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As the Author World Turns on Amazon Book Review Policies

By Judith Briles

Amazon: Love it … or hate it … but, you gotta deal with it.

“Why are my reviews being removed?” is an ongoing question that authors ask. There isn’t a live program that I do that it doesn’t surface.

Scratching our heads, few of us can figure out what makes the Amazon robots push the yank button, while others stay.

Book reviews, and lots of them, can make or break the success of a book. When it comes to Amazon and its policies—what we do know, at least in March, is that:

  1. Authors need reviews on their books. Lots of them.
     
    Once, there are 25, the robots warm up. More than 50, expect to see cross promotion: book covers pop up on “like” books … “Customers who bought this item also bought …” meaning that your book cover gets displayed on other author pages.
     
    As your reviews build up (think more than 75), Amazon does email blast, suggesting your book cover with the live link to viewers of the site that have shown an “interest” in your category with their searches. How cool is that?
     
    So yes, reviews do count. Big time.
     
  2. To post a review, a reviewer does not have to buy the book through Amazon.

    One of the myths is that a review can’t be posted on Amazon unless it was purchased from it. Get over it.

    If the reviewer did purchase the book on Amazon, it will be identified as a “verified” purchaser. Meaning, that it will be placed higher on the visibility placement of reviews.
     

  3. All reviews by “book owners/buyers” MUST be a customer of Amazon. Meaning that you spend at least $50 a year buying “stuff” on the site. This went into effect in 2017. Per Amazon:

    To contribute to Customer features (for example, Customer Reviews, Customer Answers, Idea Lists) or to follow other contributors, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card in the past 12 months. Promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50 minimum.

    My two bits: I read reviews online for a variety of products that I’m considering—I read the pros and cons and have posted multiple comments on products that I’ve purchased, including some bad ones. For me, I value others’ experiences.
     

  4. There is a difference between an EDITORIAL REVIEW and a CUSTOMER REVIEW.

    Amazon states that an Editorial Review is:

    an editorial review is a more formal evaluation of a book usually written by an editor or expert within a genre but can also be written by family and friends.

    Editorial reviews can be added by the author via Author Central or the Amazon.com/Advantage page. They won’t have the 1-5-star post.

    And, Amazon does permit payment for editorial reviews.

    Regular readers post a Customer Review and they ones that get the Amazon robot’s attention. A rating of 1 to 5 is added, with five being the highest.
     

  5. Getting Customer Reviews

    There is still a lingering belief that if someone has a “free” copy of your book, he will be excluded from posting a review. Nonsense. If you are upfront that you want an honest review—pro or con, it’s open.

    Get your book out there—it can be an advanced reader copy (ARC) or books you have in stock. You can send them an eBook if that’s your preference (Smashwords.com has an easy window to use) or just books you have in your personal inventory.

    If you give your book away for the purpose of getting a review, ask your prospect to disclose that it was free at the end of the review or the beginning. It can even be in the title line, such as:

    • I received an advanced copy for an objective review.
       
    • My review is based on a complimentary copy.
       
    • The publisher sent me a review copy … I’m glad it did.

    If your book was bought outside of Amazon:

    • I heard _____ speak at a conference and bought her book …
       
    • I was on vacation and discovered ________ in a delightful bookstore on the coast …
       
    • Visiting a friend, she said, “You will love this book.” She was right …

What you should know and what Amazon states on its site:

  • Reviewers can remove or edit their review after it is posted.
     
  • Amazon “says” that just because someone is a friend, or a social media connection, doesn’t necessarily result in a review being taken down. With that said, I suspect that if we lined up all the reviews that have been removed by Amazon, the mileage would be countless.
     
  • Any reviewer can link to another product if it is relevant and available on Amazon. That means your own book or something else you offer. Amazon does love more sales!
     
  • When you offer something for a review, you can’t demand a review (although I’m clueless how the robots know this). If you offer anything other than a free or discounted copy of the book, it will invalidate a review, and it will be removed.

Getting Customer Reviews

The belief is that no friends or family can post a review. Amazon says:

We don’t allow individuals who share a household with the author or close friends to write Customer Reviews for that author’s book.

Sharing the household is easily understood. You and I get what that means. The big divide is on what constitutes “close friends.”

My opinion is that all those people who follow you on social media are rarely “close friends.” Close friends are those you:

  • spend physical time with
  • go to events with
  • have over for dinner
  • have phone chats

… not someone that retweets or reposts something you have posted.

Sigh. It’s a dilemma for sure.

  • Start with encouraging all to copy and post to Goodreads—yes, Amazon owns it, but they are different platforms.
     
  • Second, challenge Amazon.

