Author Topic: Hidden Gems ARC Service  (Read 6937 times)  

Offline HiddenGems

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Hidden Gems ARC Service
« on: July 06, 2017, 11:06:56 AM »
The Hidden Gems ARC service has been sending out books for review since October 2015 and since then has just continued to grow into what we believe is one of the premiere ARC services around.  We now have over 5000 reader/reviewers and send out hundreds of books a year - on average more than 1 per day.

While we did start off by exclusively servicing the romance community, we have since branched off and begun to ARC books of ALL Genres.  All of our subscribers have selected the genres that they are interested in reading, and they only get offers to read and review books of those genres. That means we aren't going to send your Horror novel off to someone that is only interested in Young Adult novels, for example. And even within those groups, all readers only choose the books that most interest them (based on the book info you provide prior to us sending out your book), which means that we are ONLY sending your book out to subscribers that at least THINK that they will enjoy it based on that info. So again, that means that we wouldn't send a BDSM Romance to someone that only likes Sweet Romances, for example.

One of the thing that sets us apart from other ARC services is our review rates. While all reviews are voluntary and there are always reasons why some readers that sign up choose not to review a particular book after being sent it, we do keep a close eye on things to make sure there are no abusers of the system. Our service is for book lovers who enjoy reading and leaving reviews on what they read, not for people just looking to get a load of free books and never offer anything in return. As such, we have an average rate of reviews left by readers of over 80%.  That means if we send your book out to 100 readers, you will usually get more than 80 reviews back. Many sites need to send your book out to many hundreds of readers to get those sorts of numbers, which means your book is going out for FREE to far more people than it needs to - potential customers!

And to be clear, these are voluntary reviews from real readers - nothing fake or phony about these reviews. That's why we can't make any guarantees as the the number of reviews you'll get back (and be wary of any service that does!) and we also can't guarantee any sort of average star rating. While many of our reviewers choose not to review a book they didn't like (by far the  #1 reason why reviewers choose not to leave a review), that is up to them completely.  We do all of this to ensure compliance with Amazon and their ever changing rules regarding reviews. As such, we don't believe we are in violation of their rules. Readers are real and never compensated for their reviews beyond getting the book for free, and are instructed to note in their review that it was voluntary and based on a review copy. Authors pay us for the service of sending their books out to our curated list of readers that love leaving reviews, authors are not paying for the reviews themselves (which is also why we charge per reader, not per review returned). Again, be wary of services that do things in a way that may violate Amazon's rules!

While we have thousands signed up for our service, because they are segregated into different genres and only choose the books to read that they are both interested in and have time for, the number of readers interested in any given book may vary greatly. Authors choose how many readers they want their books sent to, but depending on those factors we may not always be able to meet those needs. However rest assured, we will only ever charge for the number of readers we do find, regardless of your original order. If you ask for 100 and we only find you 20, you will only be charged for 20. Romance typically gets the most interest - and we can often deliver hundreds of readers for a contemporary romance novel, while some genres like Young Adult or Science fiction might only get 20-50 readers signed up.  But we're doing our best to improve those numbers, and much of our income goes to increasing our reader base in order to continue to improve our service.

Also note that for romance ARCs, booking is recommended at least 3-4 weeks in advance as we only book 1 book per genre a day, and our romance category usually sells out that far ahead. For other genres there is more availability for now, since we only started doing those other genres recently and are still getting the word out.

For a lot more info and pricing, please see our FAQ - or just go directly to our booking calendars.

We hope to help many of you with your novel launches in the future, and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us (or reply below).  Thanks!

The Hidden Gems Team

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2017, 11:22:18 AM »
Bookmarking for when I have my release date set, thanks!
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Offline 555aaa

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2017, 12:06:17 PM »
I'm interested in scheduling your service but I don't see anywhere listed your business name and location.

Offline HiddenGems

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2017, 12:11:05 PM »
I'm interested in scheduling your service but I don't see anywhere listed your business name and location.

Hmm, did you try clicking on the links in the email above?  That should take you to our website which has all of the info needed for scheduling.  We're Hidden Gems, and can take bookings from anywhere in the world since we only deal with ebooks (not physical novels), so everything is digital.

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2017, 12:57:48 PM »
The only problem I personally foresee is if you pay $300 for the max amount of reviewers/readers, but only get, let's say, 10 reviews posted, than it is not worth it.

