An ARC is an Advance Review Copy of a book. Generally, a lot of reviews on a book help it get noticed on Amazon and let other potential buyers know that others have already read and enjoyed it – thus helping sales as well. Sometimes these early reviews also help to generate excitement and buzz about their upcoming work, especially when the reviews start coming in positively, or if they start getting picked up or posted to different blogs or websites.
The earlier a book has reviews, the sooner this positive effect can begin. To achieve this, an author may choose to send out free, advance copies of their newest book to fans or interested readers in the hope that those readers will then leave honest reviews of the book when it goes live. In some cases, they may even send out these copies after the book is already for sale, too.
Hidden Gems (HG) has sent out hundreds of novels from hundreds of authors – usually at least one book per day, every day of the year. With so much variety, every reader will eventually see something that interests them, but at the same time, they will not be interested in (or have time to read) all the ARC offerings. For that reason, each of our books is opt-in, and because of our large pool of ARC readers, we often still must select only a subset of readers from those that are interested. Here’s how the process generally works.
An author looking for reviews on their novel contacts us and provides us with the details of their book (cover, blurb, genres/categories, etc), how many reviewers they want us to send the book to, and when they want it to go out.
A couple days before the book is due to go out, we send those author supplied details to all of our potential ARC readers of that genre*. If the book interests the reader, they simply click the sign-up link to be added to the potential pool.
We ask that readers ONLY click the sign-up link for books that look interesting to them, and are books that they believe that they will enjoy and have the time to read and review over the next week. Don’t worry about missing out on an offer as there are always plenty more to come!
*HG’s ARC program started out with strictly romance novels, but has since branched out to include all genres of books. Learn about choosing which genres you want to hear about here.
On the scheduled date, Hidden Gems emails a link to the book to the readers that we have selected to receive it. This list is based on a number of factors and limited by the number of readers that the author has asked for – which means not everyone that signs up will get the book. This email may (if the book is already for sale) also include a link to the review area on Amazon in case you finish early, as well as our reader form that you fill out for each book we send you.
Selected readers are given at minimum a week (sometimes longer) to read the book before we send an email with the Amazon review link and reader form for them to fill out.
Filling out the reader form for each book you were sent is an essential part of remaining in the HG ARC Program, regardless of whether you left a review for the book (or even read it).
If you asked for the book and we sent it to you, please fill out the form. There is a field on this form for you to indicate that you couldn’t/didn’t leave a review on Amazon for this particular book, as well as a place to leave an optional comment to the author.
If you love to read books, have a valid Amazon account that allows you to leave reviews*, and are willing to fill out our extremely short and quick reader form for each book we send you, then it sounds like you’ll be a great fit for us.
Seriously, if you want to get plenty of free books to read, here’s all that we expect in return:
*Due to a recent change in Amazon’s policy, anyone leaving a review must have spent at least $50 on Amazon in the past. If not, they may not be allowed to leave reviews. Amazon’s decision in this matter is completely outside our control, so any issues you have with it should be taken up with Amazon directly. HG ARC Readers must be able to leave reviews on Amazon, as that is where our authors are looking for their reviews to be posted.
**There are sometimes valid reasons why you cannot leave a review for a particular book, and that is understandable, however please still let us know by posting a brief reason for not reviewing in our form so we know you are still participating. Note, however, that HG reserves the right to remove users from the program that we feel (in our sole judgement) are giving reasons for not reviewing too often, as it is a sign that they do not have time to participate in the program and we would rather give the spot to someone else in fairness to everyone involved.
The Hidden Gems ARC program is opt-in, as we don’t want to bother our entire subscriber base with the many emails and reminders that get sent out. As well, we only send out ARC offers of each particular book genre to those that have indicated an interest in those genres. To change any of these preferences, please follow these steps:
Remember, if you’ve opted into the ARC program, you can expect emails from us about upcoming books looking for readers in those genres. If a book doesn’t interest you, just ignore the email and you won’t be bothered about that particular book again. However, if you do sign up for that book and are selected, you will receive important additional emails about that book so please make sure to read them.
