Thursday, October 2, 2008

Money for Old Rope: NetGalley (ADDED TO)

It's not my fashion to give credence or space to something that I believe is bad for poetry. Why draw attention to such a thing? However, I'm breaking that guideline over NetGalley, an organization which "provides centralized galley and digital press kit services, as well as a place to connect and collaborate with others in the industry." NetGalley has just partnered with Foreword Magazine, which is meant to be in support of the "independently published."

My problem is this: NetGalley charges $400 per title to assist publishers in making their galleys/Advance Reader Copies available online, and to provide electronic notification to publishers on decisions reviewers have taken with their galleys.

As someone who has worked with small presses for several years now to help secure review attention, I have tried to encourage electronic galleys. It costs nothing for a press to prepare an electronic galley. Not $400, nothing.

At a time when review attention and space is decreasing, NetGalley preys on publisher anxiety about review coverage. Net Galley imposes (or, at best, invites) a charge of $400 dollars in order for publishers to do EXACTLY WHAT THEY DO NOW. Under the guise of helping the environment and saving trees, NetGalley takes money from underfunded independent publishers. If the big fiction houses want to do this, great, let them splurge. But when "independent" magazines like ForeWord sign up, poets and poetry presses suffers.

So here's what I propose.

Please join me in this. Please don't acquiesce. Link widely to this post. Write to ForeWord to suggest they rethink, that if they're that keen on electronic submissions, they could facilitate it without NetGalley and without making small presses pay thousands of dollars. We all would love to see less paper galleys in the world, since most of them end up in the recycling bin or, worse, the garbage. NetGalley isn't the way to do it, and encouraging it certainly isn't.

In the interests of discussion, if you're a reviewer, a publisher, a magazine, and you feel I'm missing something about NetGalley, let me know. (EDIT: See Gabe's comment for a less indy press-centric reading of this!) As a publicist, as a writer, as a reader, I feel that this is a corporate entity which doesn't care about or care for words, language, literature. Unlike such wonderful groups as Small Press Distribution, which has really embraced the web, NetGalley is an anonymous organization. I can't find any reason to support them, and I find every reason to propose alternatives that are good for publishing and for writing about books.


I want to make it clear that ForeWord and other magazines are NOT moving to a NetGalley only system. So publishers who are reading this: you won't lose out if you opt not to go with NetGalley.

That said, my aim stands: I'd love to see ForeWord and others adopt another, non-expensive electronic organizational model, as journals have with Submissions Manager. So I'll keep this issue alive in the hopes of achieving that.

ForeWord, by the way, apparently encourages (non NetGalley) electronic submissions and has been doing so for over a year. This is news to me, news I'm happy to hear, and hopeful that they'll make more prominent on their submissions guidelines in the interests of serving independent presses.

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