I love what Rox Burkey, co-author of the Enigma series did. Not only did she challenge Amazon for removing a review of a book she bought, she cited the First Amendment: how dare Amazon void her rights to express her opinion. The review was reposted.

So, what do you do?

  • Don’t have anyone post if they live in your house. No exceptions.
     
  • Check Amazon daily. It usually takes 12 to 24 hours to pull down a review. Check your Book Page daily and copy all of them to your computer. Thank them and say and mark that the review is “helpful”—if Amazon pulls it down—resend to the poster if you know and ask them to alter and repost.
     
  • Give this email to the creator of the review who can challenge Amazon directly: community-help@amazon.com.
     
  • If by chance you get a snarky review and you feel that it does violate the guidelines, mark “abuse” by the review. You can email Amazon as well at the community-help@amazon.com email.

Amazon Resources

If you are stuck … or a tad overwhelmed, here are a few Amazon resources for help.

  1. Check out Amazon Community Guidelines. Amazon has multiple pages with this title. Start here.
     
  2. With the change to KDP, you will be looking for both print publishing and eBook publishing. Start with logging into KDP, and clicking on Help at the top of the page. Under “Promote Your Book,” click Customer Reviews.
     
    This is the space to watch for the ever-present changes. Lots of FAQs and answers are posted in this section as well.
     
  3. Most of us sell books on Amazon using one of their book-specific selling tools: KDP, Advantage, or a third-party such as IngramSpark.
     
    There’s also Amazon’s Seller Central’s Marketplace, which means you can sell books here plus other products. It has its own guidelines and policies.
     
    And if you have problems, use this email: community-help@amazon.com or try calling Amazon Customer Care: 866-216-1072.

Remember, if you stay within Amazon’s guidelines, you should succeed. Yup, love it or hate … but do it.
 
Photo: BigStockPhoto

The post As the Author World Turns on Amazon Book Review Policies appeared first on The Book Designer.

This story originally appeared on The Book Designer

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The 50 Best One-Star Amazon Reviews of Wuthering Heights

Here’s something odd: the major theme of the one-star Amazon reviews of Wuthering Heights is . . . Jane Eyre. Many reviewers seem to have read Emily Brontë’s novel after loving her sister Charlotte’s, and then found themselves disappointed that literary style doesn’t run in the family. Lots of the reviews were actually for Jane Eyre, and several were for what sounds like a very bad S&M retelling of Jane Eyre, which I am now eager to read.

Other than that, you’ve got your typical complaints about unlikeable characters and thwarted expectations (though in this case I have to say I agree—why does everyone pretend that Wuthering Heights is an epic love story? Maybe if people didn’t come for that, they wouldn’t be so shocked), as well as some casual sexism, especially from this one guy, writing from 1999, asking you to email him. And of course, it wouldn’t be a one-star review roundup without some intra-comment brain-measuring. “I would love to do an IQ comparison with you” says one commenter to another, which may be the title of the memoir of the internet. In case you’d like to measure for yourself, I now present 50 of the best one-star Amazon reviews for the no good, very dark, unreadable Wuthering Heights.

[Click images to enlarge]

This story originally appeared on Literary Hub

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5 Tips To Spice Up Your Amazon Author Profile

Every element of your web presence is part of marketing your books. When readers are becoming fans of your books, they'll begin to want to know more about you.

5 Tips To Spice Up Your Amazon Author ProfileOne of the first places they'll learn about you is on your Amazon author profile. Chris Fey offers several tips on how to make that page as inviting and informative as possible.

In June, The Creative Penn hosted me for a post: 5 Ways to Spice Up Your Amazon Book Pages, and now I have the opportunity, thanks to Joanna Penn, to offer another post inspired by that one and share 5 tips to spice up your Amazon author profile.

Every author gets a profile when they sign up for an account through Amazon’s Author Central to claim their book pages.

Author Central Information:

Currently, to update your author profile for select countries, you have to join that country’s Author Central, which is easy to do if you are already signed up with the US Author Central.

All it takes is logging in with your US account info (which they call “registering”), accepting their terms, and confirming your email. The only site this didn’t work for me was with the Japan site. In that case, you have to create a new account through them.

Countries with Author Central Sites:

United States: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/
United Kingdom: https://authorcentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/home
France: https://authorcentral.amazon.fr/
Germany: https://authorcentral.amazon.de/gp/home
Japan: https://authorcentral.amazon.co.jp/gp/home

TIP: To translate pages, right-click on the page and click “Translate to English.”

world There are rumors that Amazon is beta testing a new Author Central experience called Amazon Author, which will let users easily update their author pages around the world, saving authors the time of having to visit each site.

You’ll be able to log in once and update your Amazon Author Page in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, India, and Japan.

At this time, however, there has been no further word on this. To read more, visit this page from The Digital Reader.

