A Publicist’s Tips for Being a Stellar Book Advocate

The NetGalley team wants members to have all the tools they need to succeed. That’s why I invited Estelle Hallick, the Publicity and Marketing Manager at Forever, to share what goes through a publicist’s mind during the request approval process, how new members can make their Profiles stand out, and tips for how to be a superstar book advocate.

Meet Estelle

Book you love to recommend: Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian
2020 release at the top of your TBR: The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
Book you’d love to see adapted: The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
Favorite fictional character: Dawn from The Baby-Sitters Club

Take us behind the curtain: What does the NetGalley request approval process look like for Forever?

I always start by looking at the Feedback Ratio; I sort the reviewer requests and start the approval process with the highest numbers. Since we get so many requests every day, 80% Feedback Ratio is a benchmark number for me. 

When I start to get below 80%, I begin reading through bios. I tend to give more attention to the people under 80% because I’m genuinely interested to know why they are requesting the title or what brings them to NetGalley. I hope to see that bios are updated recently, or within a year (to me, it’s an indication that they are active reviewers) and to see if they have a list of authors they enjoy. This helps me decide if they are a good fit for our titles. While Feedback Ratio is important to me, I remember what it’s like to be a new reviewer and try to consider newer members whenever I can–but it starts with a detailed Profile.

What are three common missteps that can lead to a declined request?

I look for Feedback Ratio, correct member type, and updated bio with working links. I see so many Profiles with inspirational quotes or information that feels a little like a dating profile. I love personal details, but, in order to catch my eye, the combination of personal and professional information is important.

Do you look for different information in NetGalley Profiles based on member type? 

Every member type should be as detailed as possible.

Bookseller: Where do you work? Are there book clubs at your store?

Librarian: What department do you work in? Are there any programs you run that would be of interest to publishers?

Traditional reviewer: What outlets have you written for?

Blogger: What street teams are you on? Do you organize any annual events on your platform? Do you cross-post? What are your stats?

Traditional reviewers and bloggers should absolutely include links to recent reviews or author interviews that they’ve done.

How often should members be updating their Profiles?

My hope is that reviewers are seeing continual growth on their platforms and want to communicate those updated stats with us. A good rule of thumb is to update whenever there’s something new to add–think of it a bit like a resume in that you want to provide your best and most up-to-date information. Put your best and most accurate foot forward.

We know publishers rely on member stats included in NetGalley Profiles when making approval decisions. Are there any specific stats you personally look for? (Psst, members: To find a publisher’s approval preferences, visit their Publisher page!)

For bloggers, I do look at social media platform growth. While I look at follower count, someone with a following of less than 500 (just as an example) won’t deter me from approving them. To me, it’s about engagement on the platform and how well posts perform.

Let’s talk about review etiquette. In your opinion, what are three important things members should think about when writing reviews? What do you recommend members do when faced with reviewing a book they didn’t enjoy?

First, I want our reviewers to be honest. Giving a book a critical review won’t mean you aren’t qualified to receive other books for review; if anything it makes it easier for us to understand what kind of books you do enjoy. (Reading is an extremely personal experience.)

Second, the most helpful reviews give a sense of the story but do not give away the entire plot. As a bonus, I love when you share if you personally identified with something in the story.

Third, timing. As a NetGalley member, you’re often able to read books well before they’re in stores or libraries. If you love something, don’t wait to share it! Early buzz is so important to authors and publishers. It also alerts other reviewers about the book. The one thing we ask you to keep in mind is remembering to share again on release day.

As an added note, please do not tag authors in critical reviews. Reviews are for other readers, and authors do not need to be alerted of them by a tag.

What can newer members, who may not have a high Feedback Ratio or strong blog/social stats yet, do to stand out to publishers?

New members should take advantage of “Read Now” books to grow their Feedback Ratio, and also give us a better idea of the books you like. Listing authors you enjoy (so we can think about comparable authors we have) and not overdoing the category/genre options would be a great help. I’d also love to see new reviewers share where they read reviews and their hopes for their review life–all great places to start.

Is there anything we didn’t cover here that you’d like to add?

As a NetGalley member, please be sure to read over the decline email you receive before contacting the publisher. A good letter will tell you why you didn’t meet the qualifications for this particular book. If you are still unsure, definitely reach out for specifics.

