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The Hidden Gems ARC Program

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Hidden Gems ARC Program?

As an author, you likely understand that one of the barriers to selling your book is word of mouth. Taking a chance on a new book is a lot easier if you can see that others have already read it. But if you’re a new author without an established following, or even if you have a few releases under your belt but just released something new, how do you get enough reviews?

Leave that to the Hidden Gems ARC program.

While we now accept reviews on a variety of platforms, we still run our ARC program in accordance with Amazon’s rules and Community Guidelines, which state that authors and publishers can provide free copies of their books to readers, as long as they do not require a review or attempt to influence the review.

Hidden Gem ARC readers are made up of volunteers that enjoy reading and reviewing books. They choose the books they want to read, and although they are not required to leave a review for every book (there are plenty of valid reasons why they may not be able to/want to leave a review for a particular book), we do monitor our subscribers to make sure they continue to have time to participate in general. This has led us to an industry leading average review rate of over 80%, for the books we send to our readers.

All reviews are honest and uninfluenced, which means that whether these reviews are positive or negative is determined by the quality of your book. However, we do our best to match your book up with readers specifically interested in your type of story (so that we don’t send your paranormal romance to readers that are only interested in contemporary, for example), which will at least give you the best chance at impressing them!

Again, to be clear, these are HONEST reviews from volunteers that we cannot force to leave reviews. This means we do not guarantee that you will get a 5-star review from a book that isn’t very good, nor can we guarantee that if we send your book to 100 readers you will get 100 reviews. But because we’ve been running our ARC service for close to a decade, we know that most books get at least 80 in that scenario. Number of reviews is often also determined by quality, however, since some reviewers choose not to leave a review for a book they didn’t connect with, or don’t feel they can leave a fair or honest review for a book they couldn’t even finish.

Important Note: No refunds are offered for books that get fewer than expected readers, low review scores, or less than average number of reviews. These factors are mainly determined by how appealing the book is and quality of the story/writing, which are factors we have no control over. Remember that these reviewers are real people leaving their honest and uninfluenced opinions. Hidden Gems is also not responsible for any reviews that are removed from review sites in the future, for whatever reason.

Why do I need reviews?

There are many reasons that reviews, especially early and plentiful ones, can help your book.

  • Generate Buzz/Word of Mouth – reviews get people talking about your book, and if people are talking about your book, then other people are hearing about your book, and that leads to…
  • Increased Sales – Many people put off purchasing decisions until they hear what others thought about the item in question first. Do you read reviews of movies before you go see them? Look up reviews about a new appliance you’re thinking about buying? It’s the same thing with books. The more reviews you have, the more weight your release seems to have. All else being equal, if the choice is between two books of interest and one has a hundred reviews and the other has only a couple, or even none, most people lean towards buying the book that others have taken a chance on first
  • Broader Marketing strategy – There are many ways to generate interest in your book, and the social influence of having reviews is just one of them.  Another way is by using newsletters or other promotional services, but some of them (such as Bookbub) require that your book have a certain number of reviews before they will even consider you
Can I ARC an already-released book?

Absolutely!  Although the strict definition of ARC is “Advance Review Copy”, in reality it’s used to just mean sending out free copies to readers with the hopes of getting more reviews.  Many of our authors send us already published books for review and it’s never a problem.

However, please note that it is the responsibility of the author to determine whether providing FREE copies to readers violates any of their existing vendor agreements.

Can I send Book 2 (or later) of my series to your ARC readers?

Of course, but there are some factors to consider.

Most important is whether the new book is a stand-alone, or requires readers to have read earlier books first. If it’s stand-alone, then you can just go ahead and schedule the new book without any other worry.  We would, however, recommend at least mentioning that the book is part of a series but stand-alone in the description/blurb field of your ARC.

If it’s not stand-alone, then there is one main factor to be considered.

Each ARC offer we send goes to ALL of the potential readers of that genre and review sites. That means that even if you sent Book 1 of your series to our readers previously, there is no guarantee that ONLY those readers will reserve copies of the later books. And even if we could only send your offer to the readers that got book 1, you would see diminishing reservations for each subsequent book. That’s because even if book 1 had 50 readers, your potential pool for book 2 can only be that high and will likely be much lower. Some members may have left the program, some may not have time to read book 2 when it’s sent as an ARC, some may not be interested, etc.

With that in mind, if you still want to ARC book 2 (or later) of your series, there is a way to do it.

Our recommendation is that each subsequent book in a non-stand-alone series include all the previous books for any readers that haven’t already read the previous books.  That means that readers for the ARC of book 2 will get a file that includes both book 1 and book 2 in it. Reviews are only for book 2 officially, but if a reader wishes to go and review book 1 at the same time, they’re of course free to do so.  Similarly, book 3 would include books 1, 2 and 3.  And so on.

Remember, we cannot sent out multiple files of each type for a single ARC. That means to use the above strategy, the files you attach to your Book 2 ARC will need to be combined to include both books 1 and 2 (like a collection). You cannot attach separate ePub or PDF files for books 1 and 2 to the order.

