A User Guide to NetGalley //Featuring Tips & Tricks Galore

Most reviewers out there have discovered the joys and disappointments that come with having a NetGalley account. Whether you’re new to this reviewing thing and need some guidance or have been requesting books for several years now, today’s post is about all the things I wish I knew when I started out, and all the tips I’ve acquired over the years to help make requesting books more manageable. So without further ado, let’s begin!

Lets Go Ro GIF by Rosanna Pansino

The Background

What Is NetGalley?

For those of you that are unaware, NetGalley is a website where publishers provide reviewers with e-book copies of unreleased books, called Advanced Reader Copies, or ARCs, for short. Since these are e-book ARCs, some people further shorten the acronym to e-ARCs. Now, one of the things that unfortunately took me forever to realize was that since these books are available to reviewers only, they actually need to be, you know, reviewed. You’d be surprised at how many others struggle with that concept as well.

You see, you can’t just pick up any e-ARC you’d like. You need to request specific titles that interest you, and if you’re very lucky, the publisher will provide you with a copy that you can download in some way. Many times there are options to send a copy to your Kindle and such, but we’ll get to that in a bit. The important part is that you learn how to request responsibly.

Tired Ro GIF by Rosanna Pansino

Because, there’s one last thing you need to consider, and that’s the dreaded ratio. This ratio states the percentage of books that you’ve reviewed from the total number of books you were approved for. This number is ever-changing as you get approved for more books, and as you review more books. The recommended ratio is an 80% review rate or above, but that’s not the easiest thing to achieve, and part of the reason why I’m writing this post is to give some tips to reviewers, both new and old, to help reach the 80% ratio.

Beginner Mistakes:

If you’re a newbie on NetGalley then here are some basic helpful tips for when you get started. If you’ve been on NetGalley for a while but remember making these mistakes (or maybe you still make these mistakes) that’s great, because the next few sections assume you’ve made these mistakes at some point!

Mistake 1: Requesting Every Book You See

The first common mistake that I see many people who are new to NetGalley make is that there is this urge to just request ALL THE THINGS. Since you’re expecting to be rejected, anything that holds the slightest interest gets requested. This is a terrible idea. DON’T DO IT!

This is a tip that I’ll get into a bit more in the next section, but you should ONLY be requesting books you’re actually interested in. This will not only limit the amount of books that you request and have pending at one time, but it will also make it easier to actually review the books if you get approved. Because if you request random books, and you get approved for them, chances are you’ll realize very quickly that you’re not actually interested in the title, which means that you will push off reading and reviewing that title for many moons.

animation comics GIF by SLOTHILDA

Mistake 2: Not Looking at Publisher Approval Preferences

Listen, most publishers have their list of approval preferences listed on their NetGalley page. If you try to request a book from a publisher that wants you to have 1000+ blog followers, and you only have 428, you’ll probably get denied. However, there are many publishers that care more about activity and having all your links up to date, than having a specific number of followers. So while you wait for your platform to grow, try requesting from those publishers instead!

Mistake 3: Not Looking at Read Now Titles

Read Now titles are books that the publisher allows anyone to read without having to go through the approval process. You click the Read Now button, and it’s immediately yours to read. Most of the titles may not interest you, but if you come across a title that sounds good, by downloading, reading, and reviewing it promptly, you’ll help increase your ratio. When starting out that can be a great way to show publishers that you’ll read the books you request!

approved GIF

Also, just know that publishers will sometimes make books Read Now for the first 1000 people, or for a short period of time. NetGalley will usually email you about these books, and hopefully you can catch some titles you’re interested in this way! Another thing that I want to note though, is that the book’s quality has nothing to do with its status as a Read Now book versus a book that requires approval. I just downloaded one of my most anticipated books since it was Read Now for 3 days, while some of the books I had to get approved for ended up being DNFs.

My Qualifications:

Now before we get into all the tips that I have in regards to NetGalley, let me provide you with my qualifications, to show you that these are true and tried methods.

1. I have a 93% Feedback ratio

I’ve been approved for 69 titles and have reviewed 64 of them. Of the 5 remaining titles, 2 are backlist titles that I regret requesting, 1 has been read and I’m in the process of writing my review, 1 is a September release that I’m currently reading, and the last book is a 2022 release that I’m not in any rush to get to right now.

My point here is just to prove that it is possible to get your feedback ratio under control!

2. I’ve been declined for 140 titles

I know this is a weird thing to include as a qualification, but hear me out. This proves that I’ve made some of the beginner mistakes I just mentioned. It also is something that affects my NetGalley account to this day, since publishers can see that I get denied more than I get approved. My hope is that everyone reading this post will have a much better rate of success after following my tips. Because most of the titles I’ve gotten approved for happened AFTER I started figuring out how best to use the site.

