Amazon Review Message! Urgent! Important!

So, two of my 5-star reviews were recently deleted with no warning.  I have no idea why since they (like all of them) were legitimate reviews.  Anyway, this could turn into me losing a lot more reviews by the time I wake up.  I’m terrified to say the least.

This isn’t anything new.  Here is a link about the situation:

http://tobecomeawriter.com/indie-authors-amazon-removing-reviews/

Big note to anyone who received/won a copy of my book for free.  Write ‘Received a complimentary copy of this book’ on your review.  This is really making me not want to give out free copies or run contests any more.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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167 Responses to Amazon Review Message! Urgent! Important!

  1. zombiephreak says:

    Damn you Amazon! If you touch my reviews you shall feel the true wrath of the Zombie Phreak!

    Like

  2. This stinks! Just one more reason I hate Amazon.

    I buy books and read books based on a synopsis and whether or not it is a genre I enjoy. I can’t remember the last time I read reviews before buying a book. And I buy a lot of books…both indie authors and the well known authors (I read about 100 books a year, every year). And I try not to buy from Amazon if I can help it.

    Like

    • For indie authors, Amazon is the big game where we find the most success. The problem is that so many other authors were pulling dirty tricks that they designed a system that screws over everyone. They trust a computer to handle it, so there’s no differentiation.

      Sadly, I’m stuck with what happens and pray that new 5-stars appear and stay. If I lose a bunch of them and several 1-stars show up then I could be sunk.

      Like

  3. C.N. Faust says:

    Oh wow. I only have seen one review of my books so far that had “Amazon Verified Purchase” written on it. So what does that mean for all of my Dragon’s Disciples reviews? Will they just disappear into thin air? This sucks.

    I am sorry it happened to you though, maybe Amazon should just turn this to our advantage and start letting the 1 and 2 star reviews slip through the cracks?

    Like

    • Well, I zipped over to my review of your book to write ‘Received Complimentary copy of book* at the bottom.

      Apparently, they have no idea how to discover fake 1 and 2 star reviews. They also can’t program their system to differentiate between true and fake 5-stars. For example, the two 5-stars I lost were both from Reno, NV. So, the system ‘might have’ assumed they were connected and trying to stack reviews. The fact that the most recent 1-star review has been around for a while and suddenly reviewed my book swearing to warn everyone about it? Yeah, that doesn’t factor into their minds.

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      • C.N. Faust says:

        Good thinking – I just did the same thing with my review of Beginning of a Hero – I’ll have to remind myself to do the same for Prodigy.

        I just don’t understand it. I don’t know why they would pick on indies when the more good reviews we get, the better we sell and the more change they have in their pockets. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

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      • Well, now I’m hearing that they ban reviews for that. I’d wait a week after Prodigy comes out before reviewing though. They might get suspicious of anything popping up in the first day. Seems this only hits indie authors.

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  4. Wow…that so effing lame.

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    • That’s one way to put it. Apparently, a person can go through a rival author’s 4 and 5 star reviews, report all of them, and then watch them sink.

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      • I’ve been reading through the comments on the article, and its really disheartening. I mean, they should be more forthright about the reason for deleting. I understand- legally- why they have to be careful with that disclosure but the ridiculously vague responses to writers (that in no way answer the question) are unacceptable.

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      • I just found out why and it’s even more ridiculous than I thought. Somebody thought it was suspicious that I had 19 5-star reviews and reported me because they thought I was buying reviews or something. Serves me right for being successful, huh?

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      • What’s the point of doing something well if you’re going to be punished for it?

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      • Sounds like it’s happening all over the place. Amazon has just gone berserk and started deleting reviews.

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  5. Just a quick note cause i don’t have much to add that other people haven’t already said, but on an amazon review you aren’t allowed to say “i got this in exchange for a review” or “i got this as a gift from the author” amazon considers it a bribe and that it may influence the accuracy of the review, so they’ll delete or refuse to post reviews that have a similar line. I’ve had a few of my own reviews removed till I read about it.