We would also recommend noting this situation in your description/blurb, however if you need help on how to word it properly just send us a note and we’d be happy to help. A simple example would be: “Note: While this is Book 2 of the series, the author will include Book 1 for any readers that have not yet read it in order for them to catch up.”

Where are reviews for my book posted?

Authors choose where they want to get reviews for their books from 7 different review sites:

  • Amazon
  • Goodreads
  • Kobo
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Bookbub
  • Apple Books
  • Google Play Books

Potential reviewers are limited to only those that can review on at least one of those sites, which means that their reviews will be on one of them as well.

Most readers will likely only review on one of the sites you ask for (if you ask for reviews across multiple sites) but we do encourage readers to leave multiple reviews across the various sites if they can.

Note that for Amazon reviews, the majority of our readers leave reviews on, but due to Amazon’s strict review policy, some readers that live in other countries may leave their reviews on those Amazon specific sites (such as UK, CA or AU).

When should I schedule my ARC?

There are a number of factors that go into this decision, such as your release date, when your manuscript will be ready to be read, available ARC dates, etc.

Most authors want reviews to appear as soon after a book is published as possible, so for pre-release books it is best to plan ahead by scheduling an ARC date that falls approximately a week or two prior to your go live date to ensure that reviews will be ready right as your book hits the stores (many readers can read a book within a week or two, although some are faster and some take longer). For example, if your book was scheduled to be published on April 15th, then the ideal date to send it out to our ARC readers would be between about April 1st to the 8th.

Note: You can schedule a book to be sent out with even longer lead times, however we don’t recommend sending it out a month or more before it can be reviewed. Otherwise, readers may start to forget what they read, given that many of them will have read many other books in the meantime.

For many genres, our ARC calendar fills up months in advance, so it’s best to book a spot early. You don’t need all of your information when you book with us, as long as you know your date and how many readers you’re looking for, you can lock in a slot via our online booking calendar. But remember that the deposit you leave is used to hold your spot, and is non-refundable, so only reserve a date if you are sure.

Quick Tip: When you schedule your ARC, there are fields on the order form you can use to indicate that you are looking for an earlier waiting list date. If ones comes up within the range you’ve indicated, we will email you asking if you want to switch (and sometimes we will need an answer quickly and have to offer it to multiple authors, with the spot going to the first one to reply). However, there are no guarantees that an earlier date will become available, so only book a date that you are willing to use, even if no other earlier one is offered.

What factors typically affect review scores?

Every book is different, but there are common factors that might affect your review scores, with some more easy to fix than others. Here are a few.

  • Weak story – obviously you want a good book, and this is the hardest thing to change. But if the story is boring, cliché or filled with flat characters or plots that don’t make sense, your reviews will reflect it
  • Poor editing – ARC readers will often overlook a few typos or grammatical issues, especially for a book that isn’t yet released. But if your manuscript is filled with typos, character names that change from chapter to chapter, and plot holes that you can drive a truck through, your reviews may reflect it
  • Misled readers – Readers reserve copies of your book based on information you provide on your order form, such as the cover, genre, length, sub-categories and blurb/description. So if you mislead them with your blurb, or gloss over controversial elements, you might end up with the wrong readers. For example, if your Romance book is dark and full of BDSM, but your blurb makes it sound like a light and funny RomCom, you can probably expect unhappy reviews. There may have been plenty of reviewers that would have loved the book, but they passed on it based on the description, and others that don’t like that sort of thing reserved a copy instead! Be upfront with your readers without giving away the whole plot. Examples of things to include in your blurb:
    • If there are controversial or trigger elements in your story
    • If there is or isn’t an HEA or a cliffhanger ending (especially in Romance)
    • If the book is part of a non-stand-alone series
    • If the book is very short, or very long

Remember – the more you tune your blurb to attract readers that like your type of book, and the better the quality of your product, the more likely you are to get positive reviews!

Why choose Hidden Gems to run your ARC?

Once you’ve decided that you want ARC reviewers, you essentially have 2 choices. Run an ARC yourself or outsource to a service like Hidden Gems.

Running your own ARC

Assuming you have a big enough mailing list to use for running your own ARC, there are a few reasons why you still might decide that letting us handle the reviews for your novel is a better choice.

