Are you pulling your hair out because—all of a sudden—your book reviews have disappeared from Amazon? If so, you know how frustrating it is to pull up Amazon and see your reviews have been yanked. I work with many authors and hear this complaint all the time. Sometimes authors lose only one or two reviews, while other times they lose dozens.
Every time this happens, authors cry foul, assuming Amazon is evil and they get a kick out of randomly pulling reviews. Although, as an author, I could sympathize with these sentiments, I was also pretty sure this wasn’t the case. So what to do? I called Amazon Author Central. And you know what? Their customer service representative was actually really helpful! We walked through AAC’s guidelines, which helped me understand why they pull certain reviews. I think Amazon’s guidance, plus my insights from years in this business, will help you, too.
My Reviews Have Disappeared from Amazon!?!
Friends and family: According to Amazon, family and friends write biased reviews. Keep this in mind when asking friends to review your book: if Amazon can connect them to you, they’ll pull the review. It may seem unfair but, to be honest, I get where Amazon is coming from here. They want authentic, unbiased reviews. And so do we – the readers. Well-intentioned friends and family might post glowing five-star reviews that merely say: “I loved this book!” While their goals are noble (supporting you!), vague reviews don’t help consumers deciding whether to buy your book. As authors, we don’t like getting 2-star reviews, but remember that readers will likely regard a book page with all 5-star reviews as suspicious. There’s nothing wrong with asking friends and family to review your book, but keep in mind that Amazon may pull it.
IP Addresses: Pay careful attention to the IP address your friends use when reviewing your book. For example, if your colleagues all review the book from the same IP address Amazon will likely pull all of them. I know an author who lost forty reviews because of they were all submitted from the same IP address. As with family and friends, it’s fine to encourage colleagues to review the book, but I don’t recommend pressuring them to review the book on company time or from the same IP address.
Sketchy Reviews: For obvious reasons, sketchy reviews will always draw attention. Amazon often questions reviews lacking detail and is more likely to pull sketchy reviews than well thought-out, detailed reviews.
Algorithm Changes: We all know that Amazon frequently—and unpredictably—changes their algorithms. As a result, reviews might mysteriously disappear for a period of time, only to return later. If you discover missing reviews, I recommend waiting a few days before calling Amazon.
Gift Cards: While Amazon did not confirm this point, it’s something I’ve noticed: if you issue an e-gift card to someone who then buys your book and reviews it, Amazon might pull the review. Why? I suspect it’s because Amazon might view a gift card as a bribe, especially if the gift card exceeds the cost of the book. This is one reason why I now only use the old-fashioned, hard copy gift cards. Gifting an eBook, however, is a different story, and I do it all the time for folks who want to review my books on Kindle.
Amazon Pulled My Reviews – Now What?
First, call AAC and ask them for assistance. Be polite—not frantic—when explaining your reviews are missing. When I’m monitoring books with missing reviews, I take screenshots of the reviews every few days to keep a record and monitor review progress. Reviews often move around the page if readers rank them as “helpful,” so keep that in mind before panicking.
Remember: if Amazon pulls your reviews it does not necessarily mean the review is gone forever. Sometimes the issue can be easily resolved. In the event that Amazon won’t reinstate the missing review, be sure to find out why so you can prevent it from happening again. It’s important to have a good understanding of Amazon’s review policy, but it’s more of an art than an exact science. I agree that their assessments aren’t always fair, but having a book on Amazon means adhering to their terms of service.
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