Is NetGalley Worth It?

Alternatively titled:

  • Why I Will No Longer Request+Review DRCs
  • The End of My Budding Relationship With NetGalley
  • NetGalley Hurt My Feelings

As many of you who follow TSFC know, I signed up for NetGalley in June with the idea that it would give me access to more graphic novels, and that I could get more eyes on my blog as part of the Booksta community. 

I saw other accounts posting notes of gratitude for being approved for titles, and this was listed as a best practice on the official NetGalley blog as well, so I followed suit. Truly, it’s not difficult to show appreciation to an author/publisher for granting early access to their work; I was glad to do it.

However, I became dismayed when none of my posts were getting reshared on NetGalley’s Insta stories. I carefully watched to see what type of posts were being shared and attempted to model (but not plagiarize) the next few stories I made after them, thinking that perhaps I had included too much “personal commentary” in my previous posts. 

I didn’t think that saying, “So excited to read X!” was too much but I tried to see it from the point of view of the social media managers. I stuck to just saying thank you (miigweetch) and tagging NetGalley and the publisher (but not individual authors). 

Still not one repost. 

I used backgrounds, and I kept it blank. 

I made special graphics, and I used simple screenshots of my acceptance emails. 

Everything I posted, I tagged NetGalley in, but still no shares, likes, retweets, or mentions. I know it’s not that serious but… lowkey it kinda hurt my feelings. 

I was up to 20-25 posts at this point – how could senpai not notice me???

I took a look at the accounts I admired who were getting shared in NetGalley’s stories and to be fair (TO BE FAIIIIIRRRRR!) they did have a leg up on me in terms of follower count and most were dedicated review accounts. 

Taking a page from those creators, I made a highlight at the top of my Instagram where I collected all the book-related posts, publisher shout-outs, and reviews. 

I pinned my “meet the bookstagramer” post to the top of my profile, as well as featuring two of my best “review” posts for my other pins. 

I interacted with the NetGalley social media accounts in a variety of ways, including reposting graphics they created, liking their posts, and attending (and promoting) a live Twitter chat. Yet nothing I did seemed to make a difference in terms of getting a story repost or a retweet. 

NetGalley has yet to “heart” any of my tagged review tweets, although a few of the publishers did – which I appreciate! 👏🏾

Meanwhile, my review count continued to grow. I even racked up a few badges, including one for reaching 50 reviews as well as the top reviewer badge, which I got because at least three of my reviews have been added to the NetGalley title details page by a publisher.

My point is, I was putting in the work!

In the beginning, I made the mistake of requesting too many books, thinking that most I would be rejected for, and my feedback ratio suffered for a time. 

On NetGalley, the feedback ratio calculates the percentage of feedback to approved books and audiobooks (basically, do you actually review the books you request). 

In order for a reviewer to remain desirable to publishers and increase their chances of being approved for the titles they request, NetGalley suggests keeping that number close to 80%, meaning that for every 10 books (including audiobooks) you are approved for, you provide feedback for 8 books. Feedback can look like a review, opinion, note to the publisher/author, or information about how you will promote the book. 

I am proud to say that as of yesterday, my feedback ratio is 100%: I have submitted feedback for every book I’ve been granted access to.

And yet…

Not one reblog, repost, or share. That part has been truly disappointing. 

My main impetus for joining NetGalley, aside from access to more titles, was to take advantage of their fan base to get more eyes on my projects. Specifically, I was hoping NetGalley would repost one (or more) of my stories. After 68 reviews, that has not happened, and I am willing to accept that maybe I am not the reader they’re looking for.

Moreover, now that I have been in the game for some time, I am beginning to see books I reviewed a few months ago on NetGalley appear on my library’s shelves – where I can read them for free, no exchange of labor or promotion required.

It’s worth remembering that DRCs are just that: digital review copies.

This means they are unfinished proofs that are not yet finalized for publication. 

In the case of comics, particularly from Europe Comics, reading the DRCs can be a nightmare because they have not been electronically formatted, so one cannot easily transition between panels and pages. 

This is more often than not fixed before the book goes to publication, which is honestly just one more incentive for me to wait for it to get to my library.

Tl;dr: Digital review copies should not be looked at as “free” books. There is a fair amount of labor involved, which can take away from the pleasure of reading. You’re better off supporting your local library.

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