A Beginner’s Guide to NetGalley

Ever wonder how everyone else gets free books to read and you don’t? Ever wonder what exactly an ARC was, but you’re too afraid to run the risk of sounding stupid on the internet? Well don’t feel afraid to ask any question as there are no stupid questions. Only stupid answers, right? 😉

While it seems like some book reviewers/lovers/readers always seem to have an endless supply of free reading material, you gotta understand that they’ve probably been in the internet reading game a lot longer than you.

There’s absolutely no way I can claim to know all the ins and outs of the internet book world, as I’m still learning things myself one day at a time. But there’s one free book service I do know something about, and I’m going to share what I know about it in today’s blog post. Let’s begin.

Let’s start with a few points right off the bat before we get into how to navigate NetGalley.

NetGalley Truly is Free

Well, it’s definitely free for readers. I don’t know if there’s a fee for the author/publisher accounts. But it truly is free to sign up and free to use. There are no hidden fees to request books or leave reviews, so your only obligation is deciding whether or not you’re going to finish reading a book.

Multiple Reading Options

There’s the NetGalley Shelf App, a download to PC option, or you can have the titles appear in your Amazon Kindle. I’ve always opted for the Kindle version, but it is a bit tricky to set up (at first). I’ll go into that a bit more once we get to that part of this post.

It Can Get Overwhelming…At First

Don’t be afraid to explore or request, but if you’re anything like me, then if you’re approved for multiple titles, I find I am very quickly overwhelmed. NetGalley categorizes everything, so if you’ve got a few favorite genres, stick to those so you’re not fully overwhelmed right off the bat. Go slow, take your time, and understand that you’re not going to be able to read everything you request. It’s entirely up to the publisher/author if they’re going to gift you an advanced copy.

Step One: Sign Up and Set Up

The type of account you choose depends on how you plan to use NetGalley. I am going to assume you’re going to be a reader, so select the “Become a Member” option. (For I have no idea how this site works if you’re a publisher or author). Next, you’ll be prompted to register:

As with any other site like NetGalley, just go throughout the form and fill in what’s required. Note: When you reach “Member Type,” pay attention to the option. They have bookseller, book trade professional, educator, librarian, media/journalist and reviewer. Even though I run a blog and this is where the majority of reviews end up, I still chose “reviewer.” I do believe “media/journalist” is specifically for those who are actually in the field.

Finally, confirm your email and set up is done. It’s that easy! Let’s move on to Step Two.

Step Two: Explore the Dashboard

Okay, we’ve reached the fun part. This is where you can see all the books available for request. There are hundreds of titles within each category. However, this is also where things can get a little tricky.

It won’t be easy getting approved requests. At first. I think they do this purposefully as to not overwhelm new readers. I know I already touched upon this above, but I think it’s an important thing to remember. You don’t have to hit the ground running. It’s okay to take things slow and see where it goes. But I digress.

The Dashboard is where you can see what type of an account you have, new titles added, and what books are on your shelf. You can also search for titles and specific authors here.

After you explore your Dashboard, click on the Shelf option:

Here you’ll be able to see all the titles you’ve been granted access to. You’ll see the book’s Publication Date, Archive Date, and the date on which you downloaded it. As you can see, I’m a bit behind on my reading, but that’s okay! I refuse to let myself get stressed about it (which is exactly what I did the first time I joined NetGalley)! Before you even explore this page fully, decide first how you want to read your ARCs.

Step Three: Decide How You Want to Read

Amazon Kindle

I know the Kindle app isn’t everyone’s favorite thing, but it’s how I decided to receive my books. I’ll also admit that it took me probably longer than most to figure out exactly how to do this.

Click your name in the top menu bar; should be the first option on the right hand side. It will then take you to the “About You” page where you can fill in your categories, add your blog/website, and what topics interest you. I keep forgetting to finish filling out this section myself! Do you see where “Devices” is located? You’re going to want to select that if you’re planning on downloading and reading books through your Amazon Kindle app.

From here I’m going to cheat a little bit and suggest you refer to NetGalley’s Device Guide. They’re the experts on these next steps. What I appreciate is the fact that they have more than two or three reading options, so they really do make it easy for anyone interested in using their service. There are the NetGalley Shelf App, Kindle, iOS phone or tablet, Android phone or tablet, Kobo eReader, NOOK or computer options. If I went into how to set up each one this would be a very long blog post, indeed. So once you’ve decided upon your reading method, follow their steps and then move on to this post’s Step Four: browsing and requesting.

