As we all know, as an author, you work hard to get reviews. You spend hours contacting bloggers, social media followers, friends, even neighbors, asking them to review your book. You also know how frustrating it is to pull up Amazon and see your reviews have been yanked.
Has this happened to you? After hearing several author complaints about yanked reviews, I decided to find out how did this happens. And what you can do about it.
When a review, or several, is yanked, I know it’s tempting to accuse Amazon of a nefarious plot to sabotage your hard work. As an author, I can sympathize with these sentiments, but I was also pretty sure this wasn’t the case. So what to do? I called Amazon Author Central to investigate.
If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of Author Central I encourage you to bookmark this article I wrote to ensure you’re making the most of all your free sales features.
And you know what? Their customer service representative was really helpful! We walked through AAC’s guidelines, which helped me understand why they pull certain reviews.
I think Amazon’s guidance, plus my insights from years in this business, will help you, too.
And if you’re struggling in other areas of book promotion, please consider contacting me and setting up a call if you’re serious about taking your authorship to the next level, I’d love a chance to show you what a collaboration could include.
My reviews have disappeared from Amazon – why?
Friends and family: Amazon wants authentic, unbiased reviews, and so do we – the readers. And according to Amazon, family and friends write biased reviews. Keep this in mind when asking friends to review your book: if Amazon can connect them to you, they’ll pull the review.
Well-intentioned friends and family might post glowing five-star reviews that merely say: “I loved this book!” While their goals are noble (supporting you!), vague reviews don’t help consumers deciding whether to buy your book.
As authors, we don’t like getting 2-star reviews, but remember that readers will likely regard a book page with all 5-star reviews as suspicious. There’s nothing wrong with asking friends and family to review your book, but keep in mind that Amazon may pull it.
In order to make up for losing out on this pool of potential reviews, I encourage you to get friendly with bloggers and build relationships with them, as a way to reach their followers. Here are some tips on developing better blogger relationships, with the goal of garnering more reviews.
IP Addresses: Pay careful attention to the IP address your friends use when reviewing your book. For example, if several different reviews are all entered from the same IP address Amazon will likely pull all of them. I know an author who lost forty reviews, because they were all submitted from the same IP address. As with family and friends, it’s fine to encourage colleagues to review the book, but I don’t recommend pressuring them to review the book on company time (nor would your employer), or from the same IP address.
Vague Reviews: Vague or non-specific reviews will always draw attention. Amazon often questions reviews lacking detail and is more likely to pull these reviews than well thought-out, detailed reviews.
Technical Errors: We all know that Amazon frequently—and unpredictably—changes their algorithms. As a result, reviews might mysteriously disappear for a period of time, only to return later. If you discover missing reviews, I recommend waiting a few days before calling Amazon.
Gift Cards: Keep in mind that this is not the same as gifting an eBook. I do this all the time for folks who want to review my books on Kindle. While Amazon did not confirm this point, I’ve noticed if you issue an e-gift card to someone who then buys your book and reviews it, Amazon might pull the review. Why? I suspect it’s because Amazon might view a gift card as a bribe, especially if the gift card exceeds the cost of the book.
Amazon pulled my reviews – now what?
First, call AAC and ask them for assistance. Be polite—not frantic—when explaining your reviews are missing. When I’m monitoring books with missing reviews, I take screenshots of the reviews every few days to keep a record and monitor review progress. Reviews often move around the page if readers rank them as “helpful,” so keep that in mind before panicking.
Remember: if Amazon pulls your reviews it does not necessarily mean the review is gone forever. It is also not a part of an Amazon attack, merely the result of a red flag. And at times, the issue can be easily resolved.
Having a good understanding of Amazon’s review guidelines is important to ensure that you don’t lose reviews you worked so hard to get. In the event Amazon won’t reinstate the missing review, be sure to find out why so you can prevent it from happening again.
Having your book on Amazon means adhering to their terms of service; to make sure that you are making the most of your reviews, it’s important to make sure they will conform to Amazon’s review guidelines.
And if after all this you’re still finding yourself working with fewer reviews than you previously had, here are five really great ways to make the most of the reviews your book still has. These book marketing strategies can only help you!
Want to learn more? Here are a couple of other posts we did on the topic, expanding into different areas of the Amazon review issue!
Amazon’s Disappearing Reviews: The Surprising Reason Why Book Reviews are Getting Pulled (and how to fix it).
Amazon Reviews Disappearing – How to Protect your Book
How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon – 2020 Updated Edition!: Learn how to turn Amazon into your 24/7 sales machine!
I’d echo the comment about technical issues. I once noticed one of Amazon’s Top 10 reviewers had less than ten reviews, which seemed ridiculous when the other Top 10 reviewers all had hundreds or thousands. A few days later, they were all back. Who knows why they disappeared.
I’m interested by your comment in gift cards vs. gifting an ebook. I haven’t seen that distinction before, and when authors and reviewers have asked Amazon about it, they’ve been given conflicting information. Giving gift cards is seen as compensation for the review (which is against Amazon’s reviewing guidelines), and some of Amazon’s customer service reps apparently say the same thing about gifting ebooks (as the gift can be refused and the credit put towards another purchase). However, no one I know has even been able to get a definitive answer.
