Monday, February 11, 2019

How to Read Books for Free

Nothing to Declare 


Firstly, the title is a bit clickbaity. I know. I don't think that anyone should feel like they can get a book someone has poured a year of their life into FOR FREE, but I do want people to read and I do want people to click this post. So, apologies.

I spoke briefly on my Instagram stories last night about NetGalley, and there was enough interest expressed in it to warrant this post. Firstly, the best way to "get books for free" is TO JOIN YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY. I say this so often that I should just get it printed on a t-shirt - I really wish everyone who reads even one book a year would join the library. It's such a great resource, and like everything else, if it's not used, it could be in danger of not being there at some stage down the line. I've written a couple of posts about the library before, this one should tell you all you need to know about what services are offered and how to go about getting a shiny library card for yourself.

Back to NetGalley - I'm going to do this in question format so you it's easier to navigate.

What is NetGalley?
A website where publishers offer eBooks or digital ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) of books by authors they represent to people who will read and review said books. Books are available in advance of their official release, meaning that you can potentially read books months before you can buy them online or in a shop. You can sign up at Create a profile and remember, this is what a publisher will see if they're checking your profile to approve you. Link your social media.

Who can use NetGalley?
Anyone with an e-Reader and a platform to review books.

A platform - does that mean I need a blog?
Absolutely not. You can have a blog, if you want, or you can have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a Goodreads account, an Amazon account - you must have SOMEWHERE you can review the book after you've read it. Different publishers have different requirements.

How do I get books?
Some books are available immediately, by clicking on "find titles" and going to the "read now" section. Others are harder to access, you must request them, and they will only be granted to you if you meet a certain feedback score. You need to grow your feedback in order to increase your chances of being approved.

How do I grow my feedback?
By downloading some books from the "read now" section. Granted, they're not likely to be by authors you've heard of yet, but there are some real gems in there (and a nice scattering of Christian Literature, if that floats your ark). If you download some of them, read them, and give feedback to the publishers, this will push your feedback ratio up and give you a better shot at getting to read some of the more well known or more anticipated releases. You can still chance your arm and apply for any book you want - sometimes you'll be approved, sometimes you'll be declined. Keep trying!

How do I get the books?
When you sign up, you put in the e-mail address of whatever device you want the books to be sent to. If this is a Kindle, you'll find that address in your Amazon account. You then need to add the Netgalley address to your list of approved e-mail addresses in Amazon. This sounds so complicated but it's really not, it's easy to set up and it only has to be done once to make sure anything you're approved for gets to you. When you apply for a book, you will receive an e-mail letting you know whether or not you have been approved. This mail could be instant, or it may take a few days.

What if I download a book and I hate it?
Probably best to not leave a scathing hate-filled rant on the publishers feedback page (and for the love of all that's holy do NOT tag the author into said rant on social media) but in general, Publishers WANT honest opinions. Tell them what exactly you didn't like. I've disliked covers, characters, story formats - just be fair. Equally, tell them what you did like. If you can't finish a book, there's now an option to declare that you won't be leaving feedback on that title, but this may affect your feedback score.

What happens if I request 10 books at a time and they all get approved?
Welcome to my greedy little world. I've done this repeatedly and every single time I do it I swear it won't happen again - I'm currently trying to clear a backlog so I can request more recent ones. Don't be greedy! Choose 2 or 3 at a time, read them, and review them in good time.

How do I get physical copies of books to review?
These are mainly issued to book bloggers. Often if you submit a review, you'll get an email from a PR contact or publisher about it. I've had a couple of reviews featured in copies of books based on my NetGalley feedback, which is always lovely. Other times you'll be invited to participate in a book blog tour, which readers of this blog will be familiar with (I've a few coming up). This is when a group of bloggers all post about a book around the date of its release to generate a bit of a buzz online. Eventually you can build up a nice relationship wth publishers or PR contacts who will add you to press lists and include you in mailings they think you may be interested in.

Anything else I should know?
Join your local library. But, nope. That should be enough to get you set up on NetGalley.

Happy Reading!

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