Wednesday Wing – Guard Against Your Amazon Reviews Being Removed #wwwblogs @TerryTyler4

This week on Wednesday Wing…

Writers/Reviewers: Guard against your Amazon reviews being removed.

Terry Tyler offers advice and thoughts on the matter.

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There has been much blogged about lately on the subject of Amazon removing book reviews. I am no authority on this subject, but believe their principle is to counteract the growing number of fake reviews; writers who cannot get them any other way (I will not go into the reasons for this right now!) have perhaps made use of the various sites around the internet that sell five star reviews. The owners of such sites do not read the books, but just post reviews. I saw one that had posted around a hundred on the same day, all of which consisted of the five star rating and one word, ‘brillent’, which I imagine was supposed to say ‘brilliant’; I suspect many of these sites are run by scammers who do not boast English as a first language!

Amazon is also targeting writers’ family members: even if your account has a different name, your review will not be accepted if you are posting it from the same IP address. The cause of concern, though, is when Amazon removes reviews from ‘friends’ of the author. Whether or not a reviewer has a personal relationship with the author is determined by their connection over internet sites. Obviously this is not a satisfactory way of assessing relationship, as many writers have regular readers who become online friends simply because they like their books. I have some of these, and I, too, will communicate with a writer online if I love their work. Sometimes you and another writer become friends because of your mutual admiration for what the other does; the whole system is deeply flawed, as we know! However, my purpose is not to whinge on about the rights and wrongs (which is pointless), but to suggest one way by which Amazon’s computers detect a connection (I read it somewhere, can’t remember where), and offer a remedy; it seemed so logical once I’d read it that I couldn’t think why it hadn’t occurred to me before.

If you are on a social networking site or email, and copy and paste the link to your book from Amazon, (for a tweet, for instance, or to send to someone in an email), it might look something like this:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-York-Terry-Tyler-ebook/dp/B016WNEEQO/ref=pd_sim_351_1?ie=UTF8&dpID=51eMB7tPzVL&dpSrc=sims&preST_PJku-sticker-v3%2CTopRight%2C0%2C-44_OU02_AC_UL160=J0N270MDZ9TV7HC1ABSZ

Now, all the characters after the ASIN number (B016WNEEQO) are not just a random jumble, but the online trail that leads back to your computer. If you post this full link on a tweet it may be shortened by Twitter, but all those characters still remain in the site’s memory. Thus, if someone else clicks on that link and buys your book, then goes to review it, it could look as though the review has come via your computer, or at the very least that the person writing it knows you, has some connection with you, or was sent the link by you—so the review may be disallowed.

The way to get over this is to always delete all the characters after the ASIN number, before you post a link to your book, anywhere.

Reading Soft edge

 

Also, be careful about the wording of any review you post; this morning, a reliable book blogger told me that she’d had a review disallowed because, she was told, it was too similar to another one submitted for that book. I’ve never come across this before, but it’s worth bearing in mind—a good reason to always make your reviews as original as you can, and don’t use review clichés or copy passages from the blurb into a review; if you’re giving a précis of the plot, make sure it’s in your own words. I don’t know how Amazon works, no one does, but it stands to reason that its computers flag up certain words; perhaps if one review has 50% similar words/groups of words to another, it is assumed to be a duplicate review, or a fake. I can’t say for sure; I’m just telling you what happened to a book blogger I know (who neither copies others nor uses review clichés!) so that you may be warned!

I know, I know, it’s so infuriating when many fakes still remain and genuine reviews are disallowed or taken down, but there seems to be little we can do about it, and emailing them just gains a standard reply about evidence of a personal relationship with the reviewer, or other reasons; perhaps damage limitation is a better idea.

Or….

If you want to post a review and find you can’t (there are a couple of writers with whom I am online friends whose books I can’t review on Amazon.com), you could try asking a friend to post it from their account. I haven’t done this, it’s just an idea. Okay, they haven’t read the book, but you have and you want to review it, so this seems like a fairly reasonable way of getting round it. If you find this unethical, you could always write a line at the top saying ‘T Tyler posting review from J Bloggs’ account’, or something; I saw one like that the other day. After all, there are some writers who get everyone they know to post a 5* saying that the book is the best thing they’ve ever read; many of these remain, so using a friend’s account in order to post a genuine review seems fair enough! Yes, I know, the review would not show ‘verified purchase’, but neither do those for which you’ve received or sent an ARC – OR that you download via Kindle Unlimited. I download most of my books via KU, so the majority of the reviews I post don’t show ‘verified purchase’ anyway.

I hope this helps. I’ve had about 6 reviews for my own books removed in the last month, and only yesterday I noticed that a review on a friend’s book that I posted two years ago has been taken off, too, so I know how annoying it is!

Rosie's Notebook

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58 thoughts on “Wednesday Wing – Guard Against Your Amazon Reviews Being Removed #wwwblogs @TerryTyler4

  1. There’s something else another writer warned against adding for book bloggers and that is not to use affiliate links to the book you’ve reviewed. This only really applies to people who are bloggers and get free copies of books. Amazon sees affiliate links as a way for a reviewer to get money for their review – stupid but true. So bloggers should link to their reviews on their blogs or at least not use affiliate links.

    Amazon’s also touchy about people mentioning they got a book free (if they did) so it’s important to put it.

    Also if Amazon automatically rejects a review you’ve written don’t give up. Usually it’s a computer program deciding whether a review can show and I’ve often only needed to change one or two words and re-posted to get the review to show. I’m a top review on amazon so I’m used to its weirdness 🙂

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  2. There is also no continuity between Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Kindle on Amazon. When I complained, they said there was nothing they could do about it and it was up to the reviewers to duplicate their reviews, and then – they go missing! The same should apply to Goodreads,- owned by Amazon – but of all of them, they seem to be the most reliable. I think that the simple reviews are just removed, but many casual reviewers can only manage to write short passages, and get removed.

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  3. I was at an author/book reviewer event last weekend where we discussed this. It was interesting to note that if a review was taken down the reviewer simply re-posted it. I hadn’t realised that was possible until they told me. Not sure if Amazon allows it to stay put after the second posting, but as the happy meerkat points out in their comment above, it’s a computer program that makes the decisions. Worth a try?

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    • Oh yes, I think the mistake reviewers make is thinking that it’s a person, who trawls the internet seeing if you know each other on Facebook! I have to say, I’ve tried reposting a review that hasn’t been allowed a couple of times, to no avail. If it’s just because of the wording, Amazon tells you, so that you can amend.

      From a writer’s point of view, the problem with what you suggest is that many reviews are removed years after they’ve been posted, from readers you don’t necessarily know, so they’re lost forever. I’ve lost about 15 over the years, through this.

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  4. It’s such a shame that legit reviewers are being targetted, thanks to the fake sites and doughnut reviewing. Another way for writers to preserve what they have is to keep the link between you and Amazon going…I do send them regular emails about queries..or just to say ‘thanks guys’ good job. I seem to get the same 2 people..so would feel able to approach them if something occurred…and hopefully they’d know I was ‘legit’, always good to talk! If you publish via Createspace, they seem to regard you as a ‘special client’ and are very helpful…mind, that could change!

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  5. Thanks for the insight and tips everyone. Having a review refused has only happened to me once – so far – and I did get in touch. The review was reinstated, but the whole thing can be quite a minefield. I’d definitely try just reposting next time.

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  6. I had the problem of one of my reviews not being accepted. In that case it was because I had quoted a line of the novel and there was a swear word in it. I removed it and it was accepted. But yes, it’s a difficult one, and to be honest there are some who try to game the system and then everybody suffers as a result. I’ve also queried the fact that reviews from one place don’t show anywhere else (I know a Mexican writer who had many reviews in .com and when Amazon created a Mexican store realised that all those reviews did not show in the new store and had to start again from zero). I like Carol’s approach too. It must be tiring for the actual individuals who work there to only ever get complaints.

