Blog Spotlight — 27 November 2015
Amazon’s New Review Policy

amaFor the last few months, Amazon has been changing its review policy and implementing new review standards. Authors have complained about reviews being taken down, or disallowed, and it seems to be part of Amazon’s changes. You can read Amazon’s review policy here.

In essence, if you are a reader and you follow your favorite author on any social media sites, your review will not be allowed. If you are a blogger and the author is part of your blog tour, your review will not be allowed. The following is a breakdown of the new guidelines.

1) A review cannot be posted on Amazon if the author is part of a paid blog tour, and the tour organizer reviews the book.

2) If you receive a gift card in exchange for a review – not allowed.

3) Reviews written in exchange for a review – not allowed.

4) A review written in expectation of a free book. A review copy must be given before the review is written or the book will be seen as payment for the review.

5) If you know a person online via Twitter, Facebook, or other social media outlet, Amazon assumes your review will be biased and will not be allowed.

Amazon’s algorithm can detect any of these and will automatically delete the review if they suspect their latest rules have been broken. They also will not tell the author if a review has been declined.

Editors Note:

FYI — I used numerous sources for this article, among them the Guardian Newspaper UK and Goodreads blog, as well as blogs aimed at Indie authors. I also included a link to Amazon’s review policy in the article. These are sources I consider reliable. I have sent emails to Amazon for clarification. To date, I have not received a reply. When or if they respond, I will post updated information to this site.

This seems to be an issue that dates back several months, and has had numerous posts written regarding it.

For your information, here is a sampling of a few sources used.

http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/here-are-all-the-new-amazon-book-review-policies

http://www.ibtimes.com/amazon-review-policy-under-fire-indie-authors-call-change-big-brother-policing-1995058

http://www.sellerlabs.com/blog/amazon-policy-update

http://mediashift.org/2015/08/amazons-policy-changes-rile-self-published-authors/

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/09/amazon-accused-big-brother-tactics-customer-reviews-jas-ward

 

 

 

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About Author

I am the Senior News Editor for Reader's Entertainment News. I also write articles, scripts, and reviews for multiple print and online media outlets. I am also the author of romantic comedies and humorous mysteries.

(71) Readers Comments

  1. This is ludicrous. I purchase my books; they are not gifts. I post reviews of those I especially enjoy. Are you saying that I cannot review books that I purchase?

  2. I’m curious how they define “know” someone on Twitter. I follow a lot of my favorite authors. Very occasionally, one of them will reply to my tweets. Does that mean I “know” Jim Butcher and Brandon Sanderson?

  3. I am so totally disappointed in this news about amazon and book reviews. I do have facebook friends that are published writers. However this does not mean that I only “know” them on facebook. Several are personal friends and another I went to the same high school as him, however we do not know each other personally and if I read his book then I think it would deserve a review if I liked the book. I have read and reviewed my friends books but only because I thought they were good. If I wanted to boost their books I could write a fake review about the books I have not read.

    I think Amazon will lose a lot of customers because of this. I myself will buy my books from other sites.

  4. So, in other words, if you like the author’s work you may not review it.

  5. This is really a horrible policy which is sure to hurt many of us indie authors who have legitimate reviews. I have over two thousand reviews on Amazon, and I’m sure many of them were written by people who friended my on Facebook or follow me on Twitter because they like my work. They are not old friends or family members who posted reviews to help me out, but people who liked the work and rewarded me for it. Facebook and interaction with fans is an important part of my platform, and Twitter allows people who want my next book to know when it is available. I guess I will just have to live with Amazon pulling down reviews, since I am not willing to forgo those two platforms. It probably won’t hurt me too much, since I have fans waiting for new books, and they sell quite well before any reviews are posted, but for people starting out, this could be the kiss of death.

  6. Where is social media mentioned. I don’t see it.

    • Number 5 says ” If you ‘know’ a person online via Twitter, Facebook, or other social media outlet, Amazon assumes your review will be biased and will not be allowed.”

