In response to a number of concerns about reviews being removed from self-published books on Amazon, the company has provided an FAQ concerning its Review Guidelines:
We have worked over the years to make our millions of customer reviews as useful as possible – we’ve added features like Amazon Verified Purchase, helpful votes, and review comments in the pursuit of a system that’s open and flexible and yet structured and helpful for anyone who wants to learn more from other customers about anything we sell.
Over time we have also built mechanisms, both manual and automated, that remove reviews which violate our guidelines. We recently improved our detection of promotional reviews which resulted in the removal of reviews, both new and old. While our enforcement has improved, our guidelines have not changed.
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The guidelines say “promotional content” is not allowed. What would Amazon consider to be promotional content?
Customer Reviews are meant to give customers genuine product feedback from fellow shoppers. While we encourage reviewers to share their enthusiasm and experience, there can be a fine line between that and the use of customer reviews as product promotion. Our goal is to capture all the energy and enthusiasm (both favorable and critical) that customers have about a product while avoiding use of reviews to outright advertise, promote and especially mislead. We have a zero tolerance policy for any review designed to mislead or manipulate customers.
Can you be more specific about what reviews are out-of-guidelines?
To help illustrate, here are a few examples of customer reviews that we don’t allow:
- A product manufacturer posts a review of their own product, posing as an unbiased shopper
- A shopper, unhappy with her purchase, posts multiple negative reviews for the same product
- A customer posts a review in exchange for $5
- A customer posts a review of a game, in exchange for bonus in-game credits
- A family member of the product creator posts a five-star customer review to help boost sales
- A shopper posts a review of the product, after being promised a refund in exchange.
- A seller posts negative reviews on his competitor’s product
- An artist posts a positive review on a peer’s album in exchange for receiving a positive review from them
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Are paid customer reviews allowed?
No. We do not allow any compensation for a customer review other than a free copy of the product (provided up front). If we find evidence that a customer was paid for a review, we will remove it.
Are authors and artists allowed to review other authors/artists’ works?
Authors and artists can add a unique perspective and we very much welcome their customer reviews. However, we don’t allow anyone to write customer reviews as a form of promotion. If you have a direct or indirect financial interest in a product, or perceived to have a close personal relationship with its author or artist, we will likely remove your review.
Can authors review their own books if they disclose their identity in the review?
We love author participation. The best place for authors (or publishers) to communicate with their readers is in the ‘Book description,’ ‘Editorial Reviews’ and ‘From the Author’ sections. Learn more about using Author Central here. We also encourage authors to participate in customer discussions or to post comments on other customers’ reviews. We don’t allow authors to submit customer reviews on their own books even when they disclose their identity.
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My review was removed. How can I appeal?
If you think we got it wrong and removed a customer review that we shouldn’t have, please e-mail email@example.com and we will take another look.
Link to the rest at Amazon Customer Review Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions