Some of you might have seen me mention on twitter that Amazon took down all the reviews for Grudging. There weren't that many, but it still hurts. Apparently, this was done because the people who left the reviews follow me on social media or maybe because they are also writers and more suspect. I didn't give the reviewers copies of the book. I didn't trade a review for a review with them. Heaven forbid, I didn't pay them. I've never met them in person. They aren't family members.
It seems that followers of an author on social media can't leave reviews because they might benefit financially in some way. It's unlikely that I'll benefit financially in any way other than to take my family out for ice cream. Grudging is digital first. It's not going up in bookstores. The publisher hasn't done any marketing to get it noticed. I don't expect to make more than a pittance from sales. How could I manage to benefit other people?
I worked extremely hard to get the word out for Grudging's release. It was all I did for over two weeks and was very stressful to boot. I used social media and the contacts I've struggled for years to create. We are told to make friends because not only is it good to have friends, it will help your writing career. I did interviews. I arranged a book release tour, which I didn't pay for--all reviews from it should be allowed (but one of those was taken down also). I emailed dozens and dozens of book bloggers, telling them about Grudging and how they can get a review copy from the publisher, not from me. I followed in the footsteps and advice of other writers whose books have come out and did the same sort of marketing.
But in the big picture, because of the lack of marketing from the publisher, the only people likely to know about my book are the people who know me from social media--thus rendering all possible reviews ineligible and tainted to Amazon.
To say I'm discouraged is an understatement. It's hard to feel penalized because you have social media contacts.
It's a proven fact that reviews help sell a book. They make people more confident to buy a book. Having more than X (supposedly 10 or maybe 50) number of reviews means Amazon will help promote you by putting your book in their advertising. I worked my tail off trying to find book bloggers who might be interesting in reading Grudging. (Post to come.) I didn't ask for anything other than honesty in their review. (If they don't like it, I hope they say so and why.) In return, many of those very nice people followed me on twitter. I don't think any of the reviews given to me by them will be allowed to stay.
At this point, I feel like throwing in the towel.
I know it's not personal. It just happens that I have a lot of friends from social media, and they are writers. It's a good thing that Amazon weeds out fake or paid reviews. They want things to be fair. I agree that it should be. Unfortunately, that doesn't make me feel much better. Doing promotion for myself instead of my contests makes me uncomfortable to begin with. It's hard to talk about your books all the time. Reviews do that for an author so we don't have to.
I don't know what to say. I don't have a solution. But if you wanted or planned to post an honest review of your thoughts of Grudging to also please copy that review to Goodreads in case the other gets erased. Maybe those will get seen. I want to thank everyone who has supported me and your generosity. It means a lot.
Thanks to everyone that has gotten a copy of Grudging and who plan to review--or already have. You don't know how helpful that is to a writer.
Obviously writers do this because they love it, not because of the money. But it's hard when someone enjoys your story and their opinions are not allowed to be seen.
I certainly don't regret any friends I've made from social media. I'd rather have you than all the reviews in the world! But it would be nice to have both. :-)
This is deplorable! So, we are only "permitted" to receive reviews from complete strangers? That is ridiculous! Thanks for making us aware of this horrible, sketchy policy. I'm sure all of my reviews will be taken down too. It's total baloney.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your support. It helps to feel less alone on this.Delete
I've shared this article widely. I'd only heard second- or third-hand rumors of this before, and was feeling very unsettled about it. This, along with Facebook penalizing authors for nonexistent adult content in book ads or putting them in FB "jail" for posting the promotions on more than one page; and Goodreads not policing reviews at all, so that many are getting scathing, negative reviews before the ARCs are even out, based apparently only on the blurb; makes me really nervous about my release. Being a debut/emerging author was difficult enough without all this.ReplyDelete
So true. It's so much work trying to encourage people to read and to have reviews taken down without a reason.Delete
I'm so sorry! This move by Amazon is outrageous and ridiculous. Don't they realize that the writing COMMUNITY exists? That we are friends, colleagues, associates? That we read and comment upon others' works as part of the effort to improve our craft--and because our fellow writers create some seriously awesome stuff? That we actually haven't met in person most of the writers we follow on social media, especial Twitter and Tumblr? You have worked hard for this book, and I'm terribly sorry this happened to you.ReplyDelete
Thank you. We are encouraged to make contacts with social media, never knowing there's a penalty also.Delete
That sucks for you but also just seems like a bad policy. I follow a lot of people on Twitter who I don't know in real life but appreciate their work. Something tells me they aren't enforcing this policy for Khloe Kardashian's book. Hope you can appeal!ReplyDelete
I do wonder how evenly this is applied.Delete
