When you first get into the world of advanced reader copies (ARC’s) it can be pretty daunting. Suddenly this whole world opens full of publishers, authors, agents and books to be reviewed in advanced of its publishing date. And then there’s Netgalley, which has its own rules and regulations. Getting approved on Netgalley can be super hard at first, but as a seasoned Netgalley user I’m here to tell you how to increase your Netgalley approval rate. And especially how to do it quickly.
What is Netgalley?
Just in case you’re really lost here – Netgalley is a website that helps publishers and authors promote digital review copies of their upcoming books. Publishers (and self-published authors) can pay to have their book listed on Netgalley, and people like you and me can then request those books. If the publisher likes your profile and sees that you’re a reliable reviewer, they can approve your request. You then get to read a digital copy of the book for free in exchange for an honest review. Whether you post your review on Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, your blog or wherever else is completely up to you.
But to get approved in the first place can be pretty hard. Think about it: you have a completely fresh profile with no reviewed books yet – no proof that you will get the publisher what they want if they approve you. Not to mention that publishers and independent authors can pay up to several hundred dollars per book just to list it on the website, so they want to make sure that they get their money’s worth. It makes sense that they want established reviewers. It’s one of those ‘can’t get a job without the experience, can’t get experience without the job’ kind of things. But I do have a few tricks that make will 100% increase your chances to get increase your Netgalley approval rate.
Tip 1: Actually fill out your whole profile
So often I see people in the book review world (is that a thing?) ask why they don’t get approved on Netgalley, and then when I ask to send a screenshot of their profile, it is only half filled out. When I say that you have to fill out everything I mean you have to fill out EVERYTHING.
- Provide a direct link to your blog, social media and any other place you might review books. If you review for a larger site with multiple reviewers, always include a link to your individual profile page.
- A lot of publishers have let me known that they appreciate it when the profile includes your numbers (followers, friends, subscribers). Since I have added this in my own bio, it has greatly improved my Netgalley approval rate.
- Add a profile pic, where you live and your reading preferences
- When you request a book, make sure that the genre you’re requesting is actually listed as a preferred genre in your profile (again, it’s under ‘reading preferences’ but it can’t hurt to list them in the bio as well.
- Fill out an e-mail address and make it visible to publishers. Many publishers will only approve requests if they can see your email, for potential future follow-ups.
Tip 2: Utilize the ‘read now’ titles
As mentioned before, getting approved on Netgalley when you’re just starting out can be hard. This is why I always recommend new reviewers to utilize the ‘read now’ titles. These are specific titles that are available to any member on Netgalley, and you do not have to be approved. However, they DO count towards your total and will legitimize you as a reliable reviewer fairly quickly. You can even choose short books or children’s books to get your numbers up.
Tip 3: Keep your feedback ratio up
When you make a Netgalley account, you will quickly see that there is such a thing called the feedback ratio – this is the ratio between the books you were approved for versus the books you have reviewed. Your feedback ratio is extremely important when you want to get approved for titles. For many publishers, this is the first thing they look at. So try to not let it dip too low and don’t request too many books at once because it will wreck your feedback ratio (speaking from experience). Netgalley recommends that you keep your feedback ratio above 80% and will even give you a cheeky little badge for your profile if you stay above that percentage.
Tip 4: Write quality reviews
It is a little known fact, but publishers can actually see the reviews you have previously given to other books. Not that they will judge you for giving a negative review here and there (if anything this just means you’re honest and have critical thinking skills!) but they WILL look at the quality of your reviews. The amount of 1 sentence reviews I come across on Netgalley is honestly embarrassing. Don’t be that person.
A good review should include:
- An Introduction paragraph: why were you interested in this book? Cover? Title? Blurb? Author? This is also where you can give a short summary of the book (but not too long because this isn’t a book report, it’s a review).
- What did you think of the book? Write 1 – 3 paragraphs with your thoughts on the book. I always start with the things I enjoyed and then write anything I didn’t enjoy. Try to be constructive in the way that you word things. If you didn’t like something, why didn’t you like it?
- Conclusion: Will you recommend the book? If so, to who? Did this book make you curious about the author’s other work? Would you buy the book for yourself or someone else? If it was a chapter sample: will you be checking out the full book?
- Add any links where you have also posted a review: Goodreads, your blog, social media posts, etc. (Link to the post DIRECTLY and not just to the account in general).
Tip 5: Check the requirements for your favorite publisher
I feel like this is something not many people know about: many publishers actually list the requirements for getting approved for their titles on their page. For example, these are the requirements for HarperCollins UK.
Which immediately brings me to the next point. A lot of publishers like it when reviewers post their reviews on Amazon. However, Amazon has this thing where they only allow you to review products if you spend at least $50 dollars a year on their website, which is not ideal.
What not to do
Besides things that I recommend, there are certainly also things I’d say you should avoid if you want to improve your Netgalley approval rate.
- Do NOT click the option to not leave feedback on a title. This will affect your approval rate forever, which means that you can never get it back to 100%. This doesn’t mean you can’t give up on a book you don’t like. It’s perfectly fine to DNF a book and review it as such, as long as you explain why.
- Do not leave short reviews that are only a few sentences long. You don’t have to make it overly long, but at least aim for 2 paragraphs.
- Don’t go on crazy requesting sprees when you first start getting approved. Only request things that you really want to read.
Why was my request denied?
Of course, I am not a publisher, so it can be hard to know why your request might have been denied. However in my experience, there are a few common reasons your request might have been denied.
- You have not filled out the links on your profile. Or: you only have a Goodreads link but it’s set to private.
- Links not posted in the appropriate section. Do NOT post links in the description, instead link them in the fields set up for them. This might not seem like a big deal, but some publishers wade through hundreds of requests every day, so having a sleek profile is important.
- The publisher might not approve books requested by certain member types. I am mostly writing from the reviewer perspective here, but there are also librarians and booksellers active on Netgalley (this is a different member type), and publishers might just be more interested in those people.
- Your blog (if you have one) might be inactive or not focused on books.
- Quality of the feedback is not up to standards. As mentioned before publishers can see your feedback, so make sure it’s detailed and not generic. (Generic is: really great rom com! had a fun time reading it.)
- You’re not in the geographical location the publisher is interested in. It’s true, sometimes publishers will only approve books from reviewers in the US or UK. As someone that’s from neither of those countries, I cry a little inside when that happens. (But there is still a lot that you CAN get approved of.)
- You simply do not have the reach that the publisher is looking for.
Don’t take it personally
Those were all my tips on how to improve your Netgalley approval rate and do it quickly. Again, I am NOT a publisher and I’m also not saying all publishers work the same way, but these are the things that I’ve personally found helpful. If your requests still get denied, don’t fret. I’ve built up a good report on Netgalley and I still get denied pretty often, especially for the bigger publishers. Sometimes you can do everything right but the stars just won’t align. And that’s okay!