Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Blogger Problems: Netgalley

As most of us book bloggers know, Netgalley is both an amazing and also horrible resource.  Amazing because we all have access to incredible books before they are published. Horrible because there are so many stress-inducing elements to being a member of Netgalley.  Today's blog post will delve a little deeper into our Netgalley inspired problems...

-The temptation to request all the books

I think we all did this when we first started out with Netgalley, didn't we? We requested anything that mildly took our interest. We were all incredibly click-happy and went wild. I know I did. And where did it get me? It got me to a place two years ago in which my feedback to approval ratio was under 15% That's where it got me.

Now, what I do, is I'll look at the Recently Added shelf. I'll look at the books in the categories I like. And if I see a book that sparks my interest, I'll keep a tab open to that book. And I'll carry on with whatever I'm doing on my laptop. If, in an hour's time, that title STILL sparks a massive interest in me, I'll request it. If I'd forgotten that I was excited about that book in an hour's time, I close the window and carry on.

Because a lot of books interest me, I've also placed a reasonable limit for myself.  Right now, that limit is 5 books.  In order to request MORE books, I'll need to read and review the five books on my Reading Shelf. Once I get into a better routine in which I automatically read and review these books without placing ridiculous rules and restrictions on myself, I might raise this to 8 titles or 10 titles depending on how often I'm sending in feedback. You'll know what's right for you.

-Being declined

There's so few things worse than being incredibly excited to read a book only to request that book on Netgalley and to be declined. What a terrible feeling. Usually when this happens, I'll look at the Approval Preferences of that particular publisher and see if there is anything I can do to improve my chances for next time.

Some good tips for not being declined in future is to have an up-to-date and informative profile which includes an email address and a profile photo. I'd recommend linking to all appropriate websites and profiles. Your blog, obviously. But also Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and anywhere else you might discuss books. Remove all of those personal details in your Bio section and focus on follower numbers, average page views and awards/achievements. Write that Bio and use it to really sell yourself. Let publishers know why you should be approved and what kind of influence/reach you have.

And, of course, improve your feedback to approval ratio! Which leads me to the next problem...

-Having a low feedback to approval ratio

As I mentioned at the start of this blog post, two years ago I had a feedback to ratio approval rate under 15% Right now? At the time of writing this blog post my percentage stands at 73% It's not quite the preferred 80% but it's close. And I'm auto-approved for 7 different publishers and I can't remember the last book that I was declined for. I'm doing okay! But that was definitely not always the case!

If you have a low feedback ratio, what I'd recommend doing right now is to look closely at your Reading Shelf. If there are any books that you never downloaded because the title was archived soon after your approval, leave feedback to the publisher to explain why you haven't given feedback. If any of the titles have formatting issues or missing letters which make it difficult to read the book, leave feedback to the publishers to let them know you won't be reading because of these issues.

If any book there is over a year old and you've not read it, move on.  But before you do, leave feedback.  Always leave feedback. I think a lot of people's problems with Netgalley is that they feel under pressure to read every book, finish every book and write full reviews of every book. And while that is preferable, it doesn't always happen.  Nor should it always happen, I don't think.

Some of my feedback is quite short. Something like 'I was approved for this title and two days later it was archived and that didn't give me enough time to read and review it.' 'I was very excited to read this book, however, some of the formatting or missing letters included in my copy of the book made it difficult to read which made it impossible to finish reading the book.' 'I gave this book several attempts but something about the characters/writing style/situation/setting didn't quite grab my attention or excitement. I'm sure that it will capture the imagination of other readers but it is not the right book for me at this time.'

Even with books I love, sometimes I keep it quite short. Once my list of Netgalley books is cleared to a more acceptable number, then I'll be able to focus more time and attention on certain titles. But I won't get that opportunity if I still have 40 other Netgalley titles hanging over my head!

-Keeping up-to-date with Netgalley books

That leaves me with this final Netgalley problem. Hopefully you've gotten your profile sorted out, your feedback percentage to a good number, you're limiting what you're requesting but how do you keep up-to-date by continuing to read and submit feedback for these books?

Some people join Netgalley reading challenges. I think those are always fun and something like Netgalley November is a great way of clearing a big chunk of titles off your reading lists.  Or you could just add in, say 2-3 titles to your monthly TBR lists and chip away at things are regular intervals. Add in publication dates/archive dates to your calendars so that it will pop up with reminders for you. I do all of these things and they help in different ways.  I hope this has helped in some way!

Do you have any tips or suggestions to add?


  1. Great post, so good to hear others talking about the perils of Netgalley! I was definitely one to request ALL THE THINGS, but then I couldn't get them onto my kindle and it turned into a nightmare so I declined a bunch. Fast forward to trying to get back into using it a few months ago and yup, down to 13%... Working like crazy to try and bring it up and finally up to 53% - any recommendations for the crazy people who declined them in a panic and now are stuck with a bunch that they never provided feedback for?

    1. Another commenter down below said something about possibly emailng the publisher with your review? Could be worth checking into. Good luck!

  2. Argh Blogger ate my comment, I think. STUPID GOOGLE.

    I have the exact same problem with Netgalley - too many early requests of anything and everything, which leaves me now with a percentage of 42 and a percentage that barely moves because people keep adding SUCH GOOD BOOKS I CANNOT RESIST. It's so frustrating. I want to be good, I want to stop requesting, I want to get my percentage up, but it's just so hard. There's just too much temptation!

    I'm definitely going to try what you suggest - waiting an hour and see if the title still appeals and try so very hard to get my percentage up once and for all!

  3. Great post!! Right now, I have taken a break from requesting new books to try and read the ones I actually have. My feedback score has been in the mid-60's for the longest time, mainly because every time I submit feedback, I get approved for about three more. Ha. There have been a couple I have gotten declined for recently, where the publishers look at that ratio so I know it's a factor. It is just so hard to resist!

    1. It is very hard to resist, I'm with you there. Good luck.

  4. I've definitely been trigger happy with that request button in the past, but I've definitely put some better controls on myself since then. I also made a concerted effort back in January to clear that shelf, I'm about 80% on the feedback to requests last time I checked.

    One way I managed to leave feedback on some books that had disappeared off the shelf, was to find the publisher email from where I made the original request, these often to me to the book page on netgalley and the leave feedback button there.

  5. Oh Michelle. Such a brilliant post! I have such a love hate relationship with netgalley. I'm glad I'm not the only one. Thanks for the great tips, I've been working on increasing my netgalley percentage this year and will put this advice to good use :)

  6. I completely love this post! I love using Netgalley, but it's so easy to get click happy and request everything going on there. My feedback percentage is reasonably good as I managed to read a ton of outstanding books during the end of 2014, but there were a couple I wasn't able to finish, but I wasn't sure how to provide feedback on them, so thank you for those tips!

  7. Where would we be without Netgalley? I try to resist it though because I'm not fond of reading off the kindle ALL the time - alternating with a real book works best for me. Even so, I managed to get our feedback % up to 80 - then immediately lost it when I requested more books! now it's back up again, but I've decided to not worry about it too much. I wish they'd give some feedback between request and approval. I had two requests waiting for seemingly ages (maybe two weeks), and was convinced they had gone missing somehow - but eventually I got approval. I've heard that some publishers wait till they have lots of requests, then pick the lucky reviewers to get approval, but I'm not sure if this is true!

    1. I'm not really sure either. It feels like sometimes that is the case though...


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