      • There is a a lot of misinformation being thrown about here and badly researched articles like this don’t he’ll. Nowhere in Amazon’s Review Policy does it mention social media. What it does say is if it deems you to have a personal relationship with the author. This is not the same thing. This is what Amazon actually says: “Authors and artists can add a unique perspective and we very much welcome their customer reviews. While we encourage reviewers to share their enthusiasm and experience, there can be a fine line between that and the use of customer reviews as product promotion. We don’t allow anyone to write customer reviews as a form of promotion and if we find evidence that a customer was paid for a review, we’ll remove it. If you have a direct or indirect financial interest in a product, or perceived to have a close personal relationship with its author or artist, we’ll likely remove your review. We don’t allow authors to submit customer reviews on their own books even when they disclose their identity.”

        • The fact is, Amazon won’t share how it makes the “personal relationship” determination. So speculation is bound to happen. Educated speculation may be all we ever get unless Amazon decides to share more.
          I think this article is well researched. Just as well as any other.
          I just happen to have worked at Amazon, so I know for a fact they have the capability to harvest information from social media under the right circumstances. Anyone who has worked at Amazon likely realizes this and have drawn certain conclusions based on that potential technology.
          I’m not saying they are harvesting social media. I’m only saying that they have the ability. And, if you give them access to your social media, plus the fact they own sites like GoodReads, one can draw a conclusion that they use social media to make “personal relationship” determinations. What algorithm or policies they use is an Amazon secret.

    • Go to the bottom of your account page, look for Community and it is the last one on the list…Your Social Settings.

    • It seems to be in the ambiguity of the wording Amazon has on their help page. It doesn’t specifically say “social media” but it says this-

      ” If you have a direct or indirect financial interest in a product, or perceived to have a close personal relationship with its author or artist, we’ll likely remove your review.”

      Amazon refuses to share how they make the determination between “close personal relationship” and simple fandom. Many speculate they use social media, perhaps based on the fact that there seems to be no other reason for a review to be denied. Or, as some have shared their replies from Amazon stating it was determined they know the author, speculate that only via online social media could Amazon have made that guess.

      People give Amazon access to their Facebook account often. Amazon owns GoodReads. To think they have some kind of algorithm in place to search keywords they feel identify a personal relationship is NOT out of the realm of possibility. I worked for Amazon and I know for a fact they have something like that to identify if a person has more than one Amazon account and if they are abusing the system. They have the technology to harvest social media for keywords and automate review rejections.

      This is my own opinion, based on my own experiences and ideas.

  7. #1 – #4 I don’t care about because they don’t affect me at all. #5 is idiotic. I can’t follow my favorite authors on Facebook so I can get the latest info on new and future releases? Thank you very little Amazon.com.

  8. Very bad idea! The final nail in the coffin for me and I am sure I am not the only one. Amazon stick performances show that they are losing rather than gaining customers and its because of this type of Policy. I’ve by one I’ve watched gestapo type policies being enacted, sorry to be leaving but goidbyevasva customer AND a highly performing reviewer!

  9. Please provide reference for your point 5. I cannot find any similar language on the linked Amazin.com page.

  10. I will protest these rules to my dying day. They are ridiculous. These are indie authors and the only way they can sell themselves & their books is via social media. You are cutting your own sales. If the author cannot promote their books, they will not get sold hence no revenue for Amazon. Perhaps the authors need to find another publisher. I am buyer of other products from Amazon am seriously reconsidering that decision.

  11. So, if I follow Stephen King or James Patterson on social media or friend them and review THEIR books, will those reviews be deleted or only indie authors?

  12. Where exactly does it say the reviews of anyone you know on social media will be removed? Amazon’s Review Policy and supporting FAQs only mention “close personal relationships”. I’m connected with near to 50,000 people online. To suggest I have a close personal relationship with them all is ludicrous – and indeed, I have not lost a single review.

  13. This new policy is idiotic. Every author who has a decent fan base on FB will now be unable to be reviewed…by his fans? Seriously? First they let anyone review anything in any way they want and now they leap the other way without any serious thought to what this will do to authors, publishers – because it won’t affect THEIR authors (you can bet on that). I want to be clear…they’d better remove every Stephen King review by a fan who follows his FB page.

  14. Where did you get this one ” If you ‘know’ a person online via Twitter, Facebook, or other social media outlet, Amazon assumes your review will be biased and will not be allowed.”? Because I don’t see anything like that in the link you provided at the top of this post.

