March 5, 2016

Why I Suck at NetGalley

Creating a bio on social media is one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done (I feel like this deserves #firstworldproblems).  How do you compose everything about yourself in 140 characters? Goodreads at least gives you a solid paragraph of bio.  On WordPress, I could have a whole blog dedicated to who I am, and even then, it’s like the longer the bio allowed, the harder it gets to pare down what you want to say.  In a bio of a few sentences, you choose the markers of your self-hood.  Creating a bio on a place where I get approved or rejected based on said-bio is even worse.  On Shark Tank they say to lead with the numbers, but I always lead with the cereal-obsession, or the standards of being a cat lady, or the brutal statistics of my love for wildflowers (a la Alice).

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 10.09.06 PM

This is one of the reasons why I suck so hard at NetGalley.  I can’t create a bio that sells me as a reputable blogger.  And let’s be honest, lately, I haven’t been.  I’ve been slacking on reviews, unable to come up with interesting blog topics, and I’m in yet another reading funk.  As a teacher, I find it hard to read when all day my brain has been actively influencing other smaller brains to work.


The best reason I suck at NetGalley though is because I hate people telling me what to read. Yes, I have the power to request the books that I want to read.  But even then, the idea that now I have to read it in order to review it for a publisher that was nice enough to grant me early access makes me avoid it all together.  This is the exact reason I still haven’t read my favorite authors newest book, Fates and Furies. (I have read every review ever though so it’s almost like I’ve read the book without all the fancy). I may also be avoiding it until I know she’s working on another book so I don’t have to wait too long to have her words again in my hand.  It’s like buying really beautiful pieces for your wardrobe and then never wearing them because you don’t want to ruin them.

I suck, because like high school, when you tell me I have to read something by a certain date I pointlessly avoid it with the power of procrastination and Catholic guilt.  NetGalley does this to me every time.  It’s not even like I read the books that have been gifted to me, I’m not reading them because if I was I would definitely be reviewing them.  I might even buy them in the store or get them from the library after I’ve had them on my NetGalley dashboard for months.

Screen Shot 2016-03-05 at 10.06.47 PMI have a 40% review rate on NetGalley.

NetGalley recommends an 80% review rate.

This. is. sad.

Then, there’s ebooks. I love my kindle.  It’s got a cute case.  It’s easy to access.  It carries like two hundred and ninety seven books on it so when I’m traveling it’s perfect.  However, it has to be charged. I have to swipe to turn a page.  All the pages of every book look the same. Poetry gets this weird, ridiculous format.  It glows, but it doesn’t show in color and if I want color then I have to read a computer screen for most of the evening.  There’s no perfect ebook on the market and if you have one that doesn’t strain your eyes, or truly feels like a real book, then let me know because I will buy it.  The closest I’ve found is my Kindle Paperwhite.  And look, it just ain’t a real book.  It highlights yes, but then to find that page again is a three step process and I keep a book quote notebook (#BUJO) and I need easy access to everything I loved about that book.

My obsession with post-it note flags can’t be enacted on my kindle.  I can’t brush my hand along the side of the pages and feel each little mark of love.  I can’t write my own handwriting into a kindle.  There’s no annotation feature.  If I was a college student, I would be dead in the water with a Kindle.

There is no other way to read books with Netgalley.  You get an email, or you get a pdf, or you get both.  I’m a reader who needs a paper copy.  I have to want to pick up my kindle.  For your information, my kindle fell behind my bed’s side table in the beginning of December and I just picked it up and charged it because I got access (on NetGalley) to Kate Tempests new novel.


(This doesn’t mean I’ll stop sucking anytime soon though, there will just be less suck for a time.  Kind of like history). Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 4.05.13 PM

How’s your relationship with the galley? Are you able to push yourself to the 80% suggested reading rate, or do you have to take time off from Kindle ever so often. There’s too many used bookstores in the world, cheap, cheap, cheap used bookstores for me not to read a paper back that opens like a locked chest in my hand.

PS. Can I send this as a review for all those books on my shelf that I didn’t review yet? Sorry (not sorry).


39 comments so far.

39 responses to “Why I Suck at NetGalley”

  1. Chloe McKay says:

    I use Netgalley but only request books when I reeeallly want to read them. Other wise I know they are just going to sit on my Kindle on read for…. forever probably. And like you say nothing beats a real book!

    • Cassie says:

      I think I’m doing that but then I will read a few pages and get bored and just not push through. For some reason that’s so much easier to do on a Kindle.

  2. I get everything you’re saying about the obligation even when you know you really want to read a book, so first rule, if it’s a Lauren Groff or other author you really love, don’t request it, buy it!

    As for feedback, I had this problem for a while and then realised feedback doesn’t mean review! Anything older than a few months, go in and write a nice comment to the publisher saying sorry, I wasn’t able to read and review this book, but I hope to read it eventually, that takes care of the feedback and removes the pressure, there actually is no obligation, so be proactive and remove it, just do the note to the publisher thing in the feedback. Be ruthless.

    I don’t know why you are limited to 140 characters for the bio, mine is a mini essay and has all my blog stats etc. Are you using a phone or tablet to access the site? If you use a computer, you can scroll down on the bio and its as long as you want it to be. I know some devices change the way things look.

