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.
But unfortunately, at the same time, it also decided to change a lot more of the rules governing book reviews.
Deleting Amazon book reviews
Many seemingly honest reviews were affected by the changes.
These included blocking reviews from family members, users of the same IP address, other self-published authors, and readers who had received gift copies of a book.
Also, one other very obtuse criteria – friends, which is defined as people you know personally.
This last criterion for having a review rejected in so open to interpretation, and to my chagrin, I was caught by its vagueness.
Do you know your book reviewers?
Let me start here.
I had a new book ready for release and of course, a couple of 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 now, I have had a great little bunch of beta readers.
During the final stages of preparing a new book, they helped me and often posted a review when I released a new book.
I have never met them personally, only via social media.
But Amazon recently rejected a review from one of my beta readers. 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 handicaps self-publishers suffer in gaining book reviews.
It is not rocket science to understand that traditional publishers use their huge numbers of advance readers, staff, and other industry contacts to ensure new releases are heavily reviewed.
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 back onto your Amazon book page.
And surprisingly, the solution is supplied by Amazon.
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 you are logged in, you can do a lot to change your author bio, profile images, add social media and blog feeds, as well as book trailer videos.
You can also edit ALL your Amazon book pages from here. So, it really is a tool you must use, and you should update your Amazon Author page regularly.
But for your reviews that have been deleted, or you know will be rejected, you can still publish them onto 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 button.
Now, click on your book title and select the version. Either 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 the tab, Editorial Reviews. Now you can add your book reviews to your book.
As you can see, I have added my own 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 the book version you choose, 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 there is so much more you can do.
If you have more book reviews, you can always add them within 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 lots of your book reviews.
If you have a little HTML know-how, you can also dress up your text too with bold or italic fonts.
One more book review tip
Check in the top right corner because 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 in closing that since Amazon went crazy on paid reviews, the practice hasn’t stopped at all.
A quick search on social media will find those who are 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.