Thanks for chatting with me, Estelle!


Editor’s note: The above opinions represent the specific viewpoint and strategy of one particular publisher. Publishers and authors use NetGalley to help accomplish a variety of goals, and incorporate NetGalley into their overall marketing and publicity efforts in different ways. 

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.

    1. Glad you found the interview helpful! You can share your favorite authors in the Bio section of your Profile 😀

  1. Thank you for such a great interview! It’s really helpful. I wanted to ask; I post to Amazon on pub day, but it often takes them a while to approve it and I sometimes forget to come back and add it to the Netgalley review. But when I post to Netgalley I also put it on goodreads, my blog, and tweet the link. Will the lack of amazon links hurt my chances a lot?

    Thank you!

  2. Ok, One Estelle is delightful.
    Two. This is so very helpful. I wish I had this lovely list when I first started reviewing!
    Well done. Very, very well done.

  3. Hi Kelly and fellow chipotle eater:

    I am a voracious reader sometimes reading a book a day or every other day. I love, love, love books and I would consider myself fortunate to give my honest review on books not out yet. I have a good amount of friends on Goodreads and I will friend as many people as possible to read my reviews. There are sooo many great books coming out that I am dying to read. Where the Willows Weep is the first book I’ve been allowed to download and review. I have only 1 question for now and besides thanking Net Galley at the end of my review, how else do I find out who to thank at the end of my review. I can also update my profile to include Facebook for my reviews, where I have plenty of friends who love books. Thank you for this opportunity. I am so looking forward to doing this.

    Also I would love to do this as a job, since I have taken many English and literature courses and taught myself to read at age 3. I preferred books always over anything else and I think I enjoy cooking and movies as a close second and third. I am not adverse to reading any book, although YA and romance is not my thing, I did like Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Also I am just trying out fantasy, although I’ve been reading Stephen King forever, although I wouldn’t peg him as fantasy genre, rather than horror, but a lot of his work can be viewed as fantastical. Please consider me for book recommendations and if I could turn it into a career, would even be better, but right now I am happy to just read and give my honest opinion. I hope you’re expecting my honest opinions because I don’t judge very harshly but I’d like to think I do not give out 5 stars readily and the book would have to COMPLETELY blow me away, 100%. That’s not to say, I would hold back on 4 stars, and I’ve yet to read a book that I absolutely abhorred enough to give out 1 star, although I wouldn’t hesitate to if it were that terrible.

    I have 2 book ideas myself, but they have been on my mind for 20 years or so. I wish I wrote the one idea I had on the current opioid crisis, because 20 years ago, I would’ve been ahead of the game, and now everyone is all over that topic. My other idea I’ve also had for 20 years but I’m not ready to share it, unless I have the right publishing company behind it, for it will take a lot of work and other people’s trust because it has to do with other people, including myself and it requires very personal information that some people may not be willing to share.

    Anyway, I’m way off topic. I feel blessed to be a part of this. So my original question is who do I thank at the end of my of my review besides net galley. I am so very excited to do this!.

    Ann Marie

  4. Thank you so much for the insight and tips regarding Netgalley.
    I’m an avid reader and have been my whole life. Whether reading under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping, as a child, or staying up way past my normal bedtime now as an adult , a book is always near.
    I’m excited to see exactly what netgalley is all about.❤📚📚📚

  5. I have done many reviews on NetGalley. I have always waited until the publication date to start the NetGalley process, because I’m not sure if I can go back on the publication date (or whenever Amazon turns loose of my review) and add links. Is it possible to go back in a particular book review and add links or should I just stick with doing it all at once?

  6. Estelle, thanks for the tips. Even though I’ve been a lifelong reader and have done many book talks for my students, this is my first adventure into writing reviews for others to read. I’ve just been invited to join a committee to select my state’s award books. I have a list to help me get started, but I’m also free to suggest other books to my co-members.

  7. Estelle, I really appreciate the information you have provided. Your tips are great, especially about condensing the types of genres enjoyed and also looking over the publisher’s list and focusing that a bit, too. So, you are my favorite person today.

  8. Thank you Estelle! I appreciate you detailing what goes into a professional, respectable, and helpful review. As I am fairly new to NetGalley, your advice is extremely helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

2 + 20 =

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for book recs, interviews, and favorites from our editor.