How I Avoid NetGalley

Posted on September 14, 2016 «
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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?


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32 responses to “How I Avoid NetGalley

  1. When I started blogging I did the I want them all mistake with Netgalley. Since then I have really cleaned up my shelves in there and my review rating is around 80%. I don’t worry about it though, because it’s rare that I go to Netgalley. If a book I really want to read is there, I might go request it. But honestly, that’s rare for me right now. I try not to take many review books because I’m overflowing on books – and I stick to audio reviews more than anything because I read then so much faster (and I have the publisher hook up… And those books are so much harder to get at a good price!). I agree the sight is not well done though and that probably is also why I’m not on their often, I just don’t feel like wading through all those books to find one!

    • It is so rare for me to request books on NetGalley, too. I did find out over the weekend the publisher was doing “Wish List” granting for Heartless by Marissa Meyer. It didn’t miss a beat getting my booty over to the site and wish listing it.

      I get disappointed when I’m approved for book one in a series and then book 2 doesn’t show up on NetGalley especially when I loved book 1 and reviewed and screamed about it for months. 🙂

  2. I’m a fan of NetGalley, myself 🙂 I love reading books before they are released, and I have several favorite authors (and some favorite publishers) so it’s not difficult for me to find books I know I wan to read… And my ratio is 91%, so I’m not feeling any kind of stress with it.
    I do tend to try to stay away from there every now and then, though – because I love books so much I keep buying them, too 🙂 And so, I don’t think I’ll ever run out of books to read 😉
    Great post!

    • It’s all about how you manage things with NetGalley. I was lucky, maybe, that I got freaked out about everything before I requested a single book. 🙂

      I love reading ARCs as well, but I’ve learned it’s okay to be picky about what I request. My reputation took a bit to grow on the site, but perhaps that was better than being stressed about never reaching 80% and never being approved for another book ever.

  3. I find NetGalley hard to navigate as well. I don’t request books. The only time I use it is when a review copy is sent via NetGalley. And then I often forget to post my review! This is a great post!

    • Thanks, Chrissy! Isn’t it comforting to know that someone else finds the navigation difficult and I figured out last weekend they changed things up on how to get to your shelves and manage them. Sometimes I think I’m overly critical of website because I’ve been on the web since about 1996 and I work in higher ed marketing. As a result, I spend hours on web sites (mostly college web site) tracking down information.

  4. I honestly have a love/hate relationship with Netgalley. There are a lot of books that I love that are in there which is why I only, ONLY request those that I want to read. I also don’t check netgalley as much as I used to. Which I think really helps a LOT!

    I initially thought that I had to write really long reviews on Netgalley, but it’s not true! You aren’t also required to create a blog post for those books that you review (although, it’s a good practice to). I found that for books that I didn’t really enjoy, I could quickly write 2-3 sentences on why I didn’t like it or why it didn’t work without writing a long blog post on my blog with a negative review. This helped me catch up on the reviewing bit. Of course, I haven’t read all the books that I requested so my Netgalley health is still around 40% ish.

    I also don’t stress a lot about it as much as I used to. So it doesn’t really bother me. I mean, if I don’t get an ARC, I’m okay with it. If I don’t get approved, I’m perfectly fine. This thinking actually helps me in not being too overly anxious about my Netgalley health! Hahaha

  5. I only ever requested 3 books there and hated them all. I DNFed them so I figure there is no point ever trying again with that record. If I ever had the urge, I’d probably need to open a new account.
    I’m a library girl at heart.

  6. Oh, I feel you. When I started blogging (and for literally years after) I was terrified of Netgalley! I kind of understood Edelweiss better, and I was able to “plead my case” if you will 😉 But I hadn’t realized that if you clicked links in certain emails, it took you right to Netgalley… and suddenly, that book counted against your ratio! By the time I realized this, I had 4 books that had already been archived on my shelves- and I had only been clicking for more information! (It never directly said I would be “requesting” on NG, I actually wrote quite a long email to Netgalley about it- it was a now-defunct publisher who did this, and it wasn’t cool.) Anyway, I realized, thanks to the Netgalley employee, that I could just leave feedback like “hey, I didn’t mean to click on your misleading email” and then my ratio would go back up, and voila!

    Still, I got basically auto-denied on Netgalley for a LONG time. Even when my ratio was perfectly fine, like well over 80%, and I had NO idea why. I am not talking “big” books either- some of these were practically unheard of!

    So yeah, I was stressed about it to the point that I wanted to give up. Now, I DO request books on Netgalley, but I am much pickier now. MUCH. Because I did the over requesting thing too, and then one day after NO ONE approving me for a full year… they practically all did. So that was a bad scene too. And THEN, sometimes there is no Kindle option, only a protected PDF, and like, sorry publisher, but I am NOT reading some book on my laptop. Nuh uh, not happening.

    I think the bottom line is, I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love being able to read the books of course, but sometimes the hassle is… not great. Moral? “Free” books always have a cost ?

    • “‘Free’ books always have a cost.” That has me giggling because I know that the world won’t end if I don’t review a book I got for free, but my Catholic guilt likes to tell me otherwise!

  7. I feel no need to read ARCs and have thousands of books I still want to read available to me through my library, so, no, I have not bothered figuring out Netgalley. Maybe someday, like when I retire in 20 years?

  8. I have mixed feelings about NetGalley and Edelweiss. On the one hand, I love reading books before they come out—that goes back to my years as a bookseller in the late 1980s, when publishers would send ARCs to the store. And there are a few publishers with whom I’ve build a reputation because I’ve been receiving and reviewing their books through NetGalley; now they often contact me to see if I’d like to review a title, which is really nice. Generally, my rule of thumb is only to request if I would really want to read the book anyway—in other words, I would buy it or borrow it from the library. But I do sometimes see something that intrigues me and request it, which is how I’ve discovered several authors that I now follow.

