Amazon's new rule on incentivized reviews(And how it doesn't affect the indie community)

By Kyle Perkins.

 

So, a lot of you have been sharing and freaking out over this article which says that Amazon is banning incentivized reviews tied to free or discounted products. Well, you can relax now, and here’s why.

“These changes will apply to all product categories other than books, as Amazon has always allowed advance copies of books to be distributed, the retailer notes.”

Now, while ARCs are permitted, Amazon is notorious for yanking reviews that they perceive to be biased (even when they aren’t), so diligent measures such as regularly screencapping reviews is always a good idea.

Also, there is absolutely no reason a reviewer needs to, or should mention that they got the book in exchange for an honest review. I mean, that information helps no one. Instead, just review the book like you would if you hadn’t gotten it in exchange for a free review.

Ways to avoid reviews disappearing: Do not connect your Fb and Amazon. If the algorithms see that you are friends with someone who reviewed your book (even if they befriended you after they read and enjoyed your book) they may take the review down. Make your friends list private, or at least only viewable to people who are your friends. Phrases like “ARC” or “I received this book in exchange for an honest review” have been rumored to flag the review-yanking algorithms.

So, although Amazon’s current policy change does not affect books, it might be wise to take precautions to combat any future policy changes. It’s already a battle to get readers to review your books. So valid reviews suddenly disappearing can be extremely disheartening.

And a final ‘just in case’ would be to make sure your books are listed on sites like Goodreads so that your reviewers have the opportunity to post their thoughts elsewhere.

0 thoughts on “Amazon's new rule on incentivized reviews(And how it doesn't affect the indie community)”

      • Well, I’m not Amazon and (if I’m not wrong) they are the ones who require that statement, so they would be ones to explain why. But common sense indicates that this bit may help other readers assess the possibility that the reviewer has a positive bias towards the book because of the fact that they received it as a “gift”.

        Also, in the case of books with many reviews, this helps differentiate between books that are truly popular and attract reviews “organically” and books that have many reviews simply because the author has an ARC mailing list. I have seen this logic reflected on reader’s opinions elsewhere on the Internet. Some decry the proliferation of ARC reviews because they “inflate” the number of reviews and they find it harder to gauge what is really popular.

        I am an author and I use ARC lists myself, so I don’t see them in such a negative light, but I can understand the need to mark them as such.

        • Again though, Amazon has no idea if it’s an ARC or not until someone alerts them to the fact. Also, I don’t take most reviews that I read as the real thing, especially in the indie community with most reviews coming from friends and family for most authors. When I see “got this in exchange for an honest review,” I typically still think it’s one of the author’s friends and they are just trying to make it look legitimate, and I’m sure other people think that too. I’m also sure I’m wrong about this sometimes, and sometimes not. Even if there was some universal reviewer standard to show that a review is without bias, people would exploit it, because people are people. Which to me, renders mentioning the ARC at all, pointless.

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