I often write about Amazon reviews, as it is one of the most important aspects of marketing for many people and Amazon seems to keep changing the rules!
Now, Amy Collins of The Book Designer published an update in the form of Frequently Asked Questions. I’m sharing here the most common ones:
Can Anyone post a review on Amazon?
To contribute to Customer Reviews, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card in the past 12 months. Promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50 minimum.
May I ask people to write a review of my book?
Book authors and publishers may provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review. Also, you are allowed to discount your book during your launch but you must offer the same price to everyone. You cannot offer special pricing just to reviewers, nor offer any bonuses or anything in exchange for a review.
The ONLY thing you are allowed to do is offer a review copy of your book to a reviewer specifying that a review is only optional. Also, the review has to clearly mention this was a review copy.
The big line we all need to stay behind is that we should not ask those we know or work with to write a review. I know a lot of us have readers who are big fans and stay in touch and follow us online. But if your readers have become close connections online and in life, they may find that their reviews are now suspect. Your fans and clients should feel free to post reviews. But you should not ask them to. Encouraging Amazon reviews in social media posts can be considered in violation of this policy.
So, my advice is to ask potential ARC reviewers to add in their reviews a line similar to the following ones:
- “I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader’s Copy of this book”
- “I was provided a pre-publication copy of this book by the author/publisher with no obligation for a review”
Basically, make sure it’s clear that no exchange (monetary or otherwise) took place, and that your review is honest and voluntary. Which, I hope, is always the case anyway.
Is it true that people are not allowed to post reviews on products they haven’t purchased?
Not in the case of books. Amazon knows that book publishers and authors have supplied review copies of books to reviewers for generations. Amazon does not allow reviews for products unless the reviewer has bought the product unless it is a book.
Why are so many reviews being taken down?
A year or so ago, Amazon changed their review policies. Content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed, including:
- Creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products, refunds, or reimbursements) or on behalf of anyone else.
- Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content. (Book publishers are EXEMPT to this rule as stated by Amazon above)
- Reviews may 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.
- Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.
This means that you should not ask anyone you know to post a review. In the past, Amazon allowed for colleagues and acquaintances to post reviews. They allowed for clients and those connected with your business to post, but not anymore.
Reviews in violation of these policies may be taken down.
What can I do if a review is taken down unfairly?
First of all, Amazon does not regularly review posted content. However, if a review is taken down there’s not much you can do, I’m afraid. If Amazon determines that the review in question violates their policies, they own the site and have the final say. Also, if your review is removed or rejected, you may not resubmit a review on the same product, even if the resubmitted review includes different content.
The Book Designer advises authors to complain and make a stink in the hopes that, if enough complaints come in, Amazon may change their policies again.
Personally, however, I have heard too many stories of Amazon removing even more reviews as a result of authors complaining to risk that. So, my advice would be to just move on and run free day promotions instead.
The big things to keep in mind when planning to get more Amazon reviews:
- Focus on professional book reviewers and bloggers.
- You CAN offer book reviewers review copies of your book.
- Do not solicit Amazon reviews on your social media page or website. Suggest, instead, that they post reviews online anywhere they prefer to shop.
- Do not ask anyone you know (even on social media) to post a review. Let the reviews come organically.
- Work on promoting sales and use ads and keyword bids to increase sales and your reviews will grow.