I hate to hear this, as a reader, a reviewer, and especially as a writer. My debut is coming from a small press next year and this really makes me feel physically ill. GRUDGING is on my list to read (and then review). Not bc of any other reason than it sounds like a blast! When I review a book, I take time and try to do the book justice. For amazon to just take down reviews is disheartening.ReplyDelete
I hope you have better luck when your book comes out!Delete
Wow, this is disheartening. Their policies aren't really designed for artists--are they? I, too, have a debut releasing in the Spring from a small press. And I'm very, very concerned. I plan to read GRUDGING--with a review to follow, because I review everything I read. I'm sorry this happened to you. Thank you for the heads up.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Karen. Here's to hoping the rest of the reviews are allowed.Delete
*big hug* Don't worry, Michelle. Those of us who have read and loved your story will give you the best possible marketing push, word-of-mouth. Personally, I don't tend to read reviews on Amazon, unless I'm looking at nonfiction. From what I've read and seen of the whole "get reviews" process, it's either jury-rigged or nearly impossible to get pushed forward considering the volume of novels angling for reviews. You have lots of loyal followers and friends, you'll be okay. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks Joyce. I'm sure I will be. It's just hard working for days to entice book bloggers to have this happen.Delete
Ugh. I'm so sorry this happened to you.ReplyDelete
I use a personal email for my Amazon account and thus far haven't had a review deleted even though I review people I follow. In other words, I don't use the same email I use for Twitter, which is my "writing" address, and I NEVER connect Amazon with Twitter or FB. I don't tell it to tweet what I bought or anything like that. I don't know if this is why, but I'd recommend that writers do the same. This has to be a computer, not a human.
I'm curious--the Goodreads reviews are still up, yes? They don't delete those?
I haven't been able to review GRUDGING yet (I'm in the middle of the Count of Monte Cristo...so it's slowing my reading a bit!) but I wonder if my review will stick. I sure hope so.
In any case, the idea that writers aren't also readers--and the idea that following someone on social media makes us personally connected--those are both ridiculous.
My Goodreads reviews are still there! I'm thankful for those.Delete
This is the absolute pits. I knew that Amazon did this, and because most of my reviews are from review copies, I've been taking screen shots of the reviews I have. I've heard from Anne R. Allen's blog that you can put some of those reviews into the editorial section, but I haven't tried it yet myself. I don't like that they are penalizing people for having a big social media platform. That's not right. You've spent years building your social media connections, it's completely unfair that you should be punished for it.ReplyDelete
That's a good idea, Rena. Thanks!Delete
Congratulations on your release, first off! And yes, Amazon have absolutely no idea how real communities work. They don't like people who talk to each other outside of Amazon. I had some of my reviews removed too - for verified purchases, no less- and the email responses I got back off Amazon suggested I was talking to people who didn't understand the concept of social interaction.ReplyDelete
I understand Amazon doesn't give much away in their responses.Delete
Hi Michelle, I'm so sorry to hear this is happening to you. I don't know if you already read this post on Anne R. Allen's blog but it's really good (and long) and directly talks about what you are experiencing. I think more people need to write to Amazon and complain. Here's the link to the article: http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2015/11/disappearing-amazon-reviews-facts.htmlReplyDelete
I did read that, Shari. And it helped a lot. I can only guess that the reviews were from twitter followers.Delete
Oy! I've heard this before from other sources, and it truly sucks. My few reviews for TRAITOR KNIGHT (all six of 'em) are still up on Amazon (*whew*) but that may only be due to the alphabetization factor (i.e. they haven't gotten to purging the W's yet). Whenever I write a review, I post it not only on Amazon, but also on Goodreads and on my blog, and I would encourage the writing community to do the same. As indie authors our only hope to promote our work is to build a community and following on social media and via word-of-mouth through friends, neighbors and relations. If those folks are all automatically excluded from being able to post a review for a verified Amazon purchase, than who's left? Generally speaking, it's not like we're in bookstores where someone can see an awesome cover like you have for GRUDGING, fall in love, buy the book, and post a review. Now that I've vented, guess I'd better go take some screen shots of my reviews while they're still up.ReplyDelete
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I'm so sorry this happened! It's so unfair! Writers follow each other on social media. We support each other, as we should. Makes for a less lonely career choice :) I find it deplorable that Amazon is engaging in the policing of book reviews. There is no way this is right, and I would love to figure out a way to fight it.ReplyDelete
I think we all would like to find a way to fight it. Thanks!Delete
So...I follow Pat Rothfuss...so they should take down my review of The Name of the Wind? That's ridiculous. Perhaps it's time to switch to B&N for my books.ReplyDelete
I have to wonder if they patrol the big author's reviews or not.Delete
This is atrocious! It shouldn't be allowed. You've worked so hard to promote your book and do things the right way, only to have Amazon knock the wind right out of you? Totally unfair! I'll be sure to put a review of Grudging up on Goodreads (at least), when I purchase and read it.ReplyDelete
This is total crap.ReplyDelete
Make enough stink about this, urge people to move reviews to Goodreads and you'll see Amazon do something. They like reviews because they benefit Amazon, right, by encouraging sales.
