The secret behind disappearing Amazon Reviews?

Today I logged on to Amazon to check on my novels because:
1) I’m perpetually curious about my ranking (it’s like some sort of validation to my worth as an author) and,
2) as much as I advise others to ignore reviews, I still look.

Yesterday, Love Unscripted had 1145 reviews.

Today, Love Unscripted had 1144 reviews.

This is not the first time reviews have disappeared. Several weeks ago, the number of reviews on all my novels were much higher.

And then, overnight, something mysterious happened. Poof, about 75 reviews disappeared into the nether.

So what’s causing some reviews to disappear while others remain untouched?

Before I go on, I want to emphatically state I have NEVER, EVER, EVER paid an outside entity, my best friends, or random strangers on the street to leave me a book review. Let’s just push that thought way off the table because it doesn’t apply here. If you paid some click farm to give you fake reviews, those fake reviews SHOULD be deleted. That’s cheating.

So what did I do? I’ll tell ya. I did what any emotionally connected author does. I created a Tweet and was pleasantly shocked Amazon replied to it within 40 minutes of my pressing that post button:

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 5.49.31 PM

For months, I’ve seen readers and our awesome blogger community post that their reviews were being rejected, removed, with little to no explanation. Common claims were being made which were freaking alarming:

“Their response. They were too similar to other reviews or I know the author personally.”

So I clicked on the handy link Amazon supplied to me in their Twitter reply and read their policy word for word. Here is their “Customer Review Creation Guidelines”

Oddly, in their Guidelines it does it state you cannot be friends with the author.  “For the same reason, family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews for those particular items.” 

It seems the friendship thing is a major reason why reviews are being deleted. Don’t believe me that it’s happening? Here’s an outside article on it: Amazon Blocking Reviews from Authors’ Friends & Acquaintances 

WHAT DETERMINES WHETHER OR NOT YOU AND I ARE CLOSE FRIENDS?

Facebook was created in 2004
Twitter was created in 2006
The first Kindle was released November, 2007
The Kindle App was released late 2009/early 2010

I self published my first book in early 2009 in print, because real paper books were more in demand.

It was only through networking on Facebook I found readers and a few bloggers. I’d emailed numerous bloggers asking them to take a chance on a self-published book. And I did something ballsy stupid/smart – I emailed Jeff Bezos directly and asked him why CreateSpace novels were not eligible for entry into the Amazon sanctioned “Vine Review” program. Due to their response and some awesome first communications with CreateSpace peeps, Love Unscripted was offered into their program. To this day, I’m fairly certain no self-published titles are offered to their professional review squad.

Back then and pretty much today: Without valid book reviews, you are/were unsubstantiated.

Anyway, over the years, SOCIAL MEDIA RELATIONSHIPS went on to launch countless author careers and we rely HEAVILY on those relationships to continue building our reader audience. We have built COMMUNITIES. We have built NETWORKS for other authors to find their foothold. We have created author/reader face-to-face meetings at book signings all over the globe.

And then…

During the second quarter of 2013, Amazon bought GOODREADS, and in the last three years, has amassed a network of readers, bloggers, and author data into their HAL 9000 computer system.

NOW IT SEEMS THESE INTERCONNECTED RELATIONSHIPS ARE A NO-NO because HAL thinks we’re gaming the system. It’s the only explanation to be gathered from a system reply that reviews were deleted because you personally know the author.

Well, some scoundrels out there are, in fact, gaming the system. For the rest of us honest folks (WHO LOVE AND LIVE BY AMAZON by the way), the relationships we’ve built are harming the ability to give an author an honest review.

It’s also been reported that AUTHORS CANNOT LEAVE REVIEWS FOR OTHER AUTHORS. Funny, every author I know is an avid reader. It’s why we fell in love with the written word in the first place. See the news article on that HERE.

tumblr_mxn9oy4c1r1rulnxgo1_500

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what can you as an AUTHOR or BLOGGER or READER do to fix this systematic deletion of your reviews? The power of Facebook networking came though today with a list of things to do:

  1. Disconnect Facebook from Goodreads.   Go into your Goodreads Account Settings and disconnect everything. Make sure you log into Goodreads via an email and password, not “log on with Facebook.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 12.15.14 AM

 

2. Have different emails for logging into Facebook and Amazon.

3.  Disconnect your social settings from Amazon.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 12.13.41 AM

4. Clear your computer cache and browsing history regularly.

5. I’ve HEARD, and this is just rumor, that there may be issues with authors gifting Amazon GIFT CARDS as prizes. That Amazon may be thinking we are paying readers for reviews with gift cards when in reality we’re just trying to be cool and build our reputation as nice, giving, loving people.

6. This brings up the next thought: What about when we GIFT ebook copies and then get a review? Authors gift copies all the time. I have no substantial proof of a correlation between gifted ebook copies and removed reviews, but  there’s always a possibility these reviews are removed as well. Again, just conjecture – not fact.

 

HOPE THIS HELPS. Not sure if it will fix the problem, but we’ve got to start somewhere. My biggest fear is that the data from Goodreads, Facebook, social media and Amazon is already captured, and changing settings now won’t make a difference.

 

If you know of any other tips, tricks, insight, words of wisdom on the subject, please email authortinareber@gmail.com so I can add it to this post.

Hugs and happy reading,

T

  • Vox Libris

    You know, I’ve wondered why my reviews seem to stick, whereas other blogger friends’ get deleted. Now I can see that it’s because my Amazon account is an entirely separate entity – separate email, not connected to any social media. It’s so nice to know that Amazon is trying to protect us from being friends with people.