The Tips and Tricks

Requesting Habits:

My number one tip in this area is simple.

Stop It Neil Patrick Harris GIF

Whatever your requesting habits may be, I’m certain that at some point you went overboard on requesting, or you wouldn’t be here reading this post. I also think that it’s safe to make the assumption that you never quite recovered from those 29 books you requested, since you thought you’d be accepted for 4 at most, but then were unexpectedly approved for 16 of them. And out of those 16, you’re honestly only interested in 7. You can fill in your applicable numbers as needed. So my first tip is simple really.

Tip 1: Be more pointed about the books you request.

Only request the ones that you know you’d prioritize if you get approved. And what’s more, assume you’ll get approved for every book you request. Not because it’s statistically probable that you’ll get all the books you want. Rather it’s important to overestimate the number of books that you can end up needing to review. If you know that you will be fine if you add 3 more books to your NetGalley shelf, then why would you request 8? Because you can’t handle 8 more books on your NetGalley TBR. Even 4 or 5 would be a stretch. The more reasonable approach is to request a maximum of 3 out of the 8 books, then wait to either read some more books or get rejected for a few more books, before requesting more.

Tip 2: Have a requesting plan

If you just go on NetGalley to browse, without a game plan in mind, you will succumb to the pretty covers and leave NetGalley having requested every single book you ever saw mentioned in the past 10 days. So have a list whether on Goodreads or StoryGraph or in your Notes app or wherever you’d like that has upcoming titles that you’re interested in. Those are priority books, that when you see them on NetGalley, you can request immediately. Your most anticipated releases should be on this list and not much else.

Every other book should have a waiting period with a length of your choosing. Is 3 days enough? A week? You decide. The point is that this waiting period should help you figure out whether you have the desire and the capacity to read the book in question. I know that there are several titles that I requested on a whim, without waiting, that I came to regret requesting. You know things are bad when you start hoping you’ll get denied for a book!

Hold On Wait GIF by filmeditor

Tip 3: Look at Formatting Before Requesting

This tip is especially important for smaller or new to you publishers, and books that fall under the Graphic Novel/Manga/Comics category. Most publishers have an option for you to send your books to Kindle, which is wonderful, and usually means the formatting will be good. However, each book has different format files and download specifications. It’s important that you’re actually able to read the books you get accepted for, which means that you should only request books that you’ll be able to download in some way and read in the format provided. As I mentioned, this has mostly been an issue for me with works that are mainly illustrated, but to be safe, I’d check each title.

Improving the Ratio:

You already have a bad ratio since you only just came across these helpful tips on how to request properly. Now what?

Tip 1: Get yourself a copy in your preferred reading format

I know that for me, the only genre I’ll really read as an e-book are romances or other contemporary stories. The more brain power a story takes, the more likely that I need a physical copy to read the book. And since a lot of my backlist titles are works in genres I don’t enjoy anymore (or never really enjoyed to begin with) I discovered that I could not get through my backlist titles through e-book.

Cant Do It Bake Off GIF by The Great British Bake Off

So what I did was I purchased cheap physical copies of my backlist titles. These were titles that I knew I’d eventually unhaul, so I bought most of them used, and I’d recommend doing the same. I’d also recommend not acquiring all your backlist titles at once. Pick two or three to buy or borrow from the library at a time, and then read however many you can before repeating the process. I feel as though the ratio of books you actually want to read to books you only acquired to get them off your NetGalley shelf should be very high. If your TBR is 100 books or less, you should have max 5 NetGalley books hanging around for you to read at a time. If your TBR is bigger than that, you should still only have a max of 10-15 backlist NetGalley titles hanging around.

Now, having these books in your preferred format is great, but you still need to read them. There are a number of ways to go about upping your ratio, and I’m going to suggest a bunch of them. Some might suit you and others might not. Feel free to only try what sounds best for you.

Tip 2 : Set up buddy reads.

This can be for both backlist and unreleased titles. Ask around on Insta stories or Twitter if anyone’s interested. Mention that you’re looking for a buddy read in a blog post. Heck, stalk Goodreads and find other people who might be interested to buddy read with you. (This last one is not actually one I think would work well, but who knows! Try it out and tell me how it goes!)

Joshua Jackson Accountability GIF by HULU

You can make this buddy read super detailed in how many chapters/pages you want to read per day/week, or make it more casual. Whatever the details, having someone to keep you accountable will be super useful!

Tip 3: Make a schedule for yourself

Again, this can work however you want it to. Maybe you want to read one backlist title a month, and one upcoming release a month. Maybe you want that after every 5 random books you read, you pick up any NetGalley title, either upcoming or backlist. Or maybe you want to literally schedule out each book for a different week or month that you need to finish it in. You do you!

