When I first joined bookish social media, I was introduced to the concept of ARCs – advanced readers copies. Publishers give readers early copies of books to review and recommend before the release date. It’s not easy to attain physical arcs from publishers s a new instagrammer/blogger, so the easiest way to get ARCs is through a little website called NetGalley (there’s also Edelweiss/Above the Treeline, but I have no experience with that website, so I’ll be focussing on NetGalley). It’s easy to go on NetGalley and request everything that sounds remotely interesting, which I may or may not have done when I first joined, but there are a few things I wish I knew before I joined NetGalley.
Unless you use Kindle, the books don’t last forever
This was perhaps the main thing I didn’t realise when I requested my first galley: the books don’t last forever. I’m told that Kindle format is the exception, but I only started downloading my galleys as kindle as well as ePubs recently, so I can’t confirm or deny this. I know that I probably shouldn’t have left these books so long before I read them, but we all have to learn some things the hard way. Most galleys expire after 55 days, but you can redownload them for another 55 day period unless the publisher has archived the title. Fifty-five days is more than enough time to read a book if you actually set your mind to it, but on many occasions, I didn’t set my mind to it, and the book never got read. This put me in quite the predicament when the book was archived and I hadn’t finished it, because I don’t like giving reviews to books I didn’t finish, which brings me to the next thing I wish I knew.
Deciding not to give a review negatively impacts your score
On your NetGalley profile, a feedback ratio will be displayed in a big green box. NetGalley suggests that you maintain a feedback ratio of 80% (mine is currently 71% whoops). When you go to give feedback on a title, you can check ‘did not finish,’ and I (stupidly) thought that would count as a review, and my feedback ratio would go up accordingly. This isn’t so. Your feedback ratio remains at the level it was before you checked ‘did not finish,’ as if you hadn’t given any feedback at all (which, I guess, you didn’t). In theory, this would make you less likely to be approved for galleys in the future, which is what we want to avoid. If you want to maintain your feedback ratio, but you didn’t finish the book, you’ll have to give a review on the book without reading it in its entirety, which, as I mentioned before, is not something I personally like to do. It’s up to you how you go about this.
Publishers are sometimes restricted by region
If you’re based in the United States, dear reader, you likely won’t need to worry about this. Same goes (I think) for the United Kingdom. For the rest of us? No new news here, like many (
most) things in life, publishers are often restricted by region, meaning they mightn’t be able to approve you for a book based on your location. As I said before, this isn’t anything unusual for us international folk, but it’s unfortunate. You can usually see the publisher’s region approvals in the ‘more information’ tab on their profile, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably request it anyway. Like all things, don’t take the rejection personally.
All in all, I think NetGalley is a great way to get your hands on books that you want to read and review before the release date, but if I could give you one piece of advice, I’d suggest you focus on requesting books that you’re actually genuinely planning on reading. Or suffer the ehem… not so great feedback ratio like me.
Are you a reviewer on NetGalley? What are some things you wish you knew before you joined?