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BEA has come and gone—a whirlwind of informational sessions, meetings with publishers, and saying hello to all of the amazing NetGalley members who stopped by to “like” our wall. Whew! Talk about an intense first week on the job.

For those of you whose hands I didn’t get to shake, I’m Kristina Radke, your new Community Concierge at NetGalley. Together with Lindsey, I’ll be answering your support questions (via email, Facebook [www.facebook.com/netgalley], & Twitter [@NetGalley]) and helping our publishers promote their titles to our members and incorporate digital galleys into their own campaigns. Before coming to work for NetGalley I worked at HarperTeen, where I did marketing for some really great YA books and used NetGalley from the publisher’s perspective. (I know for a fact that HarperTeen has an exciting fall list, so if you read YA keep an eye out for their new galleys.)

It was easy to recognize what a useful tool NetGalley is for publishers and professional readers alike. Imagine my delight in finding an opportunity to join this (quickly) growing company that connects readers and publishers, and begin interacting with such a wonderful community. All of your energy and positivity at BEA has further validated my excitement to join the NetGalley team!

And while we’re talking about BEA . . . congrats to the winners of our eReader giveaway! Each of the winners will receive either a Kobo eReader, NOOK Color, or Kindle.

Georgia Edwards, librarian & reviewer in Charlotte, VT

Katie Butler, Katie’s Book Blog

Bob Bettendorf, copywriting manager in Princeton, NJ

BEA can be a bit daunting, but your smiles and hellos made my first week such a pleasure. Thank you all for such a warm welcome!

Kristina, Community Concierge

Oh my goodness folks, BookExpo America is just around the  corner!

If you’re already a NetGalley member, you probably got our email last week about our BEA plans. We have an exciting update, so I wanted to share the details of our promotion with all you “follow the readers.”


“LIKE” NETGALLEY AT BEA & ENTER TO WIN A READING DEVICE!

By BEA, NetGalley will have over 26,000 registered members and 100 publishers–which we think is something to celebrate! Our theme for NetGalley at BEA will be “COUNT ME IN” and we hope you’ll join the fun.

We’re bringing our Facebook Wall to life by asking all of you to come by booth #3718 to “like” our booth wall using the cute “I heart NG” sticker you see here and below.

Plus it’s your chance to enter our drawing to win one of three eReaders! That’s right, now we’re giving away 3 devices:

Just announced: a NOOK Color—The Reader’s Tablet (thanks  to our friends at Barnes & Noble)

a Kobo eReader (thanks to our friends at Kobo)

and a Kindle!

Of course we want the fun to extend online, so you can also pose for a picture with your sticker on the booth wall, and we’ll post the pics on our NetGalley Facebook page.


CAN’T ATTEND BEA? WE STILL LOVE YOU!  

Show that you love us too by putting this sticker on your blog.

 

Plus, if you comment on our Facebook page during BEA Week (May 23-27), you’ll also be entered into the drawing for one of the eReaders!


And one last friendly reminder:

DON’T MISS US AT THE BOOK BLOGGER CONVENTION!

I’ll  also be on the Technology for Blogging panel at the Book Blogger Convention (at the end of BEA).

See my guest blog post for the BBC here. Follow the updates on Twitter @bookbloggercon.

If you’ll be there too, make sure to say hello!


Can’t handle waiting another whole week for all this fun to start?

In the meantime, check the NetGalley Features page for links to our BEA FICTION Preview and BEA NONFICTION Preview to see which galleys will be promoted at BEA. Request them now for a sneak peek.

That’s it for now–thanks, as always, for all your support. See you soon!

–Lindsey, Digital Concierge, NetGalley


BEA is quickly approaching and we at NetGalley are hard at work planning some fun promotions for our booth (#3718). More on that later.

But we’re also prepping for the Book Blogger Convention (at the end of BEA). I’m looking forward to being on the Technology for Blogging panel, and talking with all you bloggers!

The kind folks at the Book Blogger Con asked me to do a guest post, which ran today over on their blog. Since we all love to share great ideas, I’m posting it here too.

Follow the updates on Twitter @bookbloggercon and I hope to see you there!