    • Neither do I…that bit in particular smacks of clickbait to me. & didn’t a lot of us indie authors ASK Amazon to shut down paid/compensated reviews? Most of the actions they’re taking are a good thing IMO.

      • It’s not “clickbait” though I do understand the article doesn’t fully address why the editor thought these things are all related. It merely restates some facts gathered by several different resources.

        I’ve already written a couple of replies here stating my own opinion as to how the way they word their policy could leave one to speculate as to how they may be using social media. It’s possible. Do we think Amazon has hired people to investigate every reviewer? No. Do we think Amazon has some anonymous way to turn people in for having personal relationships with authors? No, though you could. Amazon is known for automating things. They don’t waste time trying to find out if you are actually friends with the author by looking the two of you up.
        It’s done with an algorithm like everything else. I’d be willing to bet on that.

        This article has inspired a lot of conversation. I, for one, am glad of it.

  15. I just wrote in to Amazon about this. It’s a problem! I don’t care about the no paying for reviews bit; that’s fair. However, I do object to the bit about social network friends/followers can’t review.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    Hi,

    I was just looking over your new review policies and find that there’s a problem. One of the rules says that if I’m “friends” with an author on a social network, then my review of his/her books will be rejected.

    Where I’m not personal friends with authors, I do friend my favorites simply so I can stay up to date with what they’re writing. I want to be one of the first to get a book (say, for example, Robert Jordan’s/Sanderson or Robin Hobb). Just because I’m “friends” doesn’t mean I’m a personal friend of theirs.

    Really, this bit must be a more grey area and I don’t think it should be in your policy at this time. It’s too arbitrary and it absolutely kills the author’s social network. I want to be able to review a book I like as well as keep up with my favorite authors.

    Thank you,

    ~Jay

  16. I’m curious, I’m not seeing anything about Facebook and Twitter in the review guidelines, nor blog tours. Where did you see this?
    Sincerely,
    Janalyn Robnett

  17. So, basically, what you’re saying is that….if i like or friend any authors on Facebook, i may be biased on my review of any of their books, so you wont publish my review? That’s like Everyone…and reviews are supposed to be an opinion of the book, so isnt that biased by definition? That is the most stupid thing i have ever heard. Who do you think you are? Donald Trump? Do anything you want and expect peopke to accept it? Ee have freedom of speech in this country and it is against the law for Amazon to restruct that freedom of speech in any manner. So FIX your policies, as i do happen to follow quite a number of authors whether i like what they write or not. Just stupid.

  18. The linked guidelines do not include any of the rules listed, and I can find nothing on Amazon’s site indicating that #5 is actually a thing. Can you please clarify where this rule is actually stated by Amazon, because right now it looks like this post is thoroughly inaccurate and whipping people into a panic for no reason.

  19. Sad and so wrong. So far none of my reviews for authors I follow or friend on Facebook have been removed but I do know that it has happened. I am a fan! That “friend” term should not apply to Facebook etc.! That is the only change that I have a problem with. Thanks for clarifying these changes.

  20. Where did you find the guideline list you have here? Amazon’s site only goes over ‘product’ reviews and not book reviews. (nothing new, they never have until someone supposedly violated one and then it takes a dozen emails to find out which one of the top secret rules you broke.) But I wanted to see where you found these.

    Thanks

  21. This is the most dumb thing I have ever heard. Who care if the reviewer knows the authors, who cares if the
    reviewer is a fan of the author on any social media. That is how the reader gets the author’s news on the new release. I am a reader who reads and reviews all books I read to help any author out. You are sadly going to lose all your authors and book sales. Very sad, that you have become so strict with this. SMH! I loved having Facebook and Amazon work together in getting these authors out there.

  22. You have got to be kidding me!
    How screwed up is that.
    I write reviews for all books I get whether they are given to me by the author/PA or purchased by me.
    The fact that Amazon want to control it to this degree is ridiculous.
    I purchase 99% of my books from amazon because of free books I have been given by authors or pa’s , I would not have heard of half of them if not for the read & review free book and I receive the bulk of these via social media..
    This is the crappiest thing amazon have done!

  23. When I click through the link you give, it goes to Amazon’s review policies which have not changed and make no mention of Facebook or social media.

    Can you please cite your sources?

  24. I’d just like to point out that none of these rules are new. Every one of them has always been a part of Amazon’s review policy. They may be enforcing it more strictly lately, but that’s it. The rules are the same.

