Why Did Amazon Delete My Book Reviews?

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Why Did Amazon Delete My Book Reviews

Because there was a problem with how you got your reviews.

Many new self-published authors are of course thrilled to get a few great book reviews but are shocked if or when their reviews are deleted by Amazon.

“Why were my Amazon reviews deleted?”

The reason why Amazon deletes reviews is not easy to understand from its guidelines, which you can read here in full.

However, there are two main areas that cause the most problems for both positive and negative reviews. Paid book reviews and reviews from close friends.

 

Paying for book reviews can cause your reviews to be deleted

Paid reviews are clearly not acceptable to Amazon. They state:

We do not permit reviews or votes on the helpfulness of reviews that are posted in exchange for compensation of any kind.

However, it is well known that paid reviews are available, and are being posted. It only takes a few minutes to find a paid book review service on social media or by doing a Google search.

While Amazon knows some of these, of course, they also look for a sudden influx of reviews that are well in excess of what would normally be expected from the number of books sold.

So if you have only sold five copies of your book over a month, and you suddenly receive twenty new glowing five star reviews in a week, Amazon will treat this as suspicious, and will probably start deleting your reviews.

Very few readers post book reviews, and this is why genuine reviews are so hard to get. On average, you could expect one review for every two to three hundred books sold.

When reviews start coming in well above this average, Amazon will probably take a look, and then may delete some of your book it reviews.

 

Reviews from close friends will be deleted

This is where most authors get into trouble and it is very often the reason why book reviews are deleted.

Firstly, Amazon does not accept reviews from immediate family:

We do not permit reviews of the same ASIN from customers in the same household.

However, the clause that causes the most problems is this one:

… family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews …

Close friends can be defined by Amazon as someone you are in contact with on social media. Yes, they can check this! So if you have asked your contacts on Facebook or Twitter to give your book a nice review, be prepared for it to be deleted.

Another connection can be commenters on your blog. I can’t prove this, but I have heard of one or two authors who believe this to be the reason why they lost reviews.

 

Amazon checks all reviews

Enough to know that Amazon can and does check your online connections, and can classify these as close friends.

Asking other authors is also a sure way to have a review deleted, as any other author publishing on Amazon is classed as a ‘person selling on Amazon’.

Getting honest and genuine organic book reviews is painfully slow, especially if you don’t sell a lot of copies. But unfortunately, this the reality.

Trying to kick this process along by either asking friends, and especially online friends to post reviews, or paying for reviews, will probably end up in your reviews being deleted, and tears shed.

 

Further reading: Policy Change On Amazon Book Reviews Updated With $50 Minimum

 

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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

17 thoughts on “Why Did Amazon Delete My Book Reviews?

  • Is there a solution to this catch-22 problem? I can’t get my book selling because I don’t have reviews. I can’t get reviews from people I know. I can’t buy reviews. So how do I get reviews to get my book selling to get more reviews?
    I used to work on cargo ships as a marine engineer and before I began working I faced a similar problem. I had no work experience and every company I went to wanted work experience. How do you get something people will give you only if you already have that same thing?
    In my sailing career I guess I got a lucky break. Gotta wait for that in self publishing as well?

    Reply
    • Try joining an author or writing group (an in-person or online group). I’ve found these free groups to be a great place to talk about the writing and editing process, what works, lessons you learn, etc. And so supportive! Often other authors will write reviews for you, if you write reviews for them.

      Reply
      • Review Swap is also against the rules. Just so you know. So you’re basically screwed no matter what you do.

        Reply
  • We handed out copies of our 400-page book to 40 strangers and asked them to please submit reviews on Amazon and other sites. So far, after 6 weeks, we have 14 reviews and they’re all good.

    Reply
    • My ebook is $0.99 for the first two weeks. I bought 70 and asked on a facebook group (within the book’s niche) if people wanted to write an honest review. People sent me their email addresses and I sent them the book. When they redeem it, it’s a verified purchase. And I don’t know them personally. It helped me get 20 reviews in the first week for my first book, “What Does A Princess Really Look Like?”

      I did realize that people still will give you a better review than if you weren’t the one sending them the book. At least I imagine. Because everyone gave me 5 stars… and that doesn’t seem realistic.

      Reply
  • Authors reviewing authors is a time-honored and thoroughly sensible tradition. I understand why Amazon feels the need to reign in paid reviews and the like, but if Amazon is really going after reviews by authors, I hope they’ll reconsider.

    Reply
    • Unfortunately, I doubt it Karen. Anyone selling products on Amazon, which authors do by way of books and ebooks, are ineligible to post reviews under Amazon’s review policy.

      Reply
  • What’s annoying is that you have to sell hundreds of books to get a review. I’ve sold ten books in the last three years, some of those readers got in touch to tell me they loved the book, but I still have nothing on Amazon. Even with that I tend to agree with Amazon. I don’t want another situation where an author is buying hundreds of reviews and pretending they’re genuine.