  • Your fans are better off being buyers – Typical review rates, even from author mailing lists, are often abysmally low. It’s not uncommon for us to hear authors complain of getting between 10-30% of reviews back from the books they send out, and that’s from their own list of fans that asked to be on their ARC list! So if, for example, you wanted 60 reviews, that means you may need an ARC list of 200-500. It also means that you’re sending that many copies of your book out for free – to fans that like your work enough that they are likely just as eager to buy it – to only get back a handful of reviews! Hidden Gems has an average review rate of 80%, which means we not only send your book out to less people to get the same number of (or more) reviews – but you aren’t using up your own fans and potential buyers to do it!
  • Reach a new audience – By letting us send your book out to our list of reviewers, you’re potentially expanding your own audience by exposing new readers to your work who may become fans. It’s not uncommon for us to see comments left by reviewers saying that they loved the book and went and bought all of the author’s previous novels, or went and joined the author’s personal mailing list, etc. When you send to your own list, you’re sending to people that already know about you.
  • Save time and hassle – Managing an ARC properly can be time consuming. Asking readers to sign up, sending them books, dealing with their technical issues, reminding them again and again to leave reviews, trying to determine which of your readers are leaving reviews and which are just trying to get free books… all of this takes time away from what is really important – writing your next novel! So why not let us handle all that headache?
  • Accusations of bias – It’s not uncommon for us to see accusations of bias towards ARC reviewers that are part of an author’s team because the assumption is (rightly or wrongly), that the team is made up of superfans that will never write anything bad, or that they only write positive reviews because they’re worried about being kicked off the team if they write something negative, etc. With Amazon cracking down on biased reviews so often lately, this is an increasingly risky issue.

Okay — so why Hidden Gems and not someone else?

  • Reliable – Hidden Gems has been running ARCs since November 2015, and in that time has sent out over a thousand books to many thousands of readers for hundreds of authors – a large percentage of whom are repeat customers (read some of their testimonials). If you book with us, you know your ARC is going to get delivered without issue and you can expect many quality reviews.
  • Industry leading review percentage of over 80% – Why is our review percentage so important (i.e. why do we keep talking about it)? As we mentioned above, the review rates even from an author’s own list are sometimes very small – and that’s from fans! Building a quality list of readers that work for free and voluntarily read and review books takes a lot of time, money and effort. We didn’t start off with our current average percentages, it took us over a year to get to this level. But many ARC services don’t put the time and effort into doing that. Often these are the “cut rate” ARC review services that “guarantee” a set number of reviews for a flat rate. While it’s certainly understandable to be attracted to these, we urge you to be careful. The reason they can often offer a low price and a guarantee is because they don’t spend any time or effort into attracting quality readers. That means their review rates are often even worse than the typical 10-30% that authors get. In order to get you 100 guaranteed reviews, they may be sending your book out to thousands of readers. They don’t care, because it’s cheaper and easier for them to send the book out to an unqualified list of 2000 readers than to spend the time and money to build a quality list that would allow them to only send to 100 – but then that is 2000 potential customers that no longer have to buy your book. And some just send your book out to their entire list, not taking the time to match your story with readers interested in that type of book, which often leads to many more negative reviews. The trade-off may not seem like such a bargain when you consider those factors, but if you do decide to work with a company like that, stay informed. Ask them how many readers they’re sending your book out to in order to get your guaranteed number, and then make sure that number makes sense to you. Ensure that their readers like your type of book! Hidden Gems sends your book out to a fraction of these readers for the same number of reviews. Better yet, we send your book info (metadata) to thousands of our readers when asking for volunteers – and then we select the readers from the pool that signed up for your specific book based on those details. That means thousands of readers just heard about your great novel but didn’t get it sent to them. How’s that for free advertising?
  • Honest (less risky) – While it may be tempting to hire a service that has a guarantee on number of reviews or star ratings, the danger with many of those services is that the reviews are not real. In order to meet a guarantee (without sending to thousands of readers as mentioned in the above point) in terms of raw reviews or star ratings, the service may be employing reviewers who are not following Amazon’s guidelines of unbiased and voluntary reviews. Some services employ fake readers to meet those guarantees, and those reviewers are very likely to at best, get removed by Amazon but at worst, land the author in a lot of trouble with Amazon.  All of our readers are honest, real people that regularly and voluntarily leave reviews with no quotas or expectations as to the star rating, etc.

Here are a few of the things the authors we’ve worked with have said about us:

I just wanted to write you a note to say THANK YOU!!!! Before I found Hidden Gems I was using Netgalley. I’d receive over 100 requests but be lucky if I saw 9 reviews in total even a month later. I decided to use you for my new release (a thriller) after hearing a bit of buzz about HG in my Facebook groups. There were around 75 requests and already 41 have posted on Amazon. In two days!!! I can’t believe it. You are now my go-to for all my books. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for finally being a reliable service for honest reviews. Best promo money I’ve ever spent.

– Ketley Allison, To Have and to Hold

These wrap-ups and the reviews themselves have been so helpful in getting each subsequent book more and more to-market (while defining my voice in that market), and the sheer volume of reviews have helped me stand out a lot for a new author – all things I know I couldn’t have done in just 2 months without HG. This service has been the best use of marketing funds, hands down!

– Piper Lennox, The Road To You

I’ve tried a lot of different ways to get reviews for my authors, but this was my first time using Hidden Gems and I’m thrilled with your service. The return rate is far better than most others these days, including NetGalley, and I’ll be recommending you guys to all my clients.

