Weighing in on Netgalley

Netgalley has long been one of those special places that was only accessible through a major publishing house. Not because Netgalley is rude or anything. It was just cost prohibitive.

That recently changed with some new rules that allowed for co-ops. A co-op allows authors to share in the cost of listing books by splitting up the number of listing and how long each stays available. If done well, this is a low cost option that opens door for Indie authors that were previously locked.

I opted to use a co-op organized by the lovely ladies of Patchwork Press. My book was available to reviewers both in the month before and after release. Now that it's all said and done, I want to do a follow-up post to give you my thoughts on this new marketing opportunity.

For the co-op I used there were several options available. I decided to go with a two-month package since I was a debut author. That way, reviewers who might be hesitant to give me a try would have a bit longer to think about it after the early reviews started coming in. For two months, I paid $80. Compared to the thousands I would have had to pay to do this on my own, I felt this was more than fair. Plus, the co-op handled all the uploading, reviewer approval, and feedback chain. After sending them the digital files for my book, I literally didn't have to do anything else. With so many other moving pieces to my marketing plan, this was a real blessing.

The listing for my book was viewed 2257 times. That's new eyeballs seeing my book. I got 409 requests, 205 of which were approved. Like, I said, the co-op took care of weeding out the folks who never post reviews, don't run blogs, aren't librarians, etc. Basically, the folks who just want free books. As of the end of December there were 59 reviews submitted on the site, with several more that have come in after that.

I tried not to read all the reviews, because honestly, that's asking for trouble. However, I did note that many of them posted reviews on their own blog sites so that is an added bonus. Also, several of the reviewers self-identified as teachers or librarians who would be adding the book to their collections. Yeah win. I have to imagine that some of these reviewers went on to post their thoughts on other sites such as Amazon and Goodreads, but I really have no way of knowing that.

The Sting
The folks requesting books on Netgalley are hard core readers. They do not mess around. As such, they aren't going to pussyfoot around issues they had while reading. I will say that not a single reviewer was nasty or posted anything that wasn't 100% related to the book. I can absolutely respect that and was really pleased by how professional everyone was. Still, it was a bit of a shock when those first reviews came in. Nothing crazy, but not the flood of 5* reviews I was hoping for. Just a fair bit of warning that you need to have thick skin if you want to pursue a Netgalley listing. It all evened out in the wash, but those first few days had me pretty nervous.

Bonus Exposure
I can point to Netgalley as being directly responsible for one additional marketing opportunity I received. My review on the USA Today Happily Ever After blog only happened because the fabulously friendly woman who reviews for that site found my book on Netgalley. I didn't even think to send it in to them directly since the book is Indie published, but having the book listed gave me the extra exposure I needed to catch her attention.

Overall, I can say without any reservation that I will absolutely post future books on Netgalley. The cost is low enough that it isn't going to break the bank and the extra exposure is priceless.

In regard to how to maximize your Netgalley listing, here are a few tips:

1. Cover is key
Readers are giving lots and lots of options and their initial view is based on cover alone. They can see the description and other info once they click on the cover, but they have to get there first. If your cover is bland, unprofessional, and easily overlooked, it probably won't get much attention on the site. Viewers can up or down vote covers on the site and I was tickled pink to see that the cover for Rite of Rejection was a real crowd-pleaser.

2. Share
Once the book was live, I received a direct link to my listing. So long as it is done sparingly, I think it's fine to post this on social media or share it with your newsletter.I actually didn't share this as much as I could have and this is something I will definitely do more of next time. I did, however, let all my blog tour reviewers know about the listing and asked them to pass it along to any other bloggers they knew that might be interested. Several of them thanked me and let me know that they did pass it along.

3. Follow-up
Now that most, if not all, of the reviews are in, I'll be going back through them and looking for one specific area. Reviewers are asked if they would like to connect with the author. For those that said yes, I'll be reaching out thanking them for their review and offering to do a guest post or interview on their blog. This is a great way to meet more readers and keep up marketing efforts without going overboard.

If you have any questions about using Netgalley, feel free to ask in the comments. If you're interested in signing up for your next book, be sure to check out the awesome folks over at Patchwork Press.