Lindsey Rudnickas on New Ways to Build Book Buzz

Lindsey Rudnickas is the Digital Concierge at NetGalley, an online service and connection point for book publishers, reviewers, media, librarians, booksellers, bloggers and educators.

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We could talk forever about the philosophy behind building book buzz and how that’s changed—and changing. Just as the entire news world is adapting in response to the popularity of online and social media, so is the job of the book publicist/marketer. The key, I think, is to be creative, open to new ideas, and willing to experiment.

So along those lines, I’ll keep from philosophizing and instead give some real-life examples of how we’ve seen NetGalley publishers being creative in their book buzz efforts.

Utilizing social influencers and Twitter:

We had a publisher partner with Klout to offer a digital preview copy of a highly anticipated title (via NetGalley) to 100 pre-selected key influencers on Twitter, in exchange for tweeting about the book to their followers. It was very cool for us to learn about what Klout does, and to see this publisher interacting with some of their biggest fans in a meaningful way. The concept of rewarding people who were both interested in that title and also influential in book circles is something more publishers could easily replicate in other ways (outside of Klout or Twitter).

Certainly, it pays to know your audience—and to use them to help spread buzz. And of course in your own Twitter efforts, it’s important to be focused in your messaging and tweet with relevance—we definitely try to! With a current Klout score of  57, @NetGalley is always looking to keep our audience engaged and extend our reach, and we appreciate your help! :)

Connecting with bloggers:

The idea of a blog tour can be immediately exciting to many authors and publicists who run into logistical hurtles when planning a traditional book tour (high costs for travel, coordinating special shipments of books to arrive in time, scheduling events with various stores all with their own full calendars, and bringing in a big enough audience at each venue to make it all worthwhile). How enticing an idea—to stay home (in your PJs if you feel like it!) and follow a schedule of virtual Q&As/interviews/guest posts directly with bloggers. We’ve seen how fast buzz can build and spread across dedicated book blogs, and we love to see publishers taking advantage. One publisher used NetGalley to promote a special campaign to bloggers to help spread the word about authors who were touring (both physically and virtually). In exchange for a blog post about the author, book, and tour, the blogger would receive an exclusive sneak peek of another forthcoming title via NetGalley. Win-win!

Engaging with online reading communities:

Publishers don’t have to look far to find pre-existing communities of dedicated readers who can’t wait to talk about the books they’re reading. Sites like LibraryThing and Goodreads are an awesome resource and a way to connect directly with fans. LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program in particular is a great tool that awards advance copies of books to LibaryThing members in exchange for a review. LibraryThing uses their special algorithm to match the most deserving readers with the right titles, and publishers benefit from all that pre-publication buzz. We love when publishers use NetGalley to make the process even easier (and environmentally friendly) by fulfilling those Early Reviewer copies digitally. Not only does this allow the LibraryThing member to read the title on their favorite device, but also keeps the publisher from being restricted to only offering as many printed galleys as they have left in their office.

They can even have the best of both worlds—offer some print galleys and then fulfill the second-tier of requests with digital galleys. We saw another publisher do this with a trade advertising campaign: through a trade newsletter ad (like Shelf Awareness, PW Daily, etc), the publisher collected requests for a particular galley. When they ran out of printed galleys to send, they provided an auto-approved link to view that galley via NetGalley instead. We loved to see how many more readers were given access to the galley because the publisher utilized the digital option, too.

Plugging into the NetGalley community:

Here’s the shameless plug portion of this post! With the new “NetGalley Features” newsletters, publishers are promoting their forthcoming titles to professional readers (reviewers, bloggers, media, librarians, booksellers, and educators) who have expressed interest in that genre. NetGalley members who love Romance titles are excited to hear about the newest romance galleys that have just become available, and publishers benefit from tapping into their pre-existing reading preferences. Plus, we announce which galleys were the Most Requested from that each newsletter—just as you can sort our entire catalog of galleys by Most Requested.

Those are just a few recent examples that caught our eye and made us smile—but we’re always open to new ideas! We thrive on finding new ways to incorporate digital galleys into buzz campaigns and are continually inspired by publishers and bloggers alike.

