What to Do about Reviews Disappearing from Amazon (Proactive Solutions)

Review Removed


It’s a well-known fact: Amazon blocks and removes numerous four- and five-star reviews, but almost never removes a one- or two-star review.

You have two choices:

  • Get upset about it.
  • Find a proactive way to make the most of it.

I have proactive suggestions for:

  • Customers who have had their reviews removed.
  • Authors who have seen reviews vanish without even so much as a puff of smoke.

Suggestions for customers are first. If you’re an author, just scroll down to your section.

If you’re concerned about the WHY, I’ll address this at the end of my post.


(A few customers think that when they click the star rating at the end of a Kindle book that they are reviewing it on Amazon, when instead they are rating the book on Goodreads. A few customers think they’ve submitted a review, but what they’ve actually done is just reach the intermediate page where they check their review before submitting it. The first step is to make sure that you’ve properly and fully submitted a review.)

Why did you write the review in the first place?

  • You felt strongly about the book.
  • You felt that the book deserved recommending.
  • You wanted to help other customers make wise shopping decisions.

So, you typed up a review and submitted it to Amazon, but discovered later that the review was gone. (Wait a minute. No, wait a day or two. Sometimes, when you post a review, there is a delay of 1-2 days before it shows up.)

That doesn’t prevent you from accomplishing your original goals.

Here are some proactive suggestions:

  • Recommend the book to people you know. Word-of-mouth recommendations are like GOLD. They can be better than writing a review on Amazon. If your goal was to recommend the book, nothing is stopping you from doing so.
  • Review the book on Goodreads. It’s the next best thing to reviewing it at Amazon.
  • Contact the author. Not to complain about the missing review. Authors appreciate feedback and hearing from fans. Offer to let the author use your positive comments on his blog, in the front matter, or anywhere else the author might be able to benefit from a review snippet. Reviews have many other potential uses besides sitting on the Amazon product page.
  • Do you have a blog, Twitter account, or Facebook account? Share your review with your followers. Since Amazon DIDN’T publish your review, they can’t prohibit you from sharing it.
  • Follow the author on Amazon. Just visit one of the author’s books, scroll down to the author’s biography, visit the author’s author page at Amazon, and click the big yellow Follow button on the top left. If you liked the book, you might appreciate having Amazon send you an email the next time the author publishes a book.
  • Follow the author’s blog, social media, or email newsletter. You can be one of the author’s fans.
  • Review the book on Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, or other retailer where the book is sold.

Although you could contact Amazon to ask why your review was removed, this really isn’t proactive. You’re probably going to get a vague response, if any. You’re probably not going to convince Amazon that they made a mistake and reinstate your review. Most likely, you will waste both your time and Amazon’s.

(If your review violated any of Amazon’s guidelines, before posting your review elsewhere, you should first read the other site’s review guidelines to ensure that you’re not violating them.)


Very often, the author doesn’t even know that it happened. Amazon automatically blocks many reviews, such that they are gone before the author has a chance to see them.

And if the author “knows” that a review was blocked by Amazon, chances are that the author has some connection with the reviewer and Amazon “knows” of this connection.

Here are some proactive steps that authors can take regarding customer reviews disappearing from Amazon:

  • If a customer informs you that they posted a review, but Amazon blocked or removed it, you can offer the suggestions that I listed above (like posting the review on Goodreads).
  • If the reviewer has any authority, experience, or expertise relevant to your book, you may be able to include it in the Editorial Reviews section on your Author Central page.
  • With the customer’s permission, you might be able to use a review snippet in your front matter, back matter, on your blog, etc.
  • If the reviewer is an author in a related genre, they might be willing to write a foreword, for example.
  • If you were able to see the review before it was removed, or if the customer contacted you directly, you may still benefit from the feedback.
  • Thank the customer for trying. Thank the customer for contacting you. THANK the customer if he or she does any of the alternatives that I suggested in the previous section.

Contacting Amazon to complain about it probably won’t be helpful. Amazon will only offer an explanation to the customer, not to the author, and the explanation given to the customer will probably be vague. You’re probably not going to convince Amazon that they made a mistake and get them to reinstate the review.