    And as for the kindle and annotations, I couldn’t get by without my ‘Notes and Marks’ function. When you are in the text you can highlight paragraphs or create notes in certain parts of the text and then its really easy to retrieve them using the button that brings up the menus item View Notes and Marks. Your kindle looks just like mine, they all have this function, and if you didn’t highlight something but want to find it again, you can search by word.

    I’ve learned to resist a bit the inclination to click Request, also because I like to read older, more diverse reads, too many of the shiny new things are coming from the same cultural references and I don’t want to unconsciously overdose on that narrow literary reference, always a risk when tempted by the works of large publishers and mainstream media.

    Well, I hope this strategy for improving your rating works! Keep reading only books you’re strongly drawn to!

    • Cassie says:

      You’re right, completely, about feedback and not being a review. I really need to do that. I will do that today for books that were archived or months old. There are a few that I am holding out hope for.

      My bio on NetGalley is LONG. And same as yours with stats and things. I was referencing Twitter, always limiting things. I love that they do that for tweets, but for bios, AH, so hard!
      I have that feature on my Kindle. I just hate having to go back and scroll through all my notes and marks by page in that list. I high light A LOT in books that I love and it’s so much easier for me to just go through my dog-eared pages. I do highlight and everything on my kindle, it’s just extremely hard for me with the kindle to go back and write them all down when with a book, I can either flag them and see them physically, or dog ear the page. That’s just personal annoyance for me. 🙂

      I also go through like… Binges on requests. I will not request anything for months and then request 8 books in a day. (Which obviously doesn’t work). That doesn’t even work at the library. I just need a little more willpower.

      • Why would I have so naively thought you didn’t know about highlighting – and I should have realised that you make so many highlights, it’s like you’re creating another book! The 140 character twitter thing is a great tool for practising poetry, think of it as Tw’aiku! It’s funny, I’ve read a lot less on the kindle in the last 18 months, I have lots of old library rejection copies of the most incredible books, I can’t believe they get rid of them, the printed book is definitely making a come back.

        • Cassie says:

          I recently moved to a place that has an amazing library system and literally EVERY book I’ve ever searched is in the system. So, I have no reason to read on Kindle because I can get a real copy. I LOVE Tw’aiku! Fascinating. I should have my students write those! Ah! Great minds!

  3. Oh, this is so funny Cassie. I suck too. In fact, I have received precisely one book via NetGalley – Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life, and I haven’t read it yet. Since receiving it two or three years ago, I simply ignore all the NetGalley emails I receive. I just don’t like reading books that way. I do have a kindle but I use it very rarely and for specific situations – like travel, mainly. When a publisher approaches me re a review copy I basically say it has to be print. If they don’t want to send me print, I say no, thanks. That’s happened once or twice and I haven’t regretted it because, to be honest, I have enough books I want to read that I wouldn’t miss the odd one that might be great but there are many great books to read.

    But, your comment that “I suck, because like high school, when you tell me I have to read something by a certain date I pointlessly avoid it with the power of procrastination and Catholic guilt.” I don’t relate to. I was a very good girl at high school! Well, actually, I pretty well always wanted to read what was set because I was KEEN!

    • Cassie says:

      I always request physical too! I find that my review is always better (more thorough, not nicer) when it’s a physical book. Strange, but true.

      I was so, so, so keen in middle and elementary school and in high school I learned the art of bullshitting. I was really good at playing the game. I could find all the things I needed to answer the questions on the Internet and just listen in discussion and my papers would be great so I never read the books. I found my love of reading again in college, high school I had too many other things at the time that were more important to me.

      • Haha Cassie! The Internet was way after my school time BUT I’m sure students come to my blog. I have spikes on certain posts at certain times of the year, year after year!

        • Cassie says:

          My students ALWAYS find my blog within the first two weeks of school. Then, they make corny, subtle jokes about “bowel movements” hoping to get my attention. And eventually I get a comment here and there. I always love the face value of harmlessness of a book blog, but really it’s the pen mightier than the sword.

          • Haha, Cassie, I love the subtle jokes about bowel movements! That’s brave having a blog when you are a teacher.

          • Cassie says:

            Haha, I think as an English teacher I’m allowed to discuss books, at least I hope so. My principals have never said anything. 🙂

          • Oh yes you are of course … It’s just that one gives away a lot about oneself when discussing books, and kids aren’t always generous. I didn’t mean you shouldn’t do it just that you’re lovely to be open.

          • Cassie says:

            Haha I’m probably too open but I’ve had it since before teaching and wasn’t willing to give it up. I definitely over share. Good thing my kids mostly come to me hating English so they don’t get too far on my blog haha. I think it’s also nice to be a human to them not just a teacher, ya know?