*Note: To unsubscribe entirely from Hidden Gems, just click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of any email we’ve sent you.
There are no quotas on books you have to ask for or are allowed to ask for. You can sign up to read as many or as few as you want. That number has no bearing on your status as a reader and whether or not we will continue sending you books. You read when you have time. If you stop signing up for books for a week or a month or a year, and then all of a sudden you request one again, it will be like you never stopped.
The only thing that affects your status as a reader with us is the consistency with which you fill out our reader forms and leave reviews for the books that you HAVE asked for and were sent.
So just make sure that when you do sign up for a book, that you have the time and desire to read it by around the due date indicated in the sign up form. This date will always be at least a week, sometimes longer. And if you read the book sooner than that, even better!
Details about new ARC books looking for reviewers will arrive each morning (EST) for the genres you have signed up for (if there are books in that genre scheduled for that day). Read the email to determine if you are interested in reading and reviewing that book and have the time to do so by the indicated due date (at least 1 week). Only click on the SIGN UP link at the bottom of the email for the books you want to read and review.
Note that each book is only looking for a limited number of readers, so not all readers will be chosen. We do our best to make sure everyone gets a chance to read often, provided those readers are in good standing with us (regularly leave reviews, always fill out reader forms, etc), so don’t get discouraged if you aren’t chosen for each book you request. Just keep signing up. The more consistent you are with filling out the reader form, the more likely you’ll be chosen for a future book.
A couple of days after the sign-up email arrived, an email will go out to the selected readers for that book with a link to download the book. If you are unsure what to do with those files, click here. Unless there are unforeseen delays in the book getting delivered to us, those emails will come out around 9am EST, so please watch for them.
Note that you do not need to contact us again about a book once you’ve signed up – you’ll know if you were selected by the fact that you do or do not get the email with the book links.
If you’re concerned that you missed the email with the book links or want to check whether you were chosen for a particular book, you can click the sign-up link in your original email for it again. Once the readers for that book have been chosen, that link will change to a message telling you whether or not you were chosen and if you were, you’ll be given an option to request to have the book links sent to you again. Your review forms will also now have a link to request the books be resent as well, in case you only find out you were chosen when it comes time to leave your review. Feel free to download the books and read them at that point – better late than never!
Once the reading period is up, you’ll hear from us again with a link to where to leave your review on Amazon and a link to our reader form. The reader form has a place for you to copy and paste the link to your review (click here if you’re unsure how to get your review link and paste it into our form) or a reason for why you couldn’t leave a review this time, as well as an optional comment for the author if you choose.
IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO MISS FILLING OUT OUR READER FORM – READERS THAT REPEATEDLY FAIL TO FILL OUT THIS FORM WILL BE CONSIDERED TO BE TOO BUSY TO CONTINUE WITH THE PROGRAM, AND MAY BE REMOVED FROM THE ARC PROGRAM WITHOUT WARNING.
Feel free to participate in as many or as few ARC reviews as you have time and interest for.
And remember that you can opt in or out of the ARC program, as well as change your genre preferences, at any time. Click here to find out how.
There are a number of factors to consider here. The most important one is that each book only goes out to a limited number of readers, and we have thousands of readers signed up to our ARC program. While each book only appeals to a subset of those readers, there are still often more sign-ups for a book than copies we can send out. So while there is an element of chance that goes into things when all other factors are equal, there are some factors that we consider when making our reader choices.
Here are the most common reasons why you might not be getting picked for the books you sign up for, aside from sheer luck of the draw.
We can’t and don’t force anyone to leave a review, doing so is voluntary. Besides, we understand that life gets in the way sometimes and that there are plenty of legitimate reasons why you couldn’t or didn’t want to leave a review.
Maybe something came up and you didn’t have the time to read the book that you expected (although please feel free to read it at a later date and leave your review then – better late than never!), or perhaps you just couldn’t get into the book and either didn’t finish it or didn’t like it and you don’t want to leave a negative review. That’s your choice and we know that not everyone will be able to leave reviews 100% of the time.
