Read Books With NetGalley Before They Start Printing

Back in the days before Lifehacker, I was a content creator for the nation’s largest bookstore chain – I’m sure you know one – and coming to the office every day was like a book nerd’s Christmas: my inbox was always overwhelmed with parcels from publishers containing pre-read copies (or “ARCs”) of books that were not scheduled to arrive in stores for several months. Getting on these exclusive mailing lists can be tricky (it’s definitely the benefit I miss the most), but if you have an eBook or eBook reader app, you can capture some of the magic through NetGalley . Billed as “a site where reviewers and other professional readers can read books before they are published electronically or digitally,” NetGalley exists primarily as a way for publishers – from independent to the Big Five – to create buzz for upcoming issues by distributing them to a wide network of “influencers” who will hopefully check them out in their posts, blogs, or even Goodreads . (From experience, being an influencer in a book is definitely less glamorous than being an Instagram influencer, but at least you don’t have to worry about your selfie game.) Here’s how to get started.

How to join NetGalley

While NetGalley is ostensibly looking for “professional readers,” the wonders of the Internet – and review aggregation sites like Goodreads and its alternatives not controlled by Amazon – mean that anyone can be a professional. And of course, you don’t need to provide any good faith intent to create an account. Just go to NetGalley and create it. You will need to provide some basic information – your name, age, email address – but wherever your “company” is requested, feel free to enter your blog name or even Goodreads. You can also just come up with something, though honesty – and having a review platform – will help you get copies of the more in-demand books. To read the preliminary copies, you will also need to write a CV and list the genres that you are most interested in reading. Whatever information you provide, once you sign up and verify your account, you can start browsing the catalog of future books available for digital download. Certain titles will only be delivered to you if you request a review for them and get approval from the publisher (it’s helpful to have an authoritative voice as a reviewer here, whether it’s only on Goodreads, your own blog, or YouTube channel). Others – many of them, in fact – are available for free download and immediate reading. Just click on Find Headlines and find the Read Now link .

Of course, most of these freely available titles will be books you’ve never heard of, many from small publishers, but that’s not always a bad thing. And here you will also find books from major publishers and authors; At the time of this writing, one of the most in-demand titles in the public domain is Step Nine Station , written by a collective of widely published sci-fi authors, including award nominees Hugo Malka Alder and Fran Wilde. Titles can be downloaded in a variety of formats, including audiobooks, or read in the native NetGalley Shelf app , available for iOS and Android. Note that these ad-hoc pre-copies usually include copy protection, which will take you a few hops to download to your devices, but the site has some good FAQs to help you get started. You will also want to wait for the downloads until you are ready to read, as they often expire after a few weeks or months. Reviewer, don’t be too happy to see the listings of books by super famous authors – these will almost always be on an “approved” basis, and publishers will be reluctant to approve of any random person who wants a free copy. It’s worth a try, though – and NetGalley also offers some tips to help you improve your profile and hopefully help you find an ARC reader.


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