– Jane Ryder, Ryder Author Resources

Hidden Gems is, in fact, no longer a hidden gem as far as I am concerned.  The  thoughtful response to my initial inquiry re my admittedly quirky little book  was enough to convince me that everything I had heard about the value this site provides to authors was true.  And the reviews were terrific — a wide variety of well-expressed opinions and even a most helpful suggestion about how to fix a problem that had escaped my notice!  HG will now be an integral part of promoting my future titles. Thank you!

– James W. Gaynor, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 61 Haiku

Thanks so much for this great service. I’m thrilled with all the reviews that came in – 89 of 100 in less than two weeks! And good ones, too – meaning that many of the reviewers took time to consider what made my book stand out, even when they were critical. I’m very impressed with this service and definitely plan to use it again in the future.

– Rebecca Hunter, One More Night

I just wanted to say thank you so much for your program! I have had very limited success with NetGalley and other ARC programs, but your readers are so lovely and very responsive! An author friend recommended you, and I’m so glad she did. I even got an e-mail from one of your reviewers saying how much she enjoyed reading my book! I’m up to 26 reviews in a couple of days, and I’m pretty sure most of them are from you guys.

– Kirsty McManus, Perfume Therapy

Hidden Gems ARC service is the best promotion you can get short of a Bookbub. They’re expensive but they’re worth it. A must-have for any serious novel launch.

– NYT and USA Today Bestseller Krista Lakes

Your ARC service blew me away. You have a treasure there – readers who read and actually post their reviews. Do not know of another place that does this so well. Keep up the good work.

– Edita A. Petrick, Ribbons of Death

I’m very happy I found Hidden Gems. It is the most professional and effective ARC service out there.

– Alix Nichols, Playing With Fire

Thank you very much! I have used ARC services before in the past and 99% of them have been a let-down, this includes the ridiculously expensive NetGalley and quite a few more that get pushed by authors on popular writing forums. It was a breath of fresh air to have a service deliver on their promise, and to have genuine, honest feedback from regular people. I will definitely be using Hidden Gems in the future and wish you the best of luck.

– Greg Dragon, The Judas Cypher

Thanks so much! I have been so impressed with this service. I’ve tried a lot of different review programs, and this one outperformed the others by leaps and bounds. I will definitely be using Hidden Gems for all my new releases!

– Ellery A. Kane

I have been recommending Hidden Gems to other authors for a while: I have used it 3 times and have found it the best ARC program among several. It’s very well organized and you are able to leave a message so that readers who might dislike or be disturbed by an aspect of your book don’t pick it out. The reviews start to come in 2 or 3 days after booking, and they keep on coming. I signed up for 30 and got 26 this last time round! Afterwards you’re sent the extra comments that the readers made about the book. I find it the best way to give a start to a book.

– L.K. Moore, Blame the Devil

I just wanted to thank you again for such a fantastic service! I’m incredibly happy with the results and it was such a great deal for the fantastic ARC reviews and reader insight. I even got a few very sweet fan letters from some of the reviewers. Their attention to detail is fantastic–they have eagle eyes! They spotted stuff even my 40 years of industry experience copy-editor didn’t! Thank you so much again, I have told all my author friends. Will be singing your praises in all my groups as well.

– Skylar Hill

If you don’t have an ARC team of your own, HG is the way to go, no question about it. Easy peasy to do, and a real value for your money.

– Erin Wright

Hidden Gems ARC review program was a success for me. I had a great response rate. I got excellent feedback about the book, and I plan on using you guys again in the near future. I see it as a great tool to assess how much the readers like the writing, and where I need to improve. The results were better than I expected them to be. Thank you Hidden Gems!

– Eveline Hart

Your group of reviewers are truly amazing people! I am so glad that I had the pleasure of working with you all. I will be using your services in the future! I have never received such great feedback related to my books. You guys nailed it!! I will be using you in the future. You made this one of the easiest ARC programs!!

– Erin Trejo

How much does it cost?

*These prices were updated as of Sept 20, 2018 and apply to any orders from that date forward.

Upon booking you will be asked for a $20*, non-refundable deposit (via Paypal). Due to high demand our schedule fills up months in advance, and this deposit serves to lock down the date that you schedule.

Your $20 deposit is also a flat fee that covers your first 1-10 readers. Additional readers are $3 each up to 140 which is equivalent to our MAX option.  The MAX option is a flat $400 and means we’ll send the book to all the readers that reserve a copy.

There is a 50 reader minimum order, but regardless of your order size if we get less than the number of readers signed up than you requested, you will only be billed based on the number that signed up – even when less than our minimum. After you select your genre on our ARC order page, you’ll be shown the average number of reservations (a number we will do our best to keep updated) that books in that genre have been getting in the last month or so. This number is just an average to give authors a general idea of the current popularity of their genre in our program, but any individual book may get more or less. Also, those averages may be much different by the time your book is scheduled to go to our readers.

It is important to remember that you are responsible for paying for up to the number of reviewers you request on your order form, but the actual number may end up being less. If you get 10 or fewer reservations, you will own nothing further as your original deposit covers those.