    Reply
  • You have to PROMOTE your book. If you don’t, don’t expect to see sales. That’s the crux of it.

    What’s the subject of your book? If it’s a mystery, try to find out if there are any mystery bookstores, conventions, writing groups etc that deal with mysteries.

    Any writers convention usually has an area where you can sell your book there. Chances are, you won’t know that many people there.

    If you write about crafts, try to get your book into Michael’s or a locally owned craft store near you. If you write about nature or plants, try a locally-owned garden center. Is it a local-themed novel or non-fiction? Try your local indie bookstore, indie store selling whatever your non-fiction addresses, or Costco (there are helpful posts online about getting into your local Costco).

    I’ve done pretty well for myself, I’ll admit. But I planned a YEAR in advance how to market my novel. First, spend some money on a GOOD EDITOR and a GOOD COVER. And I mean a GOOD cover. Because if you don’t, none of the information below will help you at all.

    I made my book available through Ingram distribution and Smashwords, rather than JUST Amazon. The more avenues and the more formats through which you make your book available, the more chance you have of making sales, in whatever format.

    For my book, because it was silent Hollywood themed novel, I found Facebook groups that related to silent film and created some advanced buzz about it on there. There’s a large film subculture, so I knew that was where i needed to concentrate my marketing. I tweeted about it to my followers. I created a mailing list of those who were interested (they are your champions, and can help publicize it to others PLUS there’s a chance they’ll review it).

    I attended a silent film festival, sold copies there at their author tables, handed out postcards and business cards for it, advertised in a Classic Hollywood memorabilia monthly magazine, found some blogathons for historical novels, and contacted folks running 2 historical podcasts to appear on their shows.

    Our local indie bookstore here posts their weekly Top 10 books sold in our local newspaper. So I told all my friends to go THERE to buy it for the first few weeks at least so it would keep making that list (for visibility). When I was in Los Angeles, I talked it up to buyers at several bookstores. I attended several writers conferences and talked it up to folks, making an author signing appearance at one (PLUS, I sat next to a chatty couple on the plane, and sold them 1 that I had in my purse. They later came to the signing event!). I had a reading and signing at our local indie where friends and coworkers bought it. I traveled to a nearby city for readings and signings (2) and sold several more there.

    Because my subject was from the area around Pittsburgh, I found a huge library/archive with a newsletter that reviewed books. I asked them if they’d be interested. They were.

    I emailed every indie bookstore in the US that I could find to see if they might be interested in carrying my book. I attached a copy of the (REALLY GOOD) cover and my cover blurb. At least 20 of them said they would or would put it in their system. You might surprise yourself.

    Once you have multiple books in your catalog, you’re more likely to get more reviews too. Keep writing!

    BRAINSTORM about publicity. You can never tell where your next sale might come from. The more books you sell, the more chances you have of people reviewing you. If you have no sales, you will not have reviews. It’s that simple. If you spend NO money to promote, chances are your book will die on the vine. But there are cheap things you can do to try to help yourself.

    Reply
  • Okay, people, Amazon does not hand check each review. What they do is an automated check to see where the link the person reviewing used. If you search for your book, then copy that raw link and someone on social media picks it up and then goes to Amazon and leaves a review, that review will be flagged since they are using the same link (which has embedded search perimeters in it) that can be traced back to you.

    To keep Amazon from knowing where the reviewer came from, be sure to use a “clean” link.

    Example of “dirty” link that can be tracked back to you…
    https://www.amazon.com/9th-Circle-circles-hard-boiled-Murders-ebook/dp/B01N34QURE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1509301721&sr=1-1&keywords=9th+circle+mccray

    All that gobbly gook after the ASIN number is tracking material.
    Example of a “clean” link that can’t be tracked back to you…
    https://www.amazon.com/9th-Circle-circles-hard-boiled-Murders-ebook/dp/B01N34QURE
    Everything AFTER the ASIN must be deleted!

    Also Amazon does not allow anyone of financially benefits from the book to leave a review. If you mother is living with you, She theoretically benefits. If she lives in another state and you give her no money, she doesn’t. They are tracking her through your link, not social media.

    Obviously paid reviewers are tracked and flagged, But if you use a clean link and the review is left from a different ISP location, you are usually fine.

    Reply
  • I finally got a coveted Bookbub deal! My book was sent out at 99 cents on Sept 24, 2017. I sold almost 1000 copies! I was thrilled. I was certain I’d get a nice bump of reviews out of those.

    Nope.

    I lost one review. I had 45 – it went down to 44, and that’s where it’s been for two months.

    That doesn’t seem suspicious AT ALL.

