Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Amazon Reviews: Don't Get Deleted!

We all know that reviews influence what people buy. Many people depend on reviews to help them decide whether their money would be better spent on Product A or Product B. Reaching a set number of reviews, positive or negative, can increase a product's visibility.

We know that reviews are important to authors for these reasons. So we can imagine how frustrating it would be to have reviews taken down. Amazon does this as part of its fight against fake/bought reviews. Unfortunately, sometimes legitimate reviews get red-flagged in the process.

Leaving a review is one of the best things you can do to help promote a book that you love. So how can you be sure that your review doesn't get red-flagged or removed? Here are some suggestions from author Randy Ingermanson:

  • Don’t write a review of your own book. Not under your own name. Not under a fake name. 
  • Don’t pay other people to write a review for you.
  • Don’t ask family members to write a review for you.
  • Don’t post a review of your book on behalf of somebody else. If they write the review, they should post it themselves. If you find review material about your book on another web site, you can put this in the Editorial Reviews section of your book page (using your Author Central account). But don’t post it as a customer review.
  • Don’t ask authors who are your close friends to write a review for you. It is OK for authors to review books, but Amazon specifically excludes those who have a “personal relationship” with you. 
  • Don’t ask people who had a hand in creating your book (such as editors, illustrators, marketing people, etc.) to write a review for you.
  • Don’t use a tit for tat arrangement where you write a review for another author in exchange for them writing a review for you. If another author emails you asking you to do this, let them know that it’s a violation of Amazon’s Terms of Service.
  • Don’t give any sort of compensation to your readers in exchange for a review. This includes drawings for your reviewers, gift cards, or any other gift. 
  • You are allowed to provide a free copy of your book upfront to reviewers. However, you must make it clear to them that all you are asking for is an honest review, which means they are free to write a bad review if they dislike your book. Furthermore, their review must say clearly that they received a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.
  • You are allowed to ask for a review at the end of your book. What you should not do is to offer anything to people who post reviews. Don’t offer a gift card. Don’t offer a free copy of some other book. Don’t offer bonus content. Don’t offer anything. And be aware that some of your readers will write a scathing review. Scathing reviews are just part of life—they won’t kill you.
(This list is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 15,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.)

These tips are obviously for the authors themselves, but it is easy to see how you can follow these guidelines as a reviewer, as well. For example, you don't want your review to look like it is coming from a friend or family member of the author, so don't write things like "This was a great book and (Author) is the nicest person!" Comments on whether the author is friendly on Twitter, or runs a writing contest, or whatever, have no place in a book review. Stick to commenting on the book, and you should be safe.

For an additional tip, visit OA member J Lenni Dorner's blog. Now go forth and review wisely!

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