Amazon Book Review FAQs

by | Sep 7, 2021

The rules of Amazon’s review ecosystem are always changing. We would like to bring you up to date on the current rules and share some guidelines we have found most helpful for how to get book reviews on Amazon.

Here you will find the most frequently asked questions around the Amazon review process and Amazon’s answers. I have gone right to the source and given you the Amazon rules right from the horse’s mouth.

Can anyone post a review on Amazon?

Anyone can submit a review for nearly any product sold on Amazon, even if you haven’t personally purchased that product. You can also submit reviews on Amazon if you bought the product elsewhere. For books, this can greatly help authors when folks who bought their book anywhere else post a review to Amazon, Goodreads, and other retailers. You can also edit and delete your reviews later on should circumstances (or opinions!) change. 

Should I discount my book to get more reviews at the beginning of my launch?

Amazon’s technical position is that you’re not allowed to purchase or incentivize reviews. That said, there are a lot of authors who offer some sort of freebie reward once a review is submitted. The strategy of pricing your book at a lower cost right at the launch can indeed engender more reviews. You just have to do the work to strongly encourage all your readers to do so!

May I ask people to write a review of my book?

Absolutely! You should be asking people to write reviews of your book at nearly every opportunity. You can even send free copies in exchange for a review (though you can’t influence the tone or position of the review).

Is it true that people were not allowed to post reviews on products that they had not purchased?

That is true, but Amazon knows that book publishers and authors have supplied review copies of books to reviewers for generations. Amazon does NOT allow reviews for products unless the reviewer has bought the product unless it is a book.

Then why are so many reviews being taken down?

Because a year or so ago, Amazon changed their review policies and put the following in place:

In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed, including:

  • Creating, modifying, or posting content in exchange for compensation of any kind (including free or discounted products, refunds, or reimbursements) or on behalf of anyone else.
  • Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content. (Book publishers are EXEMPT to this rule as stated by Amazon above)
  • Reviews may only include URLs or links to other products sold on Amazon.
  • Customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product.

And the BIG NO-NO is posted here:

(No) Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.

This means that you should not ask anyone you know to post a review. End of story. Yes, in the past, Amazon allowed for colleagues and acquaintances to post reviews. They allowed for clients and those connected with your business to post, but not anymore.

In addition, do not offer any bonuses or anything in exchange for a review. The ONLY thing you are allowed to do is offer a review copy of your book to a reviewer.

tbd bab 90 days

So my fans and customers cannot post reviews?

Sorry guys, I know a lot of you have readers who are HUGE fans and stay in touch and follow you online. But if your readers have become close connections online and in life, they may find that their reviews are now suspect. Your fans and clients should feel free to post reviews. But you should not ask them to.

The big line we all need to stay behind is that we should not ask those we know or work with to write a review. Even encouraging Amazon reviews in social media posts can be considered in violation of this policy.

What can I do if a review is taken down unfairly?

Nothing much, I am afraid. If Amazon determines that the review in question violates their policies, they own the site and have the final say.

But that does not mean you should not complain and make a stink! If enough complaints come in, Amazon may change their policies again.

In addition, in the past year Amazon has accidentally taken down all reviews on some books, but they were restored once authors started complaining that their reviews all disappeared.

If a review is taken down by Amazon, keep these posted rules in mind:

  • If your review is removed or rejected because it does not comply with our guidelines concerning promotional content, you may not resubmit a review on the same product, even if the resubmitted review includes different content.
  • We may restrict the ability to submit a review when we detect unusual reviewing behavior, or to maintain the best possible shopping experience.

Does Amazon go over all the reviews being posted?

Amazon’s Answer: Amazon reserves the right (but not the obligation) to remove or edit such content, but does not regularly review posted content.

So there are the current rules and answers to your questions about Amazon reviews. We will keep in touch with Amazon and let you know if there are further changes to the guidelines and rules.

The big things to keep in mind when planning to get more Amazon reviews:

  • Focus on professional book reviewers and bloggers.
  • You CAN offer book reviewers review copies of your book.
  • Do not solicit Amazon reviews on your social media page or website. Suggest, instead, that they post reviews online wherever they prefer to shop.
  • Do not ask anyone you know (even on social media) to post a review. Let the reviews come organically.
  • Work on promoting sales and use ads and keyword bids to increase sales and your reviews will grow! 

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

31 Comments

  1. VJD

    No wonder my user rating is really not that high. Even though I continually go on book-buying binges.

    Reply
  2. VJD

    At least twice a week, I definitely see people violating this rule: “(No) Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.”
    Reviewers will openly state: “We are friends, I’ve known her for 20 years, I was in his class, etc. We attend the same (club, church, clatch)”, even “We are sisters”.
    And I’ve violated this rule more than a dozen times: “Amazon does NOT allow reviews for products unless the reviewer has bought the product unless it is a book.” I have stated that “I picked this up at my local Big Five, or “got this from Walgreens” or Bed Bath and Beyond. Once I even said, “picked this up at a Goodwill”.
    Thank you for this information; I feel like I definitely need a refresher course before I post another review. You answered a question I had about posting links, because there are excellent podcasts out there and sometimes I want to link to their commentary.

    Reply
    • VJD

      Did you mean, “unless the products are purchased FROM AMZ??; (otherwise they couldn’t know where you purchased it) Exception: books) . . . when you stated, “Amazon does NOT allow reviews for products unless the reviewer has bought the product unless it is a book”??

      Reply
  3. Kent Dickerson

    A while back it was reported that Amazon was throwing out 5 star reviews. Is that still going on?

