Sunday, April 05, 2009
Since breaking the news yesterday about my battle with Amazon over reviews (ones I wrote on books I'd read) that they deleted because I included author of Whale Song in my signature line, I've received emails and phone calls from concerned authors, many who tracked me down via the Internet after reading about me on Twitter, The Write Type or John Kremer's Marketing Tips email. Some authors have already discovered missing reviews; some have gone through the same hassle I did.
The fact that Amazon is now going through reviews written by authors and deleting them if they reference the author reviewer's book title has created a huge stir. People are talking about it, blogging about it, and there could be authors out there wondering why their reviews are all deleted, since Amazon gives no warning before the axe comes down.
I highly recommend that if you're an author you edit your reviews now and have only your name as a signature. You cannot mention your own book title in any review or review comment. Trust me, you do not want to go through the week of hell that I just did. The Amazon review department is only accessible via email.
Amazon's emails gave me the following reasons for my suddenly missing reviews:
1st email: I have checked with the appropriate department and found that all the reviews submitted by you were inappropriate, as a result all the reviews are removed.
(My response: what does "inappropriate" mean and why are they all inappropriate?)
2nd email: We've checked with the concerned department and found that your customer reviews were removed because of the positive campaign and these reviews do not adhere to our guidelines.
(My response: what does "positive campaign" mean and where is this a rule in the review guidelines?)
3rd email: We always strive to provide a high level of service, and we would appreciate your feedback. Please let us know if we resolved your inquiry.
(My response: That's it? Of course this didn't resolve things!)
4th email: We have again reevaluated your reviews and found that you have included links to books written by you. Please note that linking to products you have a financial investment in, such as books you've written, is prohibited. The use of these links, both within your reviews and in your review signature, resulted in the suspension of your reviews from our website. Our guidelines do prohibit authors from posting positive reviews for their own books or negative reviews for competing books.
(Well, at least they were more specific. Finally! Something I could work with. My response: It doesn't say we can't use the link tool for our book title in our signature on the review guidelines. And I've never reviewed my own books or written negative reviews for competing books.)
5th email: We need to research this situation further, and it'll take a bit more time than usual. I will write back to you on April 4, with the resolution pertaining to your inquiry.
(They were true to their word and emailed me on the 4th.)
6th email: We have reviewed your previous correspondences and all the reviews submitted by you. Please know that our participation guidelines don't allow customers to promote their own titles in their reviews. **** The use of the Service for commercial purposes such as advertising, promotion, or solicitation *****
(My response: When I read the guidelines for writing reviews, I read the "Review Guidelines", not the participation one. Shouldn't this be in the Review Guidelines? Makes sense to me.)
Also in 6th email, Amazon mentioned that all my reviews had been edited by them and my book titles removed and that if I did this again I would be suspended from submitting reviews.
7th email: About having "book title" in signature line, I would suggest you to please provide us with the reviewers details so that we can take appropriate action.
(Can I say stunned??? So Amazon now wants me to give them the names of the thousands and thousands of authors who sign reviews with their book titles in the signature line??? Of course my response was, Sorry but I am not comfortable pointing fingers. You'll have to find them yourself. Sorry.)
It was because of the 7th email that I decided to take my battle with Amazon public.
Now don't get me wrong, Amazon is within their rights to set rules. I can't argue that, even though I don't like this policy and I think they're making a mistake. But I completely disagree with deleting authors' reviews without warning and without giving them a fair chance to edit them. I would have done that without this fuss if they'd notified me first and asked me to edit them.
And a note to Amazon: Although this discussion may lead to many, many unhappy people, it is not my intention to bash Amazon. I simply want to educate authors so that they can take action, edit their reviews if they choose and hopefully avoid having this happen to them.
Note: If you would like to quote me (in whole or in part) regarding this Amazon review issue on your blog or newsletter, you may, providing you include the following information at the end:
Reprinted with permission from Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author and Book Marketing Coach, http://www.cherylktardif.com/
Read my original post about Amazon deleting my reviews.
Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention...ha!