Plus, a writer is paying for reviews without any guarantee of getting reviews posted and...did I mention paying for reviews? Which is against Amazon's TOS, right? And if it is a violation of the TOS, then there's a strong chance the reviews will be removed from sites like Amazon. But maybe not from goodreads...

A reviewer that I've known for years, started charging on Fiverr for reviews (I just sent my ARCs to her blog email and never paid her) and she told me that she had all 5k reviews that she posted removed and she is banned from leaving reviews on Amazon now. I guess there was this big review crack down where Amazon removed thousands of so-called "paid reviews."
« Last Edit: July 06, 2017, 02:27:15 PM by SA_Soule »

Offline Austin_Briggs

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2017, 02:02:58 PM »
Just subscribed for a Fantasy book (no Romance) - let's see what comes of it!!! :)

Offline Crystal_

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2017, 04:28:28 PM »
I love Hidden Gems! I use the ARC service even though I have an ARC team that will get me 50-100 reviews during release week. The Hidden Gems reviewers just leave better reviews on average--they're more detailed and specific. Sure, not all of the reviews are positive, but I find the reviewers are pretty open minded.

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2017, 06:49:04 PM »
Sounds interesting. How LGBT-friendly is the service?

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Offline JacquelineSweetDesign

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2017, 06:51:27 PM »
I've used Hidden Gems before--last summer--and they consistently delivered a TON of reviews for my books. I don't recall the exact numbers, but it was 50-75 reviews that all seemed like honest reviews, not just a one sentence "I liked it!" or something like that.

Offline HiddenGems

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2017, 07:44:38 PM »
The only problem I personally foresee is if you pay $300 for the max amount of reviewers/readers, but only get, let's say, 10 reviews posted, than it is not worth it.

As I mentioned, our average rate of review is over 80% so that just doesn't happen.  When people get below that average, it is not THAT far below.. but generally there is a very obvious reason why - which is usually that the book has problems and a lot of the reviewers chose not to leave a review rather than a negative one.  The stronger the book, the higher the percentage. We have some books that have hit 100%.  A large number get in the 90s.  So a MAX order is at least 150 readers (if not, then wouldn't get charged $300).  You would never get 10 reviews from that. Not in the 2 years we've been doing this, anyway.

Plus, a writer is paying for reviews without any guarantee of getting reviews posted and...did I mention paying for reviews? Which is against Amazon's TOS, right? And if it is a violation of the TOS, then there's a strong chance the reviews will be removed from sites like Amazon. But maybe not from goodreads...

Again, as I mentioned you are not paying for reviews.  You are paying us to send your book out to our list of book lovers that tend to leave reviews.  We DO NOT require them to leave reviews for every book - and in fact we provide a spot where they can leave a reason for not reviewing instead. This is also why we can make no guarantees on the number of reviews - because that is not what you are paying for.  You are paying us to send your book out to a specified number of readers, that is all.  We just maintain a list of readers that also very often leave reviews for the books they are sent.

We've been doing this for 2 years now and sent out about 500 books and have never once heard from any of our authors that have gotten any reviews removed or had any issues with Amazon over it.  That's not to say that Amazon one day may change their tune, but we read their TOS carefully whenever they are updated and do our best to stay within their guidelines as far as we understand them (they are not always crystal clear, unfortunately).

A reviewer that I've known for years, started charging on Fiverr for reviews (I just sent my ARCs to her blog email and never paid her) and she told me that she had all 5k reviews that she posted removed and she is banned from leaving reviews on Amazon now. I guess there was this big review crack down where Amazon removed thousands of so-called "paid reviews."

Yes, and that example is a clear violation of their service because that is a reviewer charging for their reviews.  Our readers are not paid anything by you OR by us.  They get no compensation at all.  They all do it because they love reading and this is a great way for them to have access to free books. 

Authors sending free ARC copies out for early reviews is a tradition that goes back as long as there have been books, and that is why when Amazon recently cracked down on reviews for unverified purchases they did it for everything BUT books.  They know that this is a common practice and as long as you follow the rules and play fair, they seem okay with it.  What we are providing here is no different, really, than an author sending out their novels to their own list of fans. But what about authors without that fan base?  Why should they miss out on reviews?  That's where we come in and help.  In fact, I've actually heard more stories about Amazon cracking down on fan ARCs like that because they are more obviously biased (friends and fans of an author are more likely to give positive reviews and some authors boot off people that give them less than 4 or 5 stars).

