Dear Amazon: In Defense of My Review

Dear Amazon,

I appreciate your giving me a platform to sell my books easily. I appreciate your giving me a place where I can “one-click” all of my favorite authors’ titles. You’ve added hours of enjoyment to my life by providing me a convenient place to spend my hard earned cash on fictional stories, makeup and costumes for my children.  I value easy access to Kindle books, the paperback, and don’t even get me started on Amazon Prime. I support you, probably more than my pocketbook would prefer.

Having said that, this doesn’t seem to be a reciprocal relationship. In one month, I’ve spent  almost $200 on products, which doesn’t include the amount of money I’ve spent on audible books, kindle books, and paperbacks. That’s one month from one customer. I am loyal to you, Amazon. I heart you.

But I’m mad at you right now because I don’t think you care for me in the same way. You see, I’m a struggling independent author who published a kick ass book on Amazon (exclusively, I might add) who continues to sell copies every day; yet, you’re making it difficult for me to sell more. (Which, by the way, the more I sell, the more you make. We are in this together.)

Here’s why. As an avid reader, I’ve always been a little star struck by authors. Since becoming an author myself, I’ve puffed out my chest and sent “friend requests” to some of my favorites. A handful have *gasp* accepted those requests. To which, I performed a shocked happy dance each time. Let me explain though, we aren’t friends. We don’t know each other. Most of the time, we have never even had a conversation.

On some occasions, I’ve been included in social media groups where some of my fellow authors are also members. We discuss writing, books, marketing, and many times Amazon. We buy each other’s books when the books look interesting. Let me repeat: we buy each other’s books. From Amazon. From these purchases, you profit as an organization.

Writers, in general and as a whole, are supportive of each other. If you were to look at my kindle purchases, the majority of the books you will find are from authors who I follow on social media. I read their books. If I like them, I recommend them to my friends. I am a respected reader and am a go-to person for book recommendations. People know that I read; therefore, they value my opinion. Trust me, Amazon, you have profited from my opinion.

So here’s my question: Why are you deleting my reviews? Okay, you haven’t actually deleted any of mine yet; however, you have gone through my fellow writers’ reviews and removed some from them. People who have purchased  (from which you’ve profited) and read a book and written an honest review are having their reviews removed because they “have some connection to the writer.” Listen, Amazon, it’s 2016. Taye Diggs follows me on Twitter, but that doesn’t mean I have his phone number. (If you want my phone number, Taye, just PM me, K?) I am “friends” with Author Kim Holden. She has no idea who I am, but she’s a gracious author and accepts her *fans’* requests. That’s why we are fans. Because we bought books from you. We took the time to read the reviews, we hit “one-click,” and we dove deep into their words.

It seems you’re willing to take our money but not our opinions, and that is upsetting.

What you’re doing is putting a stick in the very spokes that keeps you alive. You are the biggest bookseller for a reason. You’re respected and valued by readers and authors alike. Our reviews are selling books on your site. Please, I encourage you to think about this before you remove the next review.

Sincerely,

Mandi Castle, Author, Reader, and Over-spender on Amazon.

Reviews

Look, you asked for it.

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Dear Amazon: In Defense of My Review

  1. I’ve had at least ten reviews removed. It won’t stop. (They were all five star, by the way). And the sad truth is that Amazon doesn’t really care. I called them about it, and other authors have done the same, and Amazon has basically said they’ll just remove their books from their site if the complaints continue. That’s just one more reason that buying to exclusivity can be a fickle game to wage. Amazon has a lot of power and they wield it. They’re not your friend. They’re occasionally your business partner *if* you are making them enough money to be worth it.

    I have the Kobo app on my phone for free and I LOVE IT because I can’t handle the thought of Amazon taking over everything. I feel like I support indies a lot more when I support other ebook platforms like Kobo or iBooks, even.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. *slow clap*
    I’m like you, I follow a lot of authors on Twitter. I do a lot of book reviews, and I’m waiting for the time when the disclaimer of receiving an ARC will also be cause for taking down the review.

    Like

  3. I knew you’d write this perfectly, M. You did so good. Although our hands are tied regarding Amazon, I like what Katie said: if we don’t give them as much power over us (with exclusivity), we open ourselves to other markets AND support Indie writers by helping other ebook platforms succeed. Something to ponder on for sure. I’ve been exclusive with them since July ’15. Maybe it’s time for a change.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazon really doesn’t care, so I’m afraid you are just yelling into the wind here. But there are a few things you can do. First and foremost, make sure you also post reviews on librarything and goodreads (even though goodreads is owned by Amazon, they don’t have the same review-killing policies over there). Part of the reason Amazon reviews are so important is because people *aren’t* reviewing other places. By having more high-quality reviews on other sites, over time we can diminish the importance of the Amazon reviews.

    Tactically, you should avoid doing review-swaps. The rumors that Amazon is digging through people’s friend graphs are completely unsubstantiated, and highly implausible. What Amazon probably does do, though, is notice when reader A reviews author B’s book, and reader B reviews author A’s book, and readers A&B are themselves authors A&B (which they can tell from your KDP accounts, or your author central login, or whatever). I suspect that 5-star review swaps, in particular, are going to trigger scrutiny.

    You also can avoid the problem entirely by just creating a new identity on Amazon as a reader. Just create a second account with a different credit card and gmail address. Buy something (Amazon doesn’t let you review anything until you’ve bought *something*). And then you can review without ever being worried about whether Amazon will make that connection.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry to hear this review suppression is happening. The strategy doesn’t seem like a good way to combat inauthentic reviews. I do think inauthentic reviews are a problem (not just for books, but for lots of products and services on the Web) and that they do ultimately hurt and undermine indie authors, and the indie/self-publishing landscape.

    But there needs to be a more nuanced approach to curbing “fake” reviews then “Oh, these people may have interacted on social media. Obviously we cannot trust them to honestly review each other’s work.” There is the likelihood that, hey, maybe these people follow each other or are friends in part out of mutual respect and admiration for each other’s work. The social circles of writers and artists have always included other writers and artists. And it’s usually the case that someone who produces a certain category of thing (art, fiction, film, etc.) also consumes it (artists are art-lovers; writers are readers; film-makers are film-goers). And sure the danger of people either inflating reviews in the interest of mutual back-scratching, or, on the flip side, of low-balling a rival author’s works to hurt their sales exists, but there must be a more granular and precise way of thwarting those scenarios.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You’re BRILLIANT, and good grief, it’s a travesty that Amazon does this. Talk about cutting off their nose to spite their face, but what a shame, because it’s the authors who really suffer. That said, if authors are beginning to think about looking for other marketing platforms, perhaps they’ll sit up and take notice. You never know. I hope you’ve sent this to them!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds like Amazon is biting the hand that feeds it. Unfortunately, it’s so overfed that it doesn’t seem to care. I just checked all my reviews – they’re still there. I guess non-author types aren’t the target!

    Liked by 1 person

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