I find this incredibly annoying myself. Amazon tells us we need reviews in order to sell books. It encourages us to “gift” copies of our books (at our expense) to reviewers and bloggers in exchange for their honest review. And then it refuses to post those reviews even when they contain the proper disclosure of “I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.”
Even worse, it sometimes purges reader reviews when it suspects the author and reader know one another through social media. Um, how else are we supposed to sell books, except on social media? I mean, really, how deep an acquaintance can I possibly have with each of my 16,000 Twitter followers? This is clearly going too far.
Not everyone gets what a big deal this is. I’ve even heard people say that if we want more reviews, we should simply sell more books to readers – because it’s that easy, right? But how are we supposed to sell books without reviews, especially if we can’t even sell them through social media? Or are we merely supposed to trust that the Amazon algorithms will eventually kick in and provide us with the audience we need?
And personally, I find it particularly irritating that the only reviews that ever seem to get purged are the good ones. Why isn’t Amazon removing the thousands of reviews that say, “I didn’t get around to reading this book. One star,” and “I hate this genre but the book was free so I downloaded it. I hated it. One star.”
This is not merely a question of authors whining over getting a few bad reviews or not enough good ones. The fact is, most of us only sell books when we pay for advertising – and most of the sites that will accept your book for promotion REQUIRE a certain number of reviews and a certain rating, usually over 4 stars. When Amazon removes reviews without good cause, it is therefore creating a situation in which it becomes difficult or even impossible for us to sell books. We pay dearly for that, and even if they don’t know it yet, Amazon does, too.
I agree wholeheartedly that the review system needs reform. If you agree, too, please consider signing the following petition, which currently has over 14,000 supporters. And send a thank you to Jas Ward (@jastward) for crafting the petition and to Claudette Melanson (@Bella623) for inviting me to sign it on Goodreads. Don’t let Amazon, see, though – they might think you know each other!