Arguably, the best way to get reviews is to (a) write the book as well as you can, and polish it as well as you can (b) learn how to market your book effectively. The more sales you earn through marketing, the more likely customers will leave the variety of genuine reviews typical of Amazon customers, and those are probably the best reviews that you can get. You might only get about 1 review per 100 sales, on average.

(Friend, family, and recruited reviews invite their share of problems, aside from potentially being blocked and removed by Amazon. For one, if you have a lot of reviews, but the sales rank and publication date don’t suggest many sales, this may look suspicious to wise shoppers. For another, reviews that just praise the book without offering explanations or examples tend not to carry much weight. Yet another reason is that it may seem suspicious if there doesn’t seem to be any balance to the customer reviews.)


Friend and family reviews (and worse kinds of reviews) plagued Amazon several years ago. Things got so out of hand that there were prominent articles featured in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. This prompted Amazon to take action. It’s estimated that millions of reviews were removed, and many more have since been blocked.

It’s much better now, from the customer’s perspective, than it had been just before Amazon began blocking and removing suspected customer reviews.

Yes, there are a few casualties, i.e. reviews that shouldn’t be removed. In order to market their books effectively, indie authors must interact with customers online and offline, and those online interactions occasionally confuse Amazon into removing a review that they really shouldn’t have removed.

Another perspective comes from sales, both short-term and long-term sales.

Amazon doesn’t want recruited reviews to FOOL customers into buying BAD books, as that would cripple long-term sales.

Authors seem to think that they need more GOOD reviews to sell more books in the short-term, but this may not actually be the case. Amazon has the real DATA. Maybe, in general, Amazon not only sells more books in the long-term, but even sells more books in the short-term with their current block-and-remove suspected favorable reviews policy. We can speculate. Amazon has the actual data. And Amazon is highly effective at selling books. Amazon is highly effective at selling indie books, too.

But again, it doesn’t help to get upset about it or complain about it. Find something proactive that you can do instead.

Write happy, be happy. πŸ™‚

Chris McMullen

Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (now available)

84 comments on “What to Do about Reviews Disappearing from Amazon (Proactive Solutions)

  1. Pingback: Back Home: Excellent New Share on Amazon Reviews! | Just Can't Help Writing

  2. Question that is kind of related. Do you think them marking stuff as verified and unverified purchases has helped? I see that it’s been done, but I’m not sure what the point is since it rarely gets attention.

    • I think the Verified tag has only helped a little. One problem that I see is that many very avid readers and reviewers have Kindle Unlimited, but books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited don’t get a Verified tag when the review is posted. Supposedly, the Verified tag does help Amazon’s new algorithm determine which reviews to show most prominently (though that’s just one of many factors).

      • I never thought of that. I’ve seen a few authors release a new book with at least 10 5-star reviews, but none of them are verified. So I thought that was the more common factor for that.

  3. Honestly, this is probably the ONLY problem I haven’t had. I’ve had reviews rejected for inexplicable reasons. I’ve had trolls attack reviews I’ve published … really, some people need to get a life. But never had one disappear or fail to appear. I suppose I should be grateful for small favors?

    • Those are some big problems. It’s a shame, too: Amazon, customers, and authors need customers to post reviews, and such things discourage customers from doing that extra work.

      Small favors are wonderful. All the little things can sometimes make a big difference. Happy 2016. πŸ™‚

  4. Pingback: What to Do about Reviews Disappearing from Amazon (Proactive Solutions) | Kawanee's Korner

  5. Thanks, Chris, for this important info. I guess Amazon is the big brother so it can do whatever it wants no explanations provided. We are all just along for the ride.

    If reviewers stopped reviewing that could change things drastically for Amazon. I am an author but also a reviewer with over 378 reviews. I think that reviews are important to me when I look for a book to read. If I don’t see many reviews I still may buy it if the reviews are of verified purchases. Also, I find the book more interesting if there are mixed reviews of 5, 4, 3, 2 stars. Happy 2016!

  6. When I contacted Amazon about friends and family before I published Pride’s Children, they told me that while they shouldn’t review in the customer review section EVEN IF they bought the book (because of the close relationship), their comments were welcome in the Start a discussion section, either in starting or contributing to a thread there.