  25. I think this is incredibly dumb. Makes me not wanna use amazon again.

  26. Yes, I had 46 reviews taken down because of their stupid policies, as a result I pulled all my books from KDP and will NEVER enroll again. I’m throwing my weight behind Apple and Smashwords. In fact I sell more books now from my own web site. I’m anti Amazon all the way. All they want to do is continue to harm Indie Authors. I really don’t care if I EVER sell a book from their site again!!

  27. I’ve been removed from author’s street teams for NOT posting 5 star reviews. I am not bias. I just read 750+ books a year and post my reviews. guess i’ll just post at barnes and noble and other book related sites now, thanks less work for me!

  28. I clicked on the link to look at their review guidelines and no where does it mention ‘knowing’ or following an author. Do you perhaps have the link that will take me to where THAT is stated?

  29. I have read Amazon’s new rules provided through your link, and cannot find a mention of social media anywhere. Also, a review in exchange for a free book IS allowed as long as you disclose in the review that you received the book in exchange for a fair review. May I ask where you found the social media guideline???

  30. I can not review your new policy, as I am connected to your company by liking your storefront on social media.

    If I could I would call it a travesty

  31. Amazon is both a liar and a fraud. This policy says nothing about ONLY deleting positive reviews. When the very same criteria they are NOT allowing to review are the very same criteria they are using to allow negative reviews. I was attacked so mercilessly on Amazon, I removed my books from KU, because the majority of the reviewers were trolls from KU. They didn’t even read the book. They wrote negative things about me, and those reviews are still up there, even when it states, I was given this book as a gift in exchange for a review. Amazon is full of SHIT!

  32. Why aren’t reviews allowed from people that download copies during free promotions???

  33. Also, I have an author page for my fans. If they “like” that page, are their reviews kicked back as well?? If so, that just isn’t right.

  34. I agree somewhat but following an author assures you of knowing when the next book comes out also if it is discounted so I think Amazon is overstepping here we are the consumer and we buy the books if you do not want reviews then say so. When I pay for a book I have the right to review it or not and this will only hurt Amazon when people go elsewhere to buy their books.

  35. Come on, Amazon. LOTS of people follow their favorite authors via online media. AND know how to write unbiased reviews! This is a bad rule.

  36. So a fan of an author cannot write a review if they have liked an author’s fan page? Supposedly to prevent bias? Say it’s a book that’s part of a series. So then someone is not allowed to review the books that follow in the rest of the series? We can’t say things like, “I liked this book because of these reasons, and here’s how it really played on this part of a previous book.”? You’re stifling where it isn’t needed.

  37. Um…. following someone on Twitter does NOT mean you know them. It means you like their stuff. You’ve basically disqualified the reviews of anyone who likes anyone’s stuff.

    I follow President Obama on Twitter. Does that make my opinion of him biased?

  38. FYI — I used numerous sources for this article, among them the Guardian Newspaper UK and Goodreads blog, as well as blogs aimed at Indie authors. I also included a link to Amazon’s review policy in the article. These are sources I consider reliable. I have sent emails to Amazon for clarification. To date, I have not received a reply. When or if they respond, I will post updated information to this site.

    This seems to be an issue that dates back several months, and has had numerous posts written regarding it.

    For your information, here is a sampling of a few sources used.

    http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/here-are-all-the-new-amazon-book-review-policies

    http://www.ibtimes.com/amazon-review-policy-under-fire-indie-authors-call-change-big-brother-policing-1995058

    http://www.sellerlabs.com/blog/amazon-policy-update

    http://mediashift.org/2015/08/amazons-policy-changes-rile-self-published-authors/

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/09/amazon-accused-big-brother-tactics-customer-reviews-jas-ward

    • Those points you mentioned about social media are not in Amazon’s review policies and most of the articles you posted were initiated by Jas Ward who created a huge amount of hysteria at the time and built an enormous mailing list from his petition which he then proceeded to use to promote his own books.

      • We’ve seen proof of Amazon rejecting someone’s review because it was believed they knew the author personally. Amazon replied to some people who questioned why their reviews were rejected.

        How do YOU think Amazon made that determination?

