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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