    I saved the email somewhere, but couldn’t find it right now. I don’t think anyone of my friends or family has done that yet, so I don’t know how it will work.

    • The Amazon and Goodreads customer discussion forums are good ways for readers to interact with one another and discuss books. (For any new authors who may read these comments, let me mention that it’s not a good place for authors to self-promote.) Thank you for sharing Amazon’s suggestion. Have a happy 2016. πŸ™‚

      • There ARE self-promotion threads on GR; I’m wondering if anyone reads them – they may be instead a place to quarantine the self-promoters.

        Have good manners: if you wouldn’t whip out a copy of your book at a dinner party with friends, don’t do it in a group of strangers. There will still be opportunities. though fewer, they might actually result in a read.

  7. Very helpful, Chris. I’ve noticed that some of my reviews have gone missing and can’t figure out which ones or why. I absolutely never pay a reviewer for a book review and never do review swaps or exchanges, which are banned by Amazon and Goodreads. I know lots of authors who do those review swaps and have done them without regard to the unprofessionalism. In fact, one author boasted how she got over 100 reviews on her book by doing swaps. Perhaps if Amazon required reviewers to use their real names instead of hiding behind screen names, then we might get more honest and fair reviews, and hopefully less reviewers anonymously attacking authors.

    • Thank you, Paula. Customers can use a name that matches their credit cards and earn a real name tag on Amazon, yet few reviewers choose to do this. Although Amazon removes reviews they suspect of violating their review guidelines, I think they are reluctant to make any changes that may discourage customers from leaving reviews. Thank you for sharing your experience with reviews. Happy 2016. πŸ™‚

  8. Despite the whooshing sound of suction through the hose attaching this article to Amazon, it has some fine points. What I’d really like is review categories. As a 55 year old male, I’m less interested in reviews from fourteen year old girls on books I might read. Having age categories for reviews would be nice–along with any other criteria they could whip together.

    • Review categories. That’s a great suggestion. Especially for books that have hundreds of reviews, that could really help customers find reviews relevant to them. It would be nice to see Amazon embrace your suggestion. Happy 2016. πŸ™‚

      • I’d love it (obviously). I’m an avid scifi fan as an example and can’t tell you how many times I have ended up reading really juvenile offerings by new authors because of “scads of glowing reviews” on Amazon. For them, the books were “awesome” but as a more seasoned reader, you can tell that the reviewers were predominately younger readers. to a lesser degree, I’ve ended up with more “suggested reading” by Amazon in romance and YA fantasy for simply looking at excerpts of books (based on user reviews) that were clearly targeted at younger, female readers.

  9. Unfortunately, what Amazon won’t remove is fake or misplaced negative reviews. So, if you have another author intentionally trash your book, (which I’ve only seen happen with new, insecure authors, as most established indies know that’s not only a stupid thing to do, it’s also counterproductive), or you become the victim of a coordinated kill-the-book campaign with purchased negative Fiverr reviews, or you get inundated with one-star reviews because Amazon sent out the wrong book file on a pre-order, or if a reader put their review on the wrong book by accident, all those will stay up. Forever. Doesn’t matter if they’re not real. But let a reader win a free e-book in a competition, if the author gifts it through Amazon, that reader’s reviews will then be targeted for removal.

    • New authors certainly do shoot themselves in their own feet through that practice. Similar books actually help one another through customers also bought lists and such.

      The review system would seem less frustrating to authors if Amazon would target some of the critical review abuse.

      Happy 2016. πŸ™‚

      • I think a bigger problem than the handful of rabid, insecure new authors that do this is the self-defined “big fan” or critic of genres they prefer. In their minds, they are doing a public service by demoting any and everything that doesn’t jibe with their expert opinion of what the specific genre should be–“they aren’t trolling, they’re right”. Sadly, social tactlessness that started on the internet has seeped into society and people now indulge in the same tactics in real life: Don’t like something? Smash it–because they’re wrong (and therefore worthy of no consideration) and you’re right. You’re never wrong when you are self-righteously entitled.