Whatever the case, when circumstances do prevent you from reviewing a book that you requested and we selected you for, we still ask that you fill out our reader form. There is a field on that form for your reason for not reviewing. It doesn’t have to go into detail – it could be something as simple as ““Emergency came up, didn’t get a chance to finish it” or “Started it but realized it wasn’t for me”. The important thing is that you fill out the form so that we know that you aren’t just done with the program and that you want to remain as an active participant.
All that being said, our ARC program is designed for enthusiastic readers that enjoy leaving reviews on Amazon for the books they’ve read, so if you are regularly missing reviews then it could be that our ARC program isn’t for you. We aren’t going to remove you from the program for a few misses, but if it starts to get to the point where your reasons and empty forms are outweighing your reviews, then we will likely either remove you from the program or stop sending you books until you can catch up. It’s only fair to both the authors of these books, and the other reviewers that are trying to read them.
Whenever you sign up for a book to read, you’ll be made aware of your current status and see a list of reader forms that you still need to fill out. Once you miss too many, you may be prevented from signing up for any new books until you catch up.
Removal from the ARC program is up to the sole discretion of Hidden Gems, however if your circumstances change and you find you have the time to participate fully again and wish to be reinstated, please contact us and we will try and work with you to make that happen. We’re always happy to help connect readers with great books! That’s the whole reason for our services!
If we’ve sent you an ARC book, then eventually we’re going to be sending you an email with instructions on leaving your review (unless you fill out the reader form before the review due date). There are 2 important steps here.
Our email will include a link that takes you directly to the amazon page where you can log your review for the book. Please do so as soon as you’re done reading (you can do it before the week is up if the book is available, in this case we likely sent this link within the email that contained the actual books that you downloaded) or when the review is due. It’s fine if it takes you a bit longer than a week to review, but please get it done ASAP. Better late than never.
Note that leaving a review on Amazon requires an Amazon account.
Hidden Gems has no ties to Amazon, so the only way for us to know that you are leaving reviews is if you send us the link. You do so by copy and pasting the link from Amazon into our reader form. We sent the link to this reader form with each email asking for reviews to be logged. (In the event that you chose not to leave a review for this book, you still need to fill out this reader form but instead of the link, add the reason why you did not review). You may also leave an optional comment for the author about their book.
This is a new feature that Hidden Gems has developed to help out, and you can read more about it here. Pressing this may be able to get your review link automatically, but if it doesn’t work you’ll have to send it to us manually. Read on for help on how to do that.
Many people have trouble with this step, especially those on tablets or phones, so if that’s you then read on and we’ll try to help! Note though, that if you have access to a computer, the steps are far easier.
Finding the link – Option 1
After you submit your review on Amazon, they will either take you to a page with your review on it, or send you an email later if your review doesn’t go live immediately. That is the link we’re looking for. It’s also called a “permalink” to your review. If clicked on, this link opens up a page with just YOUR review to that specific book, and that’s the link we’re looking for.
Finding the link – Option 2
You can also get the link yourself (if you already left the page or deleted/can’t find the email) by going to the book you reviewed, finding your review, and clicking on the title of your review. Alternatively, you can click on your username (under the title) of ANY review you’ve ever left, and you’ll get to a page with all of your reviews. You can find the one you want by scrolling through that list and clicking on the review title when you see it.
Getting the Link Into Our Reader Form
Okay, so once you’ve gotten to the review page that has JUST your review on it, you need to get it to us (Note that we are not looking for the review EDIT page, because only YOU can see that – here’s a tip, if your URL has the words “create-review” in it, that’s not the right link).
Depending on your device, click/tap on the URL/address bar of your browser. You should see the URL to your review there, it will usually start something like this: “https://www.amazon.com/review/…”
How you do this depends on what device you’re using.
Steps using a computer
It’s easiest to do this with a computer, so if you have one available we would suggest using it here.
Steps using a tablet or phone
The steps are similar with a phone or tablet, however they may be specific to your device.
Email software programs and services have very strict filtering rules these days, and will often identify newsletters and emails coming from mailing lists as SPAM or JUNK, even in cases where the person receiving them has specifically signed up to receive them, as with our Hidden Gems subscribers.
