I love Amazon. I really, really do. I use their Gift List. I’m a Prime member. I’m an Amazon Mom. I do tons of shopping every year with them. They have great prices and wonderful customer service. When my son dropped my Kindle and cracked the case, Amazon replaced it free of charge! They really are a great company.
So, that’s why I don’t understand why they are hurting indie authors with their new review policy. A company that bends over backwards to be “the most customer-centric company on the planet,” is really hurting some of their customers! Why, Amazon?
Amazon is pulling positive reviews from self-published novels. Until I published “Food for Love,” I had no idea this was going on. A quick search on Google for “dissapearing Amazon reviews” led to tons of other indie authors who are experiencing the same problem. From what I can gather, there were some newspaper articles about un-ethical authors who were creating false accounts and posting 100+ positive reviews for their novels. In response, Amazon has cracked down on the review process, but here’s the catch–without changing their written guidelines, or informing people who write Customer Support what the new guidelines are.
The guidelines only state that no one with “financial interest, close personal relationship, or a competing product,” can leave a review. Obviously Amazon data-mines their customers, but that means if you have ever purchased an item off someone’s Wish List, then you can’t leave them a review. If you share an address or a credit card–same deal. And now, if you are an indie author, you can’t leave a review for another indie author. Some of the times. Only some of my reviews of other books have been pulled. Some are still up. I need to check more carefully but it seems that only my positive reviews have been pulled. The one star reviews are all still there.
Consipiracy theories abound. Some people think that Facebook is selling data to Amazon, so that if anyone is your “friend” or has “liked” your fan page they can’t leave a review. Some people claim that after multiple emails to Amazon asking what in the world the new policy really is, they’ve been told that if they complain again their novel will be pulled from the site and their account revoked.
I started finding out about all of this because my mother wanted to leave my book a review. She read it. She liked it. She wanted to share her opinion with other people. She was also really ticked off when her review was deleted without explanation and even called up Customer Support to talk with them. After multiple form responses, she finally reached a human being who told her that since she was related to me and thus had a “financial interest” she couldn’t leave a review. Perhaps understandable, but puzzling since Amazon also claims that anyone can leave a review, even someone who has not purchased the item on Amazon (or perhaps anywhere else) and that it is the responsibility of the shopper to judge the value of each review. Thus, I can leave a negative review for a book I’ve never read (How many of us have run across those when reading reviews: “I didn’t read this book, but I really hate this author…”) but I can’t leave a positive review for someone I know because I am automatically “biased.”
Forgive my rant. This has been bugging me lately. “Food for Love” has 0 reviews, which is really hurting my sales. (7 – in case anyone’s counting). For an indie author like me, it’s not about the money, it’s about being read. And it’s about hearing back from people who enjoyed what you wrote. I’ve had multiple people tell me that they are leaving me a review, but the only ones I can follow through on (aka – bug) are ones that I know and are therefore not allowed to leave a review. I’m getting worried that my book has been blackballed in the computer system and that no reviews will ever be allowed through. Paranoid? Only if it’s not true.
I’m assuming that most people stopped reading at paragraph two of this post, which is fine. It’s cathartic to write about my frustration. But if you are one of the fabulous people who read to this point I have a huge favor to ask. If you read “Food for Love” and left a review, I would really love for you to write Amazon and ask them why your review was rejected and let me know what the answer was. If you haven’t read “Food for Love” please do! It’s currently $.99 at Amazon (I wouldn’t pay $2.99 for a book with no reviews, so I lowered the price). After you read it, please leave me a review and check back to see if it went through. I know it’s a huge favor to ask. All of us are way to busy to have time to mess around with something like this. But it’s a big deal to me and I would really appreciate it!
Also, I just had a thought for new indie authors who are just starting out with Amazon. I would suggest that you create a new Amazon account for your KDP account. New email, new address, new credit card. Nothing that is linked on the Web to any other account. Just a thought. It might save you this frustration later down the road… (if that is totally against Amazon policy I apoligize. I haven’t checked, I was just wishing that I had done that from the start.)