At any rate, everyone has their own comfort level so a service like ours might not be for everyone. All I can say is that we will always do our absolute best to make sure we are working within the rules that Amazon sets out, as far as we understand them. And so far that's been working.

Thanks so much for your feedback and good luck with your releases!

Offline HiddenGems

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2017, 07:48:17 PM »
Sounds interesting. How LGBT-friendly is the service?

Are you talking about LGBT Romance?  We do a few of those - probably about 5 or so a month?  Generally we'll get at least 50-60 signups for those books. 

If you're talking about non-romance then you'll have to be more specific, although I don't think we've had any LGBT non-romance novels come through that I can think of.

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2017, 07:59:19 PM »
From looking over their website and my understanding of Amazon rules, I feel like this is a pretty legitimate service :) As an (hopefully soon) new author, I know that ARC's are common and popular tools to help boost a recently published book. But for a new author with zero following, it's a huge struggle to get ARC readers to sign up organically. In the future I would like that to be the case, but for a first-timer I'm not opposed to having a little help along the way.  With a service like this I also like that there's a better chance I'm being set up with readers who actually WANT to read my book as opposed to someone just wanting a free book with little intention of actually reading it. As has been stated, no one is being paid to do anything except the service itself which merely sets authors up with eager readers.
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Offline AriadneBeckett

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2017, 08:08:22 PM »
Do you have a separate LGBT segment? For example, for a gay romance/crime drama? Or would copies potentially be going to people who would find gay themes offensive?

Why haven't we heard of you? In my experience so far, successful promotion and ARC services tend to get talked about.

Quote
The only requirement for membership in the ARC program, as a reviewer, is that when you do ask for a book and are selected for that ARC, that you both LEAVE A REVIEW on Amazon, AND LOG THE REVIEW in our form. Many of you are missing that second step, and as such, we have no choice but to drop you from the program. Our authors are looking for a certain number of reviews, and it is unfair to them if we have reviewers not leaving reviews. And logging your review in our form is the only way we know that you have left one.

Is this current? Because my understanding of current amazon policy is that reviewers may *not* be required in any way to leave a review, or feel that their ability to receive future free stuff depends on their leaving a review.

One final question: why did you dodge the previous question about your business location? That poster didn't ask about info needed for scheduling; they asked about where they could see your business name and location.

Offline HiddenGems

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2017, 09:00:43 PM »
Do you have a separate LGBT segment? For example, for a gay romance/crime drama? Or would copies potentially be going to people who would find gay themes offensive?

The way that we have genres set up now is basically a bunch of checkboxes.. so people would select things like Science Fiction or Romance.  Since technically you could have ANY genre of book feature LGBT characters, I don't think it would make sense to have a separate genre for each possibility. 

Instead, what we do is provide a "Categories" field on our sign up form which is where authors enter this sort of Sub Genre info.  So in your example, they would put LGBT or GAY or MM or whatever in that field, and then readers that don't like that sort of content can just skip that offer and wait for the next one.

Why haven't we heard of you? In my experience so far, successful promotion and ARC services tend to get talked about.

Interesting question.  I suppose I could counter by saying that since we sell out weeks in advance, clearly SOMEONE has heard of us - and we also have a testimonial section in our FAQ that lists out some of the comments we had from our previous customers. Not to mention a few of our previous customers have shown up in this thread, which was a pleasant surprise, so they've heard about us as well. 

In all honestly, we haven't really done any big marketing aside from a few (non-kboards) author message boards that are mostly private or semi-private where we got our start, because as soon as we launched we were getting enough business through word of mouth alone.  But that was mostly romance centric - where we got our start.  Now that we've branched into other genres, we're getting the word out a little more aggressively.  Soon, hopefully, we'll be a household name.   ;)

Is this current? Because my understanding of current amazon policy is that reviewers may *not* be required in any way to leave a review, or feel that their ability to receive future free stuff depends on their leaving a review.

