When NetGalley added feedback to approval ratios to profiles, there were a lot of questions, and in my case at least, there was a moment of sheer terror. Like a lot of bloggers, I went absolutely crazy with requests when I first signed up, and I also didn’t really pay attention to archive dates, so an awful amount of books I got approved for got archived before I got to downloading them.
My NetGalley ratio is nowhere near the recommended 80%, and I’m determined to increase it drastically this year. I know I’m not the only one whose approval ratio is lower than they’d like (though mine is pretty horrifically bad), so I thought I might as well do a post on HOW I’m planning to increase it in case it helps anyone else who wants to work on their ratio.
I’ll be using screen shots from NetGalley with made up numbers just for the sake of easy maths and explanations.
Step 1 – How bad is it, really?
There can’t be a plan for improvement until you know just how far you’ve got to go, so the first thing I did was take a deep breath and check my exact approval ratio. For those of you who aren’t sure how to do this, log in to NetGalley, go to your dashboard and click the little arrow next to your picture. Scroll down until you see this:
- The most obvious is where it says ‘Yours is 25%’. On your profile, it’ll obviously have a different number, and this is your feedback to approval ratio right now.
- The number of approvals (in the example screenshot it’s 200)
- The number of pieces of feedback you’ve submitted (In the example it’s 50).
Okay, so now you know your current feedback to approval ratio, what’s next? (Hint, the answer is NOT get depressed about the fact you’ll never catch up and go on a requesting spree).
Step 2 – How far have you got to go?
Remember how I said the number of approvals and the amount of feedback you’ve submitted were important? Here’s why:
You need to know how many reviews you have to submit to hit 80%!
Sure you could just keep reviewing until you get to 80%, but that’s not much of a plan!
This is where my favourite tool comes in: Excel! (you could of course use Google Docs or something similar, but I’m confident with Excel’s formula)
We’re going to use the first sheet of the workbook to:
- Find out how many books you need to review to get to 80% (and smaller milestones)
- Find out what each review is worth as a percentage
Here’s what my sheet looks like to do that:
I’ve called Column B approvals, and all three rows contain the number of books approved (200).
Column C is called % and I’ve put in a formula to tell us (exactly as it says) what each row is worth as a %. The formula for row 2 is: =SUM((A2/B2%)) [just drag it down to lower rows].
This first section tells us that 50 books is 25% (as NetGalley currently says), but also what 1 book is worth as a percentage (a lowly half a percent) and that two books are worth 1%.
Next we want to work out how many books we need to review to get to 80%. To do that, I’ve filled column E with various percentage targets (make sure to include the % symbol for the formula to work), and to work out how many books I need to review to hit that milestone I’ve put a formula into F2. The formula is =SUM(E2*200) [again just drag down as far as you need to].
So now we can see that a total of 160 books would need to be reviewed in order to get to a feedback to approval ratio of 80%. Now how are we going to get there?!
Step 3 – What are those 200 approvals?
This is where it gets a bit tricky. Who can remember what those 200 books are and which of those you’ve already read? I haven’t figured out an easy way to figure that out yet I’m afraid! Here’s how I’ve been doing it:
- Go to NetGalley, click the arrow next to your picture and select Activity
- Copy and paste the list of books under approved into a separate Excel sheet
- Click the drop down menu on the right hand side and go to archived
- Copy and paste the list of books that appear now into the same Excel sheet you just added the approved books to.
Now as far as I can tell, that should give you a complete list of all the books you’ve been approved for (it does for my account). Here comes the time consuming bit: you need to figure out which of those you’ve read. I literally just added a column next to the list, and put each book in one of the following categories
- Read & reviewed
- Read & Need to review
- Unread, downloaded
- Unread, archived but available at the library (Yes I literally went through and searched my library catalogue for these)
- Unread, archived, no access
Step 4 – Is 80% the best goal?
If in the example above, the blogger had 100 books unread and archived, the most she could achieve would be 50%, so there’s not much point aiming desperately for a ratio of 80%!
To figure out your maximum possible ratio, add up all the books you have no access to, then go back and stick that number into A4 (where it used to say 2). Then C4 will tell you what percentage those books are worth. Take that away from 100 and you’ve got your maximum possible percentage. If it’s below 80%, aim for whatever your maximum is. If it’s above 80%, it’s up to you whether you want to go for your maximum or go for the recommended 80%.
Step 5 – How long will it take?
So now our example blogger knows she needs to write 160 reviews in order to hit 80%. She’s already submitted 50, so that leaves her needing to write 110 more reviews to hit her goal. But how long will that take?
This bit is of course completely up to you, your blogging schedule, and how often you want to write reviews! To work out how long it’d take, divide the number of reviews you need by how many reviews you want to write a week. Our example blogger could:
- Write 1 review a week, which would take 110 weeks (~ 2 years)
- Write 2 reviews a week, which would take 55 weeks (~ 1 year)
- Write 3 reviews a week, which would take 37 weeks (~ 9 months)
- Write 4 reviews a week, which would take 28 weeks (~ 7 months)
- Write 5 reviews a week, which would take 22 weeks (~ 6 months)
Admittedly, she’s got a long way to go no matter how many reviews she manages a week, but there’s a huge difference between writing 1 review a week and 5 reviews a week. Before you decide to go for loads of reviews a week though, you need to consider:
- Whether you really want to write that many reviews a week. If you currently write one a fortnight, the step up to several a week may rapidly lead to blogger burn out!
- Will writing more reviews a week mean you have less time for things you currently love posting?
- How many of your requests have you actually read? Go back to the list you made in Step 3 and see how many you’ve read but not reviewed. If there’s only 5 on the list, you won’t be able to keep up a pace of five reviews a week for very long before you need to start reading again!
Step 6 – Get going!
I’m afraid there aren’t really any tips for this bit, it’s pretty much just sit down and write reviews! It may be worth considering though whether you want to reduce your NetGalley usage, so your percentage isn’t going down further while you try and catch up.
For advice on writing reviews, being organised and scheduling your reviews, try a few of these great links:
- NetGalley has 8 tips for writing a good book review
- A comprehensive guide from Kimbacaffeinate on writing reviews, with what to include (and what not to!).
- You can’t always love a book, so for tips and tricks on writing a negative but fair review, try this post, also from kimbacaffeinate
- Celine’s post on creating a blogging calendar and her post on 5 tips to help schedule posts
- Amanda’s post on creating a blog schedule, being organised and scheduling
Increasing your NetGalley Feeback to Approval ratio probably will be hard, I admit, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying. If your ratio is currently at 15%, think how great it’d feel to get to 50% or even 25%! (And if it means you’re more likely to get approved for that book you want, that’s a definite bonus!)
It may be slow, but watching that percentage go up, even a little is really satisfying! Last year, my NetGalley ratio terrified me, so I pretty much avoided looking at it. By forcing myself to face up to it, I’ve managed to get motivated, and increase my ratio by 8% since the start of 2014.