Friday, December 30, 2016

NetGalley, the professional blogger, the professional reader and me

Well, I know lots of writers crow about the wonders of NetGalley. So far, I am not in their numbers. I signed up with a co-op for a discounted, 2-month-long slot on NetGalley to introduce my latest historical romance, Dissent. I was not impressed. I should have known that it was going to be a wash when from Hour One things went south. For some reason, the site has a rating system for book covers. Thumbs up or thumbs down. Simple and telling. As I noted from Hour One of Dissent being available for review to bloggers and professional readers, the book cover got “thumbs down.”  Apparently, the folk with access to voting were feeling grumpy and a tad… biased that day. And for days to come. Can’t believe that the 30 votes the cover got, 22 were “thumbs down.” How? For such a beautiful cover. How? All I can think is that people disliked the thought of an interracial/ intercultural couple sooooo much that they voted down a portrait of one? Insecure much, ladies? And they say there is no bias in the romance biz? Yeah and I’m Elvis’ lost love child.  Plus, it was days after the presidential election. The Trump Effect maybe?

I have no intention of telling my cover illustrator the news. The young lady had poured her soul into drawing and painting that picture. Kirsten McKenzie is a talented artist and was so thrilled to be part of the project. See her website:  She’d never been asked to do that pairing in a portrait before and was pumped to do it. It’s sad that the female “industry professionals” (and I know they were female. A male will be many things, but in something as innocuous as this…only females stuck at the petty level would indulge) who voted, could be reactionary about a simple cover. I point them out because NetGalley prides itself on only catering to the pros, be they reviewer or blogger or “professional reader.” Whatever the hell that is. Regular readers aren’t allowed. Thing is one must have a following to get access to the books on there. Gotta have street cred to… review a book? Veddy, veddy interesting. I thought a working brain, a way to access the book and an open mind were enough. Umm? I’m so behind the times.

Anyhoo, my time with NetGalley ends Dec. 31st. And it was wasted time. WASTED. There were NO requests by any of those “industry professionals” to read the book. Not a one. I never received a single report showing the number of times the book synopsis was viewed, or the book requested. ZILCH.  Now if I get one next week, that’ll be a surprise.

My take? If you have written a romance with a broken NavySEAL, or a firefighter, or still yet another billionaire, or a New Adult MMA fighter/ex-con, or a Cowboy, or a Viking demon/vampire/angel/shifter – who are all into BDSM and pie—well, baby, you got it made in the shade! It can’t be snatched up fast enough for review.

So, no, NetGalley was a wash for me. Funny, because the “industry professionals” constantly lament that there is a dearth of historical romances with characters who aren’t the “default.” My book is, was, such a book. So where were the requests? I think they need to alter that lament to convey their true feeling. That they want PoC in historical romance but only if these romances are written by the “default.” Sorry. Gotta call ‘em like I see ‘em.

Lip service. Lip service. Lip service.   

The bright side to this experience is that a reader must have rushed and bought the book and read it to have left a 5-star rating at Christmas on Goodreads for my book. Goodreads of all places. Usually folk are brutal on there. It made me smile. Plus, several bloggers have Dissent slated for review in the coming year.

Thumbs down? Yep, NetGalley “professionals,” you got that and another choice finger from me.  

Don’t mind me. This was my experience with NG. Yours might be different. Especially if you have a romance with an angst-y, lost, ancient Viking firefighter who wants to do naughty things to people with his hose while eating pie.

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