REVIEWS REMOVED FROM AMAZON
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.
SUGGESTIONS FOR CUSTOMERS WHOSE REVIEWS DISAPPEARED FROM AMAZON
(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.)
SUGGESTIONS FOR AUTHORS WHOSE REVIEWS DISAPPEARED FROM AMAZON
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.)
WHY DOES AMAZON REMOVE FIVE-STAR 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. 🙂
Copyright © 2016
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
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