Urban Fantasy Author
Book Bling Blog
Last year, Amazon began deleting reviews from books and authors couldn't figure out why. After some research, the new policies helped explain. Amazon had successfully implemented new book review policies. Here are the reviews the amazon watchdogs are already chewing up and swallowing whole:
1) A review by a book blogger whose blog is part of a paid blog tour, even if the book blogger is not paid. Often only the organizer of the tour gets paid, but the blog review is considered a “paid review,” so it can’t be posted on Amazon.
2) A review written in exchange for a gift card. Even if that card is only in the amount of the price of the book. A reviewer could possibly use the card for purchasing something else.
3) A review written in exchange for another review. Review trading is 100% FORBIDDEN.
4) A review written in expectation of a free book. A review copy must be given before the review is written or the book will be seen as payment for the review.
5) A review by a person you “know” online. Amazon can now detect if someone leaving a review is following you on Twitter or befriended you on Facebook. Amazon's expectation is that a fan will leave a biased review, so it wants only impartial people writing them.
It is now fairly well know why Amazon (over)reacted in this way. John Locke. The Amazon megastar who wrote a book on how to sell millions of books, but failed to mention, until afterwards, that he purchased reviews. Yeah, thanks, John.
There is now an expectation that if any of the above rules are broken, Amazon will automatically delete the review in question. They will not let the author know whenever a review has been absorbed into the ether, it will simply cease to be. [And I don't know about you, but I take some time and care into writing my reviews and that would tick me off like no other!]
Okay, okay, so Amazon is trying to keep its reviews objective, of course. But weeding out friends and family is one thing. If they are relying on social media contacts to determine whether a reviewer is impatial it's unfair to all authors, whether they are independent or supported by a big publishing house.
Independent authors, self-published or those with a smaller, independent publishing house, usually rely on blogs and social media for much of their marketing. Even for authors whose books are with the big 4 publishing houses, with all their clout and distribution, social media matters. Reviews are crucial to online sales and online sales account for the lion's share of today's publishing market.
So far, though Amazon is trying to regulate freebie books for reviews too, it's still okay to give out books so long as they are given with no strings attached BEFORE a review is given. They have kicked that policy's butt too though. Verified purchase reviews have more weight.
Also, more recent reviews have more weight. And now Amazon in its ever-questionable wisdom has decided to enact some more review laws, er, policies--and keep in mind that they now own Goodreads as well.
Authors are no longer allowed to post a book review. That's right. As an industry professional, our opinion carries more clout and we will screw up their well-regulated, heavily-policed review boards. A bad review and we are trying to squash the competition. A good review and we are trying to bolster an industry buddy. We are incapable of an unbiased opinion, AND our opinion is more valuable than the average readers'. I can see it, understand it and then it gets all blurry again. How about you?
So, how do we get around these Cypercops in this Apocolyptic world or Amazonia?
Here's a couple of strategies:
I've noticed that many authors use their regular facebook page to promote themselves to fans. Amazon has no way of knowing who are your family and friends and who are your fans.... Any review a "friend" posts may get deleted or rejected. Just to be on the safe side, set up a fan page.
Use your social media as a person, not as an author. That includes twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.
Always encourage your reviewers to post an "I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review," dislaimer.
*Note: Jannine kindly pointed out in the comments below that Amazon sees "exchange" as a trigger word and you must now have reviewers say, "I received a free copy of this book, and here is my unbiased review."
If our reviews are professional reviews, then one way around having them deleted is to email them to the author/publisher so that they can be added to the editorial review section of the product page.
As you know, I have been providing reviews on my blog for years, and they have been my honest, reader in me, opinion. I will continue to do so. I will continue to post them under "Book Bling" on Amazon, and under Kindle Book Review on Amazon, on Goodreads, on B&N, on Shelfari, and wherever else I choose. To my knowledge I have never had any reviews deleted ::knock on wood:: yet. However, I have had some deleted from my work, that were written by others, and they were not people that I knew.
How do you feel about this? What do you plan to do, if anything?
I blog there the 18th of each month!
Elizabeth Alsobrooks's books on Goodreads
Illuminati - The Book of Life
ratings: 12 (avg rating 4.33)
Illuminati: The Book of Life
ratings: 5 (avg rating 4.80)
The Keeper's Secret: Tell-Tale Publishing's Annual Horror Anthology
ratings: 2 (avg rating 5.00)
2016 NaNoWriMo Winner!
My Newest Release
An Amazon Bestseller!
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