(I note that this is a really, really specific set of instructions that will definitely help you out with requesting any First Second requests; possibly not so much with other publishers, depending on their own policies.)
“I love to read.”
First Second uses Netgalley — they’re a galley service that lets people request advance digital copies of our graphic novels (and other peoples’ graphic novels and prose books). People typically request copies because they’re reviewers, and they need the advance copy of the book to write a review from, or because they’re teachers or librarians or booksellers, and they need to read the advance copy to figure out how many books to buy for their classroom or library or bookstore.
We think Netgalley is great! If you’re a teacher/librarian/bookseller/reviewer, and you don’t hate digital books, you should definitely head over there and check out what they’re offering (including some excellent upcoming graphic novels from First Second).
When a teacher/librarian/bookseller/reviewer etc. requests a title from a publisher via Netgalley, that publisher has to go through by hand and approve each request. What that means is, if you’re a reviewer and you’re like, ‘I wish to read this book!’ and you request it via Netgalley, someone in the publishing staff has to go into the Netgalley system and say, ‘yes, this person really should get this book; I’m hitting the OKAY button now’ for every single request that they get.
A lot of the time, this is a really easy decision! If you’re a bookseller who’s a member of the ABA, a librarian who’s a member of the ALA, someone who the publishing staff person knows professionally, the answer is obviously yes. Yes, you can have as many books as you’d like!
But sometimes, it’s a much harder decision. There are lots of people who request books through First Second’s Netgalley account who I don’t personally know.
What a publisher does then is to look at a person’s profile. Everyone who joins Netgalley has to put together a quick profile; it’s basically something that has a person’s name and their description of why they should be given books. ‘I’m getting my MLS now!’ or ‘I’m on the teen selection group at my local bookstore!’ or ‘I have a blog that has 2,5000 followers!’
“I love to read!” is something that sometimes (moderately often) pops up as the single sentence (or the leading sentence) in a review copy request.
This isn’t the best statement to lead with if you’re trying to convince a publisher to give you a digital galley.
Netgalley is a site which is primarily used to get advance copies of books to industry figures so that they can take some action that will sell copies of a book when it comes out (like, writing a review that encourages people to buy books! Or buying copies for their library or bookstore!). The point of Netgalley is not for non-industry professional readers to be able to read advance copies of books they’re excited about.
We’re really glad that people on Netgalley love to read. We love to read ourselves! We feel that everyone should love to read, and that that would make the world a better place.
But as a publisher, we’re actually putting our books up on Netgalley so that they get in the hands of people who specifically have a career in loving to read — people who have become booksellers or librarians or teachers, and who are in a position to affect the sales numbers of a book.
That’s why we recommend that any Netgalley profiles should be constructed around the thesis that there’s something you can bring to the book that can potentially help its sales. And even if you’re not a member of the American Library Association (or something similarly official), there are lots of things you could already be doing that signal to a publisher that you are the kind of person who has the power to convince others to buy copies of a book.
Are you a blogger? Do you review for Amazon VINE? Do you write for your school or local newspaper or literary magazine? Are you part of a book club? Do you volunteer at your local library? Do you have a book-related twitter, Facebook, tumblr, youtube or instagram account? Do you pick up the occasional shift for your local bookstore? Do you belong to an organization like SCBWI or PEN?
Those are all things that should be included in your Netgalley profile, and which will encourage publishers to think, ‘THIS is the kind of person I want to have reading our advance digital galleys.’
Any other information — religion, marital status, professional degrees, non-book-related careers you’ve had — don’t need to be included in your profile. Even book-related information like the age you were when you first learned how to read, whether or not you read to your children, how big your book collection is, etc. — aren’t necessary. Including not-as-relevant things like that may just distract a publisher from the fact that you are in fact a person who should be given an advance review copy of their book — especially if they’re getting 50+ review copy requests via Netgalley every day that they then have to go through one by one.
Utility! Conciseness! These are our Netgalley watchwords.