Thanks for bringing that to my attention.  As you can tell by the date, that was an old blog post (from a year ago) that we wrote and things have changed a lot since then.  Our reader FAQ has much more current info, and when you quoted that I searched that FAQ to see where I had wrote that, but couldn't find it - although the words sounded familiar.  I actually had to google it before realizing it was from an old blog.  Of course, the next bit that immediately follows the part that you quoted is also pretty relevant, so I will quote that here since you left it out.

Quote

Missing a few reviews is fine and unavoidable, which is why we also have the REASON field in our form...

We've always included that field and always will because we understand that life happens sometimes, and even the best reviewers will miss some reviews or simply choose not to review a book.  But membership in our program is for book loving readers that also like to leave reviews. We'll never remove someone for missing a review or two, and the more books they read, the more they can miss without it being an issue. But if someone is basically just reading and never reviewing, then they don't fit the membership criteria of the list that we maintain. Having a list full of people like that is unfair to both the authors that work with us and the other readers in our list. If someone wants a list like that, to either use for their ARCs or to be a reader for, there are plenty of other ARC services out there that will happily take them to swell their numbers and make themselves sound more valuable. 

Anyway, thanks again for pointing that out.  Even though our FAQ is more clear about all of this (I hope), I will definitely remove that old blog and replace it with a newer one sooner rather than later.

One final question: why did you dodge the previous question about your business location? That poster didn't ask about info needed for scheduling; they asked about where they could see your business name and location.

I don't think I dodged that question at all. I think our business name is pretty obvious - Hidden Gems.  And I just don't see the relevance of providing a physical location for a web-based business that deals exclusively in digital content. Are you asking about where our server is located? Where we physically live? Where our business is incorporated? And why does it matter? Maybe I'm missing something here?

Anyway, thanks for the questions.

Offline Helen_Christian

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2017, 08:14:49 AM »
Shifted Sheets is a direct competitor to Hidden Gems and I can find ZERO bad things to say about them. I used them as an author and I continue to suggest their services in addition to our own.

Many romance authors have heard of them in the groups/messageboards/forums that we frequent. They've never given anything but great customer service and value.


Offline MajesticMonkey

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2017, 08:23:27 AM »
Shifted Sheets is a direct competitor to Hidden Gems and I can find ZERO bad things to say about them. I used them as an author and I continue to suggest their services in addition to our own.

Many romance authors have heard of them in the groups/messageboards/forums that we frequent. They've never given anything but great customer service and value.


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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2017, 09:03:13 AM »
Shifted Sheets is a direct competitor to Hidden Gems and I can find ZERO bad things to say about them. I used them as an author and I continue to suggest their services in addition to our own.

Many romance authors have heard of them in the groups/messageboards/forums that we frequent. They've never given anything but great customer service and value.

That's strange, is it usually polite to post about direct competition on someone's sales page? And from what I can tell, there hasn't been any "bad things" said about Hidden Gems either, only that it's fairly new and people have some questions about their services. By the name Shifted Sheets, I also assume it's only for Romance authors/readers.
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Offline Mylius Fox

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2017, 09:07:03 AM »
Are you talking about LGBT Romance?  We do a few of those - probably about 5 or so a month?  Generally we'll get at least 50-60 signups for those books.

Hi HiddenGems, how many signups do you generally get for the thriller genre? Do your thriller readers respond well to military/political thrillers? I've got a new release next week and I really like how your service sounds. :)

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2017, 09:15:54 AM »
Shifted Sheets is a direct competitor to Hidden Gems and I can find ZERO bad things to say about them. I used them as an author and I continue to suggest their services in addition to our own.

Many romance authors have heard of them in the groups/messageboards/forums that we frequent. They've never given anything but great customer service and value.



Same.

Hidden Gems is also a competitor to Hot Stuff Romance and I have to say that they are a valuable, stand-up operation. They do what they say they will, charge a fair price, and work hard to make you happy. I've used them for my own book promotions and for ARC several times and I have always been pleased with the results. My Promo Stacker clients have also used them to great effect. If you need honest reviews, they are a fantastic resource.

That's strange, is it usually polite to post about direct competition on someone's sales page? And from what I can tell, there hasn't been any "bad things" said about Hidden Gems either, only that it's fairly new and people have some questions about their services. By the name Shifted Sheets, I also assume it's only for Romance authors/readers.

