When I first joined NetGalley as a reviewer, I felt a level of importance. I felt like WOW I’m one of those “cool,” book bloggers/bookstagrammers because I request books and publishers give them to me. That feeling soon faded as I came to realize a few things:
- The format is not always polished (or even readable). This is probably my biggest issue with reading books from NetGalley. I had to quit several books because they were full of typos, wordweresmushedtogetherlikethis (and no, the book was not in Dutch, where that might have actually occurred for good reason), and the scene breaks were not clearly defined. I understand that ARCs are not the final draft, I do. But there were many books that were just unreadable and lowered my opinion of the writing quality.
- Well known authors are impossible to get while debut authors basically auto accept. This wouldn’t have been an issue had I known this from the beginning and not requested 20 galleys and then felt so much pressure to read them all before their publication/archive date. Which brings me to point #3.
- There is immense pressure to read by the pub date/archive date. I don’t know about you, but I think a big part of bookstagram or book blogging is finding ways to stay relevant. A lot of people do this by reading books and posting reviews prior to their publish date. That’s just too much stress for me. I read to escape and for pleasure. This added pressure to read the book by the publication date made me chastise myself and think what kind of content are you really contributing if you aren’t ahead of the crowd. And that mentality was just too much for me. Plus, I am a total mood reader, and being forced to read something to be cool or popular isn’t conducive to my reading lifestyle.
- Negative reviews or refusing to review a galley lowers your approval rating, and therefore ensures you don’t get coveted, clean versions. Yeah, I kind of found this out by checking out a few other readers complain about how their approval ratings lowered when they left less than 3 star reviews. I don’t think you should be penalized because a book didn’t resonate with you. I think you should be able to explain why the book doesn’t work and offer constructive criticism in order to help the writer.
- I’m not always getting the full, completed copy and it is not always being disclosed until AFTER I download it to my device. This happened to me twice, and was disappointing. One of the books I wanted to read in its entirety, but once I discovered it was only two chapters, I kind of felt like what’s the point? I just don’t feel like critiquing a few chapters and basing a review off of that alone works for me for a couple of reasons. If it’s not a showstopper in the beginning then I’ll rank it lower. I’ll nitpick more easily, and I hate sounding entirely negative. Reading excerpts doesn’t really give me an opportunity to find the silver lining. And yes, I am a “find the silver lining/deeper meaning,” kind of reader. So these types of reads offered within NetGalley just don’t work with my read & review process.
In concept, I think the site functions well for people who are willing to accept that what they are getting are often free, unedited versions. From a business perspective, the publishing houses rationale behind for doing all of these things I mentioned makes total sense. People will always want to read books early and/or for free and likely won’t care if the quality isn’t as great.
But from someone who is a bit of a perfectionist and is often critiquing simultaneously while reading this service just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I’m just getting more particular in my “old-ish” age? Maybe being an English Lit student totally ruined the way my brain approaches reading? Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired.
I know a lot of people who utilize NetGalley and think its a great way to get those books before they go to publication. And also, did I mention they are also free? 😉 If that’s how you like your reading experience to be or if you have limited options in obtaining books, then great! Go for it! Request all the galleys!
In the end, this just didn’t work out for me and I wish I had known about how it all worked and the quality of the galleys before I signed up.
Anyone else out there leave the whole NetGalley scene? What are you thoughts on unscrubed ARCs? Do you enjoy them less/more than you would a final product? How do you shut off that critical part of your brain when reading them?