TIP: I suggest adding your biography to your author profile on each site and then sticking with at least one or two of the most important sites (to you) for any other updates I highlight below.

Surprisingly, there’s a lot more you can do on your profile than just feature your bio and author photo. Curious? Keep reading!

1. Update Your Bio

What’s so special about this tip, you ask? I did just say there’s more you can do on your profile, but do you have enough info there for curious readers?

Maybe not.

Let’s see:

  • Before your bio, include a shortened link for your mailing list with a call to action like, Sign up for his/her newsletter…or simply: Newsletter Sign-Up.
  • If you have an author tagline, start or follow your bio with it. A tagline is a single sentence that summarizes you as an author and what you write.

How to Come Up with an Author Tagline

book dreamsConsider the common themes in your writing. Example: romance, mystery

Consider what tones and moods you use the most. Example: dark, funny, heart-warming

Do you frequently use the same settings? Example: small towns, Great Britain, the South

Do you tend to write about the same kinds of characters? Example: cowboys, tough heroines

After answering these questions, brainstorm several tagline ideas using a few of the answers. What vibe do you want to give potential readers?

For example, my author tagline is: Thrilling and Romantic with Heroines of Steel.

Why? Because suspense and romance are always present in my stories, and my heroines aren’t push-overs.

After your bio and author tagline, and I suggest a shorter version of your bio (about 100 words), list the books in your current or most-popular series. That way if someone reads the list in your bio, he or she can check out your books at the top of your profile for those very titles.

At the very end, add a thank you message of some sort for the readers who actually read all of the information there. Show your thanks for their visit, their reviews, and even encourage them to follow your profile.

Here is My Thank You Message: Thank you for visiting my page! Please Follow my profile for important updates. And thank you for your reviews!

2. Upload Other Photos

cycling

Joanna Penn cycling down the Western Ghats from Ooty into the tea plantations, India. On a digital fast 🙂

And not just your author photo. When you edit your profile, there is a section to upload up to 8 photos that readers may find interesting, such as photos of your desk. You can also share an illustration that demonstrates a scene in your picture book.

On my mom’s author profile, she uploaded a picture of a teddy bear that is the physical manifestation of one of her characters.

Post photos of things that inspired your story or images of you or your table at book events. Any photo related to your books or your life as an author would be good here.

These photos will be at the top of the page, mixed in with the stream for your videos and your blog posts (US-only), which brings me to…

3. Link to Your Blog

NOTE: Only the US site has this feature.

Especially if you blog about your books or topics related to what you write about. While editing your author profile, go to the “Blog” section and click “add blog.” It will ask to “specify an RSS feed for your blog.”

Old posts will not show up when you add the feed URL for the first time, but it will be updated with new posts.

To Find Your Blogger RSS Feed:

  • Sign in to Blogger and view your blog.
  • Find the “Subscribe to” widget and click “Atom.”
  • The current feed for your blog will appear as a new page.
  • The feed URL will be the URL for that page, copy and use it anywhere that asks for your blog’s feed URL.
  • If you’ve burned your feed with Feedburner, which I suggest, you’ll feed URL will look like this: http://feeds.feedburner.com/WritewithFey
  • For additional blogging tips and tips on using Feedburner see: Blogging 101

4. Upload Videos

If you have a YouTube channel and create videos about your books, don’t pass up the chance to upload them to your author profile, too. You never know who will see them on your profile, enjoy them, and may want to check out one of your books.

Actually, you do know who will…current readers and/or potential readers.

For YouTube video ideas check out: 10 Things You Can Do on Your Author YouTube Channel

5. Add Events

speaking in bali

Joanna Penn speaking in Ubud, Bali.

A small section at the bottom of many author profiles gets neglected because of its location, but the events section is a great spot to highlight any upcoming events you plan to attend for readers who may want to get a signed book from you. So, when you add upcoming events to your website, put it here, too.

TIP: If you only do events located in the US, just update the events section on your US author profile, but if you travel internationally for book events, update the other sites accordingly.

The great thing is, you don’t have to worry about taking down the info as you do with your site; the event will be automatically removed once it passes. One less thing to have to remember.

Finally, when you’re done editing your author profile, in the upper right-hand corner, you can find the link to your profile. Snag this URL and add it to your links on your website, blog, in your newsletter, everywhere.

Also, below your profile’s URL, you have the option to share the URL to Facebook or Twitter, do that and encourage your followers to check it out and follow you.

Now that your Amazon book pages and author profile are at their best, and you know how to update them when you need to, you’re all set to wow readers.

Good luck!

Have you optimized your Author profile on Amazon? Please leave your thoughts below and join the conversation.

Chrys FeyChrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips.

Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips.

This story originally appeared on The Creative Penn