Every author in the universe knows the power of obtaining and growing Amazon book reviews. But the mega-retailer has quietly taken aim at putting an end to some of the review-gathering techniques you may have been using for years. In addition to the obviously outright no-no’s such as loading your basket with phony reviews from imaginary people with throwaway e-mail addresses and their own Amazon accounts, there are more “gray areas” with which to contend these days. In short, to stay on the right side of the ‘Zon’s almighty Book of Rules and Regulations when it comes to posting book reviews (or any reviews for that matter), you need to take into consideration the following restrictions:
- Asking friends, family, and other acquaintances to leave you reviews is forbidden. We can’t have unduly biased assessments of our books on our own book pages, after all! In short, if you know ’em, don’t use ’em. Some of your acquaintances may post reviews anyway without telling you in advance. That’s not the end of the world. Just be aware that that these reviews may suddenly “disappear” from your book’s pages.
- If you interact with someone on social media, Amazon’s crawling bots may “pick up” your relationship (whether real or imaginary) and remove any reviews by what it considers is a friend or follower. That’s aimed at keeping popular authors with large social-media platforms from stuffing the ballot box with reviews from like-minded followers.
- Ask people on your ARC (Advance Review Copy) list and other venues to disclose that they received a free book: “I received a free review copy of this book from the author, which in no way biased or slanted my review.”
- You can’t compensate people in any way for leaving reviews beyond the actual product, itself (your book, for example). That means holding contests, paying reviewers outright, swapping reviews one-for-one, and other tactics aren’t allowed.
What will Amazon do if it catches you playing with loaded dice? They may simply pull the reviews from your page. But if they determine the crime is egregious enough, you could find yourself going to court. Amazon recently sued more than a thousand sellers for promising to provide “misleading and inauthentic” five-star reviews for a seller’s products through a Website called Fiverr.com.