The Fault in Our Reviews

How to avoid having your book review deleted

Indie authors rely on book reviews to help sell their books. But Amazon are notoriously strict about reviews. They frequently decline new reviews and delete existing reviews. If you want to help an indie author, it’s important to stay in Amazon’s good books. Yes, I went there! 

Here’s a handy guide to writing reviews that will be accepted. Be aware other bookstores have their own guidelines. I’ve focused on Amazon as they are the biggest bookseller, and they sell lots of indie books.

Image of scrabble squares spelling out the word rules.
Photo by Joshua Miranda on Pexels.com

Check you allowed to review the book

Amazon has a minimum spend threshold you must meet before you can leave a review. Currently, that’s £40 in the UK and $50 in the US. You must have spent at least that amount in the past 12 months. If you meet this criteria, you can review a book on their website. 

The only exceptions are people with a close personal relationship to the author and people who have been paid to write a review. Oh, and anyone who lives at the same address as someone else who reviewed the same book. Yes, that really is a rule, and Amazon do delete reviews because of it!

If you are not eligible to leave a review on Amazon, you can post a review on Goodreads instead.

You don’t have to have bought the book from Amazon.

Lots of people believe they can’t review a book on Amazon if they didn’t buy it there. That’s actually not one of the rules. Some people don’t think they can review a book if they didn’t pay for it, either because someone else bought it or they got it through a free promotion. That’s also not a rule.

Indie authors sometimes give away free copies of their books because they need more reviews to increase their book’s visibility. So if you download a free book, please try to review it.

What you can and can’t say in your review

It’s important to only write about the book you are reviewing. That may sound obvious but reviewers often talk about related things. Like the author’s other books, or a comparable author’s books, or a show they saw the book mentioned on. Book reviews should only be about the particular book that is being reviewed.

If you received a book for free, you don’t need to disclose that. If you were paid to write a review, you cannot post it on Amazon. They don’t accept paid reviews regardless of any disclaimer you may add.

Which books to review

Amazon may decline a review if they identify ‘unusual reviewing behaviour’. This includes posting reviews very frequently.

For those people who read a book every day or two, that is fantastic. It’s also unusual. That gives Amazon reasonable cause to delete all the reviews you have ever posted. Yes, they can do that.

There are two solutions to this. The first is to only review books you bought on Amazon. They are less likely to delete ‘verified purchase’ reviews.

The second is to be discerning about which books you review. If a book already has hundreds of reviews, it probably doesn’t need yours. Please save your reviews for books that are struggling to find an audience. 

If you are keen to share your thoughts about more books, you can review as many as you like on Goodreads.

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