Here are some pricing examples (assumes you’re requested at least these numbers of readers). Any book that gets no sign ups will have deposit refunded.

Pricing Examples

You will be invoiced a day or two before your book is scheduled to go out (depending on when/if we get the requested number of readers), and payment is due immediately.

Extra Value

  • We only bill in increments of 5 readers (e.g. 24 sign ups billed at 20)
  • We sometimes include, for free, a few extra readers that have signed up for your book beyond your order size. When we do, it’s typically 10% or less than the number you ordered, and are generally new Hidden Gems readers just getting used to the system

Note again that Hidden Gems DOES NOT GUARANTEE how many readers will leave a review, nor will we refund the difference between readers and reviews. We also DO NOT GUARANTEE what star rating readers will give you. These are HONEST reviews by REAL book loving readers. Such guarantees would be against the Amazon TOS, as well as the rules for some of the other review sites, so be wary of any service that promises this!

The fee you pay is for the service of having your book sent out to the number of readers you desire – readers that have expressly volunteered to read your book based on the information you provided (see How do I get started?). How many actually leave reviews and the rating of those reviews is based more on the quality of your book than anything else.

*Canadian orders are charged tax based on the province of the author

How do I get started?

There are a number of steps to our program, but only a few that you have to worry about. We do most of the heavy lifting.

  1. First, select the primary genre of your novel to ensure we send your book to the right set of readers. Hidden Gems handles a variety of genres:
      • Romance
      • Erotica
      • Mystery
      • Science Fiction
      • Fantasy
      • Thriller/Suspense
      • Horror
      • Humor/Satire
      • Young Adult
      • Self-Help
      • Cookbooks
      • General Non-Fiction
      • Women’s Literature
      • Faith/Spirituality
      • Children’s Books
      • General Fiction

    (if your book does not fit within one of these genres, please contact us)

  2. Select an available date from our calendar and pay the small deposit to lock in your date. Complete the information as best you can, however you can always add updates for any info you don’t have at the time of booking (or that changes) via the edit link that will be emailed to you after booking.  Updates are allowed up to 4 days before your scheduled date.  If all your book info isn’t included by that date, your ARC may be cancelled and replaced by another from the waiting list, as we need that info ahead of your ARC date to send to readers for sign up.  (Cancellations due to your info not being submitted on time mean a forfeit of your deposit)  Book details are sent to readers 2 days before your scheduled date, which is why we need them locked in ahead of that, or need the extra time to find a last minute replacement if we don’t get it.  Remember that your book details are used by our readers to decide whether to sign up to read and review your book, so please enter as much information as possible to ensure we find the best and most appropriate reviewers for your book.
  3. Around 4pm EST on the day before your ARC is scheduled to go out, you will receive an invoice (via Paypal) for the balance owing. Pay that promptly so that your book goes out on time, as scheduled.
  4. Make sure you’ve sent us your book files (PDF and EPUB formats are required, each file must be LESS THAN 10 megs) prior to your scheduled ARC date.
  5. On your scheduled date, readers that reserved a copy will be given access to your book.
  6. Once they’ve done reading, those readers can leave reviews on the review sites you’ve requested.
  7. Once it seems like all of your reviews have been logged (usually within a month or so), we’ll send you a wrap up email with any comments left for you from our readers.

Note that although readers are given at least a week before we remind them about leaving reviews, everyone reads at their own pace and so some reviews may come in sooner, and some may take longer. A week is more of a guideline that we ask readers to use in planning which books they reserve, so that they can read them in a timely fashion and don’t fall too far behind.

And again, since all of our ARC program subscribers are genuine, unpaid, voracious readers that have voluntarily signed up to read these free books, Hidden Gems cannot force anyone to leave reviews, nor can we make any guarantees on the number of reviews you will get – however, the program is made up of readers that generally leave reviews and when we identify any that are not participating anymore, they are removed. But even the best readers sometimes don’t review a particular book for any number of reasons, and that’s okay. Life happens. We only remove reviewers that are consistently not participating.

Please remember that Hidden Gems has no control over the review sites and their evolving rules, although we do our best to make sure we are in compliance with them. As such, we cannot be held responsible for reviews that are removed from those sites, although when made aware we will work with the reader to provide guidance on any ways that may help rectify the situation.

Sample timeline:
Given the above, here is a sample timeline for a book called “HG Super Novel” that has a scheduled date of April 3rd.

  • March 30th – All metadata info for “HG Super Novel” should have been emailed or updated on the edit form by today (or earlier)
  • April 1st – Details of “HG Super Novel” are sent to all ARC readers in your given genre that can review on your desired sites so that they can reserve copies
  • April 2nd – Book files (PDF and EPUB, less than 10 megs per file) should have been emailed or added to your edit form by end of day today (or earlier)
  • April 2nd – Final Invoice is delivered (around 4pm EST) and should be paid ASAP
  • April 3rd – Book is delivered to readers that reserved a copy
  • April 9th – Review reminders are sent (assuming book is published by now)
  • April 10th+ – Depending on how many reviews were asked for, they may continue to come in for a while – although the majority come in within the first week or two
  • Late April – Wrapup email arrives with comments (if any) left for your book from readers
Important Vellum EPUB creation information!