        It’s certainly happening that reviews are being rejected based on Amazon’s idea a personal relationship exists. Do you think these are happening manually? That people are contacting Amazon to turn someone in for knowing an author? So Amazon is investigating those allegations or just taking someone else’s word on it?

        Just curious as to what other people think is happening.

  39. Some of these new rules are insane.
    For years good writers have been promoting themselves on social media and getting fans. You now say that following a writer means you can’t write an unbiased review?
    Some of the actions taken seem to be warranted but overall Amazon should have gotten feedback from professional writer’s groups instead of demonstrating their lack of intelligence and pissing off most of the writers who have previously supported Amazon.
    Insane and ludicrous and very poor judgement on Amazon’s part.

  40. Actually their policy says: Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product.

    So review books are fine as long as you don’t take money on top of that. While many of these are things to be concerned with I think we need to be careful not to push incorrect information.

  41. I am not sure what this article is trying to say. I “follow” many authors and also follow them on facebook. I post my reviews faithfully. So I took your advice and went to my Social Settings……neither FB or Twitter were connected. So I don’t see a problem.

  42. Before I can take any of this information seriously, the typos in this article are going to have to be edited. As a SENIOR EDITOR, I am sure you can understand why.

  43. Can you please provide a direct link to the social media issue? I am unable to find anything which even hints at what is listed in #5.

    I’m no fan of Amazon, but I want to be accurate in my criticisms of them.

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  45. This is a clickbait article using other clickbait articles as sources. The sky is not falling, Chicken Little

  46. Now I understand why my Stacia Kane Downside ghost 1 book review didn’t go through, I follow her in FB and Twitter. It was such a good review (I bought the book, it was not a gift) I was through and very sincere. Now I’m sad =(

  47. The clarifying language was added to strengthen and clarifying the existing rules in the Terms of Service following Amazon’s lawsuit against sellers of fraudulent reviews.

    Not one of the policies listed here is new, with the exception of the social media rule — which is nothing more than rumor.

    Further, the “reliable sources” consulted are merely reporting on the hysteria of authors like Imy Santiago, who insist that Amazon is on a campaign to “censor” her, or the slanted journalism of dedicated Amazon-haters like David Streitfeld. They are not factual analyses of Amazon’s policies.

    Yes, Amazon’s review policies are flawed. But when authors can’t be bothered to find out the facts, and continually spread misinformation about it, I don’t see how anyone should expect Amazon to listen to their concerns.

    Go ahead and disconnect your social media if it makes you feel better. Don’t forget to delete your Goodreads account, as they’re owned by Amazon and share information. Reviews that are audited and found to be in violation of the Terms of Service will still be removed, however.

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  49. So basically im not allowed to be Facebook friends with someone i have never actually met and Amazon is going to screw that author out of my honest review? If i am not allowed to review an author then I guess you dont need my reviews for anything else. May as well quit asking me for my input at all.

  50. I believe this is a poser post or something. Don’t believe it unless you’ve read from Amazon’s site. Amazon’s review guidelines is the same as usual: http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-reviews-guidelines

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  52. I think you just made up my mind as to where I will publish my next book. Amazon you are ridiculous. You are out for yourself. Without reviews on our books, how are we suppose to sell them? You are cutting your own throats. Of course, you don’t worry about the little guy, but the big and popular authors are reaping in all the profits. Give a small guy a break. There are many good indies out there and they all need a break. I’ve noticed that I haven’t had an increase in reviews in several months…now I know where they have been going-in the black and greedy hole of Amazon.

  53. So, no reviews from fans, basically.

    Seems legit.

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  55. Are you kidding? So if I follow Neil Gaiman on Twitter and Facebook I can’t review any of his books? These days anyone who likes a writer’s stories will be connected through social media. So why would Amazon discount those opinions? After all, those fans are the ones buying the books and creating revenue for Amazon. While I understand the desire to reduce the “fake” reviews, this policy will only hurt writers, readers and Amazon. Please reconsider this policy for something that makes business sense, Amazon.

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  57. For years now, Amazon has been changing the rules mid-stream. As an author, I try to play by their rules and do what I can to get noticed, but when I get a little too much success (and I do mean LITTLE) they change the rules to crack back on the attention that they show me. I’m wondering if they are bending to pressure from the big publishers to keep the little publishers little.

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