If you’re consistently missing newsletter or ARC emails, then it’s possible that this is the issue for you. The best thing you can do to avoid this is add our email address (email@example.com) to your contact list, safe sender list, anti-spam list, etc. How you do so depends largely on what sort of email software/provider you’re using, however there is a handy guide that gives instructions for all of the major email client programs. Please check it out and follow the instructions to add our email address to your email client by CLICKING THIS LINK.
Remember that participation in our ARC program requires you to read the books that you sign up for regularly, as well as log your participation by filling out our reader form for each one – thus you don’t want to miss out on any of the emails with these links or instructions. And if you’re missing our newsletter emails, then you’re missing great deals on free and discount romance novels. So please make sure to fix this problem ASAP! Thanks!
Please note that if you are no longer receiving ARC emails at all, but still receiving Newsletter emails, then it is possible that you were removed from the ARC program due to not regularly reading the books we sent (as judged by whether you filled out the reader form for that book). If you feel you were removed in error or wish to have another chance, feel free to email us and we can discuss it.
There are 3 possible book files that authors normally provide to our readers, each have their own benefits and uses, and readers can choose the one that works best for them.
PDF – A PDF file can be read by most devices and computers simply by clicking on it. This normally opens the book up and the user can begin reading immediately.
MOBI – This is the format read by Amazon’s kindle reader and cloud reading applications. While some devices may open a MOBI file directly so that you can begin reading, many readers prefer the book on their kindle or kindle reading apps. In order to send the book to your kindle device, please follow these directions:
EPUB – Many non-kindle devices use the EPUB format, and many different programs and devices are designed to use it. However, as most of our authors are most concerned with Amazon (and Amazon does not use the EPUB format), not all of our authors choose to provide their books in this format.
Most important – these book files are for your personal use only. Please do not share them with anyone. Instead, why not just encourage your friends to join our program themselves?
If you attempt to use our new “Try to Find My Review Automatically” button, you may be prompted for your Amazon public profile link. It’s perfectly safe to send us this, but here is some info about this to ease your mind, as well as instructions on how to find it.
Whenever you look at a review for a product on Amazon, you’ll see the Amazon username of the person that left the review. By clicking on that name, you are taken to their public profile page where you can see ALL of the reviews they’ve left. These are public reviews, of course, and there is no other identifying data on this page other than your username. This is info that Amazon stores and displays that anyone can access.
As this profile displays a list of all the reviews you’ve left, we can sometimes use it to grab your review link automatically – thus saving you the step of manually copying and pasting it – something that many of our subscribers have trouble with. This is simply a convenience tool, and if you prefer not to give it to us for whatever reason, you are free to continue logging your reviews on our form manually. Note that grabbing your review info is the only thing we use your profile for and really is the only thing it is useful for in the first place.
If you go to any of your reviews and click on your name, that takes you to the page we need. Just copy that link and put it in the box where we’re asking for it (we only need it once).
But what if you can’t find your review links in the first place, which is the whole reason you wanted to use the auto button? Well, if that’s the case there is another way to find your profile page. Go to the Amazon.com website and then use the menus to navigate in the following manner:
The Hidden Gems ARC review service relies on authors sending their books to us to supply to our readers. Each author only asks for a certain number of reviewers and we have thousands of reviewers signed up to our service. So in fairness to both our authors and other reviewers, we need to keep track of who is regularly reviewing the books (on Amazon) we send them and who is not.
We aren’t going to penalize our readers for missing the occasional review because we understand that life sometimes gets in the way and a book couldn’t be read or finished – or there are occasionally legitimate reasons why a reader might not want to review a particular book. However, if reviewers are regularly not reviewing the books they’ve asked for, then we will send them less books – or even no books at all – until they can catch up.
In the past, it was difficult for our reviewers to know if they were behind – perhaps because they missed some emails or forgot to fill out a form. So in order to be more transparent, we have devised a system by which reviewers can see their status each time they sign up for a new ARC.
