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The Truth About NetGalley’s Feedback Ratio

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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 support@netgalley.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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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*!).
  4. NetGalley is hopefully going to be rolling out lots of new shiny stat-trackers for us moving forward, yey!
  5. If you aren’t able to submit feedback on an old galley, NetGalley wants to help you so email support@netgalley.com.

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?

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings Happy galley reading!

-Anya

© 2013 – 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. I know you published this awhile ago, but it popped up in a Google search. I am stressing out because I have requested too many books/put them off. I mostly listen to audiobooks for my own books, so Kindle slows me down! I just wish that Netgalley would put the Archive date on the request page, so that I wouldn’t know when time was up before I hit request, so to speak! Because some books give me a month (even two) past publication date. Others at all. So, I really hate when I request a book and it takes forever to get accepted… so then I have 2 weeks to read 400+ pages and I can’t say, no thanks. I was afraid of the percentage thing, so I’m glad you cleared it up!
    Sarah recently posted…A Window Opens: What Matters in LifeMy Profile

    • No worries, I’m happy to talk about it still :D

      You don’t have to read by the archive date. You just have to send it to your Kindle before then, but then you can send feedback any time after and the publishers still appreciate it! I do hate it when they wait so long to accept or reject though, I once got approved the day before pub date, ugh!

  2. Great information! I was getting so annoyed by my ratio that I contacted NetGalley support for further information, and they did give me many of the same explanations you received. It’s definitely helpful to see all the info in one place. I’m someone who schedules my reviews months in advance, but I certainly don’t read or write them until closer to the publication date — so, since getting approved for a lot of books for the spring that I won’t provide feedback on for some time, my ratio has taken a big drop! One tip I’ve found helpful — for books you’re either not going to review or for whatever reason don’t plan to read, you can use the NG feedback form to let the publisher know your intentions, and this counts as having sent feedback. This can be handy, for example, when you miss the cut-off for downloads (speaking from experience here!) — in those cases, I’ve sent feedback simply to say thank you for approving me, and unfortunately I was unable to access the title. That way, it won’t lower your ratio.

    Thanks for all the terrific information here!

    • I hear ya, I keep trying to balance requesting books far off and getting at least some of them read sooner *sigh*. It was definitely helpful when I realized that I could send feedback other than a review!

  3. Very interesting! thank you for clearing this up for all of us. I think some were a bit worried. My rating was rather low but I have still gotten approvals so didn’t think it was make or break. though, being a type A personality, it really bothered me to see a low score. thanks for such an amazing discussion post!!
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Stephen King’s It in BlocksMy Profile

    • I completely hear you about the type A ness! I’ve also sort of made it into a game and I want the high score >.>

  4. There are some books that are approved so late, that they are already archived. I have some of them like that. Some I notified in the beginning. But, later, I just left it. Now, it also seem to count.
    Vidya recently posted…Finding Your Voice: POV and The Third Person ConundrumMy Profile

    • Ouch, I’ve never encountered that, but I do have some books infinitely pending. That’s something that it seems should be fixed, since I wonder if when a book goes to archive, you automatically get approved or rejected? Or publishers just get rid of the rest of their approvals right at the deadline?

  5. Thanks Anya; I had no idea about some of the points, so this post has been very useful.
    I’m in process of cathing up with my Netgalley TBR pile at the moment ;)

    • Welcome :D I hear ya, I’m hoping to get three books knocked off mine this week, then I have to jump back to physical books, sigh

  6. Very interesting info, and it’s great to hear it. However, I disagree that there are very few old titles that can no longer receive feedback. Unless I just happen to be getting incredibly unlucky and coming across damn near every single one. Which I doubt. I think there are more than are being considered. I should go through my approvals and find all the titles and let them know, because even though I might not be able to submit a review, simply saying, “Sorry I can’t review this because you didn’t allow Kindle access,” or “Sorry I can’t review this because I lost the file when my old Kindle died,” might go a long way in showing publishers that I’m serious about what I do and I consider that they’ve got expectations of me.

    Great info, though, and I really appreciate you digging into the matter.

    • I did discover a while back that after something has been archived, I have to put it on my shelf and then the option for sending feedback pops up. Is that the issue you’re running into? If not, definitely let them know since they want to help get that fixed.

  7. Thanks for sharing this information with us! Sure answers many of my questions :)

  8. Wow, amazing information!! Thank you so much for doing this I learned a LOT. I need to go check my ratio again… At least I know it’s not as awful as I thought if my ratio isn’t so great. I’d I’d the whole crazy request everything thing in the beginning. :)
    Diamond recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #21My Profile

    • You’re welcome :D Yup, publishers understand that we all go through that phase ;-) As long as you include the rest of your stats, you should be fine!