    On the other hand, I still over-request at times and get behind, and I have a backlog of ARCs from my early NetGalley years (yeah, I made the newbie mistake too) that I feel guilty about not reviewing yet. I find that NetGalley requires a lot of self-discipline, and sometimes I have it, and sometimes I don’t. I’ve considered giving it up for six months or year to see what happens, but due to budget cuts, my library isn’t getting as many new books these days, and isn’t getting them catalogued as quickly… which means either waiting for a long time after the book comes out, or taking a chance and buying it. Buying them all just isn’t in my budget. So for now, I’m sticking with NetGalley.

    Incidentally, if a NetGalley ARC turns out to be a book I want to own, I do buy it. I’m using NetGalley the way I use the library—to try new authors and read authors I follow but don’t collect—as well as to read the books I do want to buy, but not have to wait as long.

    All that said, I’m totally supportive of going the no-NG route if that’s what works best for you. And there’s something to be said for not reviewing the same books everyone else is, at the same time as everyone else!

    • If I’ve enjoyed an ARC immensely, I do buy a copy of the book as well. There are a couple books I’ve read that I’m dying to get my hands on. The electronic copy of the book didn’t do the physical book justice!

  9. I don’t use NetGalley nearly as much as I used to because I can barely keep up with my review books from other sources. I do occasionally see someone mention that they got a book there that I really want to read and then I request it, but I don’t stress one way or the other about it. (I did get my ratio up over 80% and I’m trying to keep it there, but it hasn’t been that tough since I’m pretty much only requesting books I really want to read now).

    I WILL say that Edelweiss’s new site is MUCH better for searching. You can totally choose just to see YA sci-fi or fantasy books, and there are LOTS of different filters you can apply. I love this!!

    • After all the fear instilled in me about NetGalley, I’ve never signed up for Edelweiss! And I do the same thing, Nicole, I see that a blogger got a approved for a book I want and then I go looking it for it on NetGalley. Keeps me out of trouble as long as I don’t start browsing!!

  10. Like many who have already commented, I went wild on NetGalley when I started blogging and then pulled back for reasons already expressed: too many books piling up in general, plenty of review books available from other sources, easier to use the library, etc.

    One thing I found really annoying when I was using it was that you could not see what format was available. I can only read EPUBs on my Kobo, and I am not going to sit at my desktop and read a PDF. I think you should be able to delete books from your account that you don’t end up reading, especially if it’s a formatting problem or the file is buggy.

    There is still an occasional publisher who sends me a NetGalley link directly for something I’m interested in, so I do still use it sometimes for that. But I’m not going in and searching any more.

    • I was so cautious about NetGalley when I started blogging. Maybe it was a good thing I started at the end of the calendar year when all the long-time bloggers were making New Year’s Resolutions. Now I usually only venture to the site when I see another blogger mention getting approved for a book I want.

  11. haha I love this! I totally made THE mistake when I first found NetGalley. I thought it worked similar to the Goodreads giveaways where you enter EVERYTHING and almost never receive anything. So I was quite shocked when I was suddenly showered under books and promptly drowned in them. I’ve still not caught up and I feel a little guilty but truth be don’t, I’m not really fussed?

    I find there’s a lot of hype over receiving ARCs and I do think it’d be nice to physically be sent something, but then I’m obliged to read it, really, and just NOPE. Plus I don’t really like e-books so the whole experience is a bit meh. I’ve not even ventured over to Edelweiss. I much prefer to spend my groceries money on books, that’s far more fun.

    • Oh, the mysteries of the GoodReads giveaways! I’ve entered so many and rarely won, I’ve started think winning is like finding a Unicorn.

      eBooks have grown on me, but I’m definitely NOT a fan of PDFs.

  12. I use to use Netgalley ALL the time. I found tons of books on there (popular and not so popular) and before they changed everything, it was easy to navigate. However, I find that I don’t use it at ALL except for invites to a book. I, like a lot of bloggers, went a Downloading spree when I first started blogging, so I understand the fears of a high ratio and getting it back up.

    But yes, there are so many other ways to find, and get, tons of books without using it!

  13. I have both Netgalley and Edelweiss accounts, but they are mostly untouched. I have downloaded a grand total of 5 books from Netgalley, but I have only reviewed 2 so far, so my review percentage is pretty terrible at the moment. Before I can even think about requesting any books, I have to get my ratio up to at least 80%, like you said. But I do like the option of getting books for review through both sites, even if I have not used it a lot yet. This option is critical to a lot of authors, publishers, and bloggers.
    I totally agree with what you said about Netgalley being a lot of pressure on a blogger. A lot of bloggers are obsessed with their percentages (me included) and will do pretty much anything to keep it up. Plus the stress of either being approved or rejected is a heart attack in the making. The temptation of all the shiny new books is definitely a huge test of self-control. While Netgalley has its faults, I do believe it has a place in the book blogging community.

  14. I made some of the mistakes when it came to netgalley. Got a lot of books and then realized most of them didn’t have epub copies and at that time I didn’t have a way to read kindle copies and I ended up with a lot of books I got early on and never got to read.
    Nowadays though I have my ipad on which I can read kindle books and I really like netgalley. I usually brose the recently added section and do that every day or so, that way there aren’t 10+ pages to wade through as I agree that takes too much time.
    I mostly use netgalley to get books I might not be able to afford otherwise. I do worry about my percentage sometimes, but I hope to get to that 80% eventually. I stayed around 67% the whole year, so I am convinced if i ever get to the 80% I can stay around that. I actually do like their site design and think it’s easy to use, especially compared to edelweiss.