Authors Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp have launched GalleyMatch, a matchmaking program that gets galleys in the hands of book clubs, closing the gap between voracious readers and publishers who are eager to generate buzz for forthcoming titles.
The duo launched a test version of GalleyMatch through their website last fall. It has now grown to include forty participating publishers and imprints. Each publisher selects titles to offer. They then enter them into GalleyMatch's database, where the titles are paired with one or more of the 450 participating book clubs in fifty states. Information provided by each book club's reading tastes are used by GalleyMatch to find titles that will align with their interests. Publishers pay a rate for each book club match or as part of given promotions run by the site.
“It’s literally like a dating service,” said Gelman, who first devised the idea with Krupp in advance of a book club conference in 2017. Two weeks before the conference, they reached out to ten publishers, asking if they would bring extra galleys to the event.
“I thought they had five or six sitting on the shelves so that we could give every audience member a galley,” Gelman said. Instead, the publishers filled a room with boxes, and readers walked out with armfuls of books.
For Gelman and Krupp, who first became involved with book clubs through the publication of their 2004 book The Book Club Cookbook, the response from readers came as a surprise. The two have run the website BookClubCookbook.com for years, including promotions and outreach to book clubs, and still, Gelman said, “I never realized there was such an opportunity to connect book clubs and these galleys.”
Over the next year, they created the structure for GalleyMatch, which is now a component of their website. Through the program, book clubs register and provide information about their group’s reading tastes. At the same time, publishers and authors subscribe to the program and send Gelman and Krupp information about forthcoming titles.
Gelman then pores over each book club’s tastes, matching titles from nearly every imaginable genre to each group. Book clubs have 24 hours to respond to a book offer, and the publisher then sends them physical galleys.
Participating book clubs provide information that is useful to publishers, including the most engaging question about the book that came up during their reading, so that publishers can create more refined reading guides. The book clubs also agree to create certain social media posts, such as a photo of the club with the book, in return for participating. GalleyMatch generates social media for each book as well.
Publishers large and small have signed on, in some cases aligning the matches to locations where authors plan to tour. Others have printed additional copies specifically for the program. Among the matches are copies of The Lost Family (Harper) by Jenna Blum, which features a chef protagonist and will go to a foodie book clubs that meet at restaurants or make dishes included in the book. A workplace book club nabbed Elizabeth F. Emens’ Life Admin: How I Learned to Do Less, Do Better, and Live More (HMH).
The eagerness with which publishers have signed on represents a substantial shift in mindsets about galleys over the last two decades. “Around the 2003 or 2004 publishers really became interested in reaching book clubs directly,” Gelman said. Where the early release of galleys to readers was once taboo, the rise of social media during that time has fueled growing interest in turning to readers for support when books are on the cusp of release.
“Here’s a chance to get reviews posted in advance, or as soon as the book comes out,” Gelman said. “Publishers get feedback and get the buzz started a little earlier.”
Even with the program fully launched, Gelman is continuing to make adjustments as publishers and book clubs make new requests. Over the summer, GalleyMatch will add digital galleys to their program, allowing publishers to reach groups that meet digitally or have other needs for electronic copies. At the same time, Gelman continues working to perfect each match, and is excited by every new pairing. “I can’t even imagine what’s going to happen sometimes,” she said. “It’s gangbusters.”