Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Why Your Amazon Book Reviews May Disappear

I wrote a review of Ray Ziemer’s book, The Ghost of Jamie McVay, for Goodreads and Amazon on March 7th. I received an email from Amazon on the 7th that said my review had been accepted and that it was live. There was a link to the review, which unfortunately I did not click. Today I went to see if the book had received any more reviews (a friend of mine indicated she reviewed it and I wanted to see her review), but there were no reviews – mine, if it was ever there at all, was no longer showing. (My Goodreads review is still there.) I know that Amazon has a policy that family members or close friends cannot write reviews for your books. But, how do they know? It’s a secret, but the articles linked below speculate that Amazon is scouring our social media accounts to determine who knows who. I am friends with Ray on both Goodreads (Amazon owned) and Facebook. This may have doomed my review.

We’re being penalized for developing a network! All the so-called gurus tell us that authors have to be on social media, that the more “likes” we get and the more “friends” we accumulate the better our books will sell. It seems that strategy, as it applies to reviews, works against us.

I don’t have an answer here. It’s frustrating. The only thing I can offer at this point is to review books on Goodreads for authors who you may be connected to on social media. I looked at the Goodreads review guidelines and there is restriction on friends posting reviews. At least Goodreads reviews, for now, don’t get taken down if you have some online relationship with an author.

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“We don't allow individuals who share a household with the author or close friends to write Customer Reviews for that author’s book.”
From Amazon’s Customer Reviews Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions from Authors

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“Amazon knows who your writer friends are and no, you can't post reviews for them. 
Amazon somehow knows people you know personally or as acquaintances is troubling. And that Amazon keeps how it knows this under a pall of secrecy is even more troubling, especially when there's nothing in its privacy policy that explicitly addresses this.”
Read the entire article on motherboard.com.

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"If you interact with an author in any way online, beware: Amazon might decide that you’re 'friends' and ban you from leaving a review of their latest book.

But how does Amazon work out their definition of 'friends'? It looks likely to remain a closely-guarded secret."
Read the entire article on The Guardian.


Unknown said...

I agree, Kevin. I find this policy both troubling and counter-productive. People that you thank in the Acknowledgments reportedly cannot leave reviews either. Worse yet, we authors have no recourse to complain about this policy.

Lynne Handy said...

I see my review for Ray's book, which was originally accepted, and posted, as was yours, Kevin, is no longer there. Ray is a FB friend for me, as well. Amazon's policy is puzzling to me, as well as troubling.

Julie Oleszek said...

I wonder if what happened to me happened to you. I wrote a review for a friends book and it was accepted by Amazon by way of and email I recieved. A few days later, when I noticed the review was not posted, I went back to double check the email that I'd recieved from Amazon to make sure I'd read it correctly, and it was gone. I searched far and wide. Gone! I think it is possible to retract an email, but heck, I don't even get notice. How is this even possible? Scary stuff out there.

Cathy Kern @ Ordinary Overcoming said...

Can we launch a social media driven blitz on Amazon protesting this. As you point out Kevin, this is counterproductive to developing a social media following? What if a person has several thousand following their website or blog - Jodi Picoult fans surely aren't being banned from reviewing her books? This is big brother to the extreme.

After all the effort people put into building up their on-line presence...??