Amazon’s recent removal of book reviews has become a hot topic among authors and readers alike. One of my fellow authors complained on Facebook about some of her missing reviews before I had heard anything about it. I felt terrible for her. I know how hard it is to try to get reviews, and to have even one removed can be devastating. The next day, I noticed that I was missing several reviews as well. Then many other authors started complaining, and we all turned to Amazon for answers, but there were none to be had.
Over the last few days, I have learned a little about this issue from reading and talking to other writers. Apparently, with all of the attention brought about by possible “fake” reviews, a group of authors got together and sent a message to Amazon called No Sock Puppets. On this blog, they asserted that authors (namely one guy) were misusing the review process by using multiple accounts to leave good reviews for themselves.
In a knee-jerk reaction attempt to address this issue, Amazon went through and nuked a bunch of legitimate reviews in an effort to get rid of the possible suspicious ones. Several other authors have written blogs about the incident including Amazon heavy hitter, J. A. Konrath. I really loved his blog and the information it contained (read it here). I’m also glad that he wrote to the powers that be at Amazon because they have blown off the rest of us peons and our requests for explanations and help. Hopefully, they will listen to him since he does have some influence in the world of Amazon. Konrath also states that some of the reviews he has written for other authors have been removed because Amazon is apparently cracking down on authors reviewing “competitors’” books.
I read another good blog by Ryan Casey (read it here). Ryan points out the obvious - good reviews sell books. And, while this move by Amazon will not affect big name writers like Stephen King due to the sheer number of reviews he has, it can be devastating to indie authors.
Derek Blass has started a petition to request that Amazon stop arbitrarily removing reviews. I urge everyone to sign it here. This policy not only hurts writers, but it removes the voice of readers who want to share their views.
Another Amazon rumor that has been brought to my attention is the royalty policy. Currently, self published authors get 70% for books priced at $1.99 or above (depending on the market it is purchased in). In the new Amazon India store, only authors who are enrolled in the KDP Select plan are allotted the 70% royalty. Other authors receive 35%. If it is successful, it is likely they will institute it in the other markets as well. Read more about it in this blog by my friend and fellow author Thomas Amo (read it here).
Currently, I’m in the KDP Select program, but I was going to stop after my initial 90 day period. However, I didn’t realize I was signed up in the automatic re-enrollment program. Amazon kindly imprisoned me for another 90 days. To be fair, I was with Barnes and Noble before joining KDP Select and the majority of my sales came from Amazon even before I joined – a large majority.
I truly hope that Barnes and Noble and other outlets like Smashwords and Kobo (to name a few) can find a way to compete with Amazon. I wanted to leave KDP Select to support some of these other venues because they cannot pose a threat to Amazon without author and reader support.
Sort of gives a whole new meaning to their catch phrase: