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All Things Writing & Publishing > Amazon Review Policy (as of 3 October 2016): review cannot be required for a free copy

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message 1: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments saw this article https://medium.com/@clintlazenby/chan...

anyone heard of this? the blogger didn't post a link to Amazon so not sure if what he wrote about is true or if he's just trying to get traffic to his own website


message 2: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments I have also heard something similar along these lines that amazon has changed its review policies.


message 3: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments I think the most worrying bit is that we now have to pay for it. Don't they exploit authors already? Sure fleece us some more Amazon.

Do you know exactly when this comes into effect?


message 4: by Denise (new)

Denise Baer | 593 comments Here's the information regarding reviews: https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/abpto3jt7fhb5oc

As the policy states, it does not apply to book reviews.

"The above changes will apply to product categories other than books. We will continue to allow the age-old practice of providing advance review copies of books."


message 5: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Denise wrote: "Here's the information regarding reviews: https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/abpt...

As the policy states, it does not apply to book reviews.

"The above changes will apply to product cat..."


That's correct. It only applies to other product, not books. Books thrive on reviews.


message 6: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments Denise wrote: "Here's the information regarding reviews: https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/abpt...

As the policy states, it does not apply to book reviews.

"The above changes will apply to product cat..."


phew, thank you. crises averted


message 7: by Neil (new)

Neil Carstairs | 53 comments The Review Initiative group on Goodreads has closed due to this change in Amazon policy https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 8: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments it's a secret group Neil, can't check it out


message 9: by Neil (new)

Neil Carstairs | 53 comments The group admin probably change the settings since they announced this.

The issue, and it applies to another review group where I am a moderator, is that Amazon now say that authors can supply books for free but cannot expect or influence a review. Many of the groups on Goodreads operate read to review programmes where groups facilitate putting authors and readers together and require a review as part of the deal. Under the new policy it seems this is not allowed.


message 10: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments oh wow

I guess like how Amazon doesn't provide an option to promote books not in it's kindle select program, this is just their back handed way of making authors voluntarily enrol in their vine program. hmmm


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Under Amazon guidelines any review groups can no longer make reviews criteria for membership or participation in a review round. Authors are only allowed to distribute ARCs of their books with an expectation of a review, not a guarantee of it. This makes review pools invalid because you are required to post a review or you are dropped from the pool.


Leviathan Libraries (leviathanlibraries) This is probably just a pick with language, but what, exactly, defines an ARC? I mean, I've gotten several books for review from indie authors where the book itself has been out for a couple months and they're desperately trying to scrounge up enough reviews/ratings to get Amazon to suggest their book alongside others for readers.

I wouldn't call those ARCs. If Amazon wants to, that's great, but are they? Or is it another case of the little guys getting screwed?

And its scary to get the message that due to a change in our review policy, some of your reviews will be getting removed. (I got that, even though I've NEVER reviewed a non-book item on Amazon that I didn't self-purchase through Amazon.) So quite a few people freaked out.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments ARC is just an umbrella term. It applies to actual ARCs as well as review copies. You don't have to purchase an item through Amazon in order to review it there. You must have made at least $50 worth of purchases at any time to qualify to review any product.


Leviathan Libraries (leviathanlibraries) Tara wrote: "ARC is just an umbrella term. It applies to actual ARCs as well as review copies. You don't have to purchase an item through Amazon in order to review it there. You must have made at least $50 wort..."

That's good to know. Thanks!


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Lilyn G. (Scifi and Scary) wrote: "Tara wrote: "ARC is just an umbrella term. It applies to actual ARCs as well as review copies. You don't have to purchase an item through Amazon in order to review it there. You must have made at l..."

:)


message 16: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14912 comments I wish they changed the payment policy and waived the threshold demand for each market instead....


message 17: by Marie Silk (last edited Oct 07, 2016 07:05AM) (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments This is the line that is most confusing and affects us the most:

Amazon says: Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/custom...

The "influencing the review" part is not new, but the preceding line is.

Then:

Amazon says: We will continue to allow the age-old practice of providing advance review copies of books.

https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/abpt...

These seem to contradict each other. I'm confused and frustrated.

Also:

Amazon says:
To help illustrate, here are a few examples of reviews that we don't allow:

A product brand posts a review of their own product
A customer posts a review in exchange for cash, a free or discounted product, a gift certificate, or a discount off a future purchase provided by a third party
A customer posts a review in exchange for entry into a contest or sweepstakes or membership in a program
A customer posts a review of a game in exchange for bonus in-game content or credits
A relative, close friend, business associate, or employee of the product creator posts a review to help boost sales
A customer posts a review of the product after being promised a refund in exchange for the review
A seller posts negative reviews about a competitor's product
An author posts a positive review about a peer's book in exchange for receiving a positive review from the peer



https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/custom...


