Publicity update

Two of the most exciting developments at the press in recent years were the addition of NetGalley for advanced reviews and Cision for media access. Here’s an update on both:
NetGalley is used to make our titles available for review in advance of release. Users on the NetGalley platform can access or request access to titles posted by publishers. NetGalley is marketed as a way to more easily access “professional reviewers.” Our experience has been a mixed bag. First of all, only about one in four reviews could be considered even close to “professional.” We are finding it has become a free book grab for the Goodreads crowd and other part-time bloggers. In fact, it appears less than half the downloaded copies result in a review. So, it can be a little frustrating. We’ve also seen a clear delineation between fiction and nonfiction results on this platform. Simply put, only fiction gets attention here. The response to nonfiction books is minimal at best, and hardly worth the investment. We will be redirecting our attention on NetGalley to use it only for fiction titles.
Cision is an online platform that grants access to the 1.6 million people in the USA who are involved in the media industry — television, radio, online, etc. We have enjoyed a solid response from this investment. A good number of our authors have been invited on radio or television programs and/or have been featured in articles or blogs. This is never easy, but it is much easier for us now. There are two caveats to this though. Overwhelmingly, this platform appears best for nonfiction authors. We have had numerous requests for review copies. But, fiction gets very little attention here. We are also not seeing much lift in book sales following interviews. We are a little puzzled by this, but will look for longer-term benefits as we use this platform more and more.
So, to recap, fiction authors will be directed towards the NetGalley platform while nonfiction will be primarily on Cision. Of course, there will be exceptions to this where it makes sense. For instance, a fiction author whose work is very timely regarding something contemporary or contains a nonfiction hook of interest are great candidates for Cision.

What Is NetGalley?

Forgive me if I moved a little too quick on this topic. It became clear in recent weeks that many of you were confused about our change in process and the importance of advance reviews. I’ll summarize the FAQs here for everyone:
1. What is a galley?
No, we are not referring to a Viking longship or a kitchen on a boat. We are referring to a “galley proof” which is an old printing term. It is common lingo in the book trade, referring to a version of the book prior being publication-ready, usually given out as advanced reader copies (also known as ARCs.)
2. What is an ARC?
No, we not referring to the large boat allegedly carrying the male and female variety of every species to safety during the deluge. ARCs are Advance Reader Copies — proofs — sent out prior to publication. They are synonymous with galleys.
3. What is NetGalley?
NetGalley is an online service that facilitates the distribution of digital ARCs/galleys to readers of all stripes — media types, reporters, bloggers, journalists, reviewers, etc. The reviewers promise to post a fair review in exchange for a free copy.
4. How do I sign up for NetGalley?
You don’t have to.  We, the publisher, are paying for the service and are submitting your books for you.  We will share the results with you as they develop, including who is downloading your ARCs/galleys. You are always welcome to become a book reviewer yourself and sign up for NetGalley, but there are currently no author-specific benefits or functionality.
5. Is there anything I, the author, must do?
No. But, it is a great way to get a bunch of emails of people who are reading your work. You can add this to your email list and build your platform. It is most beneficial if you send a gentle reminder thanking them for their interest and encouraging them to post a review. You might ask for a link.  If you stumble upon a very positive review, you might ask them for permission to use it.
6. Does this mean you won’t be sending physical copies anymore?
It means we will be sending fewer physical copies. Our policy is still in effect regarding review copies. We will send them to media outlets who promise a review. We also only send these after the book is released, and as we are able. These activities are a lower priority than processing customer orders. If you are an author who wants to send a good number of review copies, and/or do not want to miss any opportunities, we suggest you first point the reviewers to NetGalley while your book is active. We are paying a pretty good sum to do this for you. For those reviewers still wanting a physical copy in a timely manner, we suggest you use your author copies. We’re happy to replace any copies for reviews that appear in major media.

