E-Galleys – Lost Sales, Gained Publicity

I’ve had people ask me why I think it’s good to give out free books instead of selling them. Having been a reviewer, I know that regardless of my opinion on the matter, publishers want reviews and will send all kinds of things to reviewers in hope, even if the reviewer hasn’t published a review in years. (Having served on an award jury, I also know that publicists will send books on the mere off-chance that they might be suitable for consideration, even if they only squeak into the award category by a whisker.)

Also, galleys are intended to reach reviewers before the book’s release date. Sales during a book’s first month on shelves are extremely important. (I’m considering them separately from bookstore orders, which happen far in advance.) Better to have the online buzz start early and continue throughout that month. If the reviewer has to wait for release day, she doesn’t have as much time to read and review.

I don’t know if free books lead to lost sales. But consider: what if those reviewers, in other circumstances, had never heard of the book at all? Better a slim chance of a review, reaching potentially thousands, than leaving it to fate.

Since I don’t know how much longer galleys will be available, this post is also to serve as a reminder that The Duke and the Pirate Queen is now on NetGalley if you’re a reviewer who’s registered with the site. The catalog of Harlequin galleys. You don’t have to review for magazines or a blog to register; you’re eligible if you only plan to review books on GoodReads, Amazon.com, etc..

If you’re curious about the service, here’s the FAQ. To me, it seems like a good idea just from the standpoint of being Green. Publishers who are making their galleys available in electronic form are not printing galleys, many of which would end up being discarded. And, hopefully, they can reach reviewers who prefer electronic reading, or who might not have been receiving review copies previously.

Here are some excerpts from the book:

Excerpt from the opening chapter.

Second excerpt.

Third excerpt.

Fourth excerpt.

Amazon link for pre-ordering print copies.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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9 Responses to E-Galleys – Lost Sales, Gained Publicity

  1. Dhympna says:

    I think you have to have a blog of some sort (although I could be wrong) for Netgalley. I know they also asked me for my Twitter ID. I have discovered quite a few authors that I would have normally not have tried. I don't think ARCs or galleys lead to lost sales. I have actually spent more money because of them.

    I also used to work in a bookstore and had quite a few ARCs sent to the store. Those ARCs are directly responsible for a few UF series I read and cannot seem to give up. ;)

  2. Victoria Janssen says:

    I checked and at least some of the galleys can't be requested until the requestor fills out their profile, so there is some tracking involved.

    But even if there wasn't, I don't feel it's that different from giving out large numbers of books at conferences and such.

  3. Jeannie Lin says:

    I think it's up to the publisher for what's required for approval. I think anyone with a blog was able to get a copy of Butterfly Swords. I don't see it as a lost sale and do agree it's like giving out large numbers of books at conferences. For a small release where there is no bound galley, Netgalley gives an opportunity to actually get the book out. Especially since authors themselves only have a small number of print books to send out.

    I think for the big name releases, the publisher gives away more copies than we ever sell!

  4. Victoria Janssen says:

    I think for the big name releases, the publisher gives away more copies than we ever sell!

    I agree.

  5. Dhympna says:


    Yup. I believe any publicity is good for a book. Well, there are examples of bad publicity, but that is due more to behaviour rather than the book itself.

    It is very hard for authors to cut through the noise of other books.

  6. Victoria Janssen says:

    I am now envisioning a crowd of books yelling and waving clever signs on sticks.

  7. Dhympna says:

    Well, some authors do sort of act like that on Twitter and Goodreads. Unfortunately for them, a hard sell like that does not really work.;)

  8. Miranda Neville says:

    I agree with everything said in favor of giving out books. I do wonder where it could go if everyone on Goodreads can get any book for free. Not a problem now, but if it got out of hand, and pubs were approving thousands of NetGalley downloads, they might have to tighten the qualifications.

    Another question. If an author gives you a book, are you more likely to feel the obligation to praise, or at least not trash it, than if the nameless publisher OKs you on NetGalley?

  9. Victoria Janssen says:

    If an author gives you a book, are you more likely to feel the obligation to praise, or at least not trash it, than if the nameless publisher OKs you on NetGalley?

    Nope! Though a skilled reviewer can give their honest opinion without being, well, rude – it helps me to remember that books I loathe are loved by others. Unless one makes a career out of being cutting, it often turns out to be a bad idea, I think, leading to more trouble than it's worth.

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