When I started Second Run Reviews back in December 2013, I had a vague understanding of Advanced Readers Copies (ARCs) and an even vaguer understanding of how to acquire them. As I started reading other book blogs I became of aware of NetGalley and its sister site, Edelweiss.
“Free books,” I thought, “this is amazing because I certainly do not have enough of my own books and I certainly have no access to a library, at all.”
So off to NetGalley I went.
And immediately, I was turned off.
My NetGalley Fears
See, I’ve never regularly read the latest and greatest books. I don’t have that many favorite authors. At the time, I didn’t know any specific publishers either. I normally found (and probably still find) books by wandering through a bookstore, attracted to covers and titles that fit my interests—historical fiction (if it contains WWII and/or time travel HUGE bonus) and light science fiction and fantasy with a strong leaning towards young adult.
NetGalley was intimidating because I didn’t know any upcoming releases or specific publishers.
And then I read more blogs, I kept seeing other bloggers talk about requesting a book and not getting approved. I hate rejection. Why would I take that chance when I could buy the book myself or maybe borrow it from a friend or the library?
And I read some more blogs, and there was big buzz about this book or that book, but the reviews didn’t seem to be living up to the hype. That’s one of my biggest fears as a reader and a movie fan, what if it isn’t as good as the hype? What if I like it and everyone hates? Or even worse, what if I hate it when everyone loves it?
And then I read even more blogs, and those bloggers were stressed about keeping their NetGalley reputation above 80%. They talked about how they feared it would never happen because when they first started blogging they requested too many books. But you have to request books and review them in order to get approved for other books. It was this vicious circle!
Now I was scared and stressed out and I hadn’t even requested ONE book from NetGalley. So I pretty much avoided surfing NetGalley unless a publisher reached out to me and offered to send me an ARC via NetGalley.
Why I Really Avoid NetGalley
After almost 3 years of blogging, I still don’t like NetGalley. Beyond the stress, blogger competition and sometimes manufactured hype NetGalley creates, it turns out that I hate the site design.
After I login, there are too many clicks to get where I want to go whether that is my Reading List or just a general search page. And is it just me or does the search never seem to find what you are looking for?
I’m a busy girl and want to slice and dice my genres a bit (like selecting multiple shelves on GoodReads). I like science fiction and fantasy, but tend to gravitate more towards young adult novels in this genre. I don’t have time to wade through 10+ pages of young adult novels and 10+ pages of science fiction and fantasy novels with what feels like a 2% chance of even getting approved because I haven’t, at this point in time, reviewed enough books.
After reading all those other book blogs, I don’t feel the site does a good job of educating reviewers on the importance of reviews, how reviews help the industry and how that is all connected to your NetGalley Reputation. All of that I’ve learned from other bloggers and from authors who have befriended me. And sometimes, I’ve found, if I mention to a new author I’m a blogger, they immediately offer a copy of their book. (That’s not WHY I mention I’m a blogger to authors! I will happily pay for books.)
My A-Ha! Moment about NetGalley
I’ve also discovered I don’t need NetGalley to blog. I’ve been able to keep my bookshelf fully stocked with books, new and old. (I’m not going to run out any time soon.) Plus my fellow bookworms and author friends alert me to awesome deals on Amazon and other sites, I’m able to find electronic books at a good price.
And I’ve come to love my library. Turns out my reading speed has increased over the last three years and technology has made it easier to use the library. Before I used to get stressed that I wouldn’t be able to finish a book before I would have to turn it back in. But most of the time, if I am truly enjoying a book (and it’s not audio), I can finish it in the allotted time. And if I need to renew it, I get a handy email a few days before it is due and I can easily see if someone is on the waiting list (or if I’m on the waiting list and how long that wait will be) and renew the book in my jammies.
What’s your biggest NetGalley fear? What do you like best about the site? How do you use NetGalley in your book blogging life? If you could change one thing about NetGalley, what would you change?