    Reply
  4. Cynthia

    Years ago, Amazon gave us the following information. Is this still true?
    If you would like to use Amazon customer reviews of your book(s) on your website or blog, please send the below information to [email protected]
    1. Publisher name
    2. Publication title
    3. Publication type
    4. Author name(s)
    5. Publication date or estimated street date
    6. Context where customer reviews are to be used
    7. Reviewed product
    8. Date of customer review (mm/dd/yyyy)
    9. Name of reviewer as displayed on website
    10. Title of customer review as displayed on website.

    Reply
  5. Andrew Carmichael

    I’m a published author. To be clear, under Amazon rules, am I allowed to send final drafts of my book to a circle of friends before publication and invite them all to write reviews, presumably five star or better!!!!!) the moment the book comes out? I think many authors do exactly that and are even encouraged to do so by cash-strapped publishing houses.

    Reply
  6. Susan (aka, Suko)

    Amy,

    Thank you for responding to my comment about reviews from fans. I reread what you said in your post as well. It sounds like it’s okay, but subject to possible scrutiny by Amazon.

    I tried to post a review on Amazon a few days ago, for a product (not a book) that I recently purchased. I received a message saying that I was not allowed to post reviews, due to some unspecified violation(s).

    I looked for a couple of other reviews I’d posted on Amazon, and could not find them. It’s upsetting. Those reviews required my time, thought, and effort, and now they are gone.

    Why is it suddenly so wrong to ask others to review your book or product on Amazon, to solicit feedback? It is a request, not a demand, and helpful to others, not harmful. I get that Amazon wants to post fair, honest, “unbiased” reviews, but if they change the rules and over-regulate, it will greatly curtail the freedom, and the desire, to post reviews. That will be a big loss for all.

    Reply
  7. Susan (aka, Suko)

    Amy,

    Thank you very much for this post. The changes on Amazon are troubling. I still have a lot of questions, but I suppose I will need to see what happens next. I will share some thoughts here.

    I’ve been book blogging for 10+ years, and have Amazon links throughout my blog. I chose to have links to Amazon because I’ve been a huge fan of Amazon for years. I haven’t posted that many reviews of books on Amazon (because I don’t like to repeat what I already have on my blog, Suko’s Notebook), but I’ve posted some. I’ve also posted reviews of miscellaneous other items. This is the Age of Reviews, after all. Reviews help us make informed buying decisions. I rely on reviews.

    So, if I have become a fan of an author’s work, I cannot post a review? That doesn’t make sense. Are all positive reviews now suspect? Reviews are by nature subjective, unless uber- rigid guidelines are followed by professionals (and even then, I’d wonder). What’s next? Will I not be allowed to post pics of food on Instagram from restaurants that I frequent, because I may get to know the manger or owner, as a result of my return visits?! (Just for the record, I don’t get free food.)

    I think that we should have the freedom to post our reviews without so many constraints, and trust that readers of reviews are discerning.

    Thank you for reading! I’d love to get some feedback.

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      If you are a fan of an author you can ABSOLUTELY write a review. All I was trying to say is that some people are finding that their reviews are unfairly being targetted as a “review by a friend” and pulled down. It is NOT something that happens often, but when it does, it really does sting.

      Reply
      • JJ Toner

        It’s probably a good idea to keep a copy of reader reviews in case they get zapped by Am. Can these be used under some ‘fair usage’ rule in our websites or wherever?

        Reply
  8. Evelyn Krieger

    I had no idea that Amazon had this policy about no reviews from people you know well. The problem is how is this determined? Are your blog followers friends? What about a penpal you’ve never met? A new acquaintance at a conference. There’s gray area here. Why is Amazon picking on authors and books, after all there is a lot of subjectivity here. What about the products that can be harmful or a waste of money if you buy them after a bogus review? That’s certainly happened to me. I’ve never returned a book because all the reviews were good and I didn’t like it.

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      It is weird that books are getting so much attention, but we are just victims of Amazon’s crusade to keep reviews clean and above suspicion.

      Reply
  9. Brad Carl

    All good info, Amy. Thank you very much for the post. I will say, Amazon disgusts me in many ways, and pulling down perfectly legit reviews is #1 on the list. They move quickly and without explanation to the author. When you ask them what happened and why a review was taken down, they cannot give you an answer.

    I ask everyone, how is that fair when reviews weigh so heavily on the visibility of our books on Amazon? You want to take down reviews, Amazon? Fine. You have the right. But you OWE it to the authors (or sellers) to be able to TELL THEM WHAT HAPPENED AND WHY. Not being able to do so is wrong. Period.

    And how ironic is it that they move so quickly to yank a review on their own misguided and confusing terms and yet, when you request they do something about a junk review, they move at a snail’s pace?

    They have become the big brother of the online retail world. Taking down reviews from people that I allegedly “know too well, personally”? Oh yeah? And how did you get that information, Amazon? Online surveillance? George Orwell would nod in approval.

    Off my soapbox now. But still disturbed by Amazon’s stupidity.

    Reply
  10. Stephanie Danielson

    Very helpful! I didn’t know some of this; most of my reviewers are going off of ARC copies…so that helps tremendously.

    Reply
  11. JoHannah Reardon

    This is very helpful. My one remaining question is: Should we ask those we’ve given a review copy to mention that in a review? It seems from what you’ve said that they shouldn’t mention that.

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      It is up to each reviewer to mention how they got the copy if they wish. Some reviewers have a policy that they will always mention it. Some do not. It is up to them.

      Reply
  12. Anne Cater

    The majority of Book Bloggers are NOT paid.
    I’ve been reviewing books on my blog for eight years and have never been paid, nor do I want to be.

    Amazon DO allow reviews of products not bought from them. I’m an Amazon Top Reviewer and regularly review products (not just books) on their site that I’ve bought elsewhere

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      You are