  10. Admittedly I’m an indie author hungry for anything to help get readers. I’m very concerned about Amazon’s determined refusal to remove obvious 1-star trolling reviews, in fact aiding people who want to trash an author using their own system to make it easier for the trolls. In fact, they make it free.
    As it stands, someone decides they don’t like, say, any book with a strong female character. First author who dares to write a series like that, the troll buys ONE book (for maybe $2.99). Download, write a one-line, one-star review (without bothering to read it of course). Then return the book, get your “sourdough money” back and run through the author’s entire corpus with the same three bucks. Meanwhile, every horrible, ratings-wrecking review you pin up there remains for all time. You’re even labeled a Qualified Reviewer!
    A simple fix: say whatever you want but if you get your money back the review instantly comes down. Shouldn’t even be a manual operation, just automatic. Reviewers have a basic obligation to put their money where their mouths are. But evidently Amazon is more interested in stripping down the review of someone who read your entire book and gives a detailed, accurate positive review, just because he might be the son of a classmate or whatever.

    • It’s true that new books are vulnerable. The best ways to help “protect” a new book are to (A) find effective ways to build an grow a following that will help support a new release (B) market with personal interactions, including offline interactions, as potentially readers you interact with personally are more likely to purchase and also review your book, and they also have that personal touch to weigh against what strangers say on Amazon (C) learn effective marketing strategies to help generate more sales (D) professionalism can help to reduce such problems, or at least lessen the likelihood that they will get out of hand. But nothing is foolproof.

      Amazon does impose a “return limit,” that is customers who abuse the return policy do lose the privilege. On top of that, customers have been informed over the telephone such things as, “We’ll be happy to issue refunds for two of the books, but since you read all 500 pages of the other book, we won’t be able to issue a refund for that one.” While they do strive to achieve customer satisfaction, they do also work to limit abuse to some extent.

      An issue I see with the return-and-lose-the-review suggestion is that Amazon has publicly stated that customers don’t need to even use or purchase a product in order to review it at Amazon. But it would be nice to see Amazon take some publicized action against some of the critical reviews.

      Happy 2016. πŸ™‚

    • It’s a great idea – but it would require either Amazon to know who’s posting from an account (me-66, hubby-68, or daughter-24), etc. And many people who opt out of providing real information would skew the results.

      It’s a good idea to self-identify (I’m a retirement age woman… or whatever) when providing your own reviews – if relevant (often is).

      I’ve written a mainstream contemporary love story – and some of my best compliments have come from gentlemen older than I am, and some from young ladies in their early 20s. I don’t even know the age range of most of the people who’ve read it on Wattpad before publication. I designed it that way – and am delighted that it worked.

      You just have to spend a bit of time and let the reviewer give him- or herself away. In almost any review of at least several paragraphs, the reviewer tells you plenty about who is writing. It takes time, but you CAN locate the reviewers who might be helpful to you. Shorties and troll reviews don’t give you enough, but even they can let you discount them (my favorite: I didn’t read this book – automatically ignored).

  11. Pingback: What Goes into a Successful Marketing Plan? | WordHarbour

  12. Do you really have to get a reviewer’s permission to use part/all of his review on your blog or elsewhere? I’d think that it now becomes public property. I’m sure it would be a nice thing to do, but is it required?

  13. I just don’t get how Amazon is deciding on which reviews to remove and which to leave alone. I purchase all my books on Amazon before reviewing some of the them, so they have the Amazon verified purchase. I neither know the author nor am a family member, nor a fellow author. So I do not break any of the conditions Amazon states for removing reviews. My reviews range from 1 star to 5 star, yet Amazon sent me an email stating my reviews violated their policy. I chased them up on this but its a waste of time – they just return a bland email reply which looks like a template reply sent to all.
    In contrasts , I see reviews that are blatantly breaking Amazon review policy by promoting themselves (reviews with the authors name and book mentioned), I find ugly troll reviews bad-mouthing books when clearly they have not even read it….. Oh, it get’s me so angry to realise how many hours I just wasted on good intended reviews, only to see Amazon remove them, and yet leave these troll reviews online.
    Aaaaaaghhhhhh! Come on Amazon, it’s about time you got this right instead of just annoying reviewers and authors alike by randomly removing some reviews, while leaving others.
    Am I the only one Amazon is seriously annoying with this very unprofessional behavior?

