Getting Amazon Book Reviews – Problems and Solutions

Solution For Amazon Book Reviews

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.


Read More: Amazon customer reviews only after spending $50.00.


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.

Author Central Titles

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.

Editorial Review Added

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.

Book review on sales page


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

12 thoughts on “Getting Amazon Book Reviews – Problems and Solutions”

  1. Avatar for Valentina Tsoneva
    Valentina Tsoneva

    Thank you so much, Derek, for educating us on the Review process. As I am finalizing my book, I was planning to do exactly what is not allowed — exchange reviews with fellow writers. Actually, I am just reading two authors’ new books,( I bought the books) to which I was planning to post reviews, and now, I will not be able to do so unless I spent $50 that month!!! We are not friends, but we are obviously connected on FB, (that’s how we support each other), so Amazon decides — we are friends! What an absurd to knock down independent authors. :(

  2. This problem has recently directly affected me in the last few weeks and has been stressful. One review of my book was removed and they removed all the reviews I had done for fellow authors (and that was just a handful which I had done). This latter aspect was somehow the worst. After politely keeping going with some enquiring they (review appeals) have now banned me from leaving any product reviews at all. I’ve only published one book and have been dealing with the marketing area for only one year. I was careful to follow all the amazon rules as far as I was aware and checked them in advance, and am now so shocked, because I was simply doing the kind of thing you’ve described, reviewing other authors books (and again, that has been just a few) who I’d met on social media – yes, most of them also reviewed my book, but with no financial incentives or verbal agreements regarding a like for a like at all!

    You article is wonderfully validating in that I know I’m not alone, but I feel tainted with the ‘no smoke without fire’ feeling, even though I’ve done nothing wrong. The idea of putting in an editorial review to replace the one that was removed from my book fills me with worry, that somehow amazon big brother will detect this and penalise me even more. Does this aspect worry you at all? ie they will link that writer and me together again and consider it another infringment?

    They could also argue that an author for author review is not technically a real editorial review. Does this aspect worry you at all? (any advice appreciated)

    (I’m still going to keep up some gentle persuasion that a mistake has been made in banning me from leaving any reviews at all, but I’m getting the feeling it will get me nowhere. Just thought I would share. But thank you so much for drawing my attention to the area of editorial reviews.

  3. Avatar for Lori-Ann Claude
    Lori-Ann Claude

    It’s rather a conundrum isn’t it. For valid reviews, we should have no social media presence. But without social media, how does an author get a following? Do we need to use a “name” that isn’t our author name but yet it’s obvious we’re the author, like something related to our books but not our exact author name? I’m not yet promoting because I don’t want to make the effort of getting someone to my book until I have more than one. But I sure wonder who is remaining to give reviews if all of us as self-published author can’t give reviews to anyone.

  4. It is worth pointing out that this facility is only available on the .com website. The site doesn’t offer it all. But then, the side of Amazon is severely lacking in many areas…

  5. Considering that Amazon now owns GoodReads, that puts indie authors at a disadvantage too, if Amazon is penalizing everyone an author “knows” on social media.

  6. This article is an eye opener. My book is just a few days on the market… and the blank whiteness under reviews is blinding. I’m seeking authors who would like to exchange reviews. Do you have any tips?

    1. It’s tough to get reviews, Angelika. The biggest problem is that reviews by family and fellow authors are usually rejected by Amazon now, so I wouldn’t pursue that idea. This is a real problem, and why paid reviews are starting to raise their ugly head again. The best advice I can give is to use free ebooks to try to gain reviews. At present, that’s the best method I can suggest. I have just released a new book too, and I am having the exact same problem.

      1. Avatar for MARILYN MORNINGSTAR

        Opps, Amazon does NOT allow reviews from anyone who has not paid for a book or ebook, so any gifted books or ebooks will not qualify to offer a review. I learned this after buying more than 100 ebooks, thinking I could give them out to readers I’ve had for years, or people I bump into at a grocery store. NOPE. Plus, the reviewer must spend $50 in that month when they post the review, regardless that they bought the book 3 months ago in a month when they HAD spent $50. Their process is completely random and arbitrary mixed with bots and algorithms, I’m guessing, and oh yes, spies. NO FRIENDS, NO FAMILY, NO READERS WHO JOIN YOUR SITE AS A FAN, NONE OF THOSE CAN LEAVE A REVIEW, only complete strangers, and apparently, they can only do that if they have happened to spend $50 that month (used to be “ever”). An author who happens to know, however distantly, the reader, can’t keep going back to that reader and asking them to write to Amazon, try another review, etc. Authors should not have to spend a year writing a book and then become a pester-pincher for their readers. Readers want to help, but everyone is too busy to be bugged for “repeating efforts to post reviews”.

    2. Avatar for Peri Dwyer Worrell
      Peri Dwyer Worrell

      I might want to swap reviews. What genre do you read and write? My book is sci-fi post-apocalyptic adventure…

  7. Well, Sally, you’ve been self publishing for as long as I have, so we both know that we get to play with Amazon’s bat and ball, but on their terms. The problem with reviews is a pain though, as every new book needs a few reviews to kick it off, so it’s a penalty when fellow authors are banned. But oh well, so be it, and hence the work around. To be fair though, Amazon play tough with the big boys too, when they want to, so we shouldn’t complain too much. At the end of the day, Amazon are still the best choice for self publishers. After hopping in and out of exclusivity over the years, I have now returned, as one thing I have discovered from my ins and outs is that Amazon definitely DO give preference to Select authors, as my book rankings and sales always bounce upwards as soon as I return to exclusive. But a fairer review system certainly wouldn’t hurt either.

  8. Thanks for the work around Derek.. Amazon are a book seller and make millions by being the middle man in this transaction. There is no way that they are investigating or removing reviews from established authors who bring in the majority of their money. They therefore turn their attention to Indie authors who might have a handful or reviews as that is much easier to remove without damaging their takings. They are paying lip service to the mainstream publishers who have an invested interest in selling their own books. Am I being a conspiracy theorist.. yes probably but then again I have been an Indie author for 16 years and as far as publishing goes this is just another attempt to keep good writers down. The other issue is that respected Indie authors who are also book reviewers have found that all their reviews have been removed completely. Amazon should stick to its role as a bookseller and not literary Pinkertons.

  9. Derek — Wow. I hadn’t realized Amazon had become so… well, draconian. They already rule so much of our world as writers, and now this? Thanks so much for reporting about this, and for the terrific advice!

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