June 26, 2022

GalleyMatch offers new dating service for publishers and book clubs

Authors Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp launched GalleyMatch, a matchmaking program that puts the galleys in the hands of book clubs, bridging the gap between voracious readers and publishers eager to generate buzz for upcoming titles.

The duo launched a test version of GalleyMatch via their website last fall. It has now grown to include forty publishers and participating publishers. Each publisher selects the titles to offer. They then enter them into the GalleyMatch database, where the titles are associated with one or more of the 450 participating book clubs in fifty states. Information provided by each book club‘s reading tastes is used by GalleyMatch to find titles that match their interests. Publishers pay a fee for each book club game or as part of given promotions run by the site.

“It’s literally like a dating service,” said Gelman, who first conceived the idea with Krupp before a book club conference in 2017. Two weeks before the conference, they contacted ten publishers, their asking if they would bring any additional galleys to the event.

“I thought they had five or six sitting on the shelves so we could give every audience member a galley,” Gelman said. Instead, publishers filled a room with boxes and readers walked out with armfuls of books.

For Gelman and Krupp, who first got involved in book clubs through the publication of their 2004 book The book club cookbook, the readers’ response was a surprise. The two have run the BookClubCookbook.com website for years, including book club promotions and outreach, and yet, 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 of GalleyMatch, which is now part 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 upcoming titles.

Gelman then delves into the tastes of each book club, pairing titles from nearly every genre imaginable with 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 helpful information to publishers, including the most engaging question about the book that came up while reading them, so publishers can create more polished reading guides. Book clubs also agree to create certain social media posts, such as a photo of the club with the book, in exchange for their participation. GalleyMatch also generates social media for each book.

Publishers large and small have signed up, in some cases lining up matches on where authors plan to film. Others printed extra copies specifically for the program. Among the matches are copies of The lost family (Harper) by Jenna Blum, which features a protagonist chef and will go to foodie book clubs that meet in restaurants or cook dishes included in the book. A Workplace Book Club Caught Elizabeth F. Emens Life Admin: How I Learned to Do Less, Do Better, and Live More (HMH).

The eagerness with which editors signed up represents a substantial shift in thinking about galleys over the past two decades. “Around 2003 or 2004, publishers became really interested in reaching book clubs directly,” Gelman said. While releasing galleys early to readers was once taboo, the rise of social media in this era has led to growing interest in reaching out to readers for help when books are about to be released.

“Here’s a chance to get reviews posted ahead of time, or as soon as the book comes out,” Gelman said. “Editors are getting feedback and getting the buzz started a little earlier.”

Even with the program fully launched, Gelman continues to make adjustments as publishers and book clubs make new demands. Over the summer, GalleyMatch will add digital galleys to its schedule, allowing publishers to reach groups that meet digitally or have other electronic copy needs. At the same time, Gelman continues to work to perfect each match and is excited for each new pairing. “I can’t even imagine what will happen sometimes,” she said. “It’s gangsters.”