Several companies will manage review teams for you for a pretty reasonable price. Make sure to read Part One to get the context of this article, including the key distinctions between the two services that I’m reviewing. I’m going to tell you about the ones I have personal experience with as a reviewer, Booksprout and BookSirens. Read Part Two to find out about Booksprout.
I feel like I don’t know as much about BookSirens as I do about Booksprout, even though I’ve been reviewing for them for longer, because they are not as transparent with reviewers about all that they do.
Reviewers are vetted on BookSirens. Potential reviewers need to have given at least 20 starred ratings on Goodreads before BookSirens will let them become reviewers. After someone hits that threshold, they build a reviewer profile and update it every ten days. See mine for an example.
On the author side, you pay on a per-book basis, with a fixed amount to set up your ARC ($10 currently) and then per reviewer download ($2 currently). They state they may not accept a book for a variety of reasons (too much of a particular genre, formatting issues, etc.); so getting your book on BookSirens is not a guarantee like it is on Booksprout. If you are a new-to-them author, they only let you have one ARC until they see reviewer response. You can also have free access to their book reviewer directory, which lists blogs that review books (not individual readers). I understand that they do have some safeguards in place, like watermarking files; they also contact reviewers if they have questions about a review.
Potential reviewers on BookSirens are given a choice of books in the categories they list on their profile; we can’t see other books that might interest us; I typically see around 100 possibilities. Reviewers then choose a title to find out more about (book description, author information and book sample) and can opt to download the ARC. BookSirens allows readers to read only one book at a time; a reader cannot download a new ARC until they review the one they have already downloaded. Thus, readers cannot sign up for multiple ARCs at the same time.
The site calls these all ARCs, but I’ve seen very few pre-launch ARCs on BookSirens. Many are for relatively new books (within 90 days of publication), but I’ve seen “ARCs” for an author’s midlist book or timed to go with a promotion besides launch.
The author can choose whether to require Amazon or Goodreads reviews (or both). BookSiren also gives reviewers the chance to provide a review link to a personal book blog post. BookSirens does not track reviews on other sites like Bookbub, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, or Smashwords.
On the website, BookSirens states they strive for a 75% review rate.
Here are my tips to authors about how to get the most out of BookSirens:
- Make sure your book is formatted well. You won’t make it past BookSirens vetting process if you don’t.
- Tailor your ARC description to attract the right reviewers. Knowing that BookSirens targets reviewers based on their preferred categories, tailor your book description to what would appeal to fans of your genre. What’s the premise and the central question? What makes your book stand out in its genre or subgenre? I read this closely, as I can only read a book at a time on BookSirens.
- Offer a large enough book sample. BookSirens does have guidelines about how much of your book to use as a sample. I recommend the first chapter and prologue if you have one. It is especially important to include the prologue if it is written in a different style than the rest of the book.
- Offer an error-free version of your book. Make sure it has not just been well formatted but has also been well edited. I highly recommend using a grammar checker like Grammarly or Pro Writing Aid to catch glaring errors and doing one read-aloud pass through of your text; Word can do the latter for you via the Read Aloud function on the Review tab.
- Choose the right categories for your book. Since reviewers cannot just pick any ARC that appeals to them at BookSirens, make sure yours will reach your target audience by choosing all relevant categories.
- Tell the reviewers something about yourself. BookSirens webpages have a generous section for information about the author. Use it to tell us about you, your book, and your writing in general. Be sure to include a link to your author website and add your social media links, too.
- Understand what you are getting into. This site is not meant to give a high number of book reviews by a specified date. Rather, over a longer period of time, your book reviews should grow at Amazon and/or Goodreads.
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