My Experience with NetGalley, BookSirens, and BookRoar - Which of Them Was Worth It?
Updated: Apr 6
As we all know (at least the majority of us), trying to be seen as an indie author is an uphill battle. Over the course of the last two years, I have tried Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon ads, running giveaways from both my Facebook and Instagram Author accounts, free book giveaways through Written Media and Goodreads, to try and bring notice to my books, and not much has seemed to work.
I have had over 1,000 downloads for each of my books that I have featured through Written Media, I have seen a few book sales from people buying the second or third book from the ones that are part of a series, but I have only received a few ratings and no reviews. And although ratings are nice, a 5-star rating can do wonders to boost one’s ego, readers are looking for reviews. They want other readers' opinions of your book so they can determine if this new indie author is worth their time. Needless to say, there have been times that I wanted to give in and hang up my Author’s hat.
But not one to give up easily, I continued my research on finding ways to reach more readers, and back in the Fall of 2021, I found out about a few other sites where I could possibly put my book out there and see if I could get the reviews I was seeking. The first was NetGalley, the second BookSirens, and the third BookRoar.
With NetGalley, placing your book on their site, which boasts having over 450,000 readers, for six months will cost you $499. Luckily I was able to go through a co-op. NetGalley co-ops are essentially independent book publishers and some book editing services, that purchase subscriptions through NetGalley who, in turn, turn around and sell a portion of that subscription to you.
I was able to take advantage of one of these services, Victory Editing. Victory offers packages of $50 a month or $450 for a year. Being new to NetGalley, I chose the 1-month package of $50 for the month of December for my realistic literary fiction novel The Edge of Discontent, published October 1, 2021. I uploaded both the epub and pdf version of my book to the site.
NetGalley allows the option to list your book as Private, Read Now, or Available for Request. Private means that the people you invite are the only ones who can read and review your book. Read Now allows any NetGalley member to select your book. Available for Request allows you to vet each person who is interested in your book. Say, for instance, the genre of the book you uploaded is sci-fi/horror, and the person who is requesting your book states in their bio they like to read Fantasy and Romance novels, you may choose to decline their request for your book thinking this reader may not be a good fit.
The option suggested by Victory Editing was to list my book as Available for Request. However, halfway through the month, I made the book Read Now, hoping to find more readers. By the end of the month, I had 331 impressions, and 37 people clicked to read. A few of the requests were from librarians and bloggers. To date, from the 37 people who choose my book, I have only received 4 reviews and 2 social shares. Two of the reviews were posted on both NetGalley and Goodreads, one was posted on NetGalley, Amazon, and Goodreads, and 1 was only posted to NetGalley.
All in all, my experience with NetGalley wasn’t great. I did see a few books, mostly from established authors, that had tons of clicks and feedback while the book was still active. Also, I have read a few articles where readers have stated that they have become overwhelmed with the many free book options available to them on NetGalley. Something authors should take into consideration. Your book may be sitting, waiting to be read, at the back of a long line of other titles.
A few weeks later, after reading an article from another author who used BookSirens, I submitted a request to upload my book to their site. The company boasts over 20,000 book reviews and influencers. The cost to promote your book on their site for three months is $10, and you pay $2 for each person who selects your book. You are able to set a budget of how much you are willing to spend after uploading your title.
BookSiren’s initial response to me was that they were willing to accept my book; but, because the book had been published for more than 30 days, there was a chance it would not do well on their site. They explained that most of their ARCs were only open to reading books that had been published within 30 days or less, however, they had had an exception with one title in the past.
I figured that it was only $10 and if I could get my book out to new readers, why not. I uploaded an epub, Mobi, and a pdf copy of my novel The Edge of Discontent. I set my budget at $20 and the book went live on 12/27/2021. As of today, I have 670 impressions, 63 clicks, but I have not found any readers for my book.
Although I did not have a good experience with BookSirens, I would still recommend it to those who have recently published or are looking for feedback from ARCs before the book has gone live.
The last site is BookRoar. BookRoar is a review for a review site where you earn credits for each book you read and review. However, you are not allowed to swap reviews. Meaning, if I review an author’s book, they are not allowed to review mine in exchange–that way, you are expected to receive an honest review and feedback.
BookRoar is a little different from both NetGalley and BookSiren. There is no cost to the author for using BookRoar. You do not have to upload copies of the book, because anyone interested in your book is required to purchase it or read it using their Kindle Unlimited account. Added bonus, when your book is purchased and reviewed on Amazon, it is listed to readers as a verified purchase. With BookRoar, reviewers are required to upload reviews to both Amazon and Goodreads, with an option to upload to Bookbub. The reviewer has three weeks to read a book, unless they choose to return it, and they can also request more time if needed.
Once the review is submitted, you will receive an email notifying you. From there you can check both Amazon and Goodreads to make sure the review is posted and then confirm the review on BookRoar. Once confirmed, the person reviewing your book earns a credit allowing them to apply it to any of their titles, placing the book into a pool for other people to purchase and review.
I began using BookRoar in February after much consideration. I wasn’t sure if I would have the time to both write and review books. However, to date, I have written three reviews and received two. Although they are not verified reviews as the reviewers read the books using Kindle Unlimited, they are quality and honest reviews, exactly what every author is looking for.
Of the three sites that I have used, I would recommend BookRoar. Unlike NetGalley, I know that once someone has selected my book, I will receive a review, (unless they choose to return it) and it should be available within three weeks, not a few months, a year down the line, or maybe even never.
If you would like to share your experience with any of these sites, leave me a comment.