We’re back!

We must apologize for the absence of new posts over the last few months. As you may know if you’re a NetGalley member, your Digital Concierge (me, Lindsey) went on maternity leave earlier than expected in late November, and this blog went on leave right along with me! Luckily we found great help in Sarah, who served as your Digital Concierge while I was out. Now I’ve returned to my post at NetGalley and we’re ready to give you an update.

Here’s what NetGalley’s been up to over the past few months:

  • Finding new ways for you to read digital galleys. Thanks to the Aldiko Book Reader app, Android users can now read NetGalley files on their devices. Have questions about using your iPad, iPhone, Kobo, Literati, Nook, Sony Reader, or other device with NetGalley? There’s a page for that!
  • Telling you about new titles. Currently we have more than 940 titles listed in NetGalley’s public catalog, and new galleys are added all the time. We send out periodic updates about our new titles, so make sure you’re signed up to receive our newsletters for your favorite genres. Plus, you can now view past and forthcoming newsletters on our NetGalley Features page. We’ll soon be announcing the Most Requested titles, so check back to see if it’s your favorite!
  • Helping your requests get approved. We asked publishers what criteria they use to determine whether to approve or decline galley requests. Wondering what publishers are looking for? Check out this new page BEFORE you request to better your chances of getting the galleys you want.
  • Getting to know you — our members. We closed out 2010 with 15,353 registered members of NetGalley (today, just three months later, we’ve surpassed 20,000 members!), and we took some time to look at what that number means:
    • Reviewers – including bloggers – make up almost half of our members (49%). Another 16.5% are librarians, and 11% are part of the media. Booksellers make up an additional 11% of our member community, while educators accounted for 9.7%.
    • When new members join NetGalley, we ask them to indicate which genres they’re interested in. Literature & Fiction is the most popular, but only by a little bit – Teens & YA is close behind. Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, and Romance are next, followed by Nonfiction.
    • NetGalley members made 80,945 requests to view galleys in 2010. It’s probably not too much of a surprise to say that reviewers made most of those requests – 63.9% of them, to be precise.
    • Our members downloaded 45,422 galleys last year. Almost half (46.9%) were DRM-protected files downloaded with Adobe Digital Editions. 29.1% were sent directly to members’ Kindles, and 11.2% were DRM-free files.
    • And the result of all of those readers, requests, and downloads was a mountain of reviews sent to publishers via NetGalley: 7972, to be precise. That’s a 17.6% return on approved galley requests.

So that’s the latest from the NetGalley world. I look forward to connecting with you!

Happy Reading,
Lindsey

Digital Concierge
NetGalley

Thoughts on Innovation

The mark of any good conference is how much conversation goes on about it after it is over. Last week in San Francisco, the Internet Archive hosted a conference that this year they called “Books in Browsers“. This was the second such conference held by the Internet Archive. Last year, I don’t think it had a name, but the overall effect was similar – it was nearly impossible to stop thinking about it or talking about it. On Twitter, the hash tag #BIB10 is still very active, and the mailing list Read 2.0 (also hosted by Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive) has enough fodder to keep it buzzing for the next 6 months.

There are some great accounts written about the meat of the conference by Kassia KrozserPatrick Brown, and Jeff Kaplan (and a special thanks to Eric Rumsey for pulling it all together). I encourage you all to read them.

However, the big take-away for me was about innovation in general. Leaving the conference (both years), I had a feeling similar to the one I had as a kid leaving the Year 2000 exhibit at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. Believable fantasy was made into reality (or at least a prototype). Not everything I saw in 1964 is with us today, but some of those innovations are, and some of them took a long, hard road to get here.

For example, the video phone. It was a huge hit at the Worlds Fair, and AT&T went and built it, but the market wasn’t ready, and it failed miserably. But today, how many of us use Skype to communicate with close family over long distances? When you add in the eras of video conferencing and online meetings, you can see how this concept of communicating on multiple levels was way ahead of it’s time in 1964. But, the vision put us on a road to where we are today.

