In the U.S., over 70% of books are sold through the Amazon channels. Book reviews are considered “essential” to have, yet Amazon has taken an aggressive posture in removing many that are posted: many from legitimate book buyers/owners and some from phony “reviewers”.
What happens when a posted book review has been zapped by the Amazon bots (or many); is there a path to getting reviews that stick; are perplexed about which type of reviews to seek and how to get them; or are there rules, and unwritten rules, for authors to know when seeking book reviews?
Amazon has new guidelines and authors need to be aware of them … effective time was October of 2016.
From it’s website:
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Amazon.com wants your voice to be heard! The Amazon Community provides various forums for engaging other users and sharing authentic feedback about products and services – positive or negative. These Community Guidelines will help you use Community features, including Customer Reviews, Customer Questions & Answers, Amazon Follow, Profile pages, Registries, and Lists.
To post Customer Reviews or Customer Answers, post on Customer Discussion Forums, or submit content to followers, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50 minimum. You do not need to meet this requirement to post Customer Questions, create or modify Profile pages, Lists, or Registries, or to read content posted by other customers.
Be Helpful and Relevant
The Community is intended to provide helpful, relevant content to customers. The content you submit should be relevant and based on your own honest opinions and experience.
- For Community features focused on a specific topic, you should only submit content related to that topic.
- Customer Reviews and Questions and Answers should be about the product. Feedback about the seller, your shipment experience, or packaging can be shared at amazon.com/feedbackor www.amazon.com/packaging. Comments about pricing, product availability or alternate ordering options are also not about the product should not be posted.
Amazon values diverse opinions, so you may disagree with some content that you come across. Please keep in mind that something that may be disagreeable to you may not violate our Guidelines. In order to maintain a welcoming environment for all users, your participation in the Community must always be respectful of others. In particular:
- Don’t post content that is libelous, defamatory, harassing, threatening, or inflammatory. For example, don’t use obscenities or profanity, and don’t express hatred or intolerance for people on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, age, or disability, including by promoting organizations with such views.
- Don’t post content that invades others’ privacy. For example, don’t post other people’s phone numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses, or other personal information, and don’t post links to phishing or other malware sites.
- Don’t impersonate other people or organizations or pretend to be someone or something you’re not.
- Don’t repeatedly send messages or requests to other people.
- Don’t attempt to drown out other people’s opinions, including by posting from multiple accounts or coordinating with others.
- Don’t engage in name-calling or attack people based on whether you agree with them.
- You may question the beliefs and expertise of others as long as it is relevant and done in a respectful and non-threatening manner.
Promotions and Commercial Solicitations
In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) are not allowed, including:
- Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.
- Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your competitors’ products or services.
- Creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anyone else.
- Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.
- Posting advertisements or solicitations, including URLs with referrer tags or affiliate codes.
The only exceptions are:
- You may post content requested by Amazon (such as Customer Reviews of products you purchased on Amazon or received through the Vine program, and answers requested through Questions and Answers). In those cases, your content must comply with any additional guidelines specified by Amazon.
- You may post an answer to a question asked through the Questions and Answers feature (but not a question itself) regarding products or services for which you have a financial or close personal connection to the brand, seller, author, or artist, but only if you clearly and conspicuously disclose the connection (e.g., “I represent the brand for this product.”). We automatically label some answers from sellers or manufacturers, in which case additional disclosure is not necessary.
- You may post content other than Customer Reviews and Questions and Answers regarding products or services for which you have a financial or close personal connection to the brand, seller, author, or artist, but only if you clearly and conspicuously disclose the connection (e.g., “I was paid for this post.”). However, no brand or business may participate in the Community in a way (including by advertising, special offers, or any other “call to action”) that diverts Amazon customers to another non-Amazon website, service, application, or channel for the purpose of conducting marketing or sales transactions. Content posted through brand, seller, author, or artist accounts regarding their own products or services does not require additional labeling.
Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.
Don’t post content or interact with other members of the Community in a way that infringes the intellectual property or other proprietary rights of others. Only post your own content or content that you have permission to use.
Don’t post content that encourages or supports behavior that is illegal, including violence, fraud, illegal drug use, underage drinking, or child or animal abuse. Examples of prohibited content include:
- Content advocating or threatening physical or financial harm to others, including terrorism.
- Content offering fraudulent goods, services, schemes, or promotions (e.g., make-money-fast schemes, pyramid schemes).
Additional Guidelines for Customer Reviews
The following guidelines apply to Customer Reviews in addition to the other guidelines set forth above:
- If your review is removed or rejected because it does not comply with our guidelines concerning promotional content, you may not resubmit a review on the same product, even if the resubmitted review includes different content.
- Reviews may only include URLs or links to other products sold on Amazon.
- Customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product.
For some types of content, including Customer Reviews, Customer Answers, and Discussion Boards, you can report possible violations of these Guidelines by clicking the “Report abuse” link near the content and entering the reason you believe it violates these Guidelines. If no “Report abuse” link is available, you may email firstname.lastname@example.org, specifying the location of the content and the reason you believe it violates these Guidelines.
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What does this mean for you? It means …
- You can’t get paid Reviews … period.
- If you are participating in a “paid for” type of book Blog Tour, any book reviews generated from it could get the boot.
- There is a “closet type” of Amazon “black list” … bloggers who get some type of remuneration (whether in money or product) are being identified and reviews pulled.
- If you are an Amazon Affiliate, your Review won’t be posted.
- If you offer discounts, sweepstakes, any type of “stuff”, coupons, your Review won’t be posted.
- Service providers can’t Review client’s or books that they are connected with
So … breathe here. There are options and some types of workarounds. In future blogs, I’ll share them. In Saturday’s AuthorU program, I revealed many. Suggest you get the video.
Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. She empowers authors and is the Founder of Author U, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 35 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms (ForeWord IndieFab Book of the Year), Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers and a speaker at publishing conferences. Book #35 was published this summer: The How to Avoid 101 Book Publishing Blunders, Bloopers & Boo-Boos. Get your copy now.
Each summer, she holds Judith Briles Book Publishing Unplugged, a three-day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. In 2017, the dates are June 22-24th. Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for “AuthorU – Your Guide to Book Publishing” on the Toginet Network at bit.ly/PublishingShow .
Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and Judith Briles – TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at Judith@Briles.com.
Author U is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to the author who wants to be seriously successful. Monthly education programs delivered face-to-face and online, The Author Resource ezine, BookCamps and the annual Author U Extravaganza are tools designed for authors pre, during and post publishing of their books. Join AuthorU.org today.
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
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