Last week, I paid a ser­vice called Net­Gal­ley (NG) to list my book.

That’s nice. Um…what’s a NetGalley?

NG is a ser­vice where read­ers can get access to free copies of books from authors and pub­lish­ers. Most often, these are pre­pub­li­ca­tion copies—Advance Review Copies (ARCs). (In the pub­lish­ing indus­try, a gal­ley is a pre­pub­li­ca­tion copy of a book for edit­ing and review, often with­out bind­ing or a cov­er. Net­Gal­ley is means to be an updat­ed ver­sion of that concept.)

You, um…you paid somebody to give your book away? Like, for free?

Yes. Yes I did.

Thanks so very much for putting it that way.

Okay. Why on Earth would you do that?

Net­Gal­ley’s sub­scribers are hard­core readers—or as Net­Gal­ley puts it, “read­ers of influence.”

In some cas­es, “read­ers of influ­ence” means “pro­fes­sion­al readers”—librarians, book­sellers, teach­ers, and the like. Based on my expe­ri­ence, much of the time (over half) it means peo­ple who read a lot. But many of those peo­ple have book blogs, and many of them also post reviews to GoodReads, Ama­zon, Barnes & Noble, and/or elsewhere.

In oth­er words, if you’re a new author and they like your book, they can help get the word out.

What happens when you list with them?

For the next six months, The Noth­ing With­in will be vis­i­ble to NG read­ers. If some­one’s inter­est­ed in my book, they send me a request. I get a chance to look at their pro­file, includ­ing how often they leave feed­back on NG, and where else they leave reviews.

If I say “yes,” they receive access to the ARC. Most­ly, I say “yes.”

There’s no guar­an­tee they’ll leave reviews, but many do. And I get their email address­es, so after a few weeks I can fol­low up with them.

How’s that working out for you?

Okay, I think. In the first 48 hours, about 30 peo­ple asked for copies, and most of them fol­lowed up by down­load­ing the book to their e‑reader devices. More trick­le in every day.

A few weeks before the June 14th pub­li­ca­tion date, I’ll prob­a­bly do some kind of pro­mo­tion with NG to get more readers.

I see a problem with your plan. What if they hate your book?

I’m hope­ful they won’t. Feed­back from about 20 beta read­ers has been very positive.

But if they do hate it? I’m cool with that, too. I’m look­ing for­ward to feed­back from a group of hard­core read­ers. There’s no bet­ter way to learn.

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