Step Four: Browse and Request

Ahhhhh the fun part: browsing. It’s not the same as if you’re in an actual bookshop, but the chance to read books before they’re published is the next best thing. Navigate to the “Find Titles” link and you’ll see examples of all the books/genres available. You can narrow things down by favorite genres, or you can select a specific genre to search within. I’ve yet to touch Cookbooks or nonfiction, but those are next on my own list to explore!

Note: I am viewing and screenshotting everything from a “squished” version of the site. The interface looks a bit different when it’s full screen.

One of the easiest ways to get started is by browsing the “Read Now” option. These are books that have been pre-approved for everyone to read. But NetGalley has a very wide selection of Categories to choose from: everything from comics and graphic novels to horror, true crime and romance. Audiobooks aren’t my thing, but if they’re yours then you can read that way as well.

Okay, so you’ve found a title you’d like to read. Let’s discuss Requesting.

Step Five: Requesting Titles

So I mentioned above that I wanted to explore more cookbooks and nonfiction, right? So I’m going to select on that looks most interesting:

Okay so this looks like a really fun book. I actually personally own a Harry Potter cookbook, and I also love the Princess Bride film. I want to see how this author interprets recipes for this movie. Select the green “Read Now” button:

Now this particular titles seems to be approved for everyone right off the bat. Still, choose your reasons why you want to read/review this title and select “Read Now” again.

Looks like this book is only available in the NetGalley Shelf App or via download. Let’s find a title you have to actually request in order to read.


Go back to the Find Titles Page and search up a book for review. Got one? Okay, select it and you should see that blue menu pop up again to the right.

Okay, good. We’ve found one we need to request. This one has a pub date of June 27th, and its brief description is also there. You can either click “See Full Details” or do what I’m going to do and just select “Request.”

Ah, there we go. That menu looks different, but the routine is somewhat the same. Select what appeals to you about the book and click “Send Request.” Once clicked, it will take you to this page:

Congratulations! You’ve requested your first book! Now the waiting game begins. Sometimes approvals will come through super fast, and other times you’ll wait so long you forgot you requested anything at all. That’s the key to NetGalley. Not everyone will be approved to read everything, so don’t be too disappointed if you were denied an ARC of a book that really interested you.

Step Six: Finding Your Approved Titles

Oh, what’s this? You’ve already been approved? Let’s go and find your approved titles, then. Navigate to “Your Shelf” where you should see a number in an orange box. This means you have items waiting for you.

Scroll down to your list. Mine is incredibly short (LOL).

This is easily the, well, easiest step in the process. Now normally my Kindle icon would be in that far right column after Archive Date. Since it’s not, I’m going to choose the Download option. You can either select Download (the round icon) from this page OR select the book title:

Add the book to your chosen device and read!

Step Seven: Read and Review

We’ve reached the last step: Reviewing! Okay, well, you gotta read the book, first. I’m just going to move on and assume that you’ve read it and now ready to share your review. Go back to Your Shelf and select, from the blue bar menu, “Give Feedback.”

Do you see the book you selected earlier? On mine it’s THE UNOFFICIAL PRINCESS BRIDE COOKBOOK. Select the green “Give Feedback” button in the last column on the right.

This page is pretty self explanatory. You can either choose to review the book or select that link to the top right that says “I will not be giving feedback on this title.” This option is reserved for those who changed their minds or couldn’t finish the book for whatever reason. It also gives you a space to explain why you chose to DNF the book. Let’s assume, for this post’s purposes, that you enjoyed the book and want to share your thoughts. Fill out the fields, select how many stars you’re giving it, and scroll down to the next available options.

If you have a blog where you review books, you can add a link to your review here. If you connected any social accounts to your NetGalley, you can share directly as soon as you hit “Send Review.” Now all you gotta do is wait for the publisher to approve your review on their end. That is a downside to reviewing through NetGalley: publishers have the power to approve or deny your review. I don’t let it bother me, though, as all my reviews are shared via this website. If they don’t like your opinion, that’s a “they” problem, not a “you problem.”

The most important thing to remember with NetGalley is to not let it run or ruin your life. Have fun with it, don’t stress out about it, and if you can do that then you’re already winning. You don’t have to read everything you’re gifted, either, especially if you found that you bit off more than you can chew for that month. Books are meant to be enjoyable. Once you find that to be no longer true, then maybe let your NetGalley account go for a couple of months and see what happens. But if you’re looking to review books from multiple resources, then NetGalley is a great one to add.

Just remember: if you’re reviewing books that were gifted to you via NetGalley, always, always make sure you say where you got the book. Especially if your review goes out before the book’s publication date.

Happy reading!

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Budding #historian. Writer of #adventures and #sciencefantasy. Lover of mushrooms and libraries. Fan of #chocolate, #books and Pennsylvania history.

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