‘You’ll have to share with me that site you use to get free books, I wouldn’t mind doing that!’ Is a comment I regularly get from people when they find out I review professionally.
It’s not that I’m precious about it. Nor that I don’t want other people to have the opportunity to read books which are essentially ‘free’. What I fail to make people understand I think is the extent of work you actually have to put in in order to get the ‘freebies’.
So I decided to write a brief post outlining what it’s like to actually be a professional reader and what sort of effort level you have to put in:
- Creating a profile is the most important thing to do on Netgalley. It’s not a case of go on and pick whatever book you like. For obvious reasons publishers and authors are looking for readers who have a big social media following. Now I’m not not just talking about the 5,000 friends you have on Facebook. I’m talking about running a blog which is over 6 months old, being prepared to write reviews and publish them on your blog and prove you have a strong following. I’m talking Twitter accounts which have like minded followers. You are essentially marketing their book so they want the right audience not just Bob from next door and Jayne from the local Sainsbury’s (unless they’re big readers of course). You need a well established Goodreads account with a strong following and a good history of writing reviews on books you’ve read. That’s just the beginning.
- You need an ereader. Preferably a kindle although some publishers do offer formats for other devices. You don’t need to be hugely techy but you do need to know a little about your kindle email address, how to receive these mobi files to your device and depending which type of kindle you have: where to find them once you download them.
- You won’t find much time for other pastimes if you request too many books at once. In order to receive approval from a publisher you need a recommended 80% ratio on the books you request to the ones you’ve reviewed. I learnt my lesson having instantly requested 16 books and now spending all my spare time reading them so I can get the feedback in before deadline and also to keep my ratio high.
- You need to know how to write a good review. Now I’m not one for perfect punctuation but it needs to be fairly good, spelling needs to be perfect and presentation needs to be immaculate. You also need to be prepared to write reviews in excess of 200 words and know how to structure them to essentially market the book and impress fellow readers (if you enjoyed it!) that’s where the Goodreads experience comes in.
And if all that hasn’t put you off you can go to Netgalley.com to sign up for a profile now.