  14. Thanks for the advice . I have a added problem that I had a review removed and I never noticed until I tried to review the next book and was told you cannot review this author because we have had a review removed . Any advice

    • Unfortunately, Amazon is not likely to let you review that author’s books or give a specific reason. But, as I mentioned in my article, there may be other places that you can review the book or other ways to support that author or share your feedback with others. Happy 2016.

  15. Pingback: Review Policy | Mine and Amazon’s | Jemima Pett

  16. I wonder if any of my reviews have been removed. I actually seldom buy the books through Amazon–I’m much more likely to buy at Smashwords or B&N. Or if participating in blog tours, I will accept a free ARC, which is completely legit.

    It would be helpful if Amazon would post very clear rules for reviews, and if removing a review would let the writer know what rule they violated. That would make it more effective (that, and actually dealing with the obvious trolls. I wonder what the heck is behind that? Maybe they know something we don’t–“any publicity is good publicity”?)

    • Thanks for sharing your comments regarding Amazon reviews.

      I wonder if being somewhat vague may be part of Amazon’s tactic. Nobody can point to a specific guideline and show that they meet the criteria, which gives Amazon flexibility with what they want to do…

      Maybe they do know something we don’t. They have much more data, at least.

      • The trouble is, their approach leaves all the users feeling like pawns, or infants. “Don’t worry, now, Papa knows best.” I think the lack of feedback doubly, or maybe trebly, itches me because not only would it be helpful to me as a writer to know more about what works for marketing, but as an educator, telling people they got it all wrong without telling them why or how–is just lousy pedagogy.

  17. Pingback: What to Do about Reviews Disappearing from Amazon (Proactive Solutions) | chrismcmullen | writerchristophfischer

  18. Pingback: What to Do about Reviews Disappearing from Amazon (Proactive Solutions) | Graham Writer

  19. This is SO frustrating. I’ve had such a hard time getting people to leave reviews, and now the very first review of my book is missing, and two others that people have left in the last week aren’t appearing. I’m quite suspicious that Amazon is to blame, and considering that I now show only 10 reviews (down from 11, yes, but that’s still not many) and it’s typically more than a month between people posting new ones, I can’t see where there would be a violation. I’ve seen no communication from Amazon indicating any such thing, either.

    I’ve sold quite a few books at signings, so they’re not going to be verified purchases, though the print edition is produced by CreateSpace. Is it a stretch for Amazon to figure out that, yes, there really are that many copies out there? It certainly shouldn’t be. All they’re doing is hurting my ability to sell more books. You’d think, considering the cut they take, that they’d see that as counterproductive.

  20. All I know is that I was told one was posted four days ago, which hasn’t yet appeared, and another was left on Saturday–also no sign of it, and there’s no online connection whatsoever. And sometime on Saturday/Sunday, one disappeared. It seems awfully unlikely that that’s pure coincidence.

    Just how do they define “online connection,” anyway? If some random person leaves a comment on my blog, will Amazon decide they can’t leave a review?

  21. This great post and the responses are so helpful. Thank you! Most of my books are sold in person, when I perform or do a workshop, so a lot of reviews will not be verified. It’s frustrating, but I appreciate your positive approach to dealing with the removed reviews.

  22. Hi Chris
    I have a book on Amazon, it was added on July 19 2016. It has one five star review because Amazon has removed at least seven that I know of, who knows how many they’ve removed that I don’t know about. It looks like they’re removing ever single review my book has gotten sense the first one. I am a disabled man and my wife works 3 jobs trying to supporting are family of six. I’d hoped that the sales on my book would allow her to quit at least one of her jobs, but not if Amazon doesn’t stop deleting all the reviews on my book. Apparently all you have to do to be considered a friend or family member of a seller on Amazon is contact them on any social media. It doesn’t seem to matter what you say. You could be telling them you enjoy there book, asking them a question about there book, maybe even giving advice or asking when the sequel is coming out. It looks like the seller or Author in my case would be better off if there fans didn’t contact him or her on ANY social media, if they want the ability to leave a review on Amazon. That’s sad… it really is, you shouldn’t be penalized or punished for wanting to talk to your favorite Author or the person you buy from. If that’s the case they should delete all the reviews about Amazon. You know they’ve talked with most of, if not all the people buying from them. I WILL NOT be bullied into not talking with my fans (what little I have) in emails OR social media by ANYONE. Chris I hope you don’t mind me quoting your suggestions to my fans on Facebook. Ordinarily I would ask first, but I see you have thanked several others on this site for spreading the word. Thanks for the great info, I plan to put it to good use. Of course I’ll give you credit for the very productive advice, it’s much then siting around getting angry about something you can’t change. Also I’ll put a hyper link to your site in my message. Thanks again and have a great day.

