Monday, June 18, 2012

What NetGalley Isn't

I work in publishing, but I'm a reader as well.  I work in publishing because I'm such a reader.  Which means, I love books.  Especially books I don't have to pay for.  Which brings me to NetGalley.

NetGalley's awesome.  I can request access to a title and if it's granted, can have it sent directly to my Kindle (don't judge--it was a gift!).   No muss, no fuss.  Free ARCs, yay!  Big love as a reader.

Plus, I'm part of the team at my publishing house responsible for uploading middle grade and teen ARCs to NetGalley and recently attended a meeting with the lovely NetGalley team at Book Expo America two weeks ago.  Suffice it to say, I'm pretty familiar with NetGalley.  Big love as a marketer.

Now the dark side...

As an industry insider, I tend to get approved for access to NetGalley e-requests.  If I were a casual reader (read: non-professional reader), I would likely get denied.  Why insiders and not casual readers?  Well, I'll tell you why (Office Space reference).  Because people like me build industry buzz like bloggers, librarians, and booksellers do, which is the audience NetGalley and Edelweiss (our e-catalog) was created for.  Yep, you heard it here.  NetGalley is for bloggers, librarians, and booksellers, along with a smattering of other publishing insiders like yours truly.

So it scares me when I see authors tweeting about their latest work being up on NetGalley (Beautiful authors, please be careful and talk to your publicists before doing this so you can add stipulations in your broadcast, if they even give you the go ahead to do this on twitter).

We publishing folk don't do it to leave our lovely readers out, really.  I know it feels like that when you get denied.  It makes you want to cry (I know it would make me want to, for a book I was super excited about).  And rant and rave and threaten to take down the publishing company (I personally wouldn't, but you'd be surprised at what's said on twitter.  Or perhaps you wouldn't be).

Insider's look at the process:  When you click that NetGalley request button, it gets sent to an in-box.  An overflowing in-box.  That's when someone from the marketing or publicity team (Let's call her Jane) combs through the hundreds of requests to see if they're to be denied or approved.  That takes time (it's practically a full-time job in and of itself), since Jane has to check each requestor's profile and verify who they are by going to their blogs or checking with bookstores to verify employment.  If the requestor doesn't meet the established requestor criteria, it's a "deny." 

So please don't: Set up a fake blog, steal an employee id and pretend you work at a bookstore (we've called places only to be told, no, so-and-so doesn't work here), and especially,  request a title multiple times (usually through NetGalley AND Edelweiss).  It makes life harder for us.  It eats up our time rejecting you several times and if we would have been nice enough to give you a break before, we certainly wouldn't do it after that.  We have long memories.

Please understand that when we say no, we don't do it to make you sad or mad.  We love books and readers.  They rock and so do you!  Just keep in mind that publishing is indeed a business.  We can't give away all our new books.  We still need to sell them so we can eat once in awhile.  And that so can your lovely authors.  You want them to eat, too, don't you?  So that they have the strength to keep penning awesome books?


  1. Hi Linda, I'm a blogger so I see NG from that end; not the publisher's end. I know they are in the process of revamping, so if publishers have more more than bloggers...

    Anyway, my comment in on your comment about multiple requests/rejections. From my perspective, I look through NG and see a book I'd like to read. I have two choices--pass it up, or request it. I don't have any way to bookmark it for later. Since the site is so big, and it takes so long to get through it, if I see your book and want it, I'm going to request it. If I get it, the title will probably stick with me and I won't request it during my next foray though the titles; if I don't, I'm not going to remember I requested it--I'm just going to recognize that I'd like to read it, so yes, I'm going to request it again.

    1. That's a fair point. I can understand that you might re-request a title now and again if it slips your mind that you requested it. It can get to be a problem, however, for those bloggers who constantly make multiple requests (like 4 or 5 per title per electronic database), as that adds up for the publisher who manually approves the requestors.

      A lot of the bloggers I've mentioned this to hadn't realized the possible backlog numerous requests can cause (and why should they if they don't know the process?) and they now realize it helps everyone in seeing it from both sides of the table. Some have started keeping track of their requests if they found to be over-requesting, depending on their needs.