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Is NetGalley Worth It PRT II: The Cost 

Is NetGalley Worth It PRT II: The Cost 


This is PART 2 in our NetGalley Is It Worth It series. Read Part I1: Reviews Here

Everyone reads reviews so you’d think the only way to sell your book in an oversaturated market is to get reviews. But the problem is most people only want to read what their friends are reading or they want to read what everyone else is reading so they can all talk about it and be 'social' whatever that means.

Somehow reading has become a social thing. This is weird considering back in the day (i.e. the 90s and before) people would often read a book and then put it on the shelf. The end. A colleague or a friend might ask what are you reading? Then they’d respond with ‘Oh I heard that was good’ or ‘haven’t read that one’ etc…or maybe if you were 'social' you were part of a small book group. Now Influencers (ugh!) work hard to cultivate a ‘book nerd’ image yet only want what the trad. publishers or their Facebook groups are selling so they can stay popular and play nice with the algorithms.

So again, how do you get your book read as a no-name author? Reviews! Everyone knows if you can get enough glowing reviews maybe your book will go viral and you’ll become an overnight success. So how do you get those reviews? Hassle people? Spend hours you don’t have networking? Some people have no problem doing this because they are online all the time anyway. But for people who work or have an actual life offline, they don’t have the time nor do they want to spend their free time gathering reviews one by one. This is where NetGalley swoops in and says they can take care of the hassle for you, get your book read, and get you reviews before your book launches… all for a price. 

Keep in mind there are cheaper options out there similar to NetGalley but NetGalley is the biggest game in town and is used by the big publishers. This seems to lend it some credit, like, well if it’s good enough for Simon & Schuster it's good enough for me. Having a modest goal of only collecting a hundred reviews or something seems like it's doable. Okay, you decide to invest in NetGalley to try and get your book read. What does that look like?

As An Indie Author NetGalley gives you a pay per title plan. This allows an author to list 1 book for 6 months. This will set you back $550. This is just the bare bones. If you want to make your book a ‘featured title’ which means it will show up on the ‘Featured’ page you have to fork over an additional $150. 

So you’re already $800 in the hole (ouch!) That is if you did everything else yourself and didn’t pay for editing, formatting, or a book cover. How likely are you to make that $800 back in book sales? Not very. Sad, but most unknown indie authors publishing will probably make less than $100 this is because 1) people don’t like to pay for stuff like books anymore. It’s considered risky or luxurious to most to spend your hard-earned $25-35 dollars on a 150-page paperback by an unknown writer. 2) If you publish your book on KDP through Amazon you make $0.0043 (that's in 2022) in comparison in 2015 authors would have made $0.0058 per Kindle page read. So that is going down not up. Yes, you get paid less than a penny per page so if you have a novella forget about it. For perspective: I had a 179-page novella read on Kindle which amounted to about $.55.

There is also the idea if you spend it they will come- hint: they won’t. The truth is most books aren’t that good. Even books that have thousands of reads are often the product of an industrial marketing machine like Penguin or they are by an author who has been out there hustling and selling their ass on Facebook. A survey found that the average income for self-published authors rose 53% in 2022 over 2021, reaching a median of $12,749, which is still below the poverty line. You would make more money working full-time at a fast-food restaurant than publishing a book. Keep in mind, that number is extremely generous, I’ve spoken to my fair share of indie authors and most are lucky to sell a hundred books. It’s tough out there. If you’re getting into writing for the money, you’re making a poor life choice, both literally and figurately.


As a small press, what will NetGalley Cost you? Surely you get a discount right? We did the math and for us, the discount was slightly less than using the pay-per-title plan. We chose to go with a year-long contract as part of our Let’s Try NetGalley experiment. 

Our contract is a 12-month contract. It cannot be canceled. As you’ll see there is a crazy high ‘set up fee’ which is bullshit since you set up your account and post all of your titles yourself. So I assume a ‘set up fee’ is just a little extra chunk of change for NetGalley. The minimum number of books you can list with a contract is 5 at a time. You can negotiate to add more if you want but not less. 

Here is the break down from our NetGalley contract: 


It's probably the most expensive worthless thing you can buy as an author or small press. We got a 10% 'discount' for being an Aussie press but they also give discounts if you're part of the IBPA and probably misc other things. This is more than likely just a tactic to make you feel like they are doing you a favor of some sort considering the lack of quality control they have when it comes to reviews... Refer to our blog about the uselessness of NetGalley reviews post to read more.  

Keep in mind this overpriced subscription doesn’t include any extras. If you want extra advertising or want to have your book featured that will cost you several hundred more as referenced by this cheery flyer we got in our newsletter reminding people to spend more. 


Our first round of NetGalley books is set to be released in June 2024, so we’ll see if any more reviews roll in that transfer to sales, but at the moment it's bleak. NetGalley is clearly priced for large trad. publishers who can afford to fork over 5-10k per title without expecting much in return.

 At the end of this year, we might explore the less expensive options to compare results but  I don’t feel it premature to say the NetGalley Let's Try It experiment tells us that it's an overhyped service that is not worth the money for indie authors or small publishers. 

So far we've got just about as many reviews from our ARC reader list as NetGalley and our ARC list has given us the most articulate reviews as well. The lesson? Build an ARC reader list for free and give your books to people who actually want to read what you’ve got. 


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