I do hope the reviews go to Goodreads. I'm not sure if as many people see them there though.Delete
I am so so sorry about this!! I feel really terrible that this is happening to you. I'm sure it's discouraging but you really should be proud of your book and social media platform. <3ReplyDelete
Thanks Kelly! I love this book and I believe over time it will get plenty of reviews. :-)Delete
This is awful, and definitely something Amazon should address, though it seems like they won't. I've been worried about similar issues. One tip I did see was unlinking your social media accounts from Goodreads, since now that Amazon owns that, that is how they decide who you know "personally"—easy access to the info about your social media interactions.ReplyDelete
I'm in trouble then. I have almost 2000 Goodreads friends. I hope those aren't all ineligible.Delete
What I read was that they look at your FB friends and Twitter followers, through those being linked to your GR account—not targeting your GR connections, for whatever reason.Delete
My book comes out at the end of December through a small pub and this is exactly what I'm worried about. I've heard a lot of this lately and it's not cool. Amazon should be taking down reviews that were paid for, but just because you're friends on social media? Ridiculous. I wish there was a solution.ReplyDelete
I didn't have this trouble at all a few years ago when my other book came out. They do seem to be more picky now.Delete
Wow! I'm just gobsmacked. I'm so.sorry :( Are they leaving the verified purchase reviews up? Or purging those too? And if you email me, I have a long list of places to market for free.ReplyDelete
I believe they took at least one of those down too. I can use all the help I can get. Thanks! I'll be in touch.Delete
The same thing happens with academic journals. If there is any suspicion that the reputation of a journal is being boosted through affiliation, it risks being dropped from major databases and it's Impact Factor can be affected (Impact Factor is a metric academic journals can acquire after three years).
There are instances of self citations (citing your own work in another paper) and others affiliated with you or your institution, citing your work.
In principal what Amazon is doing is similar and I do not know if the policy is clear within Amazon regarding this.
It may seem unfair and a lot of editors do get upset, but they also understand what they need to do to improve the quality of a journal to have it listed and re-acquire an Impact Factor. In this respect, it is different.
I wanted to share with you that it is not uncommon and I feel Amazon want a non-bias platform. Although all reviews can be partially subjective and objective, those reading can make up their own minds and do further research across multiple review platforms before purchasing. I will certainly use multiple platforms if a book grabs my interest.
Don't lose heart, it is what it is and thankfully, there is more than one way to skin a cat, as grotesque as that may sound :)
Michelle, I am sorry for this sucky situation you were placed in, but thank you for sharing, I've copied my reviews to a folder just in case. Hope things work out for you.ReplyDelete
Really sorry to read about this and I hope there's a positive resolution in the works.ReplyDelete
I experienced this on a smaller scale with a few reviews for a self-pub - reviewers weren't even allowed to put them up, even when they followed Amazon's rules. This only happened to reviewers from my country (Barbados) for some reason.
The magic number is apparently 25 reviews and up (maybe that's change since 2015 when I checked it out) but either way I'm glad you're well on your way back there. It's tough marketing your books on your own, but as you've kept plugging, positive results won't be far behind :).
All the best Michelle ^_^!