Having problems with your Amazon book reviews? So are we.
Our team is always happy when new books get immediate reviews on our Amazon product page. Our authors are also delighted when positive reviews start to roll in.
Amazon reviews not only build customer confidence, they create momentum. Book reviews can help improve your book sales and improve your rankings in Amazon’s algorithms by increasing your conversion rates (meaning more browsers actually end up buying your book).
Higher Amazon conversion rates influence cross-postings on other product pages and increase the chances that your book will be read and recommended by influencers or accepted by book promotion sites.
Not surprisingly, when reviews that had been rolling in suddenly start to disappear, it can be confusing and disappointing. To make matters worse, Amazon’s Customer Reviews Guidelines state,
“We can only discuss specific Customer Review removals with the person who originally posted the review.”
So, you may never know what the review said, who posted it, or why it was removed unless the person who posted it contacts you directly.
Amazon’s New Reviewer Policies
Amazon continually experiments with different guidelines and algorithms to eliminate fake reviews and “reviews for hire.” Their algorithms use machine learning and data mining to assess the multitudes of reviews that products and books receive daily, a task that would be impossible for the Amazon Community Guidelines team to tackle on their own.
While we at TCK Publishing applaud Amazon’s goal of a truthful review process, we don’t want legitimate reviews from readers and book reviewers to get caught in the crossfire!
In a relationship- and word-of-mouth-driven industry we believe authentic voices and relationships should outweigh machine learning and algorithms.
Here are some of Amazon’s current reviewer policies you should know about if you’re selling books on Amazon.
1. You cannot offer anything in exchange for a review
“We do not permit reviews or votes on the helpfulness of reviews that are posted in exchange for compensation of any kind.” – Source
Paying for reviews is an obvious way to have your review deleted in a hurry.
But we were surprised to find that Amazon reviewer policies allow “book authors and publishers … 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.”
It is therefore important that the review never states “I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.” If your reviewer insists on disclosing that they were offered a review copy, however, encourage them to use wording like “I received an advance review copy at no cost and without obligation from the author,” otherwise the review may be pulled.
2. You cannot review your own book and family and friends cannot review your book
“We don’t allow individuals who share a household with the author or close friends to write Customer Reviews for that author’s book.”
Amazon has been cracking down ruthlessly on this policy. They have launched new data mining techniques in combination with artificial intelligence and machine learning to remove questionable reviews. Unfortunately, these tactics sometimes remove legitimate reviews as well.
“Family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews.”
For example, if friends or family leaving reviews use the same IP address as the author, Amazon may deem the reviews to be from “someone you know” and remove the reviews. They even go so far as to remove reviews from anyone that the author has “friended” on Facebook or other social media.
Before you panic and start deleting your Twitter, Instagram, and author fan page on Facebook, however, remember that social media is still a great platform for marketing your book and building your reader base.
One of our authors recently received this cryptic message from Amazon, which does not make it clear what similar information caused the eliminated review:
We removed the Customer Review for your book because our data shows that elements of your Amazon account match elements of the reviewer’s Amazon account. In such cases, we remove the review to maintain trust in our customer reviews and avoid any perception of bias.
Customer Reviews are meant to give customers unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers. Because our goal is to provide Customer Reviews that help customers make informed purchase decisions, any reviews that could be viewed as advertising, promotional, or biased will not be posted.
To learn more about this policy, please see our Customer Review Creation Guidelines (http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines).
3. Customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product
If you leave a review for a product, no one else from the same IP address will be able to leave a review for the same product.
4. If your book has only sold a few copies but receives many reviews they may be removed
If an influx of reviews appears immediately after a book’s release even though it has sold only a few copies, Amazon could deem this suspicious behavior and remove the reviews.
5. Reviews must be respectful
This is fairly obvious. If a review is slanderous, obscene, sexual, crude, etc. it will be removed. You can take a look at Amazon’s Community Guidelines for details of what constitutes a non-respectful review.
6. The review cannot post promotional content
This is also fairly obvious. Reviews cannot be used to market other products.
7. The reviewer must be a recent customer on Amazon
To contribute to Customer features (for example, Customer Reviews, Customer Answers, Idea Lists) or to follow other contributors, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card in the past 12 months.
Amazon reviewers must be regular Amazon customers. Prime members are automatically enabled to leave reviews, since their purchase of Prime exceeds the $50 minimum. If they are still on the free trial of Prime, however, the $50 minimum would still apply.
8. The reviewer does not necessarily have to purchase the book
However, we recently spoke to an Amazon customer support agent who said that all nonverified reviews were being removed. That means that the reviewer would have had to purchase the product in question as well as other products totaling $50 in the past year. This contradicts Amazon’s current Community Guidelines, therefore we hope that this is just a temporary measure by Amazon.
Be on the lookout for fake reviews
We’ve seen several fake reviews posted about our authors’ books. We aren’t sure of the motive behind them, but it could be a tactic by a competitor to lower the product ratings.
Here are some red flags that can alert you to potentially fake reviews:
● The reviewer’s posts are all the same or similar.
● The reviewer posts only one- or five-star reviews, and there are very few helpful votes on any of their reviews.
● The reviewer has only one or two reviews, usually one star or five stars.
● The reviewer has posted many reviews in a short amount of time. We have seen hundreds of reviews from one reviewer on the same day.
● The review is brief and doesn’t provide any reason or explanation.
● The review doesn’t make sense or apply to the book. Here’s an actual review that was left on one of our author’s books: “The book took over my Kindle, the book crashed my computer.”
If you think a review on your book violates Amazon guidelines, report it
What can you do if you get a review that violates Amazon Guidelines? You can report it to the community help site.
1. Go to the review on your book listing
2. Click the “REPORT ABUSE” button
3. Click on the Report button
4. You can also contact Amazon Support at [email protected]. You must specify the location of the review (copy and paste the URL for the specific review into the body of your email) and explain why you believe the review violates the community guidelines.
How to Get More Book Reviews
If you want to learn how to get more high-quality book reviews, read our blog post on How to Get Book Reviews: The System That Got Us 1,000+ Reviews on Amazon.
If you liked this post, here are some other articles you might love:
- The Ultimate Guide To Getting Amazon Book Reviews
- How to Get More Book Reviews Without Breaking Amazon’s TOS with Heather Hart
- How to Get More Book Reviews and Being Authentic with Debbie Drum
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- List of 100+ Author Tools: The Best Tools for Writing, Publishing, and Marketing Your Book - January 28, 2020
- 2019 Readers Choice Award Winners - September 12, 2019