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Archive for October, 2012

Not my precious, precious reviews!

I’ve lost three reviews since last week. One day I checked my Amazon page and saw that Infinite Sacrifice went from thirty-two reviews to thirty-one reviews.

Huh?

This has never happened before and so, I go to where I always go for self-publishing news and advice: the Kindle Boards Forum.

And sure enough, there was already a post up about disappearing Amazon reviews. The person who posted claimed to have lost four reviews and other authors continued the thread reporting their losses and ideas why this would happen.

The theories:

1) Paid review
2) Reviews made from the same IP address as one with financial interest in the book
3) You gave a reviewer a gift card to purchase your ebook for review (considered as compensation). Even if the reviewer didn’t receive their ebook in this way from you, they might have received one from another author, and all of their reviews would be deleted.

4) A reviewer posted the same review on other sites (Goodreads, B&N, Smashwords, etc.)

5) Review left by another author (which I think it completely unfair)

6) That you used your review on other venues outside Amazon (some authors have said that they quoted an Amazon review as a book blurb and then their reviews disappeared.)

7) The reviewer deleted the review.

I couldn’t remember which review I lost (even though I sure did try), but I deducted it was a five-star review 😦

The next day I woke up to another review gone. Infinite Sacrifice now had thirty reviews and dropped from 4.6 stars to 4.5. This time I knew which review went missing. One of my favorites, a four star from a man (very few men leave reviews for my series). This time I could compare it to the reasons above:

1) No

2) I seriously doubt that they live near me

3) I didn’t give this reader a gift card and, since I checked out his previous reviews, he wasn’t a frequent book reviewer so I doubt he’d received a book via gift card for review.

4) This reviewer didn’t post up the review on any other sites.

5) He wasn’t an author

6) I didn’t post this review up anywhere outside of Amazon

7) I don’t think that he did since he only left the review a month ago.

So I still can’t figure out why that review disappeared

By the end of the day, I lost a review on my sequel. Infinite Devotion went from twelve reviews to eleven reviews. It was a five-star lovely and detailed review from a reader who purchased a print copy of my book.

I came up with the same answers as above, except:

4) She did post it up on Goodreads as well.

This might be the reason. Although, many of my other reviews that are still up are posted on other sites. Why aren’t they gone? I hope more reviews don’t disappear from this book since you need ten to run a promotion that I have scheduled to run early November.

When reviewers repost their original reviews, they get a sharp letter from Amazon threatening to take away their reviewing privileges. When authors complain, they are threatened with removal of their book.

I wrote an email to Amazon just letting them know how many reviews I’ve lost and that I’m not aware that they break any of their rules. I told them that I understood that they needed to react to the sock puppet accusations, but that what they are implementing is not effective. That they are deleting genuine reviews.

Here is their reply:

“Hello,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

However, I can tell you that reviews are removed from the Amazon.com website for three reasons:

1. The review conflicted with the posted guidelines, found here:  http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines/
2. The review was removed at the request of the customer who submitted the review
3. We discovered that multiple items were linked together on our website incorrectly. Reviews that were posted on those pages were removed when the items were separated on the site

Further, we’re unable to provide further details about why these specific reviews were removed from Amazon.com; we can only discuss that with the person who wrote the reviews.

I hope this information helps. Thanks for using Amazon KDP.”

Can anyone explain #3  for me?

If any of you experience this (whether it be a review you left or one you received) I think it’s a good idea to just send Amazon an email letting them know that you didn’t breech their review rules and something is not working on their end. You’ll probably get the same response as me, but maybe if they get enough of these they’ll fine tune something so this doesn’t keep happening.

What is going to happen? I worry that people will be discouraged from leaving reviews. The reviews I leave for others, take me some time to construct and if some of them were removed I wouldn’t waste my time to write more. Hopefully, this is a one time witch hunt and not that many reviewers were effected.

But if the three people who took the time to leave my reviews notices that their review is now missing, I want to apologize. I don’t know why they were taken down, but I thank you for letting me know what you thought of my books. It was not time wasted because I cherish every review and hope you are not discouraged to write more.
If any of you would like to read more on this, here are a few links:

http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,129759.0.html

http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,130243.0.html

http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,130320.0/topicseen.html

What about you? Have you lost any reviews (on your books or ones you have left for others)? Can you figure out why it’s happened?

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Aw! But they’re so cute!

There has been a lot of chatter lately regarding prominent self-published authors ( link) and traditionally published authors that have been buying positive reviews by the hundreds or writing reviews themselves. One author has gone so far to write negative reviews on rival author’s novels under assumed names (link).

This started a whirlwind questioning how can we trust Amazon’s reviews if so many are purchasing five-star reviews or fabricating them. Many thought that Amazon should have a policy where there would be a bias to reviewers with hundreds of reviews under their belts. Then the review average would lean heavier towards ‘reputable’ reviews.

I’m glad that Amazon has not changed this policy since I’ve noticed that many of my reviewers (five-star to three-stars) have a few reviews or have left a review for the first time. To outsiders, this may look suspicious, but I know that they’re readers who most likely listened to my plea for reviews in my foreword. When I see these first timers it truly touches my heart that they wanted to help me so much that it compelled them to leave their first review.

Before I published, I never left a review for anything. I honestly never realized they were so important. Of course, I read them when deciding between products, but only now do I go out of my way to leave a critical review. I don’t think it’s fair to judge amazon reviews by how many they’ve left before. Most of my reviews are verified purchases with ‘real names’ and that should sway folks to see that they are not sockpuppets. But even if people thought they were false, I could care less. I know that they’re not and I appreciate each one.
Yesterday, I received a nice review on my second book and I realized what a high I got reading it. That’s when it hit me. I would keep writing, even if I only made back all my costs, for these fantastic reviews. They mean so much to me. They fill me with so much happiness and motivate me to keep writing.

Authors who buy reviews, leave their own positive reviews, or thrash another author’s books aren’t going to get very far. Readers will make their own judgements after they’re enticed to try your book. If you have been misrepresenting your book it will catch up to you. Nothing baits a one-star review more than misleading your reader.
How important are reviews to you as a reader? Do you trust five-star reviews? Are you wary of reviewers who have never left a review before?

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