Vellum is MAC software used for formatting and creating eBook files and is used by many authors and formatters to generate ePub (and other) file formats. However, Vellum allows for the creation of different types of ePub files meant for different purposes, and it is important to upload the correct version to us so that readers can properly open your book and so that it is properly formatted.

In general, as most of our readers will be sending the ePub file to their Amazon kindle for conversion to show up on their kindle devices or with their kindle reading apps, it is recommended that you upload the kindle.epub version as that will display best on those devices.  The generic.epub version may cause formatting issues when converted for display on kindle devices, such as the entire book showing up in italics.

Note that it is the responsibility of the author to ensure that they are uploading the correct version of their ePub, and all files for that matter, and should always test their book files before uploading it to us. Best way to do this is by sending your ePub to your own @kindle email address and make sure it shows up and looks good on your own device.  Just opening it in programs like Calibre (or Vellum) may not give you an accurate idea of potential issues that your files may have.

Hidden Gems DOES NOT test your files ahead of time, and so in cases where there is an issue with the book files, we often only know about it after it has been delivered to readers and someone has sent us an email saying that they can’t read it. When we do see those emails, we do our best to resolve the issue as fast as possible so that readers can continue but depending on when the emails are sent, when they are seen by us, and what the issues are, this can potentially cause significant delays or issues with your review process.

*This FAQ question was updated on August 24, 2022 after being informed by Vellum of updates to Amazon’s conversion process that has made previous issues to no longer be a problem. It is possible that Amazon or Vellum may change things that would invalidate some or all of the above. We will update the question whenever (and if) we are made aware of new information about this issue.

I Need Help Filling Out The ARC Order Form

These are the fields on the ARC order form and the expected values. Only the fields with an Asterix(*) next to it are required at the time of booking, the others can be updated later (after booking, you’ll be sent an edit link you can use to update the info you added below – or if you created an author account, you can access it via your Author Dashboard).

However, if you are signing up for the waiting list it is recommended to fill out as much information as possible about your book. The more we know about your book, the more likely you are to be offered an earlier slot if one becomes available. Bookings with hardly any info added are rarely moved earlier.

Email Address*

This is the email address that we will send reminders and/or questions about your booking, and is also the email address that will be sent the final Paypal balance.  So make sure you enter it correctly.  If you don’t get a confirmation email regarding your booking within 30 mins of completing your order and paying your deposit, check your SPAM or JUNK folders.  If you still can’t find it, email us.

Book Title

The title of your book.

Pen Name

The author name on the book.  This can be your real name, or your pen name – whatever you put as author for this book.

Book Blurb/Description

This is where you write your blurb that will go to potential ARC readers. This does not need to match your book store blurb. Remember, you are targeting readers most likely to enjoy your book (since they’ll be leaving reviews) so make sure to be very honest and straightforward about things – adding notes about any potential triggers or elements that may upset or bother typical readers of this genre. If you are including previous books of a series (because the book you’re sending is not the first in a non-stand-alone series) then you should mention that here as well. Even if your book can stand-alone but is still part of an ongoing series, you should mention it.

Book Length*

Select Novel, Novella or Short story, as appropriate.

Number of Words (Approx)

Enter the approximate number of WORDS (not pages!) in your book.  You can round, it doesn’t need to be exact.  Just gives readers an idea of what they’re in for.

Sub Genres/Sub Categories

This is a free form field that you can use to further define your book within the overall genre you selected before starting this form. Please separate with commas and capitalize each sub category. Example:

Contemporary Romance, Small Town, Bad Boy Billionaire

Book Cover

Please upload a cover of less than 1 meg. If your book is already published on Amazon, easiest thing is to just go to your product page, right click on the cover to save it, and then upload that version as it’s already resized nicely.

Number of Reviewers*

This is the number of reader/reviewers you are looking for us to send the book to. Minimum order is 50, but if you want us to send to as many as possible just select MAX. For MAX orders, your final bill won’t exceed $400 – the price of about 140 readers – but we will still to more than 140 if the demand is there. Note that if you get less readers than requested, you are only billed for the number that reserve the book, even if it is less than our minimum. Please read How Much Does It Cost for full pricing details before ordering.

Although this field is required at the time of booking, you can change it later.

Has your book Been released?

Is your book already published, yes or no.

Release Date (this field only appears if you selected No to the question above)

Enter the date your book will be released. Note that by default, the first review reminder for your book goes out a week after we send the book files to readers. However, if you enter a release date that is longer than 1 week, the reminder will go out on that date instead. We do not recommend sending your book out more than 2-3 weeks prior to your release date as readers in our program read a lot of books, and if they have to wait that long before leaving a review they may forget the details, leading to lower quality or even fewer reviews. Most readers can finish a book within a week or two, and they can always leave a review later than that.