As we are Hidden Gems, we’ve named our different levels by describing your Gem status as a reviewer. You will see 1 of these 4 messages whenever you click to sign up for a new ARC book:
Catch up on your reviews!
If you’re missing too many reviews, you’ll see the forms for catching up on your sign-up page or a button to have a list sent to you for you to deal with later. Please fill in any missing reviews as soon as you can. If you’ve left reasons for books that you later added a review for, you can go back and update your forms as well.
We really don’t want to block any of our reviewers from reading new books so please do your best to catch up and only ask for books you have the time and interest to read. If you think your status is incorrect or have any questions about it, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Our new software has allowed us to stop using google forms completely, which means a lot more flexibility in terms of allowing edits and showing you the books that you still have left to fill out a form for whenever you apply to review a new ARC. For the most part we’ve designed these new forms to be fairly self-explanatory, but it might be helpful to quickly go over them.
Here’s what the new form looks like – note that “Book Title” will be the actual title of the book you still need to fill out the form for (you may see multiple copies of this form if you have many books without forms outstanding).
At the top you have the option to click the link next to the book title to go to the Amazon review page for that book, if you haven’t already left your review.
The Try to Find My Review Automatically button is new and described here.
The 3 text boxes correspond to the old google forms we used to use. There is a place for your review or your reason for not reviewing (this form only accepts a review OR a reason, not both) and then your optional comment to the author.
Beneath that is a link to have the download links for this book emailed to you again, in case you lost the original email or never got it in the first place. Now you can still easily catch up – better late than never! However, the book links don’t last forever so make sure to download them ASAP. That option is only available for a few days after reviews are due.
And finally – the Submit Form button.
PLEASE DON’T FORGET TO PRESS THE SUBMIT BUTTON AFTER YOU FILL OUT THE BOXES ON THIS FORM!
If you don’t, we won’t get your information!
Note that when you’ve been sent multiple books that are now due but you have not yet filled out a form for, you may see multiple copies of the form above when you click to sign up for a new ARC. Each one has the name of the book at the top, so please fill them out ASAP and make sure to add the correct reviews to the correct boxes (or use the auto button).
In the past when we used Google forms we couldn’t do very much validation on what was added in the review link field and consequently we got a lot of URLs in there that were not valid. In our new system, we are able to ensure that the link you are sending is a proper review link. If it isn’t, we will give you an error with information that is hopefully helpful enough for you to understand what you did wrong and correct it.
First of all, please make sure that you’ve added firstname.lastname@example.org to your contact and/or safe sender list. Otherwise, some of our emails may end up in your SPAM or JUNK folders (or the Promotional tab in Gmail).
If you’ve done that and still don’t see those emails, you can still get those links again if the books aren’t too old.
There are a few ways to do this. First, if you still have the sign-up email from that book you can click the sign-up link again and you will be offered an option to have the links resent to you.
Another way is to go to the review form (although it may mean waiting for the reviews are due email to arrive) and at the bottom of the form will be an option to have the book links sent to you again.
Finally, when you sign-up for a new book you will be presented with the review form for the book you are missing (if reviews are due) – and you can click the link at the bottom of that form to have the links emailed again.
If you think you may have missed the email telling you that you’re a reviewer for a particular book, you can click on the sign-up email link again after a couple of days. You will be told whether or not you were selected at that time, and if you were you will be given the option to have the book links emailed to you again.
The most common reason you may not be getting chosen for many (or any) ARC books anymore is because you are too far behind in filling out the forms and leaving reviews for the books we’ve already sent you. The easiest way to catch up on that is to fill those forms out as soon as possible.
Once you’ve missed a few forms, whenever you sign-up for a new book you will be either shown all of the forms for the books that you’ve missed or given the option to have them sent to you. Either way, you can fill in the missing forms with your review links or reasons using those forms and catch up on what you’ve missed. Once you’ve done that, you should find that you are being chosen for books again.
If you still have any issues or questions after reading this FAQ, please feel free to contact us and we’d be more than happy to help! Our main goal is to help connect readers with new and exciting books by their favorite (or soon to be favorite) authors. If there is anything preventing that from happening, we’ll do our best to get it resolved ASAP.