Back to #BIB10 – Many of the presentations gave me the same feeling. Some of them were BIG ideas, and others were very practical. Bob Stein’s much debated social reading platform was one of the big ideas, as was Brian O’Leary’s Unified Field Theory of Publishing. (Please allow me one quick aside – How cool is it that Bob Stein, a hero-innovator in electronic publishing is back creating controversial debate about reading?). Some ideas were innovative on a much more tangible level like Joseph Pearson’s Monocle software platform that is (it seems to Joseph’s surprise) powering several reading programs, or Kevin Franco’s transmedia demonstration. These were only some of the presentations, and I’m only citing them here for the purposes of making a point.

The good news: This all relates to the world of reading, writing, publishing, and experiencing the power of the written word.

I could write a tome on the examples of innovation I witnessed, but below are some tenants I came away with. What would you add to this list?

1. Innovation is often not a brand new idea, but one that expands upon an already given belief. (Social Reading)

2. Innovation is often a solution to the problems caused by limits of another technology. (Pandamian, Monocle, IBIS Reader)

3. Truly great innovations are often so ubiquitous that we take them for granted. (Goodreads, OLPC)

4. Broad based excitement about an innovation has a shelf life, after which the excitement is kept alive by only a few. (OPDS)

5. Innovations become great ideas only after they achieve success in their market. (Kobo).

6. Anyone can be an innovator, anyone willing to follow through on the execution of an idea. (Richard Nash)

7. Lack of mass market acceptance does not kill the innovation, it just puts it into obscurity. (Bob Stein and the original Voyager work)

8. Innovation is often not new, it’s just something happening outside our sphere of being. (Voyager Japan)

9. Innovation often isn’t sexy, but paves the way for the movement of larger ideas. (EPUB, HTML5)

10. Innovation often requires doing things for the sake of doing them, and deferring the idea of ROI. (FrancoMedia)

11. Sometimes innovation isn’t tangible, but a concept whose time has come. (Brian O’Leary’s unified field theory, Dominique Raccah‘s immersion vs. extraction reading talk)

12. Sometimes the greatest innovators are the ones who pull all the rest of them together! (Brewster, Peter)

thanks!

A Change in Direction

An open note to all steady followers of Follow The Reader:

This week the NetGalley team got together to review the state of the company and where we are heading in the future.  We are very excited about the future of NetGalley and the potential it has for both publishers and readers.  We feel that the concept of electronic galleys has passed a critical point of acceptance by many professional readers, and that we are not far from a time when printed galleys will be reserved for special situations that cannot be duplicated by simply passing along a digital file.

Having said that, we took a long, hard look at this blog and the role it is playing toward us achieving that mission. We decided that the blog needs to move in new directions.  In the the immediate future, this blog will be much more tightly aligned with NetGalley.com, with a few smattering editorial pieces related to technological innovation in publishing and reading.  This is still “Follow the Reader”!

I sincerely want to thank Kat Meyer and Charlotte Abbott for their passion and diligence in helping to further the conversations between the professional reading community, voracious readers, authors, and publishers.  The corpus of their work will remain on the blog for any future reference or research.

While their contributions to this blog will cease, Kat & Charlotte have yet to determine what, if anything, they want to do about the weekly #followreader twitter chats.  They are free to continue them if they want.  Please be in touch with Kat (@katmeyer) or Charlotte (@charabbott) directly for any questions related to those chats.

Thanks,

Fran Toolan

As publishers experiment with digital galleys and book reviewers gradually get up to speed with new e-reading devices, the question of how to protect digital information without hassling the reader is moving to the forefront.

For some publishers, the simplest approach is to dispense with digital rights management (DRM) altogether and just trust the reviewers. That’s what Carina Press, the digital-only romance imprint of Harlequin Books, decided to do when it began offering digital galleys and press kits via NetGalley (click here for a catalog of available titles).

Since Carina aims to build their brand with romance bloggers rather than traditional professional reviewers, the advantages of going DRM-free were clear. For one thing, their galleys are more easily accessible on any number of mobile devices, including the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and BlackBerry. Plus, digital galleys from Carina carry no expiration date, which means reviewers can access them long after the publication date for the book.

