UPDATE: GENUINE REVIEWS ARE BEGINNING TO REAPPEAR SO AMAZON HAS BEEN LISTENING :-)
There's been some panic recently with authors and reviewers noticing reviews disappearing on Amazon. I actually shared a post to my Savvy Authors' Snug group on Facebook about disappearing Amazon reviews many weeks before this all kicked off as it's actually happened before.
Many believe it’s part of Amazon’s crack-down on dodgy paid-for reviews, not just for books but all products sold via the website.
Admirable reason. Problem is, many people are discovering genuine and sometimes even verified reviews are going missing. Whatever Amazon has recently developed to seek out dodgy reviews is proving to be a tad over-zealous.
I think it comes down to one of Amazon's review policies:
'In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed, including:
Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative's, close friend's, business associate's, or employer's) products or services.'
And by 'close friend' that can include anyone who they think received a free copy of your book (bloggers, journalists and advance readers) or simply someone who follows you on Twitter or is a Facebook friend. Not good when many authors connect with bloggers and readers via our social media channels.
So for now, until we know concrete reasons why, here are two steps you can take:
1) Be careful about the kind of links you share. Long links give Amazon information which can set off their algorithms. So for The Lost Sister, when I search for it on Amazon the link is mega long:
Don’t use a link like this. Instead, shorten it by simply going to your book page and finding the 'share' link on the right. This will create a nice neat link for you. Or you can delete everything after the first long number. So for The Lost Sister, it’s https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Sister-Tracy-Buchanan-ebook/dp/B0796WD7S5 As always, check the link works before posting.
2. Tell you publisher. They probably know about it anyway. But your publisher will have more clout with Amazon then you and can put in a query.
I hope this helps! Things might change over the coming days so watch this space.
We're often encouraged to ignore reviews. It's all part of the whole 'fragile author' mindset I'm trying to change. And you know what? That's fine. If you really don't want to look at your reviews, then don't.
But don't let this 'hands over ears, la-la-la' approach downplay the importance of reviews. I don't mean in terms of getting amazing reviews. Truth is, the more you sell, you'll often find the worse your reviews get. So I really don't obsess about it too much.
But what IS important is the number of reviews you get. The more reviews you get, the more chance you have of getting your book promoted on sites like Amazon and Kobo, and enewsletter 'services' like BookBub.
So it's important to try your best to get as many reviews as you can. But how? Here are five quick steps to take:
1) Ask your publisher what they're doing to get reviews.
Is your book going up onto NetGalley? Are ARCs being sent to bloggers? In the letter / email your publisher sends to bloggers with the ARCs, are your publishers encouraging people to leave reviews on sites like Amazon, Kobo, GoodReads and so on? Will your publisher be getting in touch with the people who have ARCS on the day of publication to remind them to leave a review? If they answer no to any of these, ask why.
2. Include an 'Author letter' at the end of your novel
Start thinking about this before you've even got to proof stage. At the end of the manuscript you send to your editor, include a 'letter to the reader'. An informal thanks for reading the review, maybe some information about writing the novel then a polite request for them to leave a review after reading the novel. Visit the Resources section to see mine for The Lost Sister.
3. Build your own 'street team' of reviewers
I recommend sending an ARC - or even a pre-proofed copy (eeeeek!) to 5+ enthusiastic readers. For those of us who've had a few books published, you can put the request out via your enewsletter like I did for my latest novel, The Lost Sister. Or you can approach those readers who are regular posters on social media. They get a copy sent to their Kindle (or posted if you get ARCs) a few weeks before publication. In the email you send them, you ask them to share the love with family and friends if they love it... and leave a review. DON'T make this as a condition of getting the free copy, Amazon don't like that! On publication day, send them an email to jog their memory with a direct link to the area to leave reviews (easily found by going to your book on Amazon, scrolling down to 'Customer reviews' then clicking on the yellow 'Write a customer review' button).
4. Don't be shy about asking for reviews
This ties into the author mindset you need to develop, something I've blogged about. Too many authors are scared to ask for reviews from their readers, family and friends. Why? Imagine one of your favourite authors sending a tweet asking politely for a review. You wouldn't think badly of them, would you? I schedule tweets to appear once a week asking for reviews. You can see examples below as well as a few from my Instagram account, which I shared to Facebook too. Hell, if you're really too scared about asking for reviews, just RT my tweets! I also recommend that if you're trying to invite reviews for a particular novel, link directly to where someone can leave a review, like I do for The Lost Sister. To find the link, go to your novel's page, scroll down to Customer Reviews then click on the yellow 'Leave a customer review' button.
5. Be careful!
Amazon has got a lot more stringent when it comes to clamping down on reviews from family and friends (which frankly is ridiculous as many authors are 'friends' with bloggers and readers on social media but what can we do?). My advice? Be careful what link you share to your book on social media as Amazon can track long links. Always use the short URL.
So for The Lost Sister, when I search for it on Amazon and click on it, the link is https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Sister-Tracy-Buchanan-ebook/dp/B0796WD7S5/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1520281610&sr=8-2&keywords=the+lost+sister&dpID=51MGKI5CPBL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch But when I'm going to start sharing it, I'll shorten it to https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lost-Sister-Tracy-Buchanan-ebook/dp/B0796WD7S5 (even when using it to get Amazon Affiliate or things like Bit.ly links). This is where sharing a direct link to where people can leave reviews comes in handy.
I hope this helps! Oh and if you're reading this after 20th July and you've read The Lost Sister, remember to leave a review... ;-)
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