  • The problem is, it’s speculation. No one has said this is the cause. And there are tons of authors who have everything connected without any issues. If we step back and think about it, it actually doesn’t make sense for this to be the cause. A social media site and an e-commerce platform reliant on social sharing penalizes people for having social connections? Not only that, but how do you then explain those who DON’T have their site accounts connected and still run into these problems? What we should be doing is working together to demand Amazon give answers and solutions to the problems.

  • S Rivera

    My Amazon email is separate from GR and Fb, yet I’ve lost, I think I’m up to 9 now, reviews that were there, but no longer are. I think that most of them are from people who enjoyed my books, so sought me out, looking to connect with me because something about my writing makes them feel like I can relate. I don’t really know them, just a name on FB and we occasionally comment on each other’s posts. Also, I know of about 21 people who really do know me, my sister, a few cousins, some high school friends I knew once upon a time, and even my high school English teacher, who’ve told me they wrote a review, but either Amazon emailed them to say they wouldn’t post the review because they knew me, or Amazon let them submit their review only to never let it go live, with no explanation. I’m feeling like I’ll never break 30 reviews, even though I should have 59 at this point in time. This does not take into consideration the people who’ve never said anything to me about it.

  • I have never had any of my reviews disappear from amazon or any other places, and I’ve been blogging for a little over four years.
    I copy/paste my ARC reviews to amazon, even, stating that I received a free copy in exchange of an honest review.
    Now, I have reviews spanning from 1-5 stars, I don’t always enjoy all the books I read, even ARCs, and I write more than just a couple fo sentences.
    Not sure if this helps at all, of course, but I don’t think any of us really know enough about how exactly Amazon decides what reviews to keep and what reviews to get rid of.
    Good luck!

  • Tonya Allen

    My fb isn’t connected to Amazon, but it is to goodreads. I haven’t been blocked, or any reviews taken down because I’m friends with the author. I’m a blogger/reviewer, but I post the reviews on my person amazon account, we do not have one set up under the blog name. I know some people that have their blog names, either in their amazon name or as their name, have had theirs removed.

  • Angela Kulig

    If several had gone missing in one fell swoop I’d be more inclined to believe Amazon was the cause; as they are known to do it. However, one review is nothing in the scheme of things. The person could have deleted their account. The reviewer could have violated Amazon TOS and gotten their account deleted. They could have deleted their review. One of the nastiest reviews I ever received vanished one day, and I suspect it had to do with the fact that the reviewer decided to become an author herself.

    I have probably had a dozen reviews vanish in five years. Oddly all but one was before I had my social media accounts connected to Amazon so I doubt that is the deciding factor, and trust me as soon as someone does figure out the magic formula, someone will figure out a way around it. Then Amazon will change the system and we will be right back to square one.

  • ButtonsMom2003

    I have separate email addresses for Amazon, GR and FB and I have never had any of my accounts linked. To my knowledge I never had a review removed until sometime last week. I still don’t know why it was removed as it had been up for over a year. My sister recently left a review for the same book (I had gifted her a copy of it) and her review was also deleted.

    What is most frustrating about this is not knowing why. When I get an ARC I always disclose it on Amazon, even if I’ve also purchased the book (which I had in this case). I only found out about the missing review when the author of the book mentioned it to me. I have reviewed other books from by the same author and those reviews are still up.

    It’s also frustrating that there is no way (that I am aware of) to appeal to Amazon to change their mind or to get them to tell you why the review was removed.

  • Shirley Swoope

    I have had my reviews disappear, and I wasn’t friends with the author and I had paid for the book. Totally irritates me.

  • miriad

    That’s so funny, because they hound me to leave reviews on the books i buy. But why would I waste the time when they are only going to delete them because I am a member of RWA and know hundreds of authors personally? It ridiculous.

  • Cherime MacFarlane

    Review more on Riffle and use Riffle more. I tried getting people to use Booktropolous as well…but…Use alternate sites.

  • Thank you for sharing this! The whole “removal of legitimate reviews for undisclosed reasons” thing has been baffling. I just disconnected EVERYTHING. It makes no sense to me that a stranger reads my book, reviews it, then finds and “friends” me on FB because they LIKED the book and want to connect with the author to learn more or to interact–resulting in their review suddenly being considered illegitimate by the all-knowing Zon A.I. and removed. Hopefully, this will help.

  • Raquel Baranow

    Been an Amazon customer since 2004, buy all my books there, found out today that all my reviews (except one from 2004, different email account?) were removed. Very sad, waste of my time! 🙁

  • DjKoolaide Mix

    I’ve been suspecting that it had something to do with social media friends. They are making it nearly impossible for an indie author to get known. Nowadays you have to work 20x as hard. I’ve seen even the most well-known authors have reviews removed. I worked so hard to get what little reviews that I got and they ripped them away from me. It’s like pulling teeth to get a review, even when you give someone a copy after they’ve specifically asked for it.

  • DjKoolaide Mix

    Amazon should, at the very least, disclose why they are deleting each review. For example, “looked just like another review”, or “violated xyz guideline”… at least it would give us some sort of clue as to what the hell happened. As a part of their money-making team, we deserve to at least know. It’s terrible how authors spend years of their lives producing a book, and the have some uneducated idiot or some bot carelessly deletes the hard-earned reviews that help sell the damn thing! Instead of being treated like respected educators and entertainers, it feels like we’re being treated like terrorists or second class citizens. Sheesh!