To find out more about why Carina chose to go DRM-free, and how it’s working out, we talked with digital marketing specialist, Carly Chow.

As a digital-only publisher, how do you use e-galleys in your promotion strategy?

Since we don’t have print galleys, digital galleys are really important for promoting our titles. A lot of traditional reviewers, like Publishers Weekly and print media, are less inclined to review our titles, so we’re looking to non-traditional reviewers to get the word out.

How receptive are reviewers to digital galleys?

Digital-only publishers are quite new, and there are not a lot of them, so we’re doing a lot of brand-building at this point.  People are wary of e-books, but when they discover that ours are comparable in editorial quality to what Harlequin is offering, they will often try other galleys from us.

What types of reviewers have been most attracted to Carina Press titles since you began offering them on NetGalley last June?

Romance bloggers are very active on NetGalley, as well as GoodReads and LibraryThing, which are a close second. We’re finding that a handful of reviewers will go on NetGalley, then post reviews on GoodReads or LibraryThing. Often, the reviews say they got the book from NetGalley, so other reviewers see their reviews and go to NetGalley to get a review copy. LibraryThing has an early review program, but we haven’t used that yet.

Can you give me an idea of your overall constituency of NetGalley reviewers at this point?

Carina Press has hundreds of reviewers, but less than 1000 so far. On the Harlequin side, they have more than 1000 reviewers on NetGalley– the biggest group is bloggers, followed by librarians and then booksellers.

When do you release your e-galleys for optimal review coverage?

We usually put the book up two to three weeks before the pub date. Some reviewers read and review it the same day I upload the title, and others will review it a month or more later. Online, it’s a bit of free for all – bloggers will review things published 30 years ago, and books published this month. Since they’re not obligated to review, we can’t force them to do it in any particular timeframe.

Are you getting any specific feedback from your reviewers about how they like DRM-free galleys compared to galleys with DRM?

I handled the NetGalley program for Harlequin, which has DRM protection on its galleys, and by comparison, I’m getting fewer complaints from reviewers about the process of transferring Carina galleys between devices. In my experience, DRM can make transferring a title from an e-reader to a desktop computer or other device a little harder.

Are you getting any feedback on the ePub files you’re offering, since they are supposed to provide a better reading experience because the text reflows according to the device?

We were one of the first publishers to offer ePub files on NetGalley, but I haven’t heard people saying they love it. On the other hand, we’ve have had fewer complaints from reviewers that the print size of our galleys on their e-readers is too small.

Do you have any sense of which DRM-free formats are most popular – e.g. iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Sony Reader, Kindle, etc?

Personal computers seem to be the most popular device for reading digital galleys. With so many e-readers coming on the market, and prices dropping all the time, people seem wary of investing a lot of money in an untested device. Kindle seems to be the most popular, because it’s been around longer. The iPad is coming up slowly, but it’s hard to say how fast things will change or where they’ll end up.

Which of your galleys have been most popular on NetGalley?

Our paranormal titles do very well in NetGalley. Several of our top five titles are in that category, such as Dark and Disorderly by Bernita Harris and Allegra Fairweather by Janni Nell. Other popular titles are Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacer, Panther’s Lair by Esmerelda Bishop and Motor City Fae by Cindy Spencer Pape.

What effects do the dynamics of online discussion have the promotion and sales of your books?

Romance is getting more attention than it used to. Bloggers are reading and reviewing the books quickly, and they can review as many as they want, GoodReads and LibraryThing great for generating word of mouth. People trust other people – if 7 out of 10 reviews are good, they trust it more than one critic at one magazine.

NetGalley helps us reach more bloggers than we would have known about otherwise. Bloggers drawn in by books from other publishers can easily find ours too, because of the ways the books are tagged.

It’s also easier for me to find blogger reviews – they send us their reviews using NetGalley, so it’s easier to find than by searching the whole Web.

Do you think you might offer any incentives to frequent reviewers on NetGalley?

We only started offering galleys on NetGalley last June, so it’s a little early to say for sure. But we’re looking into an incentive program for frequent reviewers.

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