What to Do When You DNF a NetGalley Book

Person sitting surrounded by books and looking bored

Deciding to DNF (an abbreviation for ‘did not finish’) is an occurrence that most bookworms are familiar with. There are a lot of reasons why a reader might DNF a book or audiobook, and those reasons will come in handy when deciding how to approach your next course of action. 

First, take a look at this flowchart to get a sense of whether you should submit a review on a book you DNFed or if you should elect to not submit feedback.

Tip: Keep this chart handy if you find yourself with another DNF.

Now let’s go over some commonly asked questions about DNFing on NetGalley:


What are my options after I DNF a book or audiobook?

After you decide to not finish reading/listening to a book on NetGalley, visit the book’s title details page and select ‘Give Feedback.’ As shown in the flowchart above, from there you have two options: you can either select I will not be giving feedback on this title in the upper right corner, or you can submit a constructive review explaining why you decided to DNF the book.

If you elect to not give feedback and later change your mind, you can return to that book and leave a review.


Will Not Give Feedback FAQs

What happens if I select ‘I will not be giving feedback on this title’?
You’ll be taken to a page where you can select a reason why you are unable to submit feedback. This includes reasons such as Did Not Finish, the book being archived before you could access it, and more. You can also provide more details to the publisher here.


When should I elect to not give feedback on a NetGalley book?

NetGalley members are strongly encouraged to provide feedback for the books they access. However, we know there are legitimate reasons why you may not be able to submit feedback.

In cases where you are unable to access the book or did not read enough of the book to offer a constructive review, you may elect to not give feedback. Remember that if you encounter a file or download issue you can reach out to our support team for assistance.


Can I see an example of how to use the ‘I will not be giving feedback on this title’ form?
You can find one here!


Will I be penalized for not submitting feedback?
Members often worry that using the Will Not Give Feedback option will reflect negatively on them, but from the publisher’s perspective, the distinction is very clear between a book left unreviewed versus one that was marked as Will Not Give Feedback. So while it’s true that not submitting a full review will leave one more book without feedback in your Feedback Ratio, marking it as Will Not Give Feedback shows the publisher the reason why and likely will not reflect negatively upon you when it comes to request approvals. In many cases, the Will Not Give Feedback option is used when there is a reason the member could not read a book through no fault of their own.


DNF Review FAQs

When should I elect to review a book that I DNFed?

As shown in the flowchart, there are many times when you can review a book you DNFed. Even if a book didn’t fit your personal reading tastes, there’s a chance it may appeal to other readers, and your review could help them discover it. For a book that you didn’t finish, try to provide constructive feedback about why you did not finish, and/or suggest a potential audience for that book.

A good trick to remember when deciding between not providing feedback for a DNFed book and submitting a review is to think about who you most want to leave a message for. If you want to share a note with the publisher about the content of the book not seeming to match the description, elect not to submit feedback. If you want to speak to fellow reviewers in a way that will still be helpful for the publisher, submit a review.


What should I write in my DNF review?

Make sure your review includes details about why and when you stopped reading. Constructive feedback should explain in detail how you felt about the content/story itself. Describe how you felt about different elements of the book, both positive and critical, but in a non-aggressive and thoughtful way. Constructive feedback offers actionable advice and includes specific examples, possibly with locations in the book noted. You can find more about what your review should and shouldn’t include here!

When it comes to leaving a star rating, consider the same factors (positive, critical, and everything in between) that you did when writing your review.


Am I penalized for submitting feedback on a book that I DNFed?

Publishers are looking for thoughtful feedback on the books they share on NetGalley. When submitting a review or opinions on a book you DNFed, the most important things to remember are to be honest about where you stopped reading and why, and to ensure that the feedback you’re submitting will be valuable to fellow reviewers and to the publisher.


How does a DNF review help the publisher?

If you’re reviewing an ARC on NetGalley, it is not the final version of a book and your early feedback has the potential to impact the finished version. Both positive and critical reviews are incredibly important. A publisher can look at the feedback you submitted and keep it in mind for an author’s future books, as well as other books that they acquire, edit, and market. 


Can I see an example DNF review?

Of course!

First, here is a DNF review that is not ideal because it is too short and does not offer any information about when the book was DNFed, why the reviewer stopped reading it, or who a more ideal audience might be.

A review that reads: I didn't enjoy this book. DNF.

Now here is a review that tells us exactly when this reader stopped reading, explains what their expectations were and how they were not met, shares a brief overview of the plot, and offers recommendations for who might be better suited for this book.

A review that reads: Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book. I want to state upfront that I did DNF this book at 40% after realizing I was not the intended audience for it. This book is about twin ghost hunters who become trapped in the underworld. Based on the book cover I expected this to be for an older YA audience, however the characters read younger than that. I do think readers who enjoy young YA and older MG stories will find a lot to love here. I had hoped for something spookier and darker. I did enjoy the depth of the characters. They all felt like nuanced and real people. However the pacing of the book felt far too fast and didn't allow the more poignant moments the author was creating to properly shine. Overall, this book was not for me but I do think that readers who like not-too-scary ghost stories with younger protagonists may enjoy it.

Check out our review writing tips here and find more ARC FAQ answers here!

NetGalley Tips

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.

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