An Author's Guide to NetGalley
That said, the newest thing in galley land is the eGalley. Many publishing professionals and reviewers are quite happy to stop lugging 20+ pounds of books with them whenever they go out of town, finding that the Nook, Kindle & iPad have helped them cut down on money spent at the chiropractor. There's a cost savings for publishers, too. Each paper galley costs more to produce than a copy of your finished book. (If you've ever thought that your publisher was stingy with galleys, it's because they're expensive.)
eGalleys, you might imagine, could take many formats. The earliest ones were simply .pdf files. These days, many publishers have converged upon a single website for their eGalley distribution, and that place is www.NetGalley.com.
From NetGalley's main page: NetGalley delivers secure, digital galleys to professional readers. If you are a reviewer, blogger, journalist, librarian, bookseller, educator, or in the media, you can use NetGalley for FREE to read and request titles before they are published.
How Does NetGalley Work?
Over 100 big six imprints and smaller publishers use NetGalley to help distribute pre-publication copies to reviewers. You can see a complete list here. Titles are released to NetGalley one season at a time. At the moment, the winter lists are up there, and they will disappear soon in favor of the spring lists. Your publisher pays NetGalley a fee based upon the number of titles on the system.
When a reviewer (or librarian or bookseller) wants to read a NetGalley title, they must first register with the system. Registration involves disclosing their professional affiliations. Book bloggers must include links to their blogs, and all requesters are asked to state which genres they read. After registering, readers must request titles individually. Those requests then go directly to the publisher, usually to the publicity department, who approves or denies the request. You can read even more about the system in this Publishers Weekly article.
How does this affect you, the author? Your only job is to ask whether or not your title appears on Netgalley, so that you'll know the correct answer if a reviewer asks. You might want to take a look at your book's setup on that site. (You can look at the public catalog without registering.) It's always nice to make sure that the catalog copy you worked so hard on is the version that made it into the world. Your NetGalley requests are also just one more metric your publicist uses to gauge whether or not your book is getting the attention it deserves.