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    • **amendment.. even though they say we should post this information, i’ve gotten at least four reviews removed for the reason that they said that… maybe they use it to identify bribed reviews? who knows. I no longer post the information … and no longer have reviews removed.

      Like

    • I’ve seen a lot that have said ‘received complementary copy of book’ on a few book sites. This is just getting more confusing.

      Wish they had a system to get at the fake 1 and 2 stars too.

      Like

  6. ioniamartin says:

    According to my research just now, today was a long day for a lot of amazon authors who had reviews randomly removed as amazon is taking heat after buying good reads. A lot of authors had this happen in the last week, mostly on their most current book.

    I also reported a person who left a review on a friends book and stated they were pissed off about amazon not shipping the book to them fast enough and amazon sent me this “the reviewer has not broken our guidelines and so the review will be permitted.”

    Like

  7. MishaBurnett says:

    Interesting. I have not had a review of my book disappear, nor one that I have written. Both the reviews I’ve gotten and the ones I’ve written tend to be four and five stars. It may be that I’m not selling enough copies that anyone sees me as a threat.

    Like

    • Well, somebody thought I was suspicious with more 4 and 5 stars than negative. Hoping this ends and nothing else vanishes over night. I have enough trouble right now.

      Like

      • ioniamartin says:

        Okay sorry for making this the Ionia rant (I own a rant) but my curiosity is how they tout me as a top amazon reviewer and then remove a review I wrote? Why even bother to put the stupid badge by my name if they didnt trust my opinion? I have a new opinion now but I will be nice and not share it.

        I hope they find in your favour and restore them.

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      • Ranting is fine because it really doesn’t make any sense.

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  8. LindaGHill says:

    That is so sad and scary. Amazon needs to fix this, and keep the trolls out.

    Like

  9. Thanks for linking to my website – I sure appreciate it. This whole issue has been going on for more than a year – Amazon does seem to be trying to deal with sock puppet reviews, etc. but they’ve gone way too far. And unfortunately, the average employee who deals with author complaints could care less. I agree with many that, as an indie author, we need Amazon, but as a buyer, I try to go elsewhere with my dollars. If the bulk of people did this, Amazon might think twice. But since most people don’t know of Amazon’s sleazy practices, and because they can get good deals there, they’ll continue to buy there – and I can’t blame anyone for that :).
    Hopefully things will even out soon, although I’m not holding my breath.

    Like

    • You’re welcome and I’m glad I found your article. I’m really at a point where I have no idea what to do. As evident by some of the hysterical comments of mine. For an indie author, Amazon is inevitable because they hold most of the market. So, it’s one of those ‘what do I do?’ situations.

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  10. Apparently there’s some system they’ve been using on a lot of authors, randomly deleting reviews. It’s happened to several of mine which were from customers who bought the book! I tried to get them to change it to no avail. Finally it just stopped. Maybe they just hit upon your name and hopefully that’ll be the end of it. At least hoping this for you. Paulette

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  11. kingmidget says:

    Knocking on wood … no reviews deleted yet. Problem I have with this is that they publish all sorts of paid for reviews. Ever hear of Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly? I also want to know how they can figure out which reviews are paid and which aren’t. There isn’t a review I have on any of my books that was paid for and if they start deleting any of them … None of them were pre-publication. Yes, some of them are from friends and colleagues. So what. There are also plenty of friends and colleagues who read my stuff and didn’t post a review.
    I have a fundamental problem with paying for a review, which is why I will never do it. I really would love a Kirkus review, but it just smells that you have to pay for it. I also have a problem with authors who get paid reviews or stock the reviews with shills. That said, it appears Amazon has gone overboard in their response.

    Like

    • I agree with you. The two reviews I lost were real because I didn’t pay for any of them. I’m not even sure what Amazon is responding to.

