The Hard Truth on Amazon’s Book Review Policies

Everyone knows someone who knows someone who thinks they know the policies for reviewing books on Amazon. Well, I don’t want to take the word of Sally’s aunt Matilda who has a friend with an uncle…

I did my own research on the polices. I went straight to the horse’s mouth – Amazon and read all of their rules. Here are the policies all boiled down with direct quotes from Amazon. The titles are a direct link to the specific page so you can read all the technical stuff.

Amazon’s Review Dreams

Quoted from Amazon:

Customer Reviews are meant to give customers genuine product feedback from fellow shoppers. Our goal is to capture all the energy and enthusiasm (both favorable and critical) that customers have about a product while avoiding use of reviews to outright advertise, promote and especially mislead. We have a zero tolerance policy for any review designed to mislead or manipulate customers. Customer Reviews help customers learn more about the product or genre, hear the reasons behind your star rating, and ultimately decide if this is the right product for them or not.

Authors and artists can add a unique perspective and we very much welcome their customer reviews. While we encourage reviewers to share their enthusiasm and experience, there can be a fine line between that and the use of customer reviews as product promotion. We don’t allow anyone to write customer reviews as a form of promotion and if we find evidence that a customer was paid for a review, we’ll remove it. If you have a direct or indirect financial interest in a product, or perceived to have a close personal relationship with its author or artist, we’ll likely remove your review. We don’t allow authors to submit customer reviews on their own books even when they disclose their identity.

The What, How, and When Of Their Review Policies

Directly quoted from Amazon:

Eligibility

To contribute to Customer Reviews or Customer Answers, Spark, post on Customer Discussion Forums, or to follow other contributors, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50 minimum. In addition, to contribute to Spark you must also have a paid Prime subscription (free trials do no qualify). You do not need to meet this requirement to read content posted by other contributors or post Customer Questions, create or modify Profile pages, Lists, or Registries.

 

Now That We Know How to Qualify, What’s Next?

Directly quoted from Amazon:

Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.

For more information and examples, read About Promotional Content.

Customers can submit 5 non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews each week. Non-Amazon Verified Purchase review counts are calculated each week from Sunday at 12:00am

GMT through Saturday 11:59pm GMT. This policy does not apply to Vine reviews or reviews on digital and physical books, music, and video.

When we find unusually high numbers of reviews for a product posted in a short period of time, we may restrict the number of non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews on that product

You may not manipulate the Amazon Verified Purchase badge, such as by offering special pricing to reviewers or reimbursing reviewers.

The Rules of the Amazon Road When the Book Is Free

Quoted directly from Amazon:

Although products may be provided to customers for free or at a discount, and those customers may write reviews, any attempt to influence or manipulate reviews is prohibited, including conditioning any future benefit on writing a review or the content of the review. Benefits include but are not limited to: future opportunities to receive free or discounted products, continued membership in a program or club, cash rebates or gift certificates, entry into contests or sweepstakes, bonus digital content or credits, and ratings or referrals that may affect the recipient’s chances of receiving other benefits.

Amazon Itself Pays for Reviews

Direct quote from Amazon:

The Early Reviewer Program encourages customers who have already purchased a product to share their authentic experience about that product, regardless of whether it is a 1-star or 5-star review. Amazon shoppers depend on reviews to learn more about products, and this program helps to acquire early reviews on products that have few or no reviews, helping shoppers make smarter buying decisions. Customers who have purchased a product participating in the Early Reviewer Program may be asked to write a review and those customers who submit a review within the offer period will receive a small reward (e.g. a $1-$3 Amazon.com Gift Card) for helping future shoppers.

Reviewers will receive a small reward (e.g., a $1-$3 Amazon.com Gift Card) after they have submitted an authentic review within the offer period which meets our community guidelines. This small reward is given to thank reviewers for sharing their authentic experience, regardless of whether it is a 1-star or 5-star review. The nature of the review does not affect the reward or the chance of getting future rewards.

If Amazon is paying people for reviews, why can’t you get a review for free? If your reviews get deleted, I wouldn’t try to use this as an argument, but giving a free copy of your book for one honest review is NOT against the rules.

To help illustrate, here are a few examples of reviews that we don’t allow:

  • A product manufacturer posts a review of their own product, posing as an unbiased shopper

  • A shopper, unhappy with her purchase, posts multiple negative reviews for the same product

  • A customer posts a review in exchange for $5

  • A customer posts a review of a game, in exchange for bonus in-game credits

  • A family member of the product creator posts a five-star customer review to help boost sales

  • A shopper posts a review of the product, after being promised a refund in exchange

  • A seller posts negative reviews on his competitor’s product

  • An artist posts a positive review on a peer’s album in exchange for receiving a positive review from them

What Is a Verified Review Badge?

The direct quote from Amazon:

An “Amazon Verified Purchase” review means we’ve verified that the person writing the review purchased the product at Amazon and didn’t receive the product at a deep discount.

So there you have it. The good, the bad, and the ugly about getting and giving Amazon reviews on free books. Now you have all the information you need to make the decision to offer a free copy of your book for a review or not.

I do free book reviews and post them to The Naked Reviewers website. What are you waiting for? Sign up for a free book review today!

2 thoughts on “The Hard Truth on Amazon’s Book Review Policies

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