Net Galley Know-How: Managing ARC requests and boosting your feedback ratio

The day I discovered Net Galley was by far the happiest day of my book bloggy life. A website showcasing thousands of books that you can request to review from publishers big and small just seemed too good to be true. There had to be a catch, right? Nope. Not really, but to get approved for titles, you do need to be a little strategic in managing your requests.

So, for all the Net galley novices out there, I thought I’d share a few things that I wish I’d known when I first set up my Net Galley account.

Create a detailed profile

When you sign up, Net Galley emphasises the importance of dishing the dirt in your profile: what’s your target readership, how much traffic does your blog receive, what kind of books do you review, how often do you post reviews, where do you publicise your posts, etc. There’s also space to link to your blog and social media.

I’m with Net Galley on this one: it’s worth investing the time to get it right. As Lili, a former intern at Bloomsbury explains, publishers often have a limited number of requests that they can approve, and bloggers’ profiles are key in deciding who receives what books.

When I first started blogging, I worried that I wouldn’t have enough traffic to get approved for titles. However, while traffic is important (and publishers do want to know this), in my experience, it appears that publishers are more concerned with the quality, frequency and timeliness of your reviews. They want people talking about their books, so if you can produce a well-crafted review around the time of publication, that’s a win for them, and they may even share your review on social media to help it reach a larger readership. So, when you’re putting together your profile, I’d suggest sharing a little about what goes into your reviews and how your posting schedule works, as well as giving an indication of your blog’s traffic, etc.

Avoid binge requesting

When approving requests, publishers also check your feedback ratio. That is: what percentage of the titles you’ve received have you read and reviewed. Your feedback ratio is included as part of your profile and Net Galley recommends reviewers should aim for 80%.

This is all well and good until you get excited about the thousands of shiny new books on offer and start submitting requests en masse. A lot of newbies fall into this trap, myself included. You think: I’m new. I probably won’t get approved for most fo these titles anyway, so I should REQUEST ALL THE THINGS and hopefully end up with a few. Except you then get approved for a bunch of titles and suddenly find yourself saddled with an unwieldy TBR pile and a low feedback ratio that pretty well guarantees that you won’t get approved for that one extra special title you have your heart set on a few weeks later.

Submit feedback when you’ve read a book and update when you post your review

Most titles are made available on Net Galley prior to their publication date. This gives busy reviewers time to read and review books ahead of their release. However, in some cases, publishers don’t want you posting your reviews before the book is available for purchase, and you probably don’t want to be posting reviews too early anyway.

Consequently, you can end up with a stack of titles on your shelf that you’re not yet ready to review, and this can negatively impact your feedback ratio.

The solution: read and review the books ahead of time, and submit your feedback when you’re done, but hold off posting your review publicly (e.g., on your blog) until closer to the publication date. Once your review is live on your blog, you can update your Net Galley feedback to include the link.

When I finish reading a book I’ve received via Net Galley, I usually submit feedback right away. I thank the publisher for the opportunity to read and review the title, share a few thoughts about the book and let them know I’ll get back to them with a link to my full review when it’s up on my blog.

Keep track of your approved titles

Net Galley helpfully allows you to sort your approved titles by publication date; however, it can still be tricky to keep track, especially if you also receive ARCs from publishers directly, as many book bloggers do.

If you haven’t already, I recommend setting up a blogging calendar and using it to record the publication date of each title you receive. Not only is this helpful for planning and scheduling your reviews, but it also makes it easier to manage your TBR pile. That way, before you request a title, you can check what other books you’ve already committed to reviewing around that time and determine whether or not you’re able to take on more.

Before you request new titles, it also helps to check your ‘pending approval’ list. Publishers often don’t approve requests right away, so while you might think you have your TBR under control, you might suddenly receive a flurry of approvals for titles you’ve forgotten you requested. Alternatively, you can mark these on your calendar as well.

Hold out for titles you really want to read

If you don’t have many titles lined up for the months ahead, it can be tempting to submit requests for books that you think look okay, rather than awesome. The problem is, publishers are uploading new titles all the time, and no doubt as soon as you fill up your TBR with books you’re only mildly keen on, you’ll miss out on a bunch that you’re way more enthusiastic about.

More than that, when you’re approved for a title that you’re only sort-of interested in, another blogger who desperately wanted to read it might be missing out.

Let the publisher know if you DNF a title

Obviously, if you request a title, you should plan to read and review it. But sometimes that doesn’t happen. The book turns out to be so different from what you expected (and not in a good way) that you can’t bring yourself to finish it. Or maybe you got a little request happy and now realise there’s no way you’re going to be able to review everything on your list. Or perhaps you weren’t quick enough to download a title ahead of the archive date. Whatever the reason, if you’re not going to review a book, let the publisher know. It’s good manners, but more than that, publishers are eager for feedback before they send a book out into the world. While they’d no doubt prefer a glowing review, having a quiet word with them about why you didn’t finish a book is also valuable. On a more practical note, once you let the publisher know, you can clear that title off your list so that it’s not affecting your feedback ratio (it still counts as giving feedback if you tell the publisher that you DNF).

Hopefully, these tips help when you’re requesting ARCs via Net Galley! If you have other suggestions or advice, share them in the comments below. 

— Margot xo

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