In the last six months three writer friends have given me their new books to read. Since writers are always looking for reviews, I read the books with the idea of giving each a review. I wondered, however, what I should do if I didn’t like a book. Did I really want to give a friend a poor review? Also, I’d heard that Amazon was watching social media and wouldn’t publish a review if “all-seeing” Amazon noted the writer of the review and the writer of the book were friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
In one case, I did run into a problem. I didn’t hate the book, but I also felt it only deserved three stars. (My opinion only since others have given the book four and five stars.) I decided not to write a review because I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s sales. With the second book, I did write a review. I liked that book much better than I thought I would. I gave it four stars, and, I think, a complimentary review. I uploaded that review to Amazon and then wondered if it would be posted since the writer and I are friends. Within a day, the review was up. Nevertheless, when the third writer friend gave me her new book to read, I decided (after reading the free copy and liking the story) to purchase it as an e-book from Amazon. I hoped that would make my review legit. And, within a day, the review was posted.
Since writing that last review, I’ve given a closer look at Amazon’s rules regarding reviews.
- To post Customer Reviews or Customer Answers, post on Customer Discussion Forums, or submit content to followers, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50 minimum. You do not need to meet this requirement to post Customer Questions, create or modify Profile pages, Lists, or Registries, or to read content posted by other customers.
No problem there. Amazon gets more than $50 from me over a year’s time, and they have my credit card on file. I do understand the reason for the $50 and the credit card requirement. This is to eliminate fake names and stop people who get family and friends to post multiple positive reviews.
Amazon is still against reviews posted by solicitation.
In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, 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) or on behalf of anyone else.
- Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.
I think what this is saying is contests that offer a free book for a review are no-nos. I’ve also heard if I ask someone to purchase a book to give me a review and I then send that person an Amazon gift card to cover the cost of that book, I’m violating the rules.
Book authors and publishers may continue to 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.
They do not want writers abusing the review process, so have added:
Customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product.
- A customer posts a review in exchange for entry into a contest or sweepstakes or membership in a program
- A relative, close friend, business associate, or employee of the product creator posts a review to help boost sales
- A seller posts negative reviews about a competitor’s product
- An author posts a positive review about a peer’s book in exchange for receiving a positive review from the peer
The following reviews are generally allowed, provided they comply with the above guidelines:
- A customer writes a review of a product purchased using a discount generally available to all Amazon customers, such as a Lightning Deal.
- A customer writes a review of a product received for free at a trade show, convention, or other similar venue where the provider does not monitor whether the customer writes a review or condition any benefits on writing a review or the content of the review.
Okay, I think what Amazon is saying is: You can’t offer a book, either as a prize or free, if you tie receiving that book to the promise of a good review. You can’t get all of your friends and family to write good reviews just to drum up interest in your book. You can’t write negative reviews (or have friends and family write negative reviews) to hurt a competitor’s book. And, you can’t trade good reviews.
If you’re interested, check out all of Amazon’s rules.