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  7. This is a huge subject, and thanks to everyone who has contributed to it – none of us have all the answers, but if we pool our knowledge it can be a big help. The main piece of info I’ve written, about the links back to your computer, was such a brilliant piece of advice I had to share it!

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  8. Thanks for this. It’s so sad that Amazon is behaving in this way. I feel that reviews are something that add value to the site and Amazon really ought to be paying reviewers. Instead they treat us as if we should jump through their hoops and be grateful that they publish them. Ironically, it has increased the proportion of reviews I do for writers I “know” as Amazon’s approach discourages me from posting other reviews unless I feel very strongly about a book.

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    • I agree! The proportion of reviews that get removed is actually very small; I’ve found, though, when you tell people about the link thing, they mostly just go ‘Mm-mm’ and launch into a speech about how they’re friends with their readers and why shouldn’t they be able to review their books etc etc etc, which does precisely nothing, and nor does directing it at Amazon, which is why I did this post for Rosie, hoping that people will realise they can actually do something practical to prevent it happening. ;D

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  9. Thank you for these words of wisdom, Terry. Posting the information about a review linking back to your computer is common sense and yet most of us (me included!) would never have thought of it. I will definitely give this a go next time I use such a link.

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  10. Extremely interesting article. I will allow myself to suspect that Amazon pushes forward people with connections, and drowns those without. Favors traditionals and tries to bury indies. Do they take down the one star reviews by the same means? If an author has an enemy, enemies usually stalk, and they usually follow the links the author posts, so they should be just as easy to track, ain’t it? Sometimes they’re so disrespectful they don’t even try to hide it anymore. Don’t even get me started…

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  11. Thank you for posting this Terry and Rosie. This topic troubles me. I understand Amazon is trying to keep illegitimate reviews off of the site, but for those of us who wait for honest reviews, it’s disturbing.
    I always appreciate your insight. Have a great day.

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    • No, because in order to get the universal link you just put the ASIN or ISBN in, don’t you? That’s what I reckon, anyway – and why I think I’ve had less removed than some. Most of the ones that are removed have been older ones, before I used universal links.

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  12. Terry, you pretty much summed up the whole mess! For the most part, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to some of Amazon’s arbitrary decisions. A few authors I know had years’ worth of reviews they’d written removed, and they are banned from leaving reviews on the site again. They tried to find out why, but could get nowhere other than an automaton saying that they’d “violated Amazon’s TOS,”

    As an author, I’m afraid to review books on Amazon now for fear of being punished. Even though Amazon owns Goodreads, it still appears safe to write reviews on the site for authors you happen to be acquainted with.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but at least you cared to address the issue. Thanks! Pinned & shared.:)

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    • Linda, don’t let it dissuade you – I post a review on there several times a week and have had very few removed. I, too, know a book blogger who can’t post on Amazon. But we can’t let fear rule us!!!!

      Thanks again to everyone who has commented on this or passed it on.

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  13. This subject irks the Geritol right out of me. I feel for those who’ve been swept up in this ridiculously flawed crusade. Clearly there needs to be a better way to weed out the dreck from the honest Henrys. One that is not manned by a monkey. Thanks for putting it out there Terry. Shared and tweeted!

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  14. I’ve heard this before Terry about the link with the ASIN and other stuff attached being a possible culprit in Amazon getting on our review trail. I’m glad to say I never use those links and when I do, I always take off whatever comes after the ASIN. So far unscathed. Also, I review other author’s books I know, which I’ve enjoyed. I learned awhile back as long as you write Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book by the author, that should be fine. It works for me. . . .so far. 🙂

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  15. Interesting point about Kindle Unlimited downloads not showing as Verified Purchase. Surely that’s one area where Amazon should be sure about genuine readers? I don’t have this myself, but isn’t KU directly downloading from Amazon?!

    It must be a minefield for Amazon’s IT folks. I’m sure the company relies on algorithms rather than real people perusing reviews which would be far too expensive 😉

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