Now reviews are disappearing right and left seemingly without reason. Many authors are reporting that several of the reviews that they have received from or have given to fellow authors are gone. And when they write to Amazon requesting an explanation all they get is an e-mail with this quote:
We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product.
In other words, as a published author you cannot review the book of a fellow author because your book is competing with his/her book. If Amazon had asked me or any other Indie author, we would have told them that our fellow authors are NOT our competitors. We are all in this self-publishing adventure together and we support each other. But company policies designed to quell public uproars are not known for the intelligence behind them. They are quick fixes put in place so people in the company can claim they did something and then move on to deal with more important matters.
There is a reality: books need good reviews and they need them fast. The problem is that reviews by what I call people familiar with your work (first tier reviewers), but which other people call “friends,” more often than not include fellow authors. These people are the most readily available and fastest source of good reviews a beginning author can have. Dedicated (second tier) reviewers may take many months to review your book, and third tier reviewers (unsolicited reviewers) can be few and far between and a total wild card. Thus Amazon’s policy of review removal strikes by and large at the most important source of reviews for a beginning author: other authors.
So, should authors stop reviewing the books of other authors?
I think not. This policy is not only unfair, but it also ignores the true bonds that bring us Indies together. I have already explained my position on the so-called reviews by “friends.” I don’t think they are unethical as some people claim. A review of a friend’s work can be as honest as reviewing the book of a stranger.
But what can we do about it? By all accounts Amazon is policing reviews using a bot (a program), which makes sense because there are tens of millions of reviews. So the easiest thing to do is to keep your reviewing account and your author account at Author Central separate. Use your reviewing account to purchase books and review, and your publishing account to publish. Also when you leave reviews do not show familiarity. Refer to the author either as “the author” or by their first and last names (i.e. John/Jane Doe), and if you did not buy the book include a statement to the effect that you received the book in exchange for an honest review.
Finally, when the next moral or ethical outrage comes around, think twice before becoming involved in the screaming. Remember: Amazon may listen.
What do you think?
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