Paying a book reading pool to get beta reports is worth the investment, but obtaining an organic book review isn’t easy, especially if you’re an unknown author. If you published on Amazon it’s even harder, because Amazon has this (silly and counterproductive) rule that friends and family are not permitted to leave reviews.
Why it can be Challenging to get Book Reviews
So, that age-old advice of getting friends and family to buy your book and leave reviews just went up into dust. They can, of course, still leave reviews on Goodreads, and although Goodreads is part of Amazon, the latter still likes to make life a little harder for us authors.
That being said, Amazon KDP is a great, user friendly self-publishing platform. However, when it comes to getting reviews for your book, Amazon’s rules seem to work against the author and not always in favor of him/her, but that’s just my opinion.
In order to get your book noticed you need book reviews, and more than just one.
Considering the previous points, it often works out to get some book reviews by book review services. Bear in mind, though, that they have to be honest and readers should obtain their own copies. Amazon will only allow a review of a product if you purchased said product. On top of that, to be eligible to leave a review on Amazon you must also spend a minimum amount on purchases on the platform, per year.
I know, rules, rules, rules … but that’s Amazon. I guess that they can afford to be so picky, and rules are often there for a reason, due to something that may have happened or been reported in the past.
Tip: don’t sign up with just any book review service. You’ll find plenty on social media, and although several of them are decent and honest there are others that just take your money and run. Always do your diligent research.
Rowanvale Books’ Services
In this review of Rowanvale’s ARC and book review services I will share with you my personal experience with them, as I’ve used this service with them before. I do not earn any affiliate commissions by writing this review, it will be unbiased, but I will give honest praise to this company since all my experiences with them have been positive.
Consequently, that last statement answers the following question 🙂 Are Rowanvale Books legit? Yes, they are, 100%.
I’ll cover the following points in this review:
- a little background on rowanvale Books
- the difference between book reviews and ARC reviews
- how does it work
- my experience
- pros and cons
A Little Background on Rowanvale Books
Rowanvale Books are a vanity publisher, they are based in Cardiff, Wales (UK), and they provide their services for authors around the globe. It was founded in 2012 by Cat, the managing director. Her reasons for creating this company were personal. After her father had a bad experience with a self-publishing company she decided to make her own enterprise.
The team works virtually, from the comfort of their homes. This allows them to make a career and focus on their families which translates into happy employees who will deliver excellent results for their clients, the authors.
Everyone knows that a happy work environment produces exceptional results.
Although I self-publish and stopped using vanity publishers years ago, Rowanvale Books offers services to self-published authors too, such as beta readers, book and ARC reviews, PR services, literary agent packages, proofreading and editing, design services, and marketing and aftercare.
The Difference Between Book Reviews and ARC Reviews
An ARC is an Advanced Reader/Review Copy. When you haven’t published your book yet, it’s always a good idea to create a buzz around it before you hit the publish button. You could do this weeks or even months before the publication date.
In fact, it’s highly recommended that you start promoting your book before you publish it. Many authors start promotion after publishing their book, but the work should start months before that. The book market is tough and to get your books sold you must start early.
The early bird catches the worm.
When your book is already published, the book review service will target readers that are interested in your genre. One of the worst things you can do is have someone read your book for a review when they have no motivation or interest (on the other hand, then why did they agree to read it? But that’s another discussion 🙂 )
By having readers who like your genre (be it fantasy, crime, historical fiction, and what-have-you) you can be more assured of a reader who will review it after reading it completely and not after putting it down on page 20 or so.
How Does it Work?
Rowanvale Books matches your book with the right reader.
Once you decide which package you want – either the book review or ARC package – you will answer a few questions about your work. It’s general information such as book title, author name, genre, word count (if it’s an ebook) or page count (if it’s a paperback), and some other details (you don’t need much time for this).
You’re also asked to send a JPEG of your book cover and your book in a Word document or Adobe InDesign file. The best would be to send it as a Word document. If you’re unsure about what files to send, you can ask your contact person at Rowanvale Books for help.
Once they have received all this, an email will be sent out to potential readers. Anyone who is interested in reading it responds to the email within 7 days.
The file that is sent to the readers is a special review copy that will restrict unlawful file sharing.
It’s a simple and straightforward process.
This service won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and besides the set-up and admin fees you only pay for the number of readers that you want to read your book. If 30 people are interested and you only wish to pay for 20, then the book will have 20 readers.
The service has the following prices:
- Set-up fee: £40 British Pound.
- Admin fee: £11.11
- £0.35: for any reader who wants to read your book. This price covers administration for sending the reader the file and requesting a book review.
Additionally, you could also pick the beta report or beta report + review service which has the following costs:
- Set-up fee: £40
- Admin fee: £17.78
- Reader fee: £9.67
This is risk-free, because in case that no reader expresses any interest, you will be refunded the set-up fee.
I have used Rowanvale Books as a vanity publisher and also for separate services after I self-published. I’ve never had a bad experience.
I remember a time when I was strapped for cash and the exchange rate was costly (I live in Mexico and the British Pound – Mexican peso exchange rate is high). I couldn’t pay for a service, and they offered to have me pay in monthly or quarterly installments, which was a great help.
Everyone I have dealt with at this company has always been professional and friendly. When I was asked to leave a testimony I was happy to give it.
Rowanvale Books rates 4.5 stars on TrustPilot.
Editing services are great and the book cover designers did excellent work for the books I published with them.
With the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I feel that Rowanvale Books really place the customer first. It’s a company I wholeheartedly recommend.
Pros and Cons
- The reviews are honest and detailed. Readers are asked to write an objective review (positive or negative) and that reviews are specific to the book only, to make sure that they read the book and that each review is an honest representation of the reader’s thoughts.
- Deadlines are met (each package has different deadlines, of course). Bear in mind that you must wait for several weeks to get your reviews. Readers have lives, perhaps children to take care of, and so on. So, please be patient.
- The packages are affordable.
- Staff at Rowanvale Books is professional and friendly.
- Emails are answered promptly.
- If no reader shows interest in reading your book the set-up fee will be refunded to you.
- Reviews are posted on Amazon UK. This is not a big con, but the only one I could think of. Reviews that are posted on Amazon UK are not necessarily visible on Amazon US or Amazon Australia or any other country (which is something that Amazon should correct, in my opinion). Nonetheless, these reviews will still increase your book’s visibility, regardless where they are posted. I’d suggest using the UK link to share your reviews on social media.
- Readers are not obliged to leave reviews and you can’t get a refund if a reader didn’t write a review. When I used this service, though, as a gift to a friend, I think that 80% of the readers left reviews. So, that’s still pretty good. It is important to know that you should not expect a review for payment. That isn’t allowed.
Readers from the reading pool will read your book but reviews are always voluntary.
- None of these two previous points are negative points. Amazon UK is still Amazon, and of course you should never expect a review for a payment, that isn’t how it’s supposed to be.
If you have any more questions or comments about Rowanvale Books, please write them in the comments below. I’ll be happy to answer. Have you heard of this company before? Have you used their services or do you know anyone who has? Would you like to know more about self-publishing?
Let me know 🙂