          • Yes, I agree it is vary nice …. But still brave. You’re probably right though, most would give up reading a blog. I’m sure that have more important social media to read 😄

          • Cassie says:

            Hahaha they are ADDICTED to social media and I have my Instagram so far hidden that I would challenge them to find me, ha! Even though that’s just books and cats and boyfriend. 🙂

    • Cassie says:

      Plus, I had to stop reading to realize how much I really did love it. I’m one of those “struggle bus” people. 🙂

  4. Bea says:

    I laughed my way through this blog. You may not be a Net Galley star….80%, but you kept me smiling while you languished in Suckville. I know you, and you will never be a Kindle girl. Head yourself on over to the used bookstore, smell the pages, and know that you are home.

  5. I have a problem with saying “No” to NetGalley. I’m such a Type-A that I end up reading way more than anyone should have to read. Every New Year my resolution is to read less from NetGalley and here we are in March and I’m already overwhelmed. I know this must be some kind of sickness, NetGalleyitis. Then to make matters worse I become insulted when a publisher refuses a request. I silently yell at the offenders e-mail “Don’t you people realize I have a 91% rating.” However…you have given me hope that if I don’t want to request or read off of NetGalley, the world will not collapse. It seems we are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

    • Cassie says:

      Ah! That’s amazing, look at you!! I think we both needed that note from Claire saying “just give a quick note of feedback and not a review.”

      I definitely get offended when I’m denied EVEN with my terribly low review rate. I have no right to be, but I still am. Yuck! Especially if it’s a book I really wanted to read.

      Sometimes I’m just not “sparked” by a book I was approved for on NetGalley and then I quit in the middle and don’t return to my Kindle for months. It’s pretty sad. I’m super proud of you and you’re sickness, that’s wonderful. I would say keep it up, but I think it sounds overwhelming so I will say “read the ones you love and are into and then give feedback not a review.”

  6. That’s funny about the rejections, because I live in France, I don’t really fit anywhere, and even though I lived in the UK for 8 years, and write in British English, I often find the UK publisher will reject me and the American one will say yes! I like how they’ve included a European flag now though, that makes me feel less out of the popular zone.

  7. MarinaSofia says:

    I shouldn’t laugh, but in fact I have to thank you, Cassie, for making me feel better about my own Netgalley illness. I have a 60% or so feedback rate and simply cannot resist requesting all sorts of interesting sounding things and end up with far too many to read. And a guilt so thick you could cut it with a bread-knife!

    • Cassie says:

      See! You’re doing better than someone. And it’s just too easy to click “request” without thinking what that will entail. It’s a difficult endeavor but someone has to suck!

  8. I am not terrible at NetGalley, and I try really hard not to request books unless I know I’m going to review them. And as for my ereader, I would have been dead without it when I lived in New York City and traveled on the subway every day, but given my druthers, I’d mostly rather read physical books. I think that helps me keep my NetGalley requests to a minimum: all the glorious physical books I have at my apartment at any given time.

    • Cassie says:

      Good for you, Jenny! I think some of us just have no click control. You’re totally right, I love travel and transportation with my Kindle but I still carry probably two or three paperbacks as well. I don’t know why, maybe it’s a security thing? I have a TON of unread books in my house as well and so it’s much easier to pick one off a shelf than search through my Kindle library. (At least the process is much more fulfilling).

  9. Geoff W says:

    I’ve got like a 98% rating on Netgalley because I either only get super short trashy romance novels (or used to before the publisher ticked me off) or books I’m REALLY interested in reading. The two I didn’t read were because one was archived before I realized it (fail on my part) and the other one wasn’t at all what I thought it would be, but I’m still going to read it at some point in the future.

    I’ve gotten so much better about requesting books, I’ve limited myself to very specific genres and I’ll occasionally check for upcoming books by authors I adore, but that’s about it. I’ve actually gotten to the point where I’ll reach out to a publisher as a physical copy is higher on my list.

    As for Kindle I love mine because I commute so much, I think the next 3-8 books I’ll be reading will be on there as I’ve got 4-5 from the library 😀

    • Cassie says:

      I would never imagine you as a trashy romance reader but they is AWESOME! And good for you! I often email publishers for hard copies and they almost always oblige which is nice. It probably adds to my NetGalley problem though too. I wish I had a commute that I could read during.

  10. Yup yup yup this entirely. Deadlines kill the fun for me. My netgalley percentage is abysmal. It’s especially bad bc when I first started and had like no stats or anything I requested a whole shit load of stuff, whether I really wanted it or not. And, much to my surprise (and horror), I got accepted on most of them. So there are like 20 books from 2013 that have never been reviewed…. yikes. Also ebook reading gives me headaches now! And I’m only 23!! I guess I’m stuck with paper books haha.

    • Cassie says:

      Aw headaches suck! I feel ya, sister, it’s scary looking at that shelf sometimes. Definitely not an easy task to notice books from 2011 on there (mine, WAH!)

  11. 0thewriter0 says:

    I completely understand all of this!!
    I’m glad to see that other people have not finished all the books they requested. I felt so guilty because I didn’t manage to finish the book by the deadline that was given.

    • Cassie says:

      I still have 20 books on my shelf…. Some due in January. I haven’t gotten any better. Wah! Don’t feel guilty, you did what you could!

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Hi, I’m Cass

I am a writer, educator and genuine creative living on the coast of NC. Our house is built on sunshine with my husband BJ, dog named Tucker, and our two very sassy cats: Fromage and Jasper.

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