Notice: Amazon Review Update for Authors
As a published author and someone who helps writers become published authors through publishing sites such as Amazon Kindle and CreateSpace, I am always watchful and mindful of the latest news that concerns authors. On October 3, 2016, Amazon issued an update to the policy they hold for ratings, rankings and customer reviews. Rather than paraphrasing this latest announcement for you, I thought it best to show you the update in Amazon’s words.
Update on Customer Reviews for Amazon Authors
October 3, 2016
Customer reviews are one of the most valuable tools we offer customers for making informed purchase decisions, and we work hard to make sure they are doing their job. In just the past year, we’ve improved review ratings by introducing a machine learned algorithm that gives more weight to newer, more helpful reviews; applying stricter criteria to qualify for the Amazon verified purchase badge; and suspending, banning or suing thousands of individuals for attempting to manipulate reviews.
Our community guidelines have always prohibited compensation for reviews, with an exception – reviewers could post a review in exchange for a free or discounted product as long as they disclosed that fact. These so-called ‘incentivized reviews’ make up only a tiny fraction of the tens of millions of reviews on Amazon, and when done carefully, they can be helpful to customers by providing a foundation of reviews for new or less well-known products.
Today, we updated the community guidelines to prohibit incentivized reviews unless they are facilitated through the Amazon Vine program. We launched Vine several years ago to carefully facilitate these kinds of reviews and have been happy with feedback from customers and vendors. Here’s how Vine works: Amazon – not the vendor or seller – identifies and invites trusted and helpful reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release products; we do not incentivize positive star ratings, attempt to influence the content of reviews, or even require a review to be written; and we limit the total number of Vine reviews that we display for each product. Vine has important controls in place and has proven to be especially valuable for getting early reviews on new products that have not yet been able to generate enough sales to have significant numbers of organic reviews. We also have ideas for how to continue to make Vine an even more useful program going forward. Details on that as we have them.
The above changes will apply to product categories other than books. We will continue to allow the age-old practice of providing advance review copies of books.
– Chee Chew, VP, Customer Experience
My Note to All Authors
Beware of internet marketers who try to sell you software that will show you how to contact reviewers to get someone to review your book. If you do not play by Amazon’s rules, your account could be suspended. Please be mindful. Natural reviews are best. Don’t become someone who is so eager to get reviews for your books that you jeopardize your chances of losing your Amazon account just because you are greedy. Those people who want to sell you quick tips, tricks, schemes, and software tools to game the system are not the ones losing their accounts.
Please comment below about your thoughts on this. Thanks.