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Writing About Reading and Writing: The Netgalley Experiment

I’ve posted before about my experiment with my own memoir, Fragile, and Perfectly Cracked, my story of giving birth to a stillborn son as well as dealing with subsequent infertility problems.  It was a labor of love for me to get this out there.  I’m currently working on my first novel, which involves time travel (because I’m a history nerd, yo) and I’m excited to get it out there.  But my memoir was something I had to do for me; it was inside and needed to come out.  I’m torn on what kind of marketing to do with it.  It’s about infertility and miscarriages, and with 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in a miscarriage, and women waiting until they’re older to start families (which affects fertility) the market sadly isn’t going to dry up any time soon.  But at the same time, this was more about me needing to get the story out there, and trusting that it will find the right people who need it to help support them.

Thus, like I said, I’m torn on how much to market it.  But, I do want it to become a resource for women who are experiencing miscarriages or infertility, so here’s where I’m at right now.

Sophie Wyndham (that’s me – the name I used for this project to keep it separate from my other writing) has a guest post in a popular motherhood online magazine in a few weeks.  She also started doing some pretty heavy marketing to libraries, which didn’t really do anything (live and learn).  Finally, I joined the Independent Book Publisher’s Association so that I could get the NetGalley discount they offer.

If you don’t know NetGalley, here’s why you should:

It’s a community of avid readers, reviewers, bloggers and librarians who request “galley” copies of books in order to review them.  The way you’d pick up pre-pub physical copies of books at a book fair or librarian conference.  NetGalley just makes it way easier because you can send the book straight to your kindle and don’t have to ship books home from the conference floor.

I first discovered them at BookExpo a few years ago, and signed up as a librarian.  I immediately started requesting books, and was getting approved for some amazing titles that I was anxious to read.  I would go on to goodreads or amazon and leave reviews of the ones I liked.

NetGalley does charge a fee to make your book available.  That seems fair to me.  They’re doing a lot of tech work to have it seamlessly go to the kindles of thousands of people, and those people are professional readers who may buy and/or review my book.  Like I said, the Independent Book Publisher’s Association has a discount program which almost pays for the fee to join IBPA (and IBPA has many many many other benefits and marketing opportunities).

Between the cost to join IBPA and the fee to NetGalley, I was down about $500.  Not a bad deal, really.
I chose a package with NetGalley that would have my title included in an IBPA-branded email.  I knew what these looked like, having received them.

So here’s what I’ve received for my money so far:

  • This newsletter mailing in which I am at the bottom, but the biggest.  It only went out on 8/25, so I haven’t received a ton of feedback yet directly from it, but the newsletter was delivered to over 20,200 people.
  • 4 really lovely reviews on Goodreads.  Even the 2 star one was quite nice.
  • A quote like this that I can use from someone I don’t even know: “Although I knew what this book was about from the title, the emotions that this book left me with was staggering and it has kept me thinking about it long after I had finished it.”
  • 1 review on Amazon so far

As far as I’m concerned, given that it’s only been a little over a week and the book will be available on the site for 6 months, I feel quite good about the money I’ve spent on NetGalley so far.  This is a little memoir that I scribbled down in the course of about 3 weeks, and then edited and paid to have formatted nicely, and like many self published authors I’m just thrilled that people are reading it.  This 68 page memoir is filled with the raw emotions of infertility and pregnancy loss, and it’s graphic and uncomfortable.  I made it like that on purpose, because frankly, pregnancy loss is also uncomfortable.  That’s a giant pet peeve of mine.  We talk about it like, “oh, she lost the baby” the way she lost her keys at the grocery store.  No, losing the baby means a lot of blood and a lot of cramps, and some very painful physical sensations.  It should be referred to in a more honest way.

But I digress.

This is where I am with NetGalley now.   And I’m still thinking about how much effort I want to put into marketing the book.  I suppose I’ll see what some of the reactions are after the mothering piece comes out.

In the meantime, if you have a book you’ve self published, consider getting it onto NetGalley.  I’m not being paid to say that.