If you are a new self-published author, you may not know that Amazon took a hard line on book reviews some time ago.
Why did it do it?
Because paid Amazon book reviews are big business, as this article in the New York Times describes in detail.
The upshot was that Amazon came down heavily on the practice of buying reviews.
Amazon deletes book reviews
But unfortunately, at the same time, Amazon also decided to change a lot more of the rules governing book reviews.
It was not the first time it had acted on book reviews.
Like many other sites selling products or services, reviews are essential to attract customers.
But it’s common knowledge that they are open to abuse.
However, the changes by Amazon affected many honest authors and their book reviews.
The most obvious was deleting book reviews from family members or users of the same IP address.
It also included other self-published authors, as they are classified as competing Amazon sellers.
Another category is readers who had received gift copies of a book.
Also, one extra obtuse reason is friends, which Amazon defines as people you know personally.
This last criterion for rejecting a review is so open to interpretation, and to my chagrin, I was caught by its vagueness.
Do you know your book reviewers?
I had a new book ready for release, and of course, a few early reviews help when launching a new title.
Having a bare Amazon book page is not going to sell a lot of books.
For quite a few years, I have had a great bunch of beta readers.
During the final stages of preparing a new book, they helped me and often posted a review when I released it.
I had never met them personally, only via social media.
But Amazon rejected a review from one of my beta readers, and it said the reason was that we knew each other personally.
We live on opposite sides of the world, have never met, and never even made contact by phone.
The only way Amazon could come to its conclusion would be from our social media data.
Okay, that’s Amazon’s decision, so there is no changing its mind.
However, it isn’t comforting to know that Amazon uses social media data and connections to prevent or delete customer reviews.
There are many impediments self-publishers suffer in gaining book reviews.
It is not hard to understand that traditional publishers use their vast numbers of advance readers, staff, and other industry contacts to ensure new releases have plenty of reviews.
What can a self-publisher do to fix Amazon book reviews?
While it’s not a perfect solution, here is a way to add lost reviews to your Amazon book page.
And surprisingly, Amazon gives you the solution.
You need to have an Amazon Author page to do this.
If you don’t have one already, go to Amazon Author Central to set up your page.
Once logged in, you can edit your author bio and add profile images.
You can edit all your Amazon book pages from here.
But for your reviews that have been deleted or you know will be rejected, you can still publish them on your book’s sales page on Amazon.
You need to go to the ‘books‘ tab. Here you will see the list of your books.
If any of your titles are missing, you can add them using the Add More Books link.
Now, click on your book title and select the version—paperback, hardcover, audiobook, or Kindle.
Then you will see the book details page.
This is a page for one of my paperback books.
Click on Add Review to add your book reviews to your book.
As you can see below, I have added my editorial reviews. These now appear on my book sales page.
One other advantage is that these reviews will appear BEFORE your customer reviews.
Depending on your book version, you might have one review field or up to four. But you can add multiple reviews or review snippets in each field.
Here is the result showing my reviews on my book’s sales page on Amazon.
One book review problem solved
Once you add your book reviews, they will appear on your Amazon book page within 24 hours.
But don’t stop there because you can do so much more.
If you have more book reviews, you can always add them to your book description.
You can also use the fields for the front and back flaps or ad review quotes in the author tab.
There are plenty of locations to add more information about your book.
If you have a little HTML know-how, you can also dress up your text with bold or italic fonts.
One more book review tip
If you have different versions of the same title, you will need to make these additions to each one.
Adding as much information about your book via your Author Page is always a good idea.
When you first publish through KDP, you cannot add much descriptive information apart from your book description.
Once your book is published, use your Amazon Author page to add much more information, including book reviews, for your potential readers.
The other advantage of adding as much book information as possible is that your Amazon book page will be much longer, and the fact that there are no reviews will not show above the fold.
Or, in other words, on a user’s screen without scrolling down.
Okay, getting book reviews can be a pain.
But with this workaround, at least, your new title won’t look barren, unnoticed, unloved, and uninteresting.
It will be more likely to attract sales and, of course, new reviews.
Avoid paid book reviews
It is worth mentioning that since Amazon cracked down on paid reviews, the practice hasn’t stopped at all.
A quick social media search will find those still actively plying their trade in paid book reviews.
I would not recommend using these services. But it does show how unsuccessful Amazon was in its efforts to clamp down on the practice.
Yet, it has been extremely successful in penalizing self-published authors for simply having contacts on social media.
Related Reading: The Biggest Drawback Of Self-Publishing For New Authors