NetGalley Update

We’ve now had another month in NetGalley, building up an advanced readership. NetGalley promises about an 80% response rate from their readership. As I’ve said many times, getting to 50 reviews on Amazon is key to triggering the automatic cross-marketing on that site.  So, encouraging reviews is very important — especially advance reviews.
So far, however, we are not seeing anything close to an 80% review rate. It’s more like 5%. Of course, not all of the reviews are positive.  But, that goes with the territory.  What’s difficult is knowing if/when we are going to see reviews posted — and where we will find them.
Fortunately, NetGalley provides detailed information about the people who are downloading copies of your books. We are more than happy to share the names and emails of these potential reviews.  We have heard from NetGalley that it is most effective if authors send a polite personal reminder to please post an honest review.  You can even ask them to share a link with you when done.
We’re committed to using this service for a while longer but will not continue it if we don’t get positive results.  What I would expect is more reviews and discussion about our titles — and ultimately more sales than before. If this doesn’t happen, then it was a waste of time — and we gave away free stuff for nothing.
Here’s a list of titles that have been or are currently in NetGalley.  If your book is among them and you have not reached out to remind your readers, please send me a note and I will be happy to share an email list:
Redemption
Courtney Frey
9781620066584
Seinsoth
Steven K Wagner
9781620067161
Taking Lady Gibraltar
Dick Schwirian
9781620066508
The Journey Called Life
Christina Burns
9781620068519
The Mask of Minos
Robert Walton
9781620066836
American Berserk
Bill Morris
9781620068236
A Second Revolution
C James Gilbert
9781620068281
Chasing Understanding In The Jungles of Vietnam
Douglas Beed
9781620068021
Dead of Spring
Sherry Knowlton
9781620068434
Planet Jesus Trilogy
Douglas Brode & Shaun L Brode
9781620068458
The Silent Woman
Keith Rommel
9781620064412
Tigers by the River
Wylie Graham McLallen
9781620068045
What Waits Beneath
Thomas Malafarina
9781620067888

NetGalley Update

Our NetGalley service has been up and running for over a month. You can see in the production schedule what periods are reserved for each title. We are typically allowing a 60-day window for a book to be reviewed on NetGalley prior to being released. We are subscribed to permit up to 10 titles active per month.
So far, we have seen an average of 60 requests to read each galley. If reviews are generated from this at the rate NetGalley estimated, we should see an 80% review rate — or at least 48 reviews per title. You might recall Amazon needing 50+ reviews in order to start suggesting your book to other customers on the site.
We are hoping to see, by the end of the month, an average of over 100 readers per title. The names and email addresses of these potential reviewers will be available to you and could provide the beginning of a nice email list. I encourage you to send a personal note gently reminding each to post their reviews on NetGalley, GoodReads, and Amazon. Let me know if you would like a list of your reviewers.
You might notice we now are assigning fixed dates for releases. We have selected the first Tuesday of each month as our “Pub Day” when our releases for the month will be available to the masses. Why Tuesdays? Believe it or not, it seems to be an ideal day in the media industry for releases. We decided the first Tuesday would usually give us a window after the expiration of the NetGalley for each title. Please note, these dates are targets — estimates of what we believe the schedule will be. As we build more internal structure and process, we will get better at hitting these targets, but these dates are subject to change for a variety of reasons — the pace of editing, the availability of the author, changing priorities, etc. You will also note there are a few exceptions to the First Tuesday rule. If you have a specific date in mind, please let me know.
Lastly, all of this newfound structure has provided us with a window to offer titles for pre-order during the NetGalley phase. The various distributors require we have a finished product — or near-finished product in order to set up for pre-orders. This is now possible because we need the same materials for NetGalley. We have yet to see the impact of this, having only set a couple of titles so far. Regardless, as soon as your cover is designed and ISBN assigned, we are at least setting your title up in our eCommerce system. We will turn on pre-orders there around the same time.

NetGalley

NetGalley is the top online service for getting upcoming releases in front of reviewers all over the world. Publishers post ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) to be reviewed. Note that an ARC is not completely edited, but good enough for the reviewer to render an opinion.
Regarding NetGalley, this is expensive if you buy the service on an individual basis — $399 each!  Since we release 50 to 75 books a year, we opted for a subscription service that lets us keep a group of titles active. Individual ARCs remain active for a fixed period, and we are limited to how many concurrent titles we can have.
NetGalley subscribers are some of the key book reviewers in the industry. They will now be able to discover and access our galleys via their account and read (securely) a PDF, ePub, or Mobi version of the file.
Obviously, to implement this, our process must change. We will need to format the galley well in advance of release, perhaps after the first round of edits. Jen, Crystal and I will be discussing the best approach.
We will also need to manage the release schedule better in order to take full advantage of this. We will be working on this over the next month and sharing it in the next newsletter.
Some things to think about:
1) Not every book is suited for this service.
2) We have not tested the results, but so far our trial titles received dozens of review requests in the first three days.
3) We will have to decide the advantages of long lead times to releases versus short lead times.  It would seem we could easily integrate a 60 day window prior to release for most reviews.  However, a 180 day lead may not be possible or desirable.
At this point, there is nothing more for you to do as authors — and Sunbury Press will be paying for the service.