The Truth About NetGalley’s Feedback to Approval Ratio – Straight from the Source!
Hey folks! That’s right, after our awesome discussion about NetGalley’s reveal of users’ feedback to approval ratio, I decided to write to them and get the facts about some of our concerns. (Psst, if you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, check out the link, it explains it all :D.) NetGalley’s own Tarah Theoret wrote back with some great information about how NetGalley’s expects publishers to use a reviewer’s feedback to approval ratio.
What NetGalley Says About the Feedback to Approval Ratio
(Note from Anya: I’ve added some emphasis of points I think are good to know in case you skim ;-) )
NetGalley: Before I jump into your specific questions below, I wanted to clarify one important point: NetGalley members are never required to share Feedback for the titles they read on NetGalley. Publishers understand and expect that members may not choose to share feedback (through NetGalley, or at all) for a variety of legitimate reasons.
The ratio we provide as part of your profile is intended only as a guideline, and a reminder that your feedback and recommendations are critical to the commercial success of the titles you read. Keep in mind that there are many other elements of your Profile that are important to publishers, especially your Bio, professional associations, genre preferences, and links.
1. Invitations counting as approvals – We noticed that however many invitations that we received on NetGalley seems to be counted in our approvals number. Since often a reviewer has no interest in a book they are invited to, this can lead to a reviewer’s ratio being negatively affected through no fault of their own. Have you thought about not including invitations in the approval numbers?
NetGalley: First, one point of clarification: If you are invited to view a title via a NetGalley email invitation widget, but do not accept that invitation by logging in and viewing the title record on NetGalley, that invitation does not count as an approval.
We find that most email invitation widgets contain a description of the title, similar to what you would see when requesting a title from the catalog, since publishers are often using these widgets as “pitch” emails to solicit key contacts to review the title, interview the author, or purchase the title for their store or library.
The publisher’s ability to invite a reader to have instant, pre-approved access to a title is one of the most important interactions for reviewers. A significant number of NetGalley members receive many invites from publishers (and request very few titles) and if we didn’t count those invites towards the ratio then we would unduly penalize those with strong publisher or author relationships.
We are considering how to revise the stats readers see on their dashboard, to add more information. If you have specific suggestions, please comment on this post and let us know.
2. Ratios over 100% – Several of my readers commented that they have ratios over 100%. At first we thought this might be due to them giving feedback on invited galleys, however since it appear invitations currently count towards approvals, that wouldn’t put them over 100%. Do you know what in the system leads to this?
NetGalley: You may remember that we completely re-launched the site in October 2012, so there are a small number of established member accounts that have accumulated feedback for titles that have long been deleted from our system. This will not happen with newer accounts. If you are a longstanding NetGalley member, we hope you’ll accept this idiosyncrasy in return for the many new features, speed, and ease of use of the new site!
3. Galleys that are not published yet – Many reviewers get approved for galleys that are months away from being published. It’s perfectly reasonable from the publisher’s standpoint and the reviewers to wait to read and review those books until it is closer to their publication date. However, if the reviewer has been approved for many such books, their ratio will be lowered. Since the point of the ratio seems to be to indicate a reviewer’s reliability to publishers, counting books that haven’t yet been published seems to be counter to that goal. Have you thought about not counting an approval until the publication date has passed?
NetGalley: As noted above, the ratio is only a guideline! It will definitely fluctuate depending on where you are in the review process for a particular title. This is why all of the other elements of your Profile are equally important.
Many members submit their feedback to a publisher before publication date, since this gives the publisher an opportunity to use the review in their marketing of the title, and potentially interact with the reviewer for author tours, events, etc.
Of course it’s entirely up to you how you manage your TBR list, but we find many members read and submit their review to the publisher immediately, and then schedule their blog post, article, etc. closer to the on sale date. This helps many bloggers, in particular, keep their TBR lists under control and then they can schedule their reviews for their site weeks or even months out. It also allows reviewers to have more time to work with publicists to schedule giveaways, author interviews, etc.
(Anya’s aside: I’m definitely jealous of those reviewers who manage to keep on top of their NetGalley TBR list, I’m still working on that willpower ;-) )
4. Mistakes from years ago carrying forward – A few of my commenters explained that their ratios are being dragged down considerably because the reviewer made the mistake of requesting many galleys years ago before they realized it would count against them. Several of these commenters testify that they have been reliably reviewing galleys for the past year or more, but their ratio will never reflect this positive turn in their reliability. Have you thought about showing both a ratio overall and a ratio for only the past year to give reviewers the chance to show they have changed their behavior?
NetGalley: Your ratio will never count against you. It’s not uncommon at all for new members to request and be approved for a lot of titles when they start—the whole “kid in the candy shop” scenario! We expect that we’ll continue to add many different tools for members to view their activity, and for publishers to find members who are the most likely to love, recommend and review their titles.
5. Galleys that no longer accept feedback – Finally, one reviewer commented that they can’t actually go submit feedback on some of their old galleys even though they have since read and reviewed the books. I haven’t been able to confirm this is the case, but how do you suggest dealing with galleys that are from years ago and don’t seem to be accepting feedback anymore?
NetGalley: There are a few very, very old titles that fit this behavior. Please have the individual contact us directly at email@example.com so we can help.
What This Means for You
Wow, thank you so much Tarah for all that information since I think a lot of us were under the wrong impression about some of it! What I’ve gleaned from this research is:
- The rest of your bio matters a lot, especially if you have a bad feedback to approval ratio! Make sure you’ve got all your stats (pageviews, followers across all platforms, years blogging, Amazon reviewer rank) posted in your bio so that publishers can easily get full picture of you as a reviewer.
- You don’t have to accept invitations that you aren’t interested in and then they won’t count towards your approvals. Let me know if that doesn’t seem to be the case for you!
- NetGalley and publishers have at least some expectation that you will review a galley soonish after receiving it, even if it isn’t published for a while (*gulp*!).
- NetGalley is hopefully going to be rolling out lots of new shiny stat-trackers for us moving forward, yey!
- If you aren’t able to submit feedback on an old galley, NetGalley wants to help you so email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There was a fair amount of discussion on the previous post about reviewers not noticing difficulty getting approved even if they didn’t have the recommended 80% feedback to approval ratio. NetGalley has definitely confirmed that is how it’s supposed to be! Whew, what a relief. While it’s always something to shoot for, if you haven’t had trouble getting approved in the past, you don’t have anything to worry about. I can imagine that this does vary by publisher and individual publicists though, so it never hurts to have as high of a ratio as you can manage ;-). Now I just need to convince my numbers OCD brain to chill out >.>. I turn everything into a game, haha.
Do you have any specific ideas on stats you would like added to your dashboard and profile? Any questions about the feedback to approval ratio that I forgot to ask? What has been your experience with your feedback to approval ratio?
Happy galley reading!
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