June 2018 Update: We’ve shared updated information about Amazon reviews disappearing since this original post published — click here to learn more.
February 2018 Update: We’ve just updated what’s going on with Amazon pulling reviews, click here to find out more!
You may have read recently that Amazon is cracking down on reviews – not so much getting them but how you get them. A while ago I wrote about Amazon’s policy for pulling reviews and when and how they might do that, you can see that post here.
When I spoke with Amazon recently (I interviewed them via email) they shared with me some of their specific do’s and don’ts. It’s a bit confusing because there are a few loopholes as I’ll point out that could get you into some trouble.
Reviews in general are posted by either readers or professional reviewers. In some cases, like Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly and others, reviewers are paid for their time. You could also consider a reviewer from The New York Times to be paid as well since they are on payroll. This was Amazon’s reply:
Thank you for your continued interest in this topic.
Reviews from professional reviewers are not allowed in Customer Reviews. Authors can, however, include them in the Editorial Reviews section of their book’s Product Detail Page. You can learn more information about this here: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help?topicID=200649600
We don’t allow compensation for Amazon reviews, but we have no control over bloggers writing on their own sites. Bloggers who’ve received compensation from an author wouldn’t be permitted to post Amazon reviews for that author’s books.”
If you’re logged into your Amazon account, that link should pull up through Author Central. And here’s a list of other key sales opportunities through Author Central that you can’t afford to miss.
And I definitely encourage you to read this tell-all piece I created with the help of some forthcoming Top Amazon Reviewers!
He also indicated that payment of any kind, to encourage reviews on Amazon is not permitted however this is where it starts to get a little sketchy. Because sometimes it’s hard to prevent a review from a blogger – who maybe was gifted a Starbucks card or gift basket for her time and trouble, from posting a review on Amazon. To some degree, all you can do is ask the marketing firm what their internal guidelines are for their reviewers.
If you get caught, who does this affect?
Well it’ll affect the review for sure but it will also affect the blogger because they could get dinged for doing this. You may wonder how Amazon would know if you gave someone a Starbucks gift card for their time, right? Well the truth is they may not know but what Amazon is trying to prevent are reviews that are skewed in favor of the book & author. I get this, we want Amazon to be a place that features honest assessments, not five star paid reviews that aren’t even close to describing the truth about the book or product. We’ve seen Amazon challenge firms that promise endless five star reviews on Amazon and with good reason: this is flat out unethical.
I expect that Amazon will continue to update their review guidelines and when they do, I’ll be sure to post something about it. For now consider who you might be using for your reviews and ask them what their individual guidelines are. That’s really the only thing you can do to protect yourself and your book.
So what happens when you get a review from a paid source, like the NY Times, Kirkus or Publisher’s Weekly? Well you can post them (per the note below) on your Amazon book page which does help with the page exposure, but it won’t add to the number of reviews you have on the book.
I’ll agree that there’s a lot of grey area here. A lot of review sources, very ethical sources like the few I mentioned here, are paid for their time. These firms are all very clear that the reviewer isn’t paid for a good or bad review, just a review.
There was a time when bloggers were asking for a small fee to review the book – mostly this was to make sure the author was serious. I actually agree with that. In a world where we have 4,500 books published each day, as a (sometimes) reviewer myself I want to know that if I’m selecting a book that has an author behind it who is serious and not just a praise junkie.
I don’t have a review blog and I don’t do this as a profession (reviewing books) but if I did I might consider doing something to make sure the author was serious.
For some bloggers, however, this means putting the author through the paces via their terms of review on their website. But I’ve also written a piece on how to strengthen your relationships with bloggers to work with them more productively, in an effort to get more exposure to their followers.
For now, keep in mind that they are policing this and, as I mentioned, the policy is always changing as publishing evolves. Were your Amazon reviews removed? Check out my post on how to (maybe) get it back.
amazon just deleted 10 years of my reviews, about 100. they were all honest, products i bought, about half from amazon, the rest elsewhere. they were mostly very positive reviews as i genuinely like the items…all varieties. last week i noticed whenever i tried to write a new review a popup would prevent me and say i had already written a review on the item, it was negative and abused the manufacturer. this was on items i had never even owned let alone reviewed.
i started googling what happened and a lot of other people had the same issue. apparently manufacturers are contacting amazon & complaining about negative reviews, so amazon has just been pulling thousands and thousands of legit reviews. they never answered me about my complaint over this, nor anyone else.
it shows me that amazon reviews are rigged by amazon and manufacturers. i have cut my amazon purchases down to a bare minimum, and will buy elsewhere if possible, even for a few bucks more. i spread the word about how amazon has rigged their reviews to aid manufacturers in getting rid of poor reviews. ironically, i had only written a couple of reviews less than 3 stars, and very few less than 4. they were always backed up with a lot of real personal experience. i now spread the word on social media and everywhere about the rigged amazon reviews on their site. maybe i can’t win a fight with a megalith, but i certainly don’t need to support one.
especially when their actual rigging flies in the face of all the pr bs they put out on how they are legitimately policing reviews. they’ve not only lost an extremely loyal customer, they’e gained some very bad corporate ill will that i will likely be sharing for the rest of my very active social media life.