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Marie Silk wrote: "This is the line that affects us most:

Amazon says: Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does..."


Yes, you highlighted the part that is tricky for so many review groups. That one sentence actually invalidates all review pools.


message 19: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments So confusing


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Segilola wrote: "So confusing"

It just means that we, as authors, are free to pursue reviews as before but we can not give away free copies of our books in exchange for a review. We are allowed to ask for a review. In most review pools you are kicked out or not considered for the next round if you don't fulfill your reviews. This is now against Amazon policies because it is telling reviewers that once they get the free copy they have to review. So technically we give out our free copies and request for reviews, not in exchange for them.


message 21: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments Ah okay, makes sense but isn't that defeatist?


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Segilola wrote: "Ah okay, makes sense but isn't that defeatist?"

Not really. Authors and reviewers won't pay that much attention to the slight change in wordplay and things will go on as usual. But it should impact how review pools operate. Review groups are fine but pooling is in violation of policy now. I also think it could influence the wording used in disclaimers but basically, not a big deal :)


message 23: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments how do you think the wording would change? what do you think would be acceptable to Amazon?

don't you think there might be an increase in people who have no intentions of leaving reviews asking for review copies?


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments It is possible but no more likely than before because authors are far more aware of changes to Amazon policies than readers are. We are atuned to and react to the meaning of each word. As for here om goodreads almost reviewers are also authrors and are genuinely invested in the process.


message 25: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments hmmmmmmm . . . guess we'll just wait and see


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Segilola wrote: "hmmmmmmm . . . guess we'll just wait and see"

Lol, agree. I'm beginning to feel grateful for how easy it is to get reviews on Amazon compared to Audible so yeah, here's hoping things don't go crazy.


Leviathan Libraries (leviathanlibraries) I changed the wording on all my disclaimers for reviews on Amazon to be on the safe side. I used to put "I received a copy of this book from X in exchange for an honest review." Now they say "I received a free copy of this book for review consideration".


message 28: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments Lilyn G. (Scifi and Scary) wrote: "I changed the wording on all my disclaimers for reviews on Amazon to be on the safe side. I used to put "I received a copy of this book from X in exchange for an honest review." Now they say "I rec..."

thanks for the clarification


message 29: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14912 comments Sounds just semantics, nothing pivotal


message 30: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Nik wrote: "I wish they changed the payment policy and waived the threshold demand for each market instead...."

This I find really unacceptable and tyrannical that amazon should do this. However, having said this, there are some countries where wireless or EFT transfers are permitted. Those writers don't ever bother with thresholds. Why can't amazon use paypal I don't understand. They should pay writers regardless of book sell counts.


message 31: by Eric (new)

Eric Kapitan (eric_kapitan) | 21 comments This is interesting, so you can not flat suggest to a reader to write a review if they feel inclined to do so? At the end of my books, I often post a link to the books Amazon page. Asking the reader to express what they think of the book (good or bad) in a review. Does this mean this kind of thing would not be allowed under this new policy?


message 32: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments The language is ambiguous and that's what is so frustrating. I did not even consider the angle that Eric is mentioning, but I can see how it could be read that way too!


message 33: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Marie Silk wrote: "The language is ambiguous and that's what is so frustrating. I did not even consider the angle that Eric is mentioning, but I can see how it could be read that way too!"

And I still didn't get it.


message 34: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 14912 comments Eric wrote: "I often post a link to the books Amazon page. Asking the reader to express what they think of the book (good or bad) in a review. Does this mean this kind of thing would not be allowed under this new policy?.."

Imo, this should be Ok, for you are not providing a free book in exchange for a review.


message 35: by Nik (last edited Oct 08, 2016 02:12AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 14912 comments Mehreen wrote: "Why can't amazon use paypal I don't understand. They should pay writers regardless of book sell counts. ..."

Yeah, I think it might be worth checking whether it's an unlawful enrichment. If they wanted to solve it they could easily provide credits for purchases on Amazon even worth accumulated royalties.
As it is now, I doubt I would ever see royalties from a few books sold in the Netherlands, Germany, Australia even. Amazon will be keeping my royalties from these countries forever...


message 36: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Nik wrote: "Mehreen wrote: "Why can't amazon use paypal I don't understand. They should pay writers regardless of book sell counts. ..."

Yeah, I think it might be worth checking whether it's an unlawful enric..."


I think indie authors deserve better. They should push for change.


message 37: by Eric (new)

Eric Kapitan (eric_kapitan) | 21 comments Why is that indie authors seem to get crapped on some much? Think about it? Indie filmmakers and musicians get so much more respect from people. Whenever I tell people I'm a self published author they always say "have you not bothered to try to submit your work to an actual publisher?" Lol


message 38: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments Eric wrote: "Why is that indie authors seem to get crapped on some much? Think about it? Indie filmmakers and musicians get so much more respect from people. Whenever I tell people I'm a self published author t..."

