Planning to get some reviews for your book to build buzz during book launch?

Paid ARC services is one way to guarantee you some reviews right when your book is newly released. If you have the budget, I think this is a good investment. Getting reviews, whether positive or negative, will build credibility.

In addition to BookSirens, I’ve recently engaged paid ARC service from Hidden Gems Books. Here are my thoughts and opinions of the paid ARC service.

Check out my honest review of BookSirens, another paid book review service~

[Self-Publishing Tips] Hidden Gems Books Review - ARC Program Pros & Cons + Case Study

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Pro #1: Easy & Straightforward

Signing up for paid ARC service on Hidden Gems Books is very easy and straightforward.

You simply have to choose a genre and book a spot (which is probably 1 week before your book launch). Then, you just have to pay a deposit.

And you’re set.

Hidden Gems Books - ARC Program

Pro #2: Ease Of Making Changes

After you book your spot, you’ll receive an email about important dates like when book files need to be ready and when final invoice will be sent as well as a link to edit your order. Clicking on the link will bring you to a form where you can edit your book details like the blurb and include your book cover and files. Making changes is simple: simply edit the fields and save the form. Just bear in mind that editing isn’t allowed once you’re near the date you booked. So make changes early!

Also, due to some personal issues, I actually moved my book launch date earlier. Thus, I needed to move this ARC date earlier too. I kept refreshing the dates to see if there were any earlier spots available and emailed Hidden Gems Books. The team was really nice and they helped move my ARC spot earlier. Likewise, you can also try emailing them if you want to change your date. But ensure that you tell them in advance!

Photo by ulleo on Pixabay

Pro #3: Affordable Pricing

The $20 initial deposit covers your first 10 readers. After this, you’ll have to pay $3 per additional reader.

Note that the minimum order is 50 readers. But I don’t think it’s that easy to reach. I was billed for 15 readers for my latest novel. However, I’ve only tried Hidden Gems Books once so I’m not really sure if it’s because of the genre or 50 readers aren’t usually that achievable.

I think it’s quite affordable. Most ARC services usually charge this price. Yet, just keep this minimum number of readers in mind and determine if you’re okay with this.

Photo by NikolayFrolochkin on Pixabay

Pro #4: Quality Of Reviews

In the past, Hidden Gems Books aim to get ARC reviews on Amazon. But recently, they added links to other retailers like Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble, BookBub, Goodreads. Readers can now leave reviews on other non-Amazon websites. I felt that this was a great improvement and I did get some reviews on non-Amazon websites.

Most reviews from Hidden Gems Books appear on Amazon. I thought that this was good. After all, most of my book sales come from Amazon so having reviews here will build trust. If your goal is to attain Amazon reviews, consider engaging paid ARC service from Hidden Gems Books.

The ARC reviews from Hidden Gems Books are a mixed bag. There are some readers who gave more thoughtful reviews while others gave more generic reviews. This is also reflected in other paid ARC services. I don’t really think it’s a platform problem. More of the readers? Some readers are more detailed and in-depth while others are more brief and concise. But a review is still a review (whether bad or good). They count and add up to the credibility of your books so I still recommend garnering reviews, especially when you’re launching a new book.

Photo by geralt on Pixabay

Con #1: Long Waitlist

Hidden Gems Books is really popular. They have a very long waiting list. So reserve your spot as early as possible, as soon as you decide on your book launch date.

For me, I booked mine right after hiring my book cover designer. The designer could only work on my book cover in mid-September 2023. So I added 1 month as buffer for the book cover design. Then 2 more months for formatting of paperback. It’s my first time creating a physical version of my book so I felt there might be a lot of edits for the proof copies (eg. matte vs glossy cover). I added another month so ARC readers have more time to read. My initial book launch date was thus the beginning of February 2024. So I booked my ARC spot on 3 Feb 2024. But like I mentioned, I had to shift this date earlier due to personal issues. After checking with Hidden Gems Books, I managed to change this to 22 Jan 2024.

Hence, when you’re booking Hidden Gems Books, do it as early as possible. You can even book a spot when your book cover design isn’t ready yet. Just add that in later. Also remember to add in some buffer time for unforeseen delays, interruptions or emergencies.

Etsy - Calendar

Source: TheSparkArt via Etsy

Con #2: Lack Of Data

Compared to BookSirens, there isn’t much data offered by Hidden Gems Books. I only know the number of ARC readers when receiving the invoice. BookSirens, on the other hand, allows me to accept or reject ARC readers as well as see their profiles on Amazon, Goodreads etc. There are overall metrics too like impressions, clicks, number of reviews received for a book etc.

I could only guess that some reviews are from Hidden Gems Books because the readers mentioned that they received an ARC copy (and I know that they aren’t the ARC readers I accepted from BookSirens because their profiles don’t match). Just take note of this when you’re engaging paid ARC service from Hidden Gems Books.

Photo by Lukas on Pexels

Case Study: My Experience & Results

As I mentioned, I used Hidden Gems Books to generate reviews for the launch of my latest novel, The Postman. Here are the results:

  • 8 Amazon reviews
  • 5 Goodreads reviews
  • 1 BookBub review

However, take note that I paid for 15 readers but only 10 of them reviewed. I’m not sure if the other readers haven’t read it yet or simply DNF. Also, I recently ran a promotion and sold many copies so I can’t tell anymore which review is from Hidden Gems Books unless they mention it.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels

Now It’s Your Turn

I personally prefer BookSirens more than Hidden Gems Books because there’s more data and we get to know who is downloading the ARC copy. However, I’ll likely continue engaging paid ARC service from Hidden Gems Books. It’s still a good idea to get as many reviews as possible during the launch of a newly published book.

If you have your own ARC team of a decent size, you probably won’t need to use paid ARC services. But for now, if you’re still building brand awareness (whether for yourself or your books), I strongly encourage you to engage paid ARC services. It’s a good investment. This way, your book page on Amazon, Goodreads etc. wouldn’t look empty with zero reviews.


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Nicole C. W. All Rights Reserved.

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