  9. I’m not sure how people post their reviews to NetGalley without posting to their blog first? The review page asks for link and such. Do they just post elsewhere online first? Like Amazon.
    Jennine G. recently posted…The Book of SecretsMy Profile

    • I post my reviews to BookLikes first (used to to Goodreads), and then include at the top of the review I send to NetGalley when the review will go live on my blog and what address it will be at when it goes live. I think it’s fine if you say that you will be posting to your blog even if you haven’t yet since publishers often say they want reviews close to the pub date.

  10. Thank you so much for taking the time to get this all sorted out. I’ve been really concerned about the invitation piece, to the point where I went back and filled out feedback for old invitations thanking the publishers, but telling them their titles were not the best fit for my blog. Glad to know there’s an easier fix for that.
    Shannon @ River City Reading recently posted…Guests on Earth by Lee SmithMy Profile

    • I’m so happy to help! I understand your concern. So on the ones you had already accepted, that helped your ratio right? Or were these ones that you hadn’t accepted? I honestly can’t remember what the three invitations that I received were, so I’m hoping I’ve reviewed them, but I can’t tell!

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for this information! A bunch of these questions have been rattling around in my mind for a long time. Thanks again…and did I say thank? ;)
    Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader recently posted…The Relentless Weekly Wrap-Up 10/27/14My Profile

  12. Thanks so much for posting this! I usually wait to post my review until closer to the publication date, but will go ahead and submit my reviews earlier from now on. Embarrassed that my ratio is so low, so going to have to work on bringing it up! And will definitely update all of my stats too! Thanks again!
    Alexia561 recently posted…My Book Haul (31)My Profile

    • Of course! I hear ya, I like to post my reviews close to the publication date, but it works all right for me to type them up and schedule them, then just copy that into NetGalley’s feedback form.

  13. Interesting post, definitely nice to hear about this from Netgalley themselves

  14. Jenn @ A Glo-Worm Reads says:

    Well this is definitely interesting! Definitely lets me know why my ratio is 180%. I’ve only been on NetGalley for a bit over a year I though, but it was before the site changed, so I lost a bunch of my approvals but not reviews. Makes sense.

    I just went to check and see how many books I have to review on there, two. Both are already read and the reviews are written on my blog. I know, I’m lame for being able to control the NetGalley addiction! ;)

    • That’s so interesting, it seems that I must have been around before the change, but I don’t remember it at all, haha. I joined in March 2012, you?

      Hehe, that’s awesome! You should turn in the feedback so that you have a perfect record :D

  15. My feedback ratio sits below 20%, and now I just feel too shy and ashamed to ask for any more ARCs at the moment.

    Thank you for clarifying the new rules!

  16. Thanks for sharing this info! My ratio isn’t too bad, but I’m glad invitations don’t affect it! I had 3 and I was worried about it messing it up. Now just to actually get approved for some books lol.

    • Haha, I definitely recommend including all the stats you can think of! I noticed a jump in my approval chances when I did that on NG and EW!

  17. Anya, thanks so much for taking the time to get this information for the rest of us! It’s always nice to have a better understanding of how the whole ARC process works and what the publishers expect :)

  18. Thanks for asking these questions, especially the one about invitations. I still think it’s completely unfair that invitations for books I never expressed interest in count against me, but now I know how to fix it. I’ll just be auto-deleting all invitation emails instead of taking a look. Like Christine @ The Bookish Daydreamer mentioned above, Roomies was long gone before I even got home from work and saw that I had an invitation. That’s fine (and I WAS interested in that invitation and will just buy the book when it comes out), but how is it fair that I’m penalized for not reviewing a book that was impossible for me to even download? While it’s clear that ratios aren’t everything, when you have a small blog like I do, you can’t afford missteps.
    Jenna recently posted…Review: Unbroken by Paula MorrisMy Profile

    • Yup, the invitations thing is kind of a double-edged sword and I can understand the arguments from both sides. At least now we know to just not click the button!

      Agreed, I want to be able to show publishers that they can rely on me to review a book that they entrust to me through my ratio :(

  19. Thanks so much for the information! Ever since NG put out the new stats and I could see how dismal my ratio was, I’ve been barreling through all my galleys to see if I could bring it up. I’m sitting on a nice shiny number right now, but I still notice that I’m declined by certain publishers. I’ll definitely update my profile, since I don’t think I have my stats in there. Hopefully that will help!

    • I know the feeling! I’m reading my outstanding galleys as fast as I realistically can, but I also have other review books that need my attention, sigh.

      Yes, you must put in all the stats you can think of! I was worried that I’d annoy them by putting in so much information but my approvals have skyrocketed since I inundated my profile with stats, haha.