Review Sites

By default, all of the review sites that we support are selected, maximizing the number of readers that will be able to reserve this book. If your book is not available on any of the platforms selected, or if you do not want reviews on any of these platforms, please unselect the corresponding checkboxes. (You can edit these later, before your ARC date, if needed)

  • Amazon
  • Bookbub
  • Google Play Books
  • Apple Books
  • Goodreads
  • Kobo
  • Barnes & Noble

Remember, the more sites that you select, the more potential reviews you will get. Amazon is very restrictive, and gets worse every year, blocking many real people from leaving reviews and thus many can only review on other sites. Even if you are in KDP Select, you can still get reviews on sites like Goodreads and Bookbub.

Book Links and ASINs

For each checkbox that you leave selected above, a corresponding field will show up where you leave your book link or Amazon ASINs. While these fields are not required at the time of booking, without them we cannot collect reviews as readers need to know how to find your book. Review reminders will only go out when ALL of the fields corresponding to your checkboxes are filled in. If you don’t get them in before the deadline, you are responsible for emailing them to us before your publication date or your reviews may be delayed.

For examples of the links we need for each review site, expand the following:

Amazon ASIN Example

If you want reviews on Amazon, we need the ASIN of your book. For example, this is the ASIN to the book Ender’s Game: B00006JMD2

The ASIN is found within the address bar of your browser when you are viewing your book’s product page on Amazon. Do NOT add the full link to your book (such as  We ONLY need the ASIN, which is that set of 10 letters and numbers.

It is the author’s responsibility to ensure the ASIN to their book is correct and updated on their order form or sent to Hidden Gems via email (if form is longer editable).

Bookbub Link Example

If you want reviews on Bookbub, we need the full link/URL to your book on that site. For example, this is the Bookbub URL to the book Ender’s Game:

The URL is found in the address bar of your browser. Please copy the URL that goes to your book on Bookbub where readers can leave their reviews.

It is the author’s responsibility to ensure the review link to their book for each site they want reviews on is correct and updated on their order form or sent to Hidden Gems via email (if form is longer editable).

Google Play Books Link Example

If you want reviews on Google Play Books, we need the full link/URL to your book on that site. For example, this is the Google Play Books URL to the book Ender’s Game:

The URL is found in the address bar of your browser. Please copy the URL that goes to your book on Google Play Books where readers can leave their reviews.

It is the author’s responsibility to ensure the review link to their book for each site they want reviews on is correct and updated on their order form or sent to Hidden Gems via email (if form is longer editable).

Apple Books Link Example

If you want reviews on Apple, we need the full link/URL to your book on that site. For example, this is the Apple Books URL to the book Ender’s Game:

The URL is found in the address bar of your browser. Please copy the URL that goes to your book on Apple Books where readers can leave their reviews.

It is the author’s responsibility to ensure the review link to their book for each site they want reviews on is correct and updated on their order form or sent to Hidden Gems via email (if form is longer editable).

Goodreads Link Example

If you want reviews on Goodreads, we need the full link/URL to your book on that site. For example, this is the Goodreads URL to the book Ender’s Game:

The URL is found in the address bar of your browser. Please copy the URL that goes to your book on Goodreads where readers can leave their reviews.

It is the author’s responsibility to ensure the review link to their book for each site they want reviews on is correct and updated on their order form or sent to Hidden Gems via email (if form is longer editable).

Kobo Link Example

If you want reviews on Kobo, we need the full link/URL to your book on that site. For example, this is the Kobo URL to the book Ender’s Game:

The URL is found in the address bar of your browser. Please copy the URL that goes to your book on Kobo where readers can leave their reviews.

It is the author’s responsibility to ensure the review link to their book for each site they want reviews on is correct and updated on their order form or sent to Hidden Gems via email (if form is longer editable).

Barnes & Noble Link Example

If you want reviews on Barnes & Noble, we need the full link/URL to your book on that site. For example, this is the B&N URL to the book Ender’s Game:

The URL is found in the address bar of your browser. Please copy the URL that goes to your book on B&N where readers can leave their reviews.

It is the author’s responsibility to ensure the review link to their book for each site they want reviews on is correct and updated on their order form or sent to Hidden Gems via email (if form is longer editable).

Can We Mention Your Book?

By answering yes here, you are giving us permission to mention your book on social media or on our web site as being one of the books that has used our ARC service. For example we sometimes write blogs about highly reviewed books of certain genres, and include books that have used our service (and selected YES to this question) as part of that list. Those blogs link to your book, giving you exposure to more readers than just the ARC readers.

We might also post occasionally on social media sites, etc.

Waiting List

As our service has grown in popularity, our schedule has become packed.  While we continue to work on this issue by adding new readers, we’ve also added a waiting list.

If you want to be considered for an earlier slot, please select yes and fill in a date for the next question.

