#Amazon Takes the Machete to #BookReviews Again

Help … my Book Review has fallen and it can’t get up!

amazon stars

A recent phone conversation from an author revealed that several of her 5 star reviews were given the ax via Amazon. All were legit; all had read the book to her knowledge … I know that I had and I went into some detail with my review.

Two years ago, there was grumbling in the author community that book reviews  on Amazon were mysteriously going astray. A year ago, the grumbles resurfaced, this time from a different set of authors and book reviewers.

 Most complained there was no reason, no notification, that they were as mystified as the person (if they knew who he or she was who posted) were, and–it seemed it was the 5-star reviews who were taking a hike. No real satisfaction was obtained, it seemed like Amazon was passing the buck–and almost with a universal nod of our cyberheads, we all knew that it must be the secret algorithm designed to keep us distant that could be the culprit.

Are the Book Review Gremlins back, lurking in our midst? Who, or what robots are the clickers, the demigods of cyberland that could have a dramatic impact on book sales within a nano-second? We authors know that book reviews do count.

Let’s face it, Amazon is powerful. Many of us have suspicions, ideas, and voice our opinions.  When authors have contacted Amazon to find out, “What’s up?” some have gotten back not so nice emails literally saying that authors can’t review other books. .. and if there are any more complaints … a threat. Immediate removal from Amazonland in giving reviews and more than a slap on the hand directed toward the author of the book.

Jeeze. Wait a sec … authors read lots of books, it’s one of the key ways to become a better writer. We can’t post reviews because we do? Isn’t that a tad discriminatory? So where does this leave us? Let’s start with its guidelines from the Amazon website:

“General Review Creation Guidelines” direct from the Amazon website …

Amazon wants your opinions to be heard
We want customers to get the information they need to make smart buying choices, and we’d love to have your help doing that.  As an Amazon customer, you can submit written or video reviews for items listed on Amazon.com. We encourage you to share your opinions, both favorable and unfavorable. 

Who can create customer reviews?
Anyone who has purchased items from Amazon.com. All we ask is that you follow a few simple rules (see “What’s not allowed” below).

Tips on writing a great review

Include the “why”: The best reviews include not only whether you liked or disliked a product, but also why. Feel free to talk about related products and how this item compares to them.
Be specific: Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. For video reviews, we recommend that you write a brief introduction.
Not too short, not too long: Written reviews must be at least 20 words and are limited to 5,000 words. The ideal length is 75 to 500 words. Video reviews have a 10-minute limit, but we recommend 2 to 5 minutes to keep your audience engaged.
Be sincere: We welcome your honest opinion about the product–positive or negative. We do not remove reviews because they are critical. We believe all helpful information can inform our customers’ buying decisions.
Full disclosure: If you received a free product in exchange for your review, please clearly and conspicuously disclose that that you received the product free of charge. Reviews from the Amazon Vine™ program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary.

What’s not allowed
Amazon is pleased to provide this forum for you to share your opinions on products.  While we appreciate your time and comments, we limit customer participation to one review per product and reserve the right to remove reviews that include any of the following: 

Objectionable material:
• Obscene or distasteful content
• Profanity or spiteful remarks
• Promotion of illegal or immoral conduct 

Promotional content:
• Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively
• Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)
• Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package
• Solicitations for helpful votes
• For more information on what we consider promotional content, please see our Frequently Asked Questions

Inappropriate content:
• Other people’s material (this includes excessive quoting)
• Phone numbers, postal mailing addresses, and URLs external to Amazon.com
• Videos with watermarks
• Comments on other reviews visible on the page (because page visibility is subject to change without notice)
• Foreign language content (unless there is a clear connection to the product) 

Customer reviews should be relevant to the product in question. If you have questions about the product or opinions that do not fit the review format, please feel free to use the Customer Discussions feature on the product page. Learn more about Customer Discussions.

If you have a question or you’d like to tell us about a specific problem with Customer Reviews, please contact us.”

Source: http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-reviews-guidelines 

Here’s what I would do:

1  Don’t stop reviewing.

2  Don’t let the Amazon Gremlins get you down.

3  Create a file on your computer and copy every review that is posted into it (that’s why you check every few days). If they go missing, you’ve got them. And, get them posted on your website as well. And do the same for Goodreads.

4  Appeal to Amazon … here’s the magic email address:  review-appeals@amazon.com

We don’t know why some book reviews are removed and others left alone. Encourage everyone you meet or know of who has your book to post a review.


 JB_headshotJudith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd, the Author and Publishing expert and the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Author U, a membership organization created for the author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 31 books including Author YOU: Creating Your Book and Author Platforms that has won multiple “best” in the writing/publishing categories in book award competitions. Her next book is Snappy Sassy Salty … Wise Words for Authors and Publishers has just been released.  Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U Your Guide to Book Publishing on the Toginet network at: http://togi.us/authoru

  If you are looking for FREE author and book coaching … call in to Judith’s Author Monday Mornings at NOON Eastern each Monday. The number is 218-632-9854; Access Code 1239874444 … have your questions ready–there’s a full hour to ask and listen.

Judith Briles

Judith Briles

Author U at Author U
Author U is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the author who wants to be seriously successful. Ongoing education programs delivered face-to-face and online, The Author Resource ezine, BookCamps and the annual AuthorU Extravaganza are tools designed for authors pre, during and post publishing of their books. Become a GOLD member at AuthorU.org.
Judith Briles

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Judith Briles

Judith Briles

Author U at Author U
Author U is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the author who wants to be seriously successful. Ongoing education programs delivered face-to-face and online, The Author Resource ezine, BookCamps and the annual AuthorU Extravaganza are tools designed for authors pre, during and post publishing of their books. Become a GOLD member at AuthorU.org.
Judith Briles

6 Comments on #Amazon Takes the Machete to #BookReviews Again

  1. This is very discouraging to this ebook author about to launch tomorrow and be on Amazon for the first time with fiction! Yikes! Thanks for posting and explaining, Judith and co.

    • Judith Briles says:

      Wonderful news about your ebook launch Sally. Remember… any reviews, do the copy/paste routine so you have them to use.

  2. Judith – thanks so much for the great tip about copying reviews and saving them!

    • Judith Briles says:

      You are welcome … it’s amazing that so few think to do this … Amazon deleting is one thing … but wouldn’t you want to repost on your website … some of those comments are fantastic.

  3. Great advice for all of us who have our book on Amazon. Thanks for keeping us informed and up-to-date with this!

    • Judith Briles says:

      You are welcome Janice. Just having the email to connect directly with them is always valuable.

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