    Oh for anyone that’s interested in the book, it’s about a Afghan war hero that ends up with super powers. It’s called Ordinary to Hero in One Fall. Thanks for your time and God bless you all!!!!!

    • I used to think Amazon was pretty much “on the level” until one of my honest reviews was rejected. Sadly, once I found out about this, I’m beginning to wonder if reading these “sorted out” reviews is a waste of time – since I’m not seeing all the pertinent reviews.
      Incidentally, I cannot contend with the “connection” across “services”, either. Thank you for mentioning that.
      I wonder who these “services” serve; where social media, ordinary emails, retail sales, and my exposure to privacy violation intersect.
      Yes, I can see how this is going to benefit me…….ha, ha, ha.
      I sincerely wish you the very best with the success of your book.

  23. Good advice, Chris.
    I guess I just learned that Amazon really isn’t interested in protecting their community – particularly if a member of their community tries to warn other members.
    I suppose it now follows that posting a review on Amazon is worthless and will not remain published unless it’s what Amazon wants to hear………Is this scenario beginning to sound familiar to anyone out there?

    • Most reviews seem to stand forever. A couple of years into the self-publishing wave, there were some high-profile articles in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, highlighting some of the ways that a minority of indie authors were abusing the review system. This was bad publicity for Amazon, and Amazon needed to do something to regain the trust of the review system. That’s when Amazon implemented a system to target reviews where the customer has some connection with the author. Most of this is done automatically. In most cases, Amazon it seems to work well, but once in a while, it seems like a genuine review disappears in the crossfire. Personally, I think the current system is much better than it was several years back. For example, customers seem to trust the review system better now, on average. As an author, if you see a review disappear, it hurts, especially when it was a good review and when you don’t have many to begin with.

      My experience is that good content and good marketing will generate renewed sales, and the sales will naturally lead to organic reviews that will stand, and there are no better reviews than those. I focus on the content and the marketing, and try really hard not to sweat the reviews. Good luck with your book.

  24. I have a little to add on vanishing reviews.

    Recently, for reasons still mysterious, a positive review I wrote on a allergy product was quietly removed. No notification, just gone.

    I was pretty sure I had written one, but then considered, “Maybe I just thought about writing it” and tried to post one. I got a message that the review had “violated polices” and I could not review that product.

    I found this odd. Having written many, many reviews, and intending to continue, I wanted to know what mistake I could have made. I called and got someone who was equally baffled, and who submitted a request and told me they would be in touch. Apparently the gods who review reviews are housed in a separate realm.

    Today, in a Kafkaesque twist, I get the email telling me that NOW all the reviews I ever wrote have been removed, and I may never again review anything.

    So, authors, perhaps the reviews of your books have vanished because someone said something about an allergy capsule. Maybe. I reviewed a slew of books.

    I’m calm, tireless, and logical. I board dogs in my home for a living, ( I don’t make or sell allergy remedies) and I have time.

    So, called again. I reached another kind and equally perplexed human, who has sent another form to some other place one sends things.

    Tomorrow, I may be forbidden from purchasing items on Amazon, or I may be killed.
    I don’t know.

    No matter what, I truly hope to at least know the nature of my crime.

  25. What i’m trying to figure out is why, lately, when i browse Amazon to check out Product reviews (by that, I don’t mean book-reviews), only 5-star and 4-star reviews are visible? The one-star and two-star reviews state “Sorry, no reviews match your current selection”. Then when I click the link which states “Clear Filter” it accomplishes nothing!

    Lets face it – we are collectively guilty for enabling just a few companies to become mammoth monopolies.

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