Every once in a while large batches of Amazon book reviews get removed from the Amazon site. It’s one of the worse things that could happen to a book post-launch.
Reviews matter a lot in buying decisions, and we all need those reviews to be honest. Gaming Amazon shouldn’t happen easily or we’ll all suffer. Purges aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but systemized approaches to cleaning up a system inevitably kills some good with the bad.
Because there’s surely another purge coming, it’s a good time to refresh yourself on Amazon’s policy.
Amazon does not want your friends and family to review your book. Friends and family are biased but how does Amazon know who are your friends and who is a family member?
Amazon has access to a plethora of data, so there are plenty of ways for them to figure it out but here’s an obvious one that you may not have considered.
Amazon can find your friends via Facebook.
Stick with me for a second.
Amazon owns Goodreads. One of the main ways to sign into Goodreads is via Facebook. So, here’ the tip of the day: Don’t be lazy, create your login and disconnect it from Facebook.
If you connect the two, data sharing allows them to figure out who your Facebook friends are. Disconnect Twitter and disconnect Facebook from Goodreads.
There have also been a lot of reports of people who give gift cards to folks to buy a copy of their book for review having those reviews removed.
Make sure you coach Amazon book reviewers who receive free copies on what to include in the review
If someone receives a free book for an honest review it’s essential they add a disclaimer. It needs to say something like I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Additional guidelines for custom reviews straight from Amazon:
- reviews can only include URLs or links to other products sold on Amazon,
- customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product,
- do not try to review a book and then get your husband to review and then your kid to review, it doesn’t work.
Also, Amazon explicitly says, you may not manipulate the Amazon verified purchase badge by offering special pricing to reviewers or reimbursing reviewers.
Rest assured, if you’re hustling to get reviews like you should be, you’re not paying people to write good reviews and you’re not trying to game the system in any way, your legitimate reviews will likely stick. But take that extra step of not connecting anything to Goodreads or anything else Amazon might have their hands on. Reviews are essential to the Amazon business model and you better believe they’re doing everything they can to protect them.
And, it’s worth noting, you don’t want your friends and family to buy your book anyway. Check out this video:
Amazon learns who is most likely to buy your book from the purchases and the reviews, and then they show your book to people who are just like the people who’ve already bought and reviewed your book. So if you’re aunt generally likes to read steamy romance books and the odd book on gardening, unless you’re Ron Neitzel, The Green Wizard, your aunt is not going to help your book.