I actually don’t accept either gift cards or gifted ebooks from authors who want me to review their books – I don’t want to run the risk of my review being deleted. Instead, I ask them to either email me the mobi file, or gift via another site (e.g. Smashwords).
I have one more comment for authors: they are not “your” reviews. They are reviews of your book. Amazon is quite clear that the review (i.e. the copyright on the review) is owned by the reviewer, not Amazon, and certainly not the author of the book being reviewed.
Iola, hi! Thank you so much for your comments!
You’re so right about technical issues. It’s important for authors to
know that their reviews may not be gone forever if they notice some are
disappearing. Reviews will commonly disappear after an algorithm change
for a short amount of time.
We recommend that our
authors gift books via Amazon to reviewers as this helps their sales rank,
and we have not yet had a problem with those reviews being pulled. But I
certainly respect your caution!
I’ve been wondering something for some time, and I hope you have the answer to this. This has to do with those who borrow through Amazon Prime and the unlimited program. I don’t do reviews do to conflict of interest, so here are my questions.
1. Do those reviews show as verified purchases?
2. If they don’t, does Amazon look upon those reviews less favorably because they don’t recognize them as verified purchases?
I’m concerned about the fact that Amazon may not be showing borrowed books as verified purchases for those reading reviews, because they will appear inauthentic. And I’d like to know if anyone has approached Amazon regarding the same.
Michelle thanks – great questions! So to #1 yes they should qualify and to #2, not at this time. We have bloggers that we send books to and their reviews don’t show up as “verified purchase” because we gave them the book. Does that make sense?
Are ARCs viewed differently by Amazon if the reviewer states “I received an ARC from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest, unbiased review”?
Great question, Sue! Reviews with those statements are not viewed differently at all.
I was told I wasn’t in “good standing” with the community and was banned from leaving reviews or answering questions.I didn’t get a warning. I didn’t get an email. I found out myself. All of my reviews were deleted so I can’t even review them to see what they might be talking about. I’ve only left like 4 total reviews, including two book reviews.
They said “this is final and will not be reviewed”. What the hell?
Wow! I definitely recommend contacting Amazon via Author Central to figure this out!
Same happened to me. Emailed and review privileges removed. Called and they looked into it. Privileges restored and promised reviews would return. When I emailed to ask when reviews would be restored they removed privileges AGAIN. Called again. Privileges restored. Gave me a gift card for my frustrations. Promised reviews would be restored, but it would take time. Two months. 9 yrs of reviews still missing. No explanation. If I ask again they could take away privileges again. Algorythyms I assume are responsible.
Donna, I am so sorry to hear that! I am glad you have been in touch with them. Have you read my most recent update on what is happening? You can find it here: https://www.amarketingexpert.com/amazon-reviews-disappearing-protect-your-book/ Please, keep me posted on how this goes for you!
I had all mine removed a few months ago. finally tracked down an email and they reinstated them within a couple of days. I’m a book reviewer, and very careful not to breach guidelines. I love to read, and mostly get arcs from Netgalley, look for free books, use KU and buy the odd few. I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I love, so reviewing supports my reading hobby. today I discovered they’re all gone again, yesterday was fine, i added one as usual, today about 3 thousand have gone, several years worth and they’ve oddly left two. Of course I stupidly didn’t keep the email I used so I’m trying to track down another one…..
Jeannie, that’s so frustrating! I hope you’re able to get your reviews back! Please keep us posted!
Email to three different amazon addresses, but finally reviews got reinstated. No idea why they went, i just got an auto reply that they had been replaced.
Twice in six months now, no email to tell me they’re gone, no reason given for taking them. First time I only knew as an author contacted me – she thought I’d removed it and wondered why, second time I only discovered when i tried to add a review for an ARC.
If I didn’t love reading and getting more ARCs than I could afford to buy I’d not bother any more. I’m certainly not bothering with product purchases just in case. Yet amazon claim to want reviewers and say our views are important. Maybe try checking before just blanket removing them then…..
What was the email you contacted them on?
I have learned that Amazon will delete your review if you mention an ARC or received free or honest review. I never mention that I received an ARC or whether I paid for the book or not. And I never use the words “honest review.” I just write my review. And, the review I give is honest. Why wouldn’t it be anyway? As yet I haven’t noticed any of my reviews being deleted.
That’s very true, for whatever reason (despite guidelines from the FCC) they’ve started pulling reviews that mention this. This is a fairly new thing. And so strange. Thanks for commenting!
We just finished posting a 1000 word article on this very topic. Some tips to get more reviews to stick include Use Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program, Send follow-up emails to ask for reviews, Craft the perfect email, Use product inserts, just to mention a few!
Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed!
Very helpful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such
information much. I was seeking this particular info for a long time.
Thank you and good luck.
Thanks for sharing this article.
It’s so interesting.
Do you realize that your article is dated 2019, but the comments underneath, 2015?? IS this current information?
Hi, Yes, the article was updated and refreshed! Thanks for checking.