies of my book. Over a hundred people were approved. But as the days ticked by and the reviews trickled in, I started to worry. Why weren't more of the people who requested the book posting reviews? Why weren't many of them posting to Amazon, the site where I make my money? Why were so many of the reviews short or grammatically challenged?
Here's the main problem I have with NetGalley. They claim on their website that the readers you are giving free books to are all "reviewers". They are all supposed to have a platform with which to share reviews. They are all supposed to know how to write a book review. As a reviewer myself, I know that learning to review takes time. Anyone can blab a few minutes about their feelings on a book, but it takes a certain learned skill to convey what you felt and why you felt it in a way that helps identify if this book would be a suitable purchase. Sadly, with some of the reviews I was receiving, they were not deft in this skill. I'll admit some reviews were down right mean and hurt my feelings. Others gave away spoilers RIGHT IN THE TITLE of the review with no spoiler warning. The worst part is, out of the nearly two hundred books I gave away, only a handful of reviews have made it to Amazon. So in essence, I paid 350 dollars to give my book away for nearly nothing in return. Well, I did get some bad feelings and some mediocre three star reviews. Honestly the whole thing felt like a gut punch. From Mike Tyson. Into a tiger's den.
To be fair, NetGalley does allow you to pick and chose who you allow to upload your titles. I should've been more selective, but it is very hard, given the limited amount of information you get on these reviewers, to know if they'll a) even write a review or b) write one that won't give away your whole book. There will never be a next time with me and NetGalley, but if the universe somehow worm-holes into a Bizarro World and I forget my rotten experience, the one thing I would do differently is be WAY more selective on who I give books to. If you're considering the service, please take that one piece of advice.
A few weeks ago I asked our NetGalley moderator to take my title down. It had been up for about two months and I couldn't take the abuse anymore. Sadly, I've already paid my yearly fee and have to eat the 350 dollars. A monthly fee would be much more helpful to Indies. You live and learn, but one thing is for sure, I'll know better next time.
So what about you? What have been your NetGalley experiences?
Book Marketing Part 8 - The Anthology