  20. Great info, confirms some thoughts I had. I still have only been denied once in six months, ironically by a pub that sends me print stuff, and my feedback ratio is still around 50%. So I will stop worrying about it. =)

    Now, if I could only figure out how to get on some auto approve lists I’ll be happy, still get jitters if I see a book I REALLY want.
    Nathan (@reviewbarn) recently posted…Steampunk Reviews: ‘ The Lazarus Machine’ and ‘The Osiris Curse’ by Paul CrilleyMy Profile

    • It is so funny to see the different approval habits of the publicists that are in charge of NG, EW, and print ARCs since I have also been approved in one form and denied in another *sigh*

      I have only been able to get auto-approved on EW and didn’t actually realize that was a thing on NG until someone mentioned it, hehe. I’ve just kind of accepted that I won’t be auto-approved for a while but I have a pretty good likelihood of getting approved if I request fortunately!

  21. Oh this is awesome, thanks for emailing them Anya! =D I did actually work out how to submit feedback for an old galley, it just takes a bit of digging around and manually adding it to your shelf.

    Great to know that other things are just as important. I definitely had the whole kid in a candy shop moment… I only request books I REALLY want now, and am planning on reading several of them as soon as my books for Sci-Fi Month are done.
    Rinn recently posted…The Journey Home: World Building in The Lumatere ChroniclesMy Profile

    • I’m so glad to hear that you were able to submit that feedback! I recall a similar thing happening to me where I had to put the book on my reading shelf and then from there I could submit feedback. I have to admit that all their different shelves are a bit confusing and probably could be streamlined without losing functionality, haha

      Yup, it’s reassuring to know that most users go through that phase so publishers expect it ;-)

  22. This made me go looking at my approvals and ratings etc. You know what I wish!? That the ones you DO NOT DOWNLOAD – would not count against your rating. I think if you never download them – and it does show in your activity when you view it whether you do or don’t – that they should be removed from your stats entirely. But I know thats just a pipe dream.
    Pabkins recently posted…Review: Vicious by V.E. SchwabMy Profile

    • Yeah, I guess their rationale is that publishers can only give out so many approvals, so even if you don’t download the galley, it still counts against the publisher’s allocated number of copies :-/ That being said, maybe that shouldn’t be the case, but that gets into business things that I know nothing about, haha

  23. Since I first discovered the Widget invites IF CLICKED count against my approval numbers I have stopped clicking them entirely. I’m always auto logged into NetGalley so if I click it – it will accept it. This was all really helpful information! I love the new way that netgalley works and the user interface is so much better than it was a few years ago!
    Pabkins recently posted…Review: Vicious by V.E. SchwabMy Profile

    • I’m quite happy to know that it’s all about the clicking for invites too. I’ll pop over to Booklikes or Goodreads to find out about the book first and make my decision before clicking! I’m definitely a fan of the new user interface too and so excited to know that they are working on more improvements :D

  24. This is awesome. Thank you so much for asking these questions that have definitely been on my mind, as well as many others. I understand her over-emphasizing that the feedback ratio doesn’t matter necessarily but it is still really jarring. So far, I’ve reviewed every book I’ve been approved for BUT I’m one of the many many people who don’t start that book immediately upon being accepted. I have a giant review schedule and if that book doesn’t come out for months, I’m going to wait until closer to the release date to read it. I have too many other books that are coming out sooner that need to be reviewed. The problem with this is that my feedback ratio looks terrible because I haven’t gotten to those books yet. Yes, I will read them–I wanted to or else I wouldn’t have requested! But, because I haven’t read them yet and my feedback ratio reflects that, I’m worried that if I request a book now publishers won’t accept me. They’ll see how many I haven’t reviewed. They don’t know that it’s because those books aren’t getting released any time soon. They have no idea.

    Another problem I see with this whole thing is invitations that have a maximum number of downloads. I’m sure you know, but when I, along with hundreds of other people, got the invitation to “Roomies” by Sara Zarr I clicked the download button only to then find out AFTER it had been added to my shelf that I couldn’t download because the max had been reached. Even though I can’t download and read it, it is still on my shelf of approved. I can only assume that this means that book is now reflected in my feedback ratio of books I’ve been approved for but haven’t reviewed. I really don’t think this is fair. If I didn’t get a chance to download the book because it’s been archived, it should not show up on my shelf or in that ratio. I don’t know if NG has thought about that but I have.

    Sorry for making this extremely long. I’m glad somebody finally asked these questions!
    Christine @ The Bookish Daydreamer recently posted…Review: You Are MineMy Profile

    • I completely hear you on the packed reviewing schedule! I’m trying to switch between NG books and books with closer pub dates to fix this, but it’s just not possible sometimes :-/ I’m hoping that adding more stats, like the pub dates for your currently outstanding review books might help this.

      Wow, that’s a big problem with invitations! If that’s how it actually works, it sounds like it should be fixed. I can’t imagine that they want it to work that way D: Have you tried calculating your ratio with and without that invitation to see if it is factored in?

      Tarah said that she’d be reading the comments on this post, so hopefully they figure out a way to fix the invitation problems soon!

  25. This is fantastic information. Thank you for doing this, Anya. As someone with an over 200% approval ratio, it was awesome to find out exactly why. It’s because I’m OLLLLLDDDD.

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