ARC Reviews

Advanced Review Copies

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.  

…in which I review the review services and explain how I got 50+ reviews on Goodreads a week after publishing my book.  

All stats are as of a week after launch. Reviews are still trickling in, and I haven’t sold that many copies, so they are probably late ARCs.   Genre: Contemporary Romance Debut Novel  

Net Galley

As a reader: NetGalley is very popular with Bookstagramers. It’s a lot of traditional published books from the big publishing houses, which has a sneak preview appeal to it: you get to read these big names before anyone else. These books often are proof copies that have not been proofread or properly formatted. Most trad pub books are given months to read and review. Once I sign up and get approved for a book, I get a weekly email from NetGalley reminding me of my commitments.

NetGalley recommends maintaining a feedback ratio of at least 80%. It’s very easy to get started. I found some Read Now titles and read and reviewed them. You don’t even have to review on retailers or GR, you can just leave feedback on NetGalley, which is good for when you don’t enjoy a book and don’t want to leave a negative review. I’ve received 10 review copies via NetGalley.

As an author: NetGalley is very expensive unless you do a co-op. I paid $45 to have my book on a one-month Net Galley co-op through Victory Editing. I declined anyone who didn’t expressly list romance as a genre, but approved everyone else. I approved 64 members and received 22 reviews on NetGalley, 16 on Goodreads. Yes, NetGalley reviews generally rated my book lower (3.33) than my total average (3.92).

I did have quite a few reviewers post reviews on Instagram or Goodreads without adding the link in or tagging me. I also approved some booksellers/librarians/professional reviewers, though they all have ridiculously low feedback rates. I did get one review from a librarian who said they were interested in more information for their library and I sent a media kit (see Reedsy’s free course on libraries for more information).

Hidden Gems

As a reader: Hidden Gems used to be my favorite. Every day I get an email offering me one or two romance books to review. They have a dashboard that gives you a pie chart of your feedback. I’ve received 28 review copies via HiddenGems. However, I’ve noticed a drop in quality. Books are now being offered with poor covers, typos in blurbs, or I am much more likely to DNF a book I’ve picked up from them. I ALWAYS provide feedback on the form…

As an author: Hidden Gems has a huge waitlist, and claims a review rate of 80%. I booked Hidden Gems for all three of my books ASAP. They claim an average sign up for:   Contemporary/steamy, Military, Sports, Bad Boy, Billionaire – 40-200 readers   My book got 15 claims on it. Here’s where a bunch of red flags go up: authors are not provided links to reviews (which every other service provides) nor do they provide the author with the feedback from the readers. Basically, there is zero accountability on Hidden Gems’ part. I emailed them a few days after my book was released and they said my book had ‘12 reviews on Amazon’ from their readers. When I asked about getting links for the reviews I was told that would be a breach of privacy.   I truly believe that my low-quality reviews on Amazon came from Hidden Gems. People who rated my book 5 stars but left reviews where they clearly didn’t read my novel.  

Book Sirens

 As a reader: I get an email once a week from BookSirens that says something like ‘260 new ARCs for you’. Only the first four are displayed, so I have to click through to the website to truly browse. I’ve read six ARCs through BookSirens.   As an author: I tried to set up the yearly author service to save money since I am publishing three books this year. Thankfully, BookSirens emailed me and said ‘let’s see how your first one goes’. I only got 10 claims which led to 8 reviews.  

Book Sprout

 As a reader: You have to browse to find ARCs, there’s no regular email that goes out with suggestions.   As an author: Book Sprout is free for up to 20 copies. I got 11 claims and 7 reviews. Six of those people reviewed in 3 or more locations. I got 6 reviews on BookBub and 5 wide reviews.  

Voracious Readers Only

As a reader: I get 1-3 emails a day offering review copies. When you click the button requesting a review copy, you are also signing up for the authors newsletter. I’ve signed up for 5 review copies through VRO. Guess how many authors have added me to their mailing list because of VRO? One. The rest gave me review copies and I never heard from them again, not even a reminder to review.   As an author: VRO is free but only available to use once at a cap of 20 reviewers (I actually got 22 copies claimed). I sent the file via BookFunnel, which reminded people to review. I got 4 reviews.   

Summation of ARC Services

I received 35 Goodreads reviews through using these services, approving 121 copies for a 30% success rate. I spent $110 to get those reviews.   What about the rest of my reviews?   I sent out 65 additional review copies to editorials, writing friends, IRL friends, and Bookstagramers. I knew about 30 of those (IRL friends) would not review, but it’s better than them buying my book and messing up my also-boughts. I used BookFunnel to distribute (certified copies for in bulk or gift copies for one-off people).   I did send some copies to a few authors I would be thrilled to have editorial reviews from. I got two which were awesome, and then got a few mentions in niche magazines or blogs.   Bookstagramers: In terms of my overall marketing strategy, I hit bookstagram hard. It’s a networking tool, and while I have certainly built a decent audience, I don’t think it’s netted me any sales. BUT, I network with bookstagramers like crazy, posting my own reviews and commenting on others. I posted a graphic asking for reviewers and it got shared by a few key people. I sent out 25 copies to bookstagramers and received 15 reviews on Goodreads.  

What I’m going to do with book 2:   Unfortunately I have already put a non-refundable deposit down for Hidden Gems, so I might as well run with that. I just posted book 2 up on NetGalley today, and am sending a widget to everyone who reviewed book 1. They click the link and are auto-approved for book 2. Honestly, the low review average doesn’t bother me. (except the SINGLE 1-star review).  

I plan on using StoryOrigin this time for their new public review service.

    So you made it this far! Yay and a gold star for you. Do you have any questions or suggestions?


This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

That’s how I got 50+ Reviews on my debut novel. I hope you find these tips helpful!