Amazon Book Review Policies Are Bad For Self Publishing Authors

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was your amazon book review rejected

An Amazon book review cannot be posted for free ebooks?

Correct. You might have missed this very quiet, yet extremely nasty change to Amazon book review policies.

If you are still giving away free Kindle ebooks in the hope of gaining new reviews, then you might want to reconsider.

If you take a little look at Amazon’s Customer Review Creation Guidelines below, you will see why you could be wasting your time giving away free Kindle ebooks.

Notice also that this page has no date or date of the change. So it’s impossible to know when this change was made.

This is typical of Amazon, who as always, fail badly on transparency.


To write a Customer Review, you must have used your account to purchase any item or service on Amazon (free digital content doesn’t qualify toward this requirement.)

Yes, all those free ebooks you gave away with the goal of attraction an Amazon book review, was for absolutely nothing.

This new policy comes on top of another change of policy regarding Amazon book reviews. In essence, it banned reviews from not only family and friends but also from authors or social media contacts.

One comment I received tells how frustrating it is now for honest new authors.

“I self-published a book on Amazon. During the first week I released it, one day I had six 5-star reviews. The next day I had three. Amazon basically took the liberty to erase the reviews, which obviously affects the algorithm that makes the book more visible.”

Many articles were written about this draconian attitude. You can read this one in The International Business Times, which covers the topic in detail.

One can only come to the conclusion that Amazon has had its fill of self-publishing. It’s now taking dramatic measures to limit the chances of success for self-publishing authors.

Either honest reviews are deleted, or honest reviewers cannot leave a review.

I can say that from my experience over the last twelve months that I have been contacted by many people on social media, who have tried to post an Amazon book review for my books, and were rejected. Why?

Because Amazon seemingly deemed that we had a ‘personal’ connection. What? After exchanging a few messages on Twitter or Linkedin, we have a personal relationship? Really?

Also, over the past few months, my new reviews have reduced to a trickle, because of the ban on free Kindle ebook recipients.

Therefore, they are not able to post Amazon book reviews.


Ever since I have been publishing ebooks, free ebooks have been my main source of reviews, especially from book bloggers.

So where are self-publishers at now with Amazon?

Clearly, the benefits of giving exclusivity to Amazon by joining KDP Select is now not a great deal at all.

What do you get? A better royalty rate in Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico on sales of Kindle books.

You can enrol in Kindle Unlimited and have your book royalty reduced. You can give away your book for free 5 days every 3 months.

With Amazon’s new draconian attitude towards book reviews, on top of the reduction in royalties due to Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP), that doesn’t sound very enticing to me.

If you want to independently publish, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is still a must, of course. But without granting exclusivity might be the best option.

Personally, I can only say that Amazon has been truly wonderful over the years in developing and supporting self-publishing.

Sadly though, however, it seems that all their goodwill has dried up, and self-publishers are now being set adrift by Amazon.

Self-publishing was always used as a loss leader by Amazon. So it probably should come as no surprise that it has used (abused?) self-publishing for its own marketing needs for long enough, and now believe that they do not need to support self-published authors any longer.

Taking away the ability of free Kindle ebook readers to post an Amazon book review is clearly the latest signal from Amazon that it is dramatically reducing its support for self-publishers.


Update: Read our new article about Amazon’s $50.00 minimum spend to be able to review.


Note: Another killer to free Kindle ebook reviews. Amazon announced a new $50 criteria to be eligible to add a customer review. 

To contribute to Customer Reviews or Customer Answers, Spark, or to follow other contributors, you must have spent at least $50 on using a valid credit or debit card.

Link to the Updated Amazon Community Guidelines Page


Related reading: Authors Guild Blames Amazon For Author Earnings Crash 


Derek Haines

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Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.

39 thoughts on “Amazon Book Review Policies Are Bad For Self Publishing Authors

  • July 3, 2019 at 9:37 pm

    Per the link you provided… Amazon’s policy states this: 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.

  • March 1, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    The only thing worse is trying to go the traditional agent query way. It’s a nearly impossible maze. The time agents take to respond, if they respond at all, is unconscionable. They let thousands of very good, highly publishable works slip through their fingers or leave authors dangling until they rot and drop off the vine. So what’s the alternative? Amazon may not be perfect, but at least it’s there. I do believe this review policy needs to be revisited and seen through the eye of the author. Many of my book sales have been to friends and family, but that does not mean they post dishonest reviews. I have many of them banging on my door asking “when’s the next of coming out?” They are honest fans whose reviews should count just as much as a stranger’s.

  • February 7, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    This blog is very helpful and I agree totally that you cannot leave a review for a book if you have not already purchased 50 dollars of products from Amazon.
    I have the email from Amazon confirming this.

    Maybe back in the day, they were good but now, No!
    As a new writer I am very disappointed at all levels.

  • February 7, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    I have people who enjoyed my book but can´t review it because they have never purchased 50 dollars worth of products from Amazon


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