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How NetGalley reviewers can get the most out of relationships with publishers and publicists

By Sarah Miniaci, originally published on the NetGalley blog

In not-so-ancient history, Amazon was best known as a jungle in South America and the closest thing that existed to an influential book blog was The New York Times Book Review.

Smith Publicity acts as a “publisher” on NetGalley offering the books of our wide-ranging clients to reviewers through NetGalley. We celebrated 20 years in book publicity in 2017, and have seen countless changes in the business of promoting books over that time. But from 1997 to today, one thing has remained constant: the importance of book reviews.

Between the indie publishing boom, the advent of e-books, and the emergence of incredible platforms like NetGalley, there has arguably never been a more interesting and exciting time to be a reader, writer, or publishing industry professional. The so-called ‘gatekeepers’ like The New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly certainly haven’t been rendered irrelevant – but they’re no longer the only game in town, either. How do we reach the new generation of bloggers, bookstagrammers, Goodreads influencers and Amazon power reviewers? Through NetGalley, of course!

Whether you’re a journalist, book blogger, librarian, retailer, or someone who simply loves to read and offer your unique perspective on the latest and greatest titles, know that every single request and bit of feedback you remit on NetGalley is as precious as gold to book publicists, authors, and publishers. At Smith Publicity, we couldn’t be more appreciative of and enthusiastic about your passionate, dedicated, and diverse community – and as we enter a new year (and look to expand our auto-approval list!), wanted to share with you all some of our favorite NetGalley community reviewer practices:

Love a book you found on NetGalley? Shout it from the (digital) rooftops!

 For book publicists, there is no better feeling than helping an author get their book into the hands of a reader who deeply connects with their story / ideas / characters / themes / etc. If you love a book you found on NetGalley, please do share your feedback on it within – and outside of! – the NetGalley platform. Cross-posting your review to Amazon, Goodreads, and any other social media platforms or sites you regularly use is extremely valuable – and sure to put you on the “Nice” list of any publisher whose books you’ve requested.

To review or not to review? That is the question…

While of course we book publicists (and the authors and publishers we represent) would love a steady stream of glowing, 5-star reviews for each and every book we’re working on, we’re also realistic – and sincerely grateful for any title feedback at all so long as it is thoughtful, cleanly written, and fundamentally respectful. If you’re in doubt as to whether or not you should post your feedback on a title that perhaps you weren’t over the moon about, never hesitate to write to us directly. We love hearing from you, and are always happy to hear diverse opinions!

 Mark your calendar and give your favorite authors a little gift on their “book birthday”

Anytime, anywhere, any way – we absolutely love getting new reviews in, and don’t tend to be particularly fussy about when, where, or how they happen (unless otherwise noted by way of an embargo, of course). If you want to go the extra mile, however, do pay attention to the “book birthday” – otherwise known as publication date! – and, if it’s not too much trouble, try to either review the book by that date, or give your previously remitted review a little “boost” by promoting it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon — or even by mentioning it to your local library or bookshop! Tip for those Type A’s among us: some of our NetGalley BFFs even mark their calendars with the book birthday right when they get approval notification.

DNF? File issues? Other questions, issues, or requests? Get in touch!

We are always, always but a brief email away – and not to sound too much like a broken record, but we truly do love hearing from you! If ever you have questions about a title, predict that you’re not going to be able to finish a book you started, or have any other questions or requests whatsoever, please, don’t hesitate to write to us. We know we speak for every single publisher, author, and other industry professional on NetGalley when we say that getting to engage with other passionate readers is one of the very best parts of the job, and that you are so, so important to this wonderful industry of ours. In the case of file issues, always reach out to NetGalley support to help you troubleshoot the problem and they will work with us to improve the file or formats available whenever needed.

We know your TBR piles are mammoth, we’re readers too – we get it! You’re not going to be able to review every book you download and not every book is going to be a fit. But please be aware that when you download a book, it does open a relationship with the publicist and author behind that book. Seeing a download sets certain expectations. We start checking in often because we’re excited about your feedback. If you don’t think you’ll get to a book, just let us know. If you don’t have time for a full review – consider leaving a star rating on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. It only takes a couple minutes and is getting even easier with NetGalley’s new “share” buttons.

Tell us – what do you wish publishers and publicists knew about how YOU use NetGalley? Tell us on social media @smithpublicity.

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