Can too much choice be a bad thing? It is a question as old as time but in certain cases the answer is absolutely yes. Not only that, but as a consumer of any type of product, how can one be expected to navigate markets that are so saturated it simply is not possible to fully evaluate all the options or even find the best ones available.
This question and problem exists in all walks of life, but it is an increasingly prevalent issue in the publishing industry, given the advent of e readers and e books there are more reading options abilabke then ever before. This issue exists not just for publishers themselves in attempting to get their books in front of their target audiences, but for readers too who are faced with an overwhelming number of books they could read and end up spending more time researching and trying to find books than actually reading itself.
A company looking to rectify this is NetGalley who self describe thenselves as the company who ‘help books succeed’. In this review we will break down exactly what NetGalley does, who would benefit from signing up and becoming a member of NetGalley’s services and whether not not anyone in that position should consider them or if there are better options elsewhere.
What is NetGalley?
NetGalley was launched in 2008 as a joint project between Firebrand Technologies and Rosetta Solutions. Since this date, NetGalley has subsequently expanded its roster of publishers and range of reviewers and has in fact begun offering services to publishers in the UK, France, Germany and Japan with countries planned for the future.
As per their website, NetGalley aims to help book advocates, authors, publishers and industry professionals discover, promote and recommend books to their audiences.
Put simply there are two main pathways one interested in using NetGalley can go down. Details of both can be found below.
NetGalley for Members – NetGalley helps influential readers discover and recommend new books to their audiences. If a potential user is a reviewer, blogger, librarian, bookseller, educator, journalist or other member of the media, they can use NetGalley for free to request, read, and recommend books before they are published.
Their reviews and feedback are essential to publishers and other readers, as it creates an evolving and ecosystem that self evaluates and improves over time.
Publishers tend to approve requests from members who have a history of providing feedback for books they have accessed and who can demonstrate their reach as an early influencer or reviewer. Members improve their chances of getting approved for more books by providing meaningful reviews, by connecting their accounts to verified industry organisations and by linking to their blogs, social media accounts and Goodreads accounts.
NetGalley for Publishers – Publishers use NetGalley to build buzz, receive feedback/reviews and to discover early trends in the industry. The NetGalley platform connects publishers with reviewers, librarians, booksellers, media and educators who discover new books on NetGalley and recommend them to their audiences.
These book advocates and industry professionals can join and use NetGalley at no cost.
NetGalley is an industry-standard service that delivers secure digital files to approved readers and coordinates closely with publishers on targeted promotions to the hundreds of thousands of members using the site. Publishers receive requests to access their books from NetGalley members in exchange for feedback.
Publishers can also invite their own contacts to read their books using a pre-approved link. Members can access their approved books and audiobooks on the free NetGalley Shelf app, or other supported devices and apps. In addition to offering a platform for publishers to connect with a vibrant community of readers and influencers, NetGalley also provides actionable data to help publishers draw correlations between their own efforts and reader engagement.
While there is no charge for the member community to use NetGalley, publishers do pay a set-up fee and a monthly subscription rate depending on their number of active books or audiobooks on the site. They also offer a package for independent authors, and work with marketing and PR firms, as well as other groups who manage book promotions.
NetGalley also has a Concierge Team which provides in depth training, strategy consultation and expertise to help publishers incorporate NetGalley into their overall marketing and publicity efforts.
NetGalley work with over 300 publishers in North America, the UK, Australia, Germany, France, and Japan to promote and market new books.
What are NetGalley’s competitors?
As is to be expected NetGalley are not the only company offering such services. As there is a clear and genuine need to connect people with the books they may interested in, there are a number of companies offering similar to NetGalley.
These include but are not limited to, Tor.Com, PenguinRandomHouse, BookSirens, BookShop, BookBub and others.
All of the above come with various pros and cons and it would be redundant to break down all of them in full detail due to the extent of the different price points and features. However it is worth saying that no one offering is identical to the other and no price point is exactly the same, therefore each potential user must do their own research after figuring out exactly what it is that they are looking for and what budget is available to them.
What Books do NetGalley Promote?
A quick browse on their website reveals an enournous list of publishers categorised by A-Z that cover every imaginable genre, topic and style. There is also a few featured books on their website of which a handful are included below to provide further insight into the types of books one can expect to find with NetGalley.
The Mis Arrangement Sana Saeed – Noreen Mughees
Oxford Star – Laura Bradbury
The Words We Lost – Nicole Deese
Emma of 83rd Street – Audrey Bellezza & Emily Harding
This Bird Has Flown – Susanna Hoffs
Seven Rules For Breaking Hearts – Kristyn J Miller
NetGalley Review – Final Verdict
In conclusion, NetGalley is strives to solve a common and recognised problem with the publishing industry and amongst the reading community. However there are a few things that should give pause to anybody considering signing up as a member.
Firstly, it is fair to say the website is basic, and it would not go a miss were there to be much greater detail on the benefits of the service and the exact options each member would have were they to sign up.
Secondly, there is a lack of testimonials or case studies that one would expect to find which is always useful to make sure there is suffient proof of concept. On top of this, a search online for independent reviews of NetGalley are distinctly mixed which do create further doubt.
Lastly, whilst it is the case that NetGalley for Members is free, NetGalley for Publishers is a paid service and there does not appear to be any insight into pricing. Often pricing is bespoke so it is somewhat understandable but without any guide on price it is difficult to know whether or not it is worthwhile to enter into discussions with NetGalley.
Ultimately then, NetGalley may well be a great service, but there simply is not enough transparency at present to know if that is the case. Anyone considering the NetGalley for Members option is at a low risk due to the fact it is free so would benefit from exploring further. Those considering the NetGalley for Publishers option may wish to do some further research to see if any competitor is better suited to their needs or undertake exploratory conversations to fully understand the ins and outs of the offering prior to making a full commitment.