    Reply
  • The review system is, unfortunately, a joke. Mr. and Ms. Average Reader glance at the number of reviews against a book and use that scale as a determination of whether the book is worth reading or buying. The average book reviewer seems barely able to string two words together (read some of the reviews). That sounds really sarcastic but “sigh”, I’ve honestly read a lot of reviews. And Goodreads system, where some readers blithely assume that rating a yet-to-be-released and un-read book at 2-stars (because it suits their own system, being 2-stars means they want to read it next and 5-stars means they want to read it when they have nothing else to read) has no impact on the author is nothing short of scary. Changes need to be made but I’m not sure where to begin :/

    Reply
    • People leaving 1-star ratings on Goodreads to mark books they want to read REALLY ticks me off. When you don’t have many ratings to begin with, one 1-star will really screw up the book’s rating. I think readers are oblivious to this fact…and I don’t know how to change it.

      Reply
  • Amazon has started deleting 5 and 4 star reviews from my two best selling books. These have been out for years. Both got a Newbery Honor and one the National Book Award. I don’t do any marketing, I never ask friends for a review because I think that’s tacky, and I don’t do giveaways. Suspicious? You betcha.

    Reply
  • I have had this happen to me recently, on several of my books. The first time, I lost reviews off of the first books in both my series. Now it was one from the second book of one of the series. The only thing I can think of is someone I’m “in contact with” on social media. No one I know personally. I’ve never swapped reviews. I’ve never bought reviews. Heck, I can’t even GET most of my friends to take the time to read my books, let alone review them. But this thing about people you’re “in contact with” on social media somehow equating to “friends”? WTH, Amazon?

    One of the whole points about being active on social media as an author is to interact with readers. Answer questions. Engage in conversations. Whatever. It’s a way to get your name out there without a lot of expensive marketing tactics that most indie authors I know can’t afford. If suddenly that becomes a qualification for getting your reviews yanked, where does that leave us? I have NO IDEA how to get reviews…so when 1 of the 16 paltry reviews I have on one of my books gets yanked for no apparent reason, it really ticks me off. Ugh. AND it was likely from about 4 years ago, because I haven’t gotten any new reviews on that particular book in about that long. Suddenly it’s a problem?

    Reply
  • Although illuminating, this article did not answer my question completely. Hence, I rated it 4 out of 5. Here is the bizarre situation I am facing with a couple of now-deleted customer reviews of a book I had written which was published by a medium-sized academic publisher back in 2001. Both customer reviewers (I recall at least two book reviews by customers ut there could have been a third as well) were from customers I either did not know or were from someone I have not been in contact with for years but who went to graduate school with me back in the mid-to-late 1980s. They were both positive customer reviews of my book. One was a guy whose name actually appeared (I guess he is or was a frequent Amazon book reviewer) and the guy lived in a different part of the U.S.A. which is not anywhere near me. He is a total stranger. Don’t know the guy AT ALL. Never paid the guy. The other reviewer or reviewers were not named and were from people I don’t even know. They certainly were not paid by anyone. Amazon had POSTED both book customer reviews in the publicly-visible listing of my book in 2001 and 2002, and these customer reviews were visible on Amazon’s site from their date of posting in 2001-02 until the middle of 2018. Suddenly, sometime in mid-2018, Amazon removed ALL customer reviews associated with my 2001 book! I emailed them twice and they replied twice with no explanation and instead, asked more questions like what was the exact date of the customer book reviews (I only remember the year(s) they were posted – hey, it’s been almost two decades and, as I said, I didn’t even know who these customers were in the first place) and the names of the customers. I remember one guy’s name (I think). But the other customer reviewers’ names? Who knows! It just said “A Customer” next to their 2001 review(s)! I gave Amazon the book title etc. so they could easily look up my 2001 book. They didn’t even offer a stock explanation such as reciting their customer review guidelines. Even if they had, these customer reviews DID NOT violate Amazon’s guidelines as demonstrated by the fact that Amazon HAD POSTED AND DISPLAYED these customer reviews of my 2001 book for almost TWO DECADES! What do folks think is actually going on? These were positive reviews. I appreciated receiving them all those years ago. Now my book has zero reviews and looks really bad with the “Be the first to review this book” message from Amazon across the top of the Amazon listing for this title. Sad. Any suggestions on who I should contact at Amazon or where I go from here to get a substantive response from Amazon as to why they deleted customer reviews posted since 2001-2002 all of a sudden in 2018? Any best guesses from folks as to what is really going on? You can safely assume the reviews I saw posted did not violate Amazon’s guidelines. They were obviously from customers (at least to my eyes as the author). Thanks everyone!

    Reply
  • This is all ridiculous. Bottom line is, if you dole out cash to buy a book, then you should be able to leave a review. If Amazon doesn’t want my friend, my daughter, my fourth cousin, or my mailman to leave a review, then don’t sell them a book.

    Reply

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