Hi Michael, that’s so frustrating. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve actually recently written a new post to update everyone with what’s going on with Amazon pulling reviews. You can find it here: https://www.amarketingexpert.com/amazon-reviews-disappearing-protect-your-book/ And, while it’s from an author’s perspective, there might be some additional valuable takeaways for you as a reviewer, too. Have you reached out to Amazon yet to let them know your experience and that you believe their decision was in error? I’d recommend doing so! Good luck!
hi…thanks for your compassion. i of course reached out, and got absolutely no response from the dept i was told to contact. the same as all others who simply had their reviews pulled.
for people who enjoy shopping and consider reviewing as part of that experience, the chance to review on amazon made me enjoy shopping there. this experience, and realizing their reviews are rigged in a huge way by themselves, killing thousands of reviews by hundreds of reviewers that some company or reseller may have complained about…this has completely made me seek alternatives to ever shopping on amazon again, as well as pointing out their actions. no one really cares about reviewers, even though this is thousands of hours of honest expression down the drain. but what people may care about is knowing amazon reviews are completely rigged. from outside to some extent by people shilling amazon reviews, but in a wholesale fashion by amazon flushing honest patrons and reviewers down the tubes without even addressing what they did…and thusly rigging what reviews remain to be totally subservient to whatever manufacturer, reseller or seller said to get rid of this or that person on the website. from a customer viewpoint, i would never again go to amazon for its reviews, and from a reviewer standpoint i have been so trashed by this experience i will not go to amazon to ever buy anything if i can help it. and i will continually point out the rigged scammed system on that website. thanks for your quick comment, even though it was a bit off the mark of what you were writing about.
Amazon has become so big that it is getting out touch, perhaps an indication of it eventual collapse. Removing a review because a reviewer follows an author on twitter looks like whoever came up with such policy at Amazon must have come from another planet and doesn’t know why and how people follow others on twitter or whether an author has control over that. When did twitter followers become a liability for amazon? Maybe there is a legal issue here in fact that might implicate them. It is totally insane to encourage authors to block readers/reviewers who follow them on twitter. What is wrong when a reader who happens to review a book, follows the author on twitter thereafter? Or is Amazon trying to force authors to have a fan page or author page and to abandon twitter?
Hi Len, interesting insights. Thanks for sharing here. If you haven’t checked out our newest post on Amazon pulling reviews, you can find it here. And, I’d definitely encourage you to reach out to Amazon with your concerns. I think it’s good that they hear from authors and consumers. In the meantime, I know it’s not the specific question you were speaking to, but the Amazon author pages are great tools in and of themselves. In fact, I recently wrote about how authors can maximize them here, if you’re looking for ideas.
My experience with Amazon
As a long time user of Amazon I used to give honest appraisals of the products I purchased and was one of the top 2500 reviewers at amazon. In Sept 2018 someone at Amazon without warning or any correspondence deleted all of my reviews and about 3 weeks later after I contacted them said I abused their system. I did not and have not. The only thing I can think of was I used manufactures coupons (as we all would) to purchase a small amount of goods far from the amount I purchased at regular price. Never was this in return for a review let alone a good review. Some of these products I did review but not even close to all. The reviews on these products that I did give ranged in stars from 1 to 5 so they were accurate. I feel abused by Amazon.
I am so sorry you had that experience–thank you for sharing it. We have heard from a few people that they have had trouble. The latest post I have on this is here. My best advice is to keep reaching out to Amazon. Please do keep us updated how things go!
I’ve also suffered the same issue as these other commenters. I had over 10 years of reviews deleted for no apparent reason. I later got a message that I violated their review policy by getting items for free. Being annoyed with this, I wrote them and asked which item I got for free. When they find that item, I asked them to pull the information of what I paid for it and issue me a full refund if I would have to suffer their stupid accusations. Four chats with their reps and nothing. I had review privileges restored and then taken away. Not even sure why they pay reps for the chat site because they all say the same thing and blow smoke at you.
Amazon removed 200 of my reviews. I only show 40 of the 240 I had written over the years. I have received no money, and am on no social media, so the reasons given are not the reasons mine were removed.
Over 200 of mine were removed, and the reasons given are false. I spent quite a bit of my time sharing what I thought of a book or product. I am not inclined to spend my valuable time if no one will read them. And we spend thousands of dollars on Amazon ever year. (0ver $7000 in 2021).