Yes, I'd say it is polite, as long as the feedback is not malicious. If you do such a great job that even your competition praises the quality of your services, you're doing something right. HG offers a good service and I don't mind letting people know about it, even if they are technically a competitor to one of my businesses.

Shifted Sheets is also great.  ;)


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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2017, 09:17:19 AM »
That's strange, is it usually polite to post about direct competition on someone's sales page? And from what I can tell, there hasn't been any "bad things" said about Hidden Gems either, only that it's fairly new and people have some questions about their services. By the name Shifted Sheets, I also assume it's only for Romance authors/readers.

Helen *is* Shifted Sheets.  I read her post as saying that even she has used Hidden Gems as an author, and likes them, and recommends them.  That's how I read it, anyway...

But...that being said, let's keep the focus on Hidden Gems, thanks!

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/edited for clarity
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 09:25:14 AM by Betsy the Quilter »
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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2017, 09:17:46 AM »
Welcome to Kboards!

You're welcome to promote your relevant business, service, product or website here in the Writers' Cafe!

Now that you have an official thread, you'll want to add your listing to our Yellow Pages Listing, found here:http://www.kboards.com/yp/. The listing is free to KB members and is completely self-service; you can add and edit your listing from the page.  More information on our Yellow Pages listing can be found here.

In your thread here, we ask that the same basic rules be followed as we have for authors in the Book Bazaar:  you may have this one thread about your service and must post to it rather than start a new thread each time.  New threads about the service will be removed.  Please bookmark this thread so that you can find it again to post to.  And, you may not make back-to-back posts to the thread within seven days.  If someone responds (such as this post), you may reply but otherwise must wait seven days, thanks! Also note that very short or one/two word posts with no meaningful information, are discouraged and may be deleted at the moderators' discretion.

Note that members are allowed to provide civil and honest feedback about your service to this thread, and you may respond in a civil manner. In particular, members may have questions about how the service works, what you get for your money, as well as concerns about whether or not it might violate Amazon ToS.

Disputes between you and clients should be handled off site.

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(Note that this welcome does not constitute an endorsement or vetting of a service by KBoards.  Members should do due diligence when considering using a service.)

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2017, 09:23:54 AM »
Helen *is* Shifted Sheets.  I read her post as saying that even she has used their service as an author, and likes them, and recommends them.  That's how I read it, anyway...

Betsy

OH, I see. Since you explained it I see what you're saying. When I initially read it I thought it was like going onto someone Book Cover Sales Page and telling people to go somewhere else instead because their covers are better, and it gave me a bit of a start. Thanks for clearing it up :)
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Offline Betsy the Quilter

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #22 on: July 07, 2017, 09:26:14 AM »
OH, I see. Since you explained it I see what you're saying. When I initially read it I thought it was like going onto someone Book Cover Sales Page and telling people to go somewhere else instead because their covers are better, and it gave me a bit of a start. Thanks for clearing it up :)

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Offline HiddenGems

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #23 on: July 07, 2017, 10:11:08 AM »
Hi HiddenGems, how many signups do you generally get for the thriller genre? Do your thriller readers respond well to military/political thrillers? I've got a new release next week and I really like how your service sounds. :)

Hi Mylius - So far we've only run a handful of thrillers and the signups are a bit all over the place.  For example, we ran 2 at the end of last month and got 50 sign ups for them, but then we ran one early this month and only had 20 sign up.  So I guess it depends on the book and how you sell your ARC to our audience for sign up, but the readers are there...

Remember though that you only pay for the readers we can deliver on, so even if you ask for 50 and we only send 20, then you only pay for 20. So there's little risk in that regard. 

In terms of military/political I can't speak to that as the ones we've run so far haven't been those type. But again, if you are clear and upfront in the meta data that we send out to readers, then only ones interested in those types of books will sign up.

Hope that helps, but let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Offline Marishka

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Re: Hidden Gems ARC Service
« Reply #24 on: July 07, 2017, 10:19:41 AM »
Hidden Gems is truly a hidden gem! Their service is fantastic, especially for the romance genre, but they're branching out to other genres as well. They provide a platform to connect authors with readers who are responsive and want to engage with the authors and the books and leave reviews. The readers post both good and bad reviews, I should add, because the readers are real and their reviews are honest. I've used their service for a recent launch of my book and I have to say, I was very impressed!
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