Illustration Love GIF by The Creamlovers

The purpose of this schedule is mostly so that reading your NetGalley books is on your mind. It’s really easy for them to fall through the cracks if you’re not on top of prioritizing them, so be proactive! For me personally, I like to be on top of the ARCs coming out in the next month or two. Then once I’m all caught up on reading and reviewing those, I attempt to read some more backlist titles. Or I just read non-NetGalley books for a while. Whatever I’m in the mood of. But every week or two I try to check NetGalley to make sure that there are no upcoming releases that have slipped my mind, and to check if I’m in the mood of reading any of the remaining titles on my shelf.

And there you have it! These are the methods I’ve been using for the past year or so to help improve my NetGalley experience. If you have any other helpful tricks or know of any other common mistakes, leave them in the comments to help this post be the best resource possible for those who are getting started on NetGalley!

What NetGalley tips do you have? What’s your ratio at currently? What’s one book that’s been on your NetGalley shelf the longest?

39 thoughts on “A User Guide to NetGalley //Featuring Tips & Tricks Galore

  1. You would not believe how fast I clicked on your post after seeing it in my reader – I recently requested my first arc from Netgalley, and the book is one of my MOST anticipated releases this year but unfortunately got declined 😦 so I know the pain haha.
    Thank you for all the tips!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awwww, that makes me so happy! I was hoping this post would be useful! And yes, getting declined for books you just can’t wait for is the absolute worst! But I’m sure that soon enough you’ll be getting approved for some titles that you’re anticipating! Just give it some time!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad! I tried to be as thorough as I could, but I’m already thinking of more tips I could have included! 🤣 I feel like most people request tons of books when they first start out, and it’s so frustrating trying to recover from that initial mistake!

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    1. I’m very proud of how far I’ve come with that ratio. It’s taken me quite a few years! I’ve also had period where I wasn’t reading, or specifically wasn’t reading NetGalley books, so take all the time you need. The books will still be there when you’re up to reading them again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. great tips! I followed NetGalley guide from their post or from somewhere else very early so I didn’t make these mistakes.
    my current ratio is 70%. I had once 100% ratio but ever since COVID publishers send me widgets more and more and they keep piling up even though I have stopped requesting books for more than a year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! That’s great that you didn’t make these mistakes early on! I feel like most people have, so I’m very impressed that you managed to avoid them!

      70% is pretty good! But just the fact that you managed to get to 100% at one point has me in awe. That’s my dream for 2022! And I totally here how the widgets can draw you in! I still rely on requesting for the most part at this point, so that helps keep my NetGalley TBR somewhat under control!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! That makes me so happy, since my goal with this post was for it to be as useful as possible! Since I’m a synopsis snob, I’ll admit I have a bit of an easier time resisting the temptation to request a book just because of a pretty cover. But even I succumb sometimes!

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  3. These are great tips – and you have such a good point about publishers seeing how many books you’ve been denied for! I thankfully didn’t overrequest in the beginning (I try not to if my ratio is below 80) but it’s so easy to request books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I honestly think the fact that I’ve been denied way more times than I’ve been approved is the biggest issue with my profile. Hopefully eventually I’ll be able to have a higher acceptance ratio!

      I’m quite impressed that you managed to avoid to over-requesting stage! I also love how you have a method in place to keep your ratio around 80%! I should definitely consider putting a similar cap on requesting when my ratio needs some help!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. These are great tips, for people who live in “normal” countries. But for someone like me, living in Israel, no matter how carefully I’ve done exactly what you recommend, there are far too many books out there that are only available on NetGalley to wish for, and not request, because of my location. Oh well… But, I signed up with the Penguin Random House International early reader program and they send me widgets for books on NetGalley. Sure, the selection isn’t always great, but once in a while I get a gem and I jump on it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a really good point. I guess I should have specified that these tips are most helpful for those in the US or UK.

      I’ve really come to love the NetGalley widgets that I’ll occasionally get. I love having the option to accept it or not depending on my interest and the timing and such!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love any post that helps remind me that even though I’ve been on Netgalley for years I am still making mistakes (like not requesting every book I see, it’s just so easy to do!). It’s the tips for getting my ratio up that I need, I have slowly been getting the backlog of NG books in different formats, especially audiobooks if they have them at my library. I also believe that you need insane self control with that place, my current attitude is I’m not allowed to request until next year because I need the break. I do always forget about the read now books, though. I used to check them all of the time but got lazy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m definitely still making mistake on NetGalley, but I think the difference is that at this point I can recognize they’re mistakes!

      Honestly, getting the backlog titles in different formats is one of the best tips I mentioned! I’m hoping that using that trick I could possibly reach a 100% ratio for a brief moment in time next year!

      But yes, you definitely need self control while browsing on NetGalley. I’m pretty good, except for when I see a title I’m excited for! I should probably go on a requesting hiatus as well, until I catch up on some reviews, but it’s so hard to hold myself back when I see a title that I just can’t wait to read!

