Posted by ME
It’s Monday. I’ve been at work for a grand total of one hour and fourteen minutes, and I’ve already had three articles on the “horrible” changes to Amazon’s review policy come across my feed. I read those articles with the same fear that I’d read a slasher thriller: eyes squinty, peeking through my fingers, waiting for the gruesome end.
Only there was no gruesome end. I’m looking at Amazon’s policy, and I’ve gotta tell ya, not much has changed.
But here’s what I’m seeing people complain about: “You can’t swap reviews, meaning you can’t read some guy’s book and then have him read your book.” “You can’t review a book if you’re a blogger and the author is on a blog tour.”* “You can’t be friends with the author on Facebook.”
Well… that’s not exactly true.
Those are loosely defined examples of what Amazon DOES say, which is this:
“To help illustrate, here are a few examples of reviews that we don’t allow:
- A product manufacturer posts a review of their own product, posing as an unbiased shopper
- A shopper, unhappy with her purchase, posts multiple negative reviews for the same product
- A customer posts a review in exchange for $5
- A customer posts a review of a game, in exchange for bonus in-game credits
- A family member of the product creator posts a five-star customer review to help boost sales
- A shopper posts a review of the product, after being promised a refund in exchange
- A seller posts negative reviews on his competitor’s product
- An artist posts a positive review on a peer’s album in exchange for receiving a positive review from them”
But here’s a vital, super-crucial piece of info directly from Amazon’s own mouth:
“If you think we got it wrong and removed a customer review that we shouldn’t have, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we will take another look.”
If your book is reviewed (or you’re a reviewer who’s review was taken down), just shoot them an email and tell them. I’ve had this exact scenario happen to me, and I’ve also had Amazon flag my keywords for containing the title of another book (also generally a no-no), and in every instance the company responded quickly with either an explanation or an apology and replaced the content. Interesting NOTE: When I received the email warning me that I couldn’t use “Catcher in the Rye” as a keyword in my book’s listing, I wrote back and explained why it was pertinent. Not only did an Amazon rep later reply to say a) our mistake, and b) save this email as proof that you have permission, just in case it ever comes up again, the Amazon rep went on to say, “By the way, after looking into your book to resolve this matter, it sounded really compelling. I bought it, read it, and LOVED IT!”
Man, do we love to bash Amazon, but sorry folks… they’re still the best game in town for both authors and readers. When that changes, I’ll be sure to admit it.
*The blog tour issue stems from this statement in Amazon’s own language: “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” That does NOT mean blog tours, because the blogger who writes the review isn’t compensated. This is saying you can’t pay for publicity or marketing and then have the person you paid write the review.