      Even worse, losing those reviews and gaining the 1-star means I’m getting close to ineligibility for that Ereader News Today site you told me about. Was going to sign up when I dropped my book back to .99 cents, but I need an overall 4.0. I’m at 4.1, which is eeriely close.

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      • kingmidget says:

        I’m reading your book. I’ll hurry on up, get it done and post a glowing review. 🙂 It’ll cost you $5, of course. I’m JOKING!!! Amazon watchers. Hello. I’M JOKING!!!!! Seriously, I only post reviews I believe in. I’ll post on on your book as soon as I get it done. Just a lot of other distractions going on.

        Like

      • No problem. Thanks for taking the time to read and review.

        I have a penny. Well, it’s a really a poker chip with the word penny written on it.

        Like

      • kingmidget says:

        If the poker chip is accepted at the occasional poker game I play in at a friend’s house, I’ll take it!

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      • Being told more about this Amazon thing. They really went crazy and deleted a ton of reviews. All 5 and 4 stars. Do they realize people typically don’t read those level of reviews?

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      • kingmidget says:

        Again … I go back to a basic question … how do they know those reviews aren’t real?

        Like

      • Supposedly they use a computer program with an algorithm that checks for certain phrases or to see if the IP addresses match or any number of supposed criteria. The two that I lost happened to be from the say city. Kind of implies a person can’t suggest a book to a friend without risking both their reviews from vanishing.

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      • kingmidget says:

        I think those people paying for reviews should get their money back if those are the reviews getting deleted. 🙂

        Like

      • I agree, but I think they’re taking out more real reviews than fakes and paid fors. A lot of people are confused on this and pointing out that they don’t know the reviewers. I think Amazon should have gone after the authors that openly claimed to pay for reviews. They should leave the rest of us alone. It sucks to play by the rules and get punished for somebody else’s actions.

        Like

  12. kingmidget says:

    Particularly troubling is that a self-published book I’m aware of that I’m willing to bet large sums of money included fake reviews or paid reviews shows they haven’t lost a review today.

    Like

  13. Indie authors with epic material get shafted while the atrocity that is E L James goes unchecked and filthy rich,

    Wonder who she’s blowing….

    Like

  14. Ellespeth says:

    WTF! I’m very sorry, Charles.
    Ellespeth

    Like

  15. Oh that’s terrible, I am so sorry to hear this, I hope it doesn’t keep happening!

    Like

    • Me too. I heard stories about some people with only a handful of reviews losing enough to really hurt them. One guy only had 4 reviews and now he has 2.

      Like

      • That’s so sad! I mean I am all for them removing fake reviewers, but not removing actual reviews that someone too the time to write, a fact that bothers me greatly since I review on their site constantly!

        Like

      • It definitely makes the idea of reviewing anything with a 5-star rather difficult. Even 4-stars are being targeted in this. I’m hoping mine come back at some point or more 4 and 5 stars appear. I wonder if anybody ever looks at a book with tons of negative reviews and thinks they’re ‘off’.

        Like

  16. mrsgillies says:

    That’s crap!

    Like

  17. mrschmoe says:

    Yikes, that’s pretty effing lame. Sorry to hear about that. It could be worse. It seems that self-published who took the time to clean up the writing, got shafted by amazon KDP.

    Like

    • Which one is that? I’ve heard about a few of those stories.

      Like

      • mrschmoe says:

        seems that self-published authors who took the time to clean up the writing, darn typo
        Anyways I think we need create a parody of a song “can’t touch this”.same music, different lyrics, titled “got deleted”

        Like

      • I’m still confused (probably because I just woke up after 2 hours of sleep). What is Amazon doing to the authors that are cleaning up their writing? Is posting a new version of your book a sign that something is wrong?