LOL

I can only imagine it would get better in future


message 39: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Segilola wrote: "Eric wrote: "Why is that indie authors seem to get crapped on some much? Think about it? Indie filmmakers and musicians get so much more respect from people. Whenever I tell people I'm a self publi..."

And it should. Indie by definition means people who value creative freedom which is the fundamental criteria for any kind of creative endeavour. However, selling self-published books is always hard. Publishers have contacts. That helps.


message 40: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Does Smashwords have a threshold that you have to meet before getting paid?


message 41: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Never mind, I found it by clicking thru the author's resources spreadsheet (even easy on my phone).

$10 total earnings to get paid out thru PayPal; $75 by check.


message 42: by Eldon (new)

Eldon Farrell | 687 comments Is it just me or is it ironic that Amazon has made this change just days before Indie Author Day; something they purport to celebrate?

At the end of the day though, I think it's much ado about nothing. Reviews, while nice to have, shouldn't be the goal of any author. We would be better served by acquiring fans that would provide actual sales for us.


message 43: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2250 comments Alex G wrote: "Never mind, I found it by clicking thru the author's resources spreadsheet (even easy on my phone).

$10 total earnings to get paid out thru PayPal; $75 by check."


And one thing to keep in mind if it matters to you is that SW pays out quarterly instead of monthly. And the retailers they deal with (Apple, B&N, etc.) don't fork over the money right away.

While they'll report the sales within a couple days, the actual financials don't get reported until later. For B&N it seems to be every two weeks. For Apple, they report at the end of the month. Then it takes some time after that before they actually hand over the money to SW.

Not bad in the grand scheme of things, but it's good to go into it understanding it will be different from Amazon.


message 44: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments or we can tell them all to bugger off, develop relationships with our readers and send them to our own websites to buy our books


message 45: by Alex (last edited Oct 09, 2016 10:58AM) (new)

Alex (asato) J.J. wrote: "And one thing to keep in mind if it matters to you is that SW pays out quarterly instead of monthly. And the retailers they deal with (Apple, B&N, etc.) don't fork over the money right away."

good to know. thx!

Segilola wrote: "or we can tell them all to bugger off, develop relationships with our readers and send them to our own websites to buy our books"

true, but, just like in retail, the internet has major websites that garner a lot of (finger) traffic. in the US, a successful mall will have at least 1 major store--for example, Barnes & Noble--to anchor all the smaller ones. in the same way, Amazon or smashwords anchors the book-buying traffic (amazon also has its affiliate program which kind of mirrors the smaller satellite stores in a mall).

therefore, i'd argue that just like for a physical retail store, location, location, location is just as important on the internet.


message 46: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments I beg to differ Alex

We authors have to do our own marketing. Simply being in those outlets does not guarantee our books sales. I know for a fact that every promotional activity I do leads to sales. When I slumber, I get no sales.

Just having my books listed on Amazon does not give me sales. I have to send people to my book page.

Since early September when I decided to sell my titles directly from my website, I have actually seen more sales from it compared to Amazon. So my titles will still be on Amazon but I will send people directly to my website. I absolutely love the fact that I get to keep 100% of the selling price $$


message 47: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) True. I definitely wasn't saying that you don't need to do marketing even when you're on Amazon. Another good data point to know that you're selling more from your own website than you were on Amazon. You must be doing a great job of driving traffic to your website. Ganbatte!


message 48: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 405 comments I just used facebook ads as it's a new website (after all the hacking problems I thought I resolved). so my author website is just to list my books and for blogging. I set up a publishing website to sell my books from. I think the best advantage is that I can offer multiple currencies, especially for those in countries that do not have access to kindle books.


message 49: by Alex (last edited Nov 11, 2016 07:39PM) (new)

Alex (asato) (I'm bumping this thread to request clarification. I also changed the OP's title to more accurately reflect the content of this thread.)

To restate the issue, Amazon states:
"Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review."(https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/custom...)

"We will continue to allow the age-old practice of providing advance review copies of books."
(their announcement of the change in https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/abpt...)
(1) Has anyone had any actual action taken by Amazon yet?

(2) This review restriction does not apply to goodreads, correct?

(3) If you're book is in pre-release is it considered to be an Advanced Review Copy? And therefore you are allowed to require a review in exchange for a free Advanced Review Copy?

(4) Regardless, reviewers should no longer put "Free copy was provided in exchange for an honest review" and should instead not put anything in. Correct?


message 50: by Bob (new)

Bob Rich | 72 comments Marie wrote: "This is the line that is most confusing and affects us the most:

Amazon says: Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as th..."


Actually, that sounds fair enough.
:)


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