Please note that the waiting list isn’t necessarily a first come, first serve waiting list but based more on best fit – so it is essential to fill in as much info as possible on your order if you want to be considered for an earlier slot, and being on the waiting list does not guarantee you’ll get an earlier slot. Thus do not book a slot for a date that you aren’t going to take

Waiting List Date (field only shows up if you said Yes to the question above)

If you answered Yes to being on the waiting list, you must enter the earliest possible date you wish to be moved to.  You will not be offered anything earlier, but you may be offered dates on or later than that date.  If you’re offered a date later and you accept it, you can still remain on the waiting list in case something even earlier comes up.

As many authors change their mind when offered a new spot, we do not automatically move books without first confirming the new date with the author. These offers are sent via email and are time sensitive, so please make sure to respond ASAP. We try to give at least a day before offering the spot to someone else, but in cases of last minute openings it is often first come first serve.

General note about Books File uploads

Please upload your files as soon as possible, but the day before your scheduled to be sent out is the latest you can send them in.  If you are waiting until the last minute, please let us know!

Ideal file size is 5 megs or less, but they have to be less than 10 megs per file or they cannot be uploaded or sent out.  It is the author’s responsibility to ensure that the books are sized appropriately and sent in on time.  If you cannot get us the files on time or within the size limits, your ARC will be canceled and no refunds are offered for your deposit.

If you need help with file conversion, we do offer that service for an extra $10 per file but it depends on what you can provide as the source. We would need either a formatted word processing doc or an eBook file to use as the source, we cannot use PDF files as the source and create other formats from that. Contact us for more info or help.

MOBI File (No longer accepted)

As of August 2022, Amazon dropped support for MOBI files completely so we no longer accept them at all either.

ePub File – REQUIRED

Please upload your ePub version of your book. ePub versions are required, and are the preferred format for reading eBooks by the vast majority of readers.


Please upload your PDF version of your book.  PDF versions are required before we send out your ARC, and subject to the notes above. Worried about sending out a PDF copy?  Read this.

Are you living in Canada (if so, we must charge GST/HST)

As Hidden Gems is located in Canada, we are required to charge fellow Canadian’s GST/HST for any orders.  Taxes will be applied to your deposit and final balance automatically, based on the province you select in the Province field that shows up if you select Yes to this question.

Why do you no longer accept/send the MOBI format?

In May 2022, Amazon notified the community that they would stop supporting the MOBI format via the send to kindle process as of August 2022, and that effective immediately, ePub files could now be sent to kindles.  Because of this change, we have also stopped supporting this now out-of-date format.

Your Schedule Is Booked Far In Advance, Is There A Waiting List?

Yes, unfortunately due to the popularity of our service, the schedule has become very packed lately for all genres and we’re working hard to improve the situation.

For now, the way we handle this is via a waiting list field on the order form that you can fill out when you book a slot, adding the earliest possible date you want to be moved to.  Then, if anything comes up on or after that day, we’ll ask if you want it.  But that list is reserved for people that make a booking and are still willing to take the slot that they book if nothing earlier comes up (although you can always change to a different book later if you’ve written a newer one by the time your slot comes up). 

Keep in mind that there are no guarantees that you’ll get an earlier spot. It really depends on various things, like your genre and the details you enter in your booking.  So it is VERY important to enter as much information into your order form as possible if you want to be considered for a waiting list spot. If you don’t have the info when you book, fill it in with the edit link we send out shortly after booking as soon as you can.  Orders that are missing key info will likely not get moved to an earlier spot.  Key factors we consider are genre, number of reviewers, sub categories, publication and waiting list dates, etc. 

The waiting list is more about best fit for any slot that opens rather than a first come first serve type thing – although that does play some part as well.

If a date becomes available, we will email you to ask if you want to be moved to that date – (author’s often change their mind by the time we offer them an earlier slot, so we won’t move anyone automatically).  Unless the slot is for a very last minute date, we’ll typically give you at least 24 hours to respond before we ask someone else. After that, it becomes first come first serve, so get back to us as soon as you see the email.

Help—I scheduled a date but my book won’t be ready!

It happens to the best of us, sometimes. The important thing is to inform us as soon as you know you aren’t going to hit your date so we can do our best to help find you something else according to our author-initiated date change policy.

These details and fees apply to authors requesting to move their scheduled date to a later one (for whatever reason). These details do NOT apply to waiting list moves where we contact the author offering a sooner date (those are always free).

All author date shifts requests are subject to availability based on the schedule, meaning the desired date may not always available. We’ll do the best we can to get you the closest opening, but if we can’t find one suitable to the author, they are free to cancel their ARC completely (forfeiting their deposit).

Requests made 2 weeks or more from the scheduled ARC date:
1st move request – Free
Subsequent move requests for the same book – $10 (billed and due immediately)

Requests made less than 2 weeks (but more than 3 days) from scheduled ARC date:
$10 (billed and due immediately)

Requests made 3 or less days from your scheduled date cannot be accommodated as your details need to be sent out 2 days before your scheduled date.  Any author who does not have a book ready to send will have to cancel and rebook their spot. No additional fee is charged for this, but your initial deposit is non-refundable.