NetGalleyMy Good Intention to Buy Fewer Books

For years, my husband has chided me for the amount of money I spend on books, and the book cases necessary to house my collection. When we moved in 2013, I donated hundreds of books to the library. Only my favorites made the move to Arizona. I had every intention to purchase fewer books (it helped that browsing in the closest Christian bookstore required a three-and-a-half hour drive).

Our first year here, I discovered the joy of reading on my Kindle app. I also discovered that I could save money by downloading classics that didn’t cost a dime. One evening, whilst browsing through books to ‘buy’ for free, I realized that some of my favorite contemporary authors actually had their books go on sale for little to nothing.  Bingo! I had discovered a way to read my favorite authors without needed to invest in more bookcases.

In late 2015 I discovered NetGalley—a website dedicated to helping books succeed. It works like this. People who love to read can sign up to receive electronic advanced copies of soon-to-be released books. In exchange, once the reader completes the book, he or she fills out a feedback form for NetGalley. As an educator, I leave my opinions on whether or not I would purchase this book for our school library or make it part of the curriculum in any way. I often write short book reviews for my blog, although NetGalley doesn’t require this.

A Good Intention Gone Awry

NetGalleyOf course, sometimes I don’t pay attention to a book’s publication date, which happened over Christmas vacation. NetGalley only has the books available for a certain amount of time, and it’s important to have a high feedback ratio. They suggest that your feedback ratio stay above 80%. Several times in the past two years, I have ended up with a slew of books to read and very little time to read them.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I ran out of books, so I started perusing and clicking on titles without paying any attention to publication dates. Evidently, the NetGalley approvers at the different publishing houses all had that week off, because only one of my requests went through. Although my intention was simply to have some books to read during vacation, I ended up with eight new titles, five of which debuted in January. I managed to read two of them before the first of January. Tomorrow I’ll post the other three reviews.

I should add a disclaimer about public libraries. I like them. They have good children’s books. I have a difficult time returning books in a timely manner—thus making it less expensive to just buy new books. In addition, our small-town library has horrible hours that don’t fit with my schedule, leaving me desperate to read and no way to find books.

Since I know I have other friends who love to read, who probably live on a budget (or have limited floor space for new bookshelves), I thought I’d share my tips for a good working relationship with NetGalley.Ever wondered how NetGalley works? Five tips for building a good relationship! #amreading #bookreview Click To Tweet

Tips for a Good Working Relationship With NetGalley

  1. Expect to start slowly. It took a few months for me to build up my feedback ratio to where I could request more than one book at a time. I now have a 97% feedback ratio.
  2. Don’t be afraid to share your honest opinion. I met someone recently who has a friend who helped design the NetGalley algorithm and website. From the beginning, I have let publishers know when something in the book really bothered me. The publishers seek honest opinions, and those who leave them are more likely to receive further galleys (the name for an unpublished book).
  3. Make sure you can actually access the book. So far, I have only downloaded one book that I couldn’t access. NetGalley offers most books through Kindle.
  4. Share the love. You can link your NetGalley posts to your social media channels if you want to. I sometimes share my review automatically with Goodreads or Facebook. In today’s social media marketing climate, tweeting, pinning, and sharing really helps authors out. Who knows? If you write a book one day, some author might just return the favor!
  5. Don’t start reading the next book until you’ve written a review for the one you just finished. A couple of times I’ve chain read and failed to write a review as soon as I finished a book. I ended up having to go back and reread sections of books in order to write a decent review. Not fun. Make a pact with yourself to at least get the bones of your review down before you start a new book.

Oh, and my bonus tip! Make sure you have TIME to read the books (check the publication dates) before you request them.

Q4U: What sources for low-cost books have you discovered?

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