      And I don’t tend to click on Read Now books very often at this point in time, but I do wish I had taken advantage of them more when I was newer to NetGalley!

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  6. I used to have a high rating but a couple years ago, I got behind and now I just can’t catch up. I’ve only requested a few in the past couple years and I’m still playing catch up. I’m determined to review all the books I have requested, no matter what. It’s horrible though as I feel I want to read current books that are out but I know I have all these older books sitting on NetGalley that I need to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Playing catch up is the absolute worst! I wish you all the best in getting through your NetGalley backlist, and I hope that some of the tips I mentioned will help you get through your titles in an easier fashion.

      I think that the pressure to read the backlist titles is what makes NetGalley so difficult at times. Like you said, there are so many new books that you want to get to, but you then feel bad for reading them when you could be catching up on older books that you made a commitment to read. That’s why I try to balance reading new releases for the most part with some backlist titles every once in a while, but even so it’s still easier said than done.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a VERY helpful post, and I genuinely cannot think of anything you missed! Netgalley is both the best and worst thing for me, I think. Like- Idk how to read on my own anymore, which is kind of messy. If Netgalley shut down tomorrow I’d just be standing around looking at my shelves like a lost puppy.

    Because when I request a book, I review it. Full stop. And… like you mentioned in your post, I maybe request way more books than I can handle? Oopsie? The problem is, when a new batch comes out, I think “oh well, I don’t have ANY books for May 2022, so I can request these!” then promptly forget that I requested them, then get approved and then when April 2022 comes around, I’ll be sobbing because how do I read these 16 review books!? But I do. Somehow bwhaha.

    SO numbers. My ratio is at 88% at the moment. Here’s the thing: every single book on my shelf that is unreviewed is a frontlist. I have ::cringes:: 52 on my shelf at the moment, but again, none is a backlist. And look, one of these days, I may achieve self control, but today is not that day, so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thank you Shannon! I feel like most people have a love hate relationship with NetGalley, but it’s a bit sad that it’s completely taken over your reading. Would you consider taking one week to just read non-review copies? I’m curious how the future of your reading would look like after that week.

      I’m a bit more lax with reading/reviewing my NetGalley books, or at least I was years ago, and that’s why I have backlist titles. I try to keep reading fun for me, so I sometimes take a break from NetGalley, even if it means not being able to review a book before it gets released. But besides for very old backlist titles, I usually get to my NetGalley books in a semi-timely fashion.

      I also try not to request more books than I can handle. (Although I currently have 13 pending titles, and I’m relying on the fact that Berkley hates me to make the assumption that I’ll be denied for 8 of them and still be fine. Plus they’re 2022 releases. So I have time. Right??)

      I think it’s also hard to find the best time to review books. Like you said, if you get a review book that comes out in May 2022, when should you start reading it? And even if you read it early, you can’t post your review immediately. Which means that by the time you post your review, you’ve actually forgotten what you’ve written. Oh the joys of reviewing.

      But I’m proud that you somehow manage to get it all done anyways! Also, for having 52 unread titles on NetGalley, an 88% ratio is FANTASTIC! (I mean, in general an 88% ratio is really good, but the 50+ title thing is really messing with my brain.) I’m glad that the titles are all current releases though, which I’m hoping means you’re still interested in reading them. I wish you the best of luck getting through your 52 books, and hope that you find a balance with reading NetGalley titles vs shelf titles if that ever becomes a goal of yours!

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  8. What an incredibly helpful post! Thank you so, so much for sharing it. I love your advice about requesting books you really want and how it’s important to think about how much and the ones you request, just as well. As an international blogger, I have the “wish for it” button that kind of makes me think even longer before I try hitting that button. I mean, the probabilities to get a book through NetGalley are like of something like 5% for me, so if I’m setting myself up for disappointment, I want to make sure it’s for a book I deeply wanted ahahah.
    I love this so much!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Marie! I’m so glad that you found this post helpful!

      Yes! That’s something I try to think about before I request any book! Right now I have a lot of pending titles on NetGalley, but at least I can say that I’d be happy getting accepted for any of them! (Well, besides for the 2 that I haven’t been denied for yet, even though they already were published.)

      I fell like having Wish For It buttons and a low probability of getting a title would end up backfiring for me! I’d feel like there’s such a little chance of me getting a book, that I should just request anything I’m interested in the slightest in the hopes that I get a copy. I realize that’s flawed logic though, and I’m very glad you have a more reasonable approach to requesting!

      Thank you! 💕

      Like

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad that you found this post to be useful in some way!

      I feel like those are super common mistakes though, so you’re definitely not alone! And the good news is that there’s no permanent damage done from the early choices you make on NetGalley! There are ways to play catch up and get through even the biggest backlist!

      Like

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