Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Writer Wednesday: Amazon's New Review Policy

I'm sure most of you have seen or heard about how Amazon is removing reviews and not allowing people to review certain books because they believe the reviewer knows the author. If you haven't seen this yet, here is how the notice to the reviewer begins:
“We removed your Customer Reviews because you know the author personally.”
There's another message that says something to the effect of: You are ineligible to review this book...

Authors and reviewers seem to be in an uproar about this. Today, I want to share my feelings on it. As an author, I love reaching out to readers. I have my FB group, Kelly's Coven, and I interact with readers on my FB author page, FB profile page, Twitter, my website, Goodreads, you name it! So does this mean all those people I interact with will no longer be able to post reviews? I highly doubt Amazon will be able to keep track of them all, but I'm sure the number of reviews I have per book will decrease.

So what does this mean? Personally, I don't plan to change anything. Not one thing, because I LOVE talking to readers. Sure, I want reviews because they are important to a book's success. But more than that, I want to have a genuine relationship with my readers. So if I have to sacrifice reviews to keep my readers happy, I will.

I'm not going to stop interacting with anyone who wants to discuss my books with me. I love you all and talking to you is one of my favorite things about being an author.

What do you think about Amazon's new policy?

23 comments:

  1. wow I had no idea about this! On one hand it's harsh b/c reviews definitely help authors, and just b/c someone knows an author doesn't mean the review is only glowing b/c they know them...but at the same time i know some people who self-pubbed too soon and I know for a fact the books needed considerable work, and they were getting friends/fam to post raves. In cases like that it's not fair to dupe potential readers like that when the books are so far from polished.

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    1. Yes, that I can understand, but so many authors talk to reviewers. If Amazon views that as "knowing the author," the amount of reviews that get removed is going to be crazy high.

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  2. This is the first I've heard of it. I think I can understand both sides of the issue.

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    1. I can too. There are those who have their friends review just to get good ratings. I don't do that, but I do talk to a lot of book bloggers and they do review some of my books. My hope is that Amazon won't pull their reviews.

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  3. I can't see how they will know when a reviewer "knows" the author personally except if the reviewer has the same last name. I "know" a lot of authors through their blogs, fan pages, books, columns, and sometimes email exchanges, but that does not mean I know them personally. Plus true friends who write reviews are usually pretty honest- if they like the book, they say so- the same goes when they don't like it. Then there is the whole issue of paid reviewers.

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    1. I think that's where the problem lies, Sherry. In this day and age knowing someone is very different. Facebook, twitter, etc. are all ways to know someone, but that doesn't mean you know them personally.

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  4. I can kinda see where Amazon's coming from. Authors tried to game the system by having fake reviews posted so Amazon took the nuclear approach. It sucks that all authors/reviewers have to suffer though. I also heard you can't review a book unless you bought in on Amazon. Don't know if that's true. There must be a happy medium.

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    1. Personally I don't see why Amazon can't take reviews from Goodreads since they own Goodreads now. I think this new policy may change how important reviews are for the success of a book though.

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  5. I've been reading about this, and it seems that they're more concerned with stamping out people who're getting payed to leave positive reviews.

    It's hard to tell, though, because the algorithm seems to be inconsistent (according to what people have been saying.)

    But I agree. Interacting with my readers are way more important than getting them to review my books.

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    1. I hope that's all it is. I can understand that. But I have some reviewers who always get my books on NetGalley to review and I do talk to them online. They leave honest reviews, so I hope they aren't affected by this new policy.

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  6. The only time I had a review rejected was when I tried to review a bindup edition I didn't buy, trying to combine the three reviews from the singles--technically, I did read the whole book, but I see how they don't want duplicate reviews. But this new policy is not something I can agree with. How do they know we personally know the author? Many times I review books from the same author because I know them in person or from online and I genuinely enjoy their books, whether I bought them from Amazon or elsewhere.

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    1. Same here, Medeia. Will returning fans be viewed as "knowing the author?" That would be awful.

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  7. I won't stop interacting with anyone either, Kelly. It's crazy. Our writing community is just that - a community, which includes readers. How does Amazon know one's relationship with another? This sort of judgement doesn't make sense to me. I also feel as though it's a blow to reviewers' intellect. Amazon is underestimating these people. JMHO ...

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    1. I agree. I know there are people who have friends post fake reviews and that isn't right, but this is taking it too far and punishing people who are legitimately reviewing.

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  8. I think as more and more authors go to self-publishing, there's going to be a need to focus on less bias reviews in order to keep the quality maintained, but I think there is a better solution than removing the reviews. Why provide a selection field to allow reviewers to tell the audience how they know the author. Simply knowing someone should disqualify them from being able to write a review, but if they were to indicate they were family or a close friend, then the audience can make a determination on how much credence to give the review.

    To me that would be a much better feedback system.

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    1. Simply knowing someone should NOT disqualify...

      haha

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    2. That's a great idea! I like it.

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  9. I wonder what Amazon is doing to determine how you "know someone personally?" As you and others have pointed out, in the professional community of publishing, you may interact with other authors, reviewers, and readers. And what the heck happens when, for instance, I get a starred review from SLJ -- and then the reviewer follows me on Twitter, we interact, then we start to follow each others' blogs and end up in the same Facebook group (because she writes as well as reviews?) I mean, Amazon can't pull a SLJ review -- but I'm sure the situation comes up a lot with blog reviewers. FIRST they read the book and write the review. THEN they make contact through social media and you become "friends."

    I appreciate Amazon trying to eliminate the shill reviews -- but figuring out who is "friends" with who is overstepping their bounds.

    I'd rather they find the sock puppets.

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    1. I agree, Dianne. There has to be a better way to weed out fake reviews.

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  10. It's kind of silly, honestly. The rules of the game today say authors must be virtual, engage their readers, be available. Of course, in the process connections are formed. A reader looks forward to the reading the author's book. How can they not know 'us', and then because they want, write a review. Go figure.

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    1. Exactly. I'm not sure how Amazon doesn't see this

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  11. All very well said, Kelly. And it has been a struggle for me. I have had fans of my books take the time to write a review and then ask me why it got deleted from Amazon :/ It is very saddening that their voices can't be heard. Hopefully over time Amazon will develop a better policy. In the meantime I absolutely agree with your plan to stay engaged with readers. Thank you for bringing up this topic.

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    1. I feel bad too when my readers tell me their review was deleted or they weren't permitted to review my books. There has to be a better way to weed out fake reviews.

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