Thursday, 8 March 2018

Netgalley or Not?

Netgalley or Not?


Hello lovely readers. I recently experimented with listing my book on Netgalley, and I have decided to share the results.

If you haven't heard of Netgalley it's the biggest website for connecting reviewers with free books in exchange for a review. Seriously, it is the daddy of reviewer websites. It is the go-to company for all the big publishers, to get the most influential reviewers to talk about their books. It regularly hosts best-sellers, and you can't open Amazon or Goodreads pages without reading "I received a free copy from Netgalley" in countless reviews.



Reviewers
As a reviewer, I have been a member of Netgalley for a few years, and I've done about 40 reviews for them. I would highly recommend signing up, if you are interested in reviewing books. It's free for us, and if you are approved by the author/publisher, you get an ecopy to download. Your copy is technically a loan, and the file magically expires after about 60 days, so make sure you don't sign up for more books than you can handle at one time.

OK, onto the author-side of the business.

Authors
Netgalley have kindly allowed Indie and small-pub authors to join their ranks. Which is great, because it's shocking that some companies still refuse to do business with this fast-growing industry.
The slight sarcasm is because... well, you'll see.

Netgalley introduced the option of listing a single title, which is great for Indie authors, who don't have enough titles to make the most of a publisher's account.
All of this for the tidy sum of $450 for a six-month listing.
Or $699 if you want to include Netgalley marketing.


Yeah, I'm not completely in love with the idea of paying £325 to give my book away for free, even if it is the hub of the most influential reviewers.

But, fear not, Netgalley offer a further deal - you can list your title on their website, at a discounted
price if you are a member of IBPA.
They only charge $399 for a six-month stint, and also offer a 3-month option of $199.
So, that's starting to get a bit more reasonable for the average Indie author.
Oh, small print - IBPA membership is $99 - $629 a year, depending on whether you're unpublished, indie, small pub, or regular publisher.
Starting to look less of a good option.
(I know, there are other pros and cons to IBPA membership beyond getting a Netgalley deal, but this post is focusing on Netgalley).

Cost-Conscious Authors
So there are other options available, if you look for them.
There's a very popular route of joining a Netgalley Co-op.
These are set up by someone who buys a publisher's account on Netgalley, and then "rent out" the listings. Some of these Co-ops are permanent fixtures, where you are allocated a listing for the entire period; and some are more flexible contracts, where you can list your book for a month or two, with no further commitments. At this time, they cost about $40-60 for a month.
Much more affordable.

You didn't expect me to pay Netgalley's extortionate prices, did you?

My Experiment
I'm going to make the assumption that I am an average Indie author. I have a few books, have a few sales, and about break-even over the year. I've got a decent amount of reviews, but always looking for
more.

When my newest book "James: Witch-Hunter" was published, I decided to try Netgalley, to see if it could help boost my books to the next level.
"James" seemed like the perfect candidate. I felt it was one of my strongest books, and it is a stand-alone, connected to my most popular series. With any luck, I'd get some new fans for the Witch-Hunter trilogy, too!

So, I signed up to Pikko's House Netgalley Co-op (note: Pikko's House will cease running Co-op's in April, as they are struggling to get as many author's sign-up as they used to), and my book was listed for the month of December 2017.
And the excitement began!
I made sure to advertise the fact that people could pick it up on Netgalley, using Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and my newsletter. James and his Netgalley link were always visible (although I never did a hard sell, I can't do hard sell).
I felt like I'd worked my socks off, and I waited for the feedback to roll in.
...

...

(On a side-note, this isn't my first time using Netgalley. I signed The Lost Soul up for a Co-op, back in 2016, and I got 2 reviews. To be fair, I didn't push the fact it was featured on Netgalley, I assumed that, because it was signed up to this shiny-daddy-of-review-wrangling, I'd inevitably get reviews.)

Back to James.
Every copy that reviewers have downloaded has expired, as it's beyond the 60 days of the last download date, so I am assuming that the majority, if not all of the reviews are in.

Results
Crystal at Pikko's House very kindly sent me an excel file with a list of all the reviewers that applied for a copy of James. Whether they were accepted or rejected (reviewers that downloaded too many books but failed to deliver reviews, or were on Pikko's blacklist were automatically rejected); and whether they left a review.

Right, onto numbers, what you guys really want.

  • 29 reviewers requested my book;
  • 21 of which were approved;
  • 6 reviews were posted on Netgalley;
    • All 6 also left reviews on Goodreads.
    • 1 on Amazon UK; 3 on Amazon US.

I am very grateful for each and every reviewer that took the time to leave a review.

There will naturally be authors that do better, some that do worse. I can't account for how well other genres might perform, as all my books are Fantasy.

This time, I can say that the reviews cost me $9.17 each. Which is not extortionate, but not as
effective as I was hoping.

I think at the end of the day, Netgalley still has it's place. It is still a powerhouse, but perhaps needs more input than a mediocre writer like myself can provide, to really get the most out of it.
I can feel proud that my book is still listed on Netgalley, alongside the bestsellers, it's quite the buzz.

I may promote James, or one of my other books on Netgalley again. Perhaps later in my career it will be a more useful tool.


Alternatives
Goodreads
Free to join.
Goodreads is the most popular website for book reviews, and your book should be listed with them, if you have any sense. This isn't a straight-forward machine that will find reviewers for you, so it is a little more laborious, having to find groups and communities that accept review requests. But, you can find groups that focus on your genre, so you're more likely to get positive reviews.

Example:
I listed James with Shut Up & Read's Read It & Reap program (very popular, booked ahead for the next year).
5 people requested a copy, with 4 of them leaving full reviews, and 1 leaving a rating.

Booksprout
Free to join (does have paid options, too).
Booksprout is a mix between Goodreads and Netgalley. It is focused on getting reviews, but it has other functions, too.
There are "Pro Author" and "Bestseller" options at $10 and $20 a month respectively, but I found the free option met all of my current needs.

Example:
At the end of January, I listed James as available for review, requesting that reviews be completed by 9th March.
8 out of a possible 20 people downloaded a copy (you can have a max of 20 reviewers per ARC on the free account option); of these, 2 people left reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and 1 left a review solely on Booksprout.
I imagine there may be another one or two to come in over this month.
(Edit 13/03/18: already received 6 out of 8 potential reviews)




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