How often has a person's opinion hitched you up with a book? Not just the professional sources, like NPR's "All Books Considered," The New York Times Review of Books, Publisher's Weekly, but also your friend Fran who ADORED something and insists you MUST read it.
So you do.
As an independent publisher, I don't, as the Brits say, pull––not the household book reviewing names, anyhow.
Lucky for me it's a brave new world.
Instead of sending my book baby out to work the streets without any bona fides, I have options.
For instance, NetGalley. This is a service that hooks up reviewers, librarians, booksellers with Advance Readers Copies (ARCs or electronic e-ARCs). The publisher pays for the service and the reader gets a free copy in exchange for an unbiased review.
There are some hundreds of thousands of readers on the site, and if we know nothing else, we are sure that FREE is a magic word.
I joined a co-op (Victory Editing. Highly recommended!) and put She Taught Me Everything up for review for a month.
I selected the option where each person who wanted the book had to get vetted first. So for three and a half weeks, I spent part of each day clicking and assessing potential readers.
NetGalley gives publishers plenty of data about the potential reviewers: name, email, links to ALL of the reviews they've posted on NetGalley, plus their socials.
So my daily routine had its moments: I'll never again have the chance to shoo die-hard twisty-psychological-suspense fans away from my title, and here's hoping I don't have to again investigate whether a person is in fact an employee of Barnes & Noble.
Anne of Victory Editing recommended being brutally ruthless in sorting the asks. Go with your gut, she said.
Heard and acknowledged! If anything felt suss or sketch, I clicked "no."
So Madam Butterfly with 27K+ Instagram followers requested the book, and I notice that her Insty posts are focused on beauty care products? Nope.
Mr. Mixalot has over 5000 titles downloaded, but only 4 reviews posted in the last year? Nope.
Lady Snippet's reviews are unkind and brutal? Uh, no.
Prince Agu says he makes all the purchasing decisions at a bookstore and sets up monthly book clubs? Well, let's see. That would be a bookstore specializing in anime and used books in rural Pennsylvania, and his name is nowhere on the website? I think not.
For every yes, there was about one and a quarter no.
The results: according to the stats, 1700 or so people stopped to look at the title. Around 120 people downloaded the book to read. Reactions to the book, I'm very happy to say, are trickling in.
Reviewers post to the NetGalley site, but also cross-post with Goodreads, Amazon (after publication), Insty, TikTok, the X formerly known as Twitter, and their own reading blogs.
Here are a few of the early reactions. Squeeeeee.
I know the metaphor has flaws, but baby book can strut those streets a little prouder now, with a few references in her back pocket.