Nothing hurts more or feels better than reviews on your written work. But it seems hard to get reviews when authors are just starting out.
Let’s say you go into a grocery store with your baby and:
Your babysitter happens to be shopping as well. She looks over and coos “my, chubby cheeks is looking happy today! So cute!”
An employee glares up from stocking veggies and says “you haven’t spent enough money here to compliment babies.”
A woman compliments your baby from across the store. She hasn’t even seen the child. The manager asks her to leave.
Your spouse walks in, winks, and says “hey, nice baby.”
The managers and employees all gather around and point at your spouse. “No family or friends can compliment babies!”
As your spouse looks on in dismay, a person pushing a cart piled high with fish sticks swerves around the corner, slams into your cart, and makes the baby cry. “Ugly baby. Shouldn’t have been born,” the cart owner growls.
Nobody reacts at first. Then, one by one, everyone at the scene starts to chant “you have to buy the baby before you can review it!”
Who is allowed to give reviews? Who is not?
Not all of the above is true when it comes to Amazon, but the idea of them being difficult is certainly out there.
The recent review I wrote on Preston Copeland’s novel, Neon Gods, didn’t show up so I took a look at their guidelines. I’m not an expert after reading them, but I kinda understand now.
You gotta hand it to Amazon, they just want honest reviews from honest people, and sellers have been playing the review system for years with free or discounted stuff (still acceptable, btw).
Amazon’s terms are a little vague at times, but here are their examples of bad reviews, word for word:
- A product manufacturer posts a review of their own product, posing as an unbiased shopper
- A shopper, unhappy with her purchase, posts multiple negative reviews for the same product
- A customer posts a review in exchange for $5
- A customer posts a review of a game, in exchange for bonus in-game credits
- A family member of the product creator posts a five-star customer review to help boost sales
- A shopper posts a review of the product, after being promised a refund in exchange
- A seller posts negative reviews on his competitor’s product
- An artist posts a positive review on a peer’s album in exchange for receiving a positive review from them
They have a few ways to go about preventing suspicious reviews. Let’s go to their Community Guidelines for some enlightenment.
Before you can post a review, you must meet the eligibility requirements in the Community Guidelines. Submissions that do not follow our Community Guidelines will not be posted. —Amazon.com
This list is not word for word. It’s a really long and complicated list, so I chose a few things that stood out.
- You must be eligible to review. This means you have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com in the last 12 months. Promotional discounts do not apply. You CAN review if you do not have a verified purchase, but this review will not improve the author’s ranking.
- Be helpful and relevant
- Respect others
- No advertising or promoting in your review
- Don’t do illegal stuff, like pretending to be a terrorist
Hungry for something more in-depth by an experienced person? Check out this article by Self-Publishing Review, Mythbusting The Amazon Algorithm – Reviews and Ranking For Authors. In this article, the author explains several myths that writers have believed about the algorithm, and gives a little advice on how to be practical in getting reviews. I noticed the comments section had a heated debate, so if you are an algorithm junky, head on over there and enjoy the back and forth!
Since I don’t spend enough money on my Amazon account, here’s my review on Neon Gods:
This book had me on the edge of my seat and enveloped in the sights and sounds of New Los Angeles. I even learned a thing or two about mythology. Incredible characters. I felt like I walked, or ran, alongside each one. Well done!
I normally don’t read novels with any kind of fantasy but this one has the perfect level of interaction with the world I know. Just enough to shake it up a little.
You can follow Preston’s progress on writing, and hopefully the sequel to Neon Gods, here: http://liberrapublishing.blogspot.com/