For book bloggers, NetGalley is a magical place where maybe, just maybe you might get a chance to read the next Sarah Dessen/Morgan Matson/”insert author here” book before everyone else. In my experience, it’s a lot easier to get approved for digital galleys on NetGalley than it is to get publishers to send you physical copies (I’ve only succeeded at that like twice). Perhaps this is why it’s so hard to practice self-control once you get on the site. There’s just an enormous potential to receive free books.
So how do you keep yourself from requesting every book that you see? Well, after a couple of years, here are some tips that I’ve come up with to (hopefully) keep your ARC load manageable.
1) Only request books that you actually want to read.
This seems like a no-brainer, but I have definitely found myself being approved for a book and then wondering why the heck I requested it in the first place. Getting on NetGalley when you’re bored is sometimes like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry. EVERYTHING SOUNDS GOOD. But then when it actually comes time to eat (or read/review) you’re left with a bunch of things that don’t really sound that appetizing. So make sure when you’re requesting that the book actually sounds really good to you. Not just pretty good or okay.
2) Keep a record of books that you’ve requested.
Even though you can view all of the books that you’ve requested on NetGalley, it’s easy to forget just how many books you might have already requested or when they’re all being published. I’ve had times where I’ve been approved for books weeks later. All of the sudden, I have 7 books to read and review for April and I’m not really sure how that’s happened. I suggest keeping a list in a more visible place as you’re requesting books. That way, if you’re on the fence about a book, you can see if you’ve already requested a lot of books being published in the same month and use that to help you make your decision.
3) Only request books that have a future publishing date.
Sometimes NetGalley has books on it that have already been published. I fell into this trap early on where a book would sound good, I requested it, but then found out that it had been published the year before. It didn’t seem so bad at the time, but when I also got approved for future books, the ones that had already been published got pushed to the back burner. For me, there just isn’t the same urgency to review already published books as there is to review books that are still to come. Eventually I created a rule for myself that I could only request books that were going to be published in the future.
4) Get to know which publishers you like and which ones you don’t.
There are certain publishers that will almost always produce good quality books (HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, etc.). I feel pretty safe requesting books from these publishers. But there are other publishers that I have found to be hit or miss for me (SOURCEBOOKS) and still others that I don’t request books from anymore (Entangled Publishing). It might take you a little bit to establish which publishers you like, but eventually you’ll figure it out. I know that no matter how cute and fluffy a book sounds, if it’s published by Entangled Publishing, I’m most likely going to end up regretting my request.
5) Keep a schedule of ARCs that you’ve already been approved for.
This is similar to keeping a record of ARCs that you’ve requested, but even more important imo. These are books that you’ve already committed to reading and reviewing. If you’ve already got 5 books scheduled for this month, maybe rethink that book you’re about to request that comes out next week. Really consider if you have the time to read and adequately review all of the books on your schedule before potentially adding another one.
6) Set a request limit for yourself. AND STICK TO IT.
Setting a limit for how many books you can request on a given day will keep you from requesting every book that sounds remotely good. Instead, you’ll have to prioritize which books you actually want to read. Having a limit will force you to actually consider if it’s worth it to request a book or if you should save your request for something else.
7) Do judge a book by its cover.
This is so superficial, I know. But it’s a really easy way to keep yourself from going overboard since it eliminates a number of previously eligible books. If a cover doesn’t look interesting to you, don’t even look at the description. You might miss out on a great book here or there, but I think it’s worth the “risk”.
Now that you’ve figured out how to effectively use NetGalley…go forth, request, read and review!