Thursday, December 19, 2013

#Amazon Takes the Machete to #Book Reviews Again

Help … my Book Review has fallen and it can’t get up!


A recent phone conversation from an author revealed that several of her 5 star reviews were given the 
ax via Amazon. All were legit; all had read the book to her knowledge … I know that I had and I 
went into some detail with my review.

Two years ago, there was grumbling in the author community that book reviews  on Amazon were 
mysteriously going astray. A year ago, the grumbles resurfaced, this time from a different set of 
authors and book reviewers.

Most complained there was no reason, no notification, that they were as mystified as the person (if they knew who he or she was who posted) were, and–it seemed it was the 5-star reviews who were taking a hike. No real satisfaction was obtained, it seemed like Amazon was passing the buck–and almost with a universal nod of our cyber-heads, we all knew that it must be the secret algorithm designed to keep us distant that could be the culprit.

Are the Book Review Gremlins back, lurking in our midst? Who, or what robots are the clickers, the
demigods of cyber-land that could have a dramatic impact on book sales within a nano-second? We
authors know that book reviews do count.

Let’s face it, Amazon is powerful. Many of us have suspicions, ideas, and voice our opinions.  When authors have contacted Amazon to find out, “What’s up?” some have gotten back not so nice emails literally saying that authors can’t review other books. .. and if there are any more complaints … a threat. Immediate removal from Amazon-land in giving reviews and more than a slap on the hand directed toward the author of the book.

Jeeze. Wait a sec … authors read lots of books, it’s one of the key ways to become a better writer.
We can’t post reviews because we do? Isn't that a tad discriminatory? So where does this leave us?
Let’s start with its guidelines from the Amazon
website:

“General Review Creation Guidelines” direct from the Amazon website …

Amazon wants your opinions to be heard
We want customers to get the information they need to make smart buying choices, and we’d love to have your help doing that.  As an Amazon customer, you can submit written or video reviews for items listed on Amazon.com. We encourage you to share your opinions, both favorable and unfavorable.

Who can create customer reviews?Anyone who has purchased items from Amazon.com. All
we ask is that you follow a few simple rules (see “What’s not allowed” below).

Tips on writing a great review

Include the “why”: The best reviews include not only whether you liked or disliked a product, but
also why. Feel free to talk about related products and how this item compares to them.

Be specific: Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with
it. For video reviews, we recommend that you write a brief introduction.

Not too short, not too long: Written reviews must be at least 20 words and are limited to 5,000
words. The ideal length is 75 to 500 words. Video reviews have a 10-minute limit, but we recommend 2 to 5 minutes to keep your audience engaged.

Be sincere: We welcome your honest opinion about the product–positive or negative. We do not remove
reviews because they are critical. We believe all helpful information can inform our customers’ buying decisions.

Full disclosure: If you received a free product in exchange for your review, please clearly and
conspicuously disclose that that you received the product free of charge. Reviews from the
Amazon Vine™ program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary.

What’s not allowed;

Amazon is pleased to provide this forum for you to share your opinions on products.  While we
appreciate your time and comments, we limit customer participation to one review per product and reserve the right to remove reviews that include any of the following:

Objectionable material:
• Obscene or distasteful content
• Profanity or spiteful remarks
• Promotion of illegal or immoral conduct

Promotional content:
• Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively
• Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a
directly competing product (including reviews by publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants
selling the product)
• Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This
includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package
• Solicitations for helpful votes
• For more information on what we consider promotional content, please see our
Frequently Asked Questions.

Inappropriate content:
• Other people’s material (this includes excessive quoting)
• Phone numbers, postal mailing addresses, and URLs external to Amazon.com
• Videos with watermarks
• Comments on other reviews visible on the page (because page visibility is subject to change without notice)
• Foreign language content (unless there is a clear connection to the product)

Customer reviews should be relevant to the product in question. If you have questions about the
product or opinions that do not fit the review format, please feel free to use the Customer
Discussions feature on the product page. Learn more about Customer Discussions.

If you have a question or you’d like to tell us about a specific problem with Customer Reviews,
please contact us.”Source: http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-reviews-guidelines

Here’s what I would do:

1  Don’t stop reviewing.

2  Don’t let the Amazon Gremlins get you down.

3  Create a file on your computer and copy every review that is posted into it (that’s why you check
every few days). If they go missing, you've got them. And, get them posted on your website as well.
And do the same for Goodreads.

4  Appeal to Amazon … here’s the magic email address:  review-appeals@amazon.com 

We don’t know why some book reviews are removed and others left alone. Encourage everyone you meet or know of who has your book to post a review.








Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd, the Author and Publishing expert and the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Author U, a membership organization created for the author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 31 books including Author YOU: Creating Your Book and Author Platforms that has won multiple “best” in the writing/publishing categories in book award competitions. Her next book is Snappy Sassy Salty … Wise Words for Authors and Publishers has just been released.  Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U Your Guide to Book Publishing on the Toginet network at: http://togi.us/authoru