The INDIE FILES: SFWA’s NetGalley Program and You

By Jamie Lackey 

Everyone agrees that reviews are important for book sales and visibility, but getting reviews can be an uphill battle. Most casual readers don’t bother leaving reviews, and it’s hard to get the attention of new readers who do. That’s where NetGalley comes in. They connect librarians, booksellers, educators, reviewers, and bloggers with new books. And if you want one of those new books to be your book, SFWA offers month-long listings for just $40.00!  

SFWA can list up to ten books each month, and listings are available for SFWA members and nonmembers alike. If more than ten people request a specific month, we hold half of the open spots for members, and we prioritize speculative fiction over non-speculative books. Aside from that, listings are first come, first served. While most listings are for new or forthcoming books, listings are not restricted by age—if you have books in your backlist that you’re looking for new reviews on, you can put them up on NetGalley. 

Listings include the book’s cover, a description, and some other info to entice potential reviewers, like social media links and advance reviews. You can check out a sample page here. While your listing is live, in addition to requesting access to the book itself, readers can offer feedback on your cover with a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down system. NetGalley also provides four reports that we send out after your listing ends. Those include an overall breakdown of your listing and feedback, the reviews received, and a list of everyone who requested your book with basic info, including their email. Using that info, if a reviewer particularly loved your book, you can reach out to them directly when your next one is available. 

NetGalley also asks reviewers a series of questions that they share with the authors: “Are you interested in connecting with this author (interviews, events, etc)?”, “Would you purchase this book for yourself or a friend?”, and “Would you recommend this book/author to your audience?” are a few examples. If a NetGalley reader is interested in events or an interview, you can reach out and see about setting something up. 

All of that feedback can be incredibly helpful, especially for indie authors who have the ability to make cover changes or fix typos that snuck through editing, based on the feedback received. 

Most reviewers will also usually post their reviews on Goodreads, and some will post on Amazon. Not everyone who clicks to download your book will read it, and not everyone who reads it will enjoy it. A NetGalley listing doesn’t mean guaranteed reviews, and the platform does seem to attract some reviewers who revel in finding mistakes to complain about instead of providing useful feedback. And NetGalley will show your listing to potential reviewers, but it’s also always good to engage and share the listing on your own social media and other platforms to do what you can to get the word out. People who put more effort into sharing their NetGalley listings do seem to get more results out of them. 

Overall, NetGalley is a great way to get your book in front of people outside of your normal audience and hopefully win over a few new fans. If you’re interested in trying out SFWA’s NetGalley program for yourself, you can find the registration page here


Author headshotJamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their cats. She has over 160 short fiction credits and has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. She has a novella and two short story collections available from Air and Nothingness Press. In addition to writing, she spends her time reading, playing tabletop RPGs, baking, and hiking. You can find her online at www.jamielackey.com.