        Like

      • mrschmoe says:

        I decided to add some lite humour, in the light of the reviews of books by self published authors being deleted by amazon. It’s too bad, I’m tone deaf 😛

        Actually I haven’t published anything yet. In regards to the self-published authors shit happens. A common theme among, I think.

        Like

      • It really is a common theme. It’s like Amazon does something to me every few weeks. It’s always by an automated system too. Well, one was by a human, but every other time has been by a system.

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      • mrschmoe says:

        Anywho, i think we need to create a parody of a song, U can’t touch this by MC Hammer. same music different lyrics, titling it something like “U can’t delete this. ”

        Like

      • We do need a theme song for this. I’m horrible with song titles, so I’m no help. I wish they couldn’t delete these.

        Like

  18. Ah, the joys of automated systems…

    Sorry to hear that you’re having a bad time. Hopefully, this will be the end of it.

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    • I hope so too. From discussions and research, I don’t think this is the first ‘purge’ that Amazon has attempted. Occasionally, groups of authors will come out and admit to paying for reviews. Not sure why they do it or why they admit it. Other times people accuse Amazon of not doing anything about the fake 4 and 5 star reviews (it’s never the fake 1 and 2 star reviews.) Their response is this type of idiocy, which seems to take out more true reviews than fake.

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  19. Saunved says:

    Read all the comments. Isn’t there a way you can contact an Amazon person directly? Or they don’t have this facility? And why the hell are they removing 4,5 star reviews? Damn them! And damn envious people (they are just increasing your sales, but still, damn them!)

    Like

    • You can contact them, but the reviewer has to. Even then it doesn’t do anything.

      There has been a lot of authors paying for positive reviews or getting friends & family to flood it. People were complaining and Amazon tried to set up a system to purge the ‘fake’ reviews. This of course is ridiculous because there’s no way to really tell what is fake and what is real beyond IP address. Not with any clarity. Sadly, they aren’t doing anything about the fake 1 and 2 stars that are left by rival authors or other fan-bases. At least I haven’t seen anything.

      Like

  20. katemsparkes says:

    *snarls and growls on behalf of everyone affected*

    I don’t know what the solution to dealing with shill reviews is, but it’s not this. You had a suspicious number of four and 5-star reviews? Maybe you wrote a book that people liked! Someone should bring that up, Amazon obviously hasn’t considered it.

    Like

    • Somebody who didn’t like it made the wrong conclusions and reported me. I think there should be a window of research in that case because to take a person’s word on that is too much of a risk. I could go to a rival indie author’s page and hit ‘report’ stating that it’s weird they have so many positives. A few might vanish. True, I had 19 5-stars and 2 1-stars, but I’m as surprised as the haters. It happens. Am I supposed to wrack up a bunch of negative reviews to keep myself safe?

      I just hope it’s over and it doesn’t get worse.

      Like

      • katemsparkes says:

        Exactly! It makes no sense, AND it just makes it easier for people to sabotage each other. And who does that, anyway? You get fans by writing a good book, not by tearing down other authors.

        Were those all the reviews, or do you have some 3 and 4 star reviews as well? I guess I can see it being suspicious if people had all 5 or 1 stars (not that it couldn’t happen, just that it would seem suspicious), but if there’s a balance/range, I really don’t see how that raises any flags.

        Like

      • I have 7 4-stars and 3 3-stars. Most people seem to go to the extreme with my book.

        There’s another part of this that I read about. If someone keeps trying to review a book or complains about their review not going up then Amazon threatens to remove the book from the site. First, that’s childish because the author is probably not even aware of it. Second, that can be horribly abused by the jerks of the indie publishing world.

        Like

      • katemsparkes says:

        Seriously! Again, very counter-productive if they’re trying to prevent sabotage. Sorry this happened to you. I’ll be sure not to whine if I review and it gets removed.

        Like

      • They’re not really trying to prevent sabotage. I think they’re trying to make the vocal group of consumers who followed ‘bad reviews’ happy. The truth is that a person who hated a book that another person loved will always think the positive review is ridiculous. It’s how personal opinion works.

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  21. Wow. What a heated discussion. I’ve seen this everywhere now, even on mainstream media (I think, but I can’t remember for sure). A group of unethical, self-published authors is making other, honest self-published authors pay for their review-buying spree. I’m betting it’s the same group who tweets about nothing but links to reviews of their books on Amazon. I’ve also read that authors just post bad reviews on other authors’ work to get their rating down. This is just weird, and horrifying.

    Like

    • There’s no defense against the author sabotaging too, which is why this is even more ridiculous. They can hit the fake positives, but not the fake negatives. Though, I read a new system prevents an author from posting a negative review on a book in their genre. Not sure how I feel about that.

      As for the unethical authors openly admitting to their paying for reviews, there is an easier way to do handle this. Go after them and only them. Sure there will be some people doing it and staying silent, but the alternative is to wipe out honest reviews. It really makes self-publishing so much harder.

      Like

  22. L. Marie says:

    Wow. That’s so awful and so unfair. I’m sorry this has happened to you.

    Like

    • Not just me too. A lot of authors got hit and I’m betting most of them weren’t the ones paying for reviews. I wouldn’t be surprised if the unethical ones avoided punishment altogether.

      Like

  23. OMG, I saw how many e-mails I had and thought my book made it to the NY Times bestseller list or I won the lottery and all my friends and family were dropping by…then I opened them to see the 9 million were to your site, lol. I have to remind myself to not click on send me ALL the posts, lol.

    Seriously though, can’t recall who said this about leave it alone or they might take the book off Amazon. I had over 12 reviews deleted, all valid (I kid you not, my book was covered in a national magazine and main stream press and sales went up so did reviews…). A couple who purchased a a few books to pass around found contacted me that they wrote a review, both of them, and it never posted. They argued with Amazon and Amazon kept saying they’d look in to it. I got scared that Amazon would just continue to delete my reviews and remove my book, so I told them to PLEASE JUST LEAVE IT ALONE. That’s the only place I have mine because I’m with their kdp program. It’s scary stuff and anxiety provoking but what can one do other than just continue on.
    They did stop removing my reviews eventually. Weird thought that they only removed the 5*, not the ones that made negative comments.

    Thanks for the post. Really stirred things up. Appreciated.

    Like

    • I’m in KDP Select too. I agree that it’s unfair that they’re only going for the 5 stars. They are going on the assumption that all of the 1 or 2 stars are valid. Though, I’m guessing it has more to do with human nature. Delete a 5-star and you’ll get an angry author or reviewer. That’s easy to handle with a threat or apology. Delete a 1-star review and you can get a person screaming about First Amendment rights and threatening to never buy from Amazon again. A company will always lean toward saving the customer over saving a mouthy ’employee’.

      Like

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  25. greenembers says:

    Oh, I didn’t see this from last night. I would have linked to it. Will do now.

    Like

  26. Pingback: Why Amazon thinks you’re Stupid (Opinion Piece) | Green Embers

  27. Kira says:

    #$%*&@#$%%$@@ <—- That's what I have to say to that immature jerk that reported your reviews. I mean really are we in Jr High?!? Why the heck is he worried about your reviews anyways? He should just mind his own darn business! Geez!

    Also, I am much like Pamela I don't read reviews when I choose a book. I know what I like to read. I don't mind trying a new author. If I don't like the book I just don't buy another of the authors' books.

    Hey is that jerk a published author? I might go do a bunch of crappy reviews on his books under my real name so he could never trace me back to you! LOL

    Like

    • Apparently, having 19 5-star reviews and very few 1-stars made me suspicious. The guy hated the book and thought I paid for reviews. You know because obviously his opinion is the only true opinion.

      No idea who he is, but I don’t think he’s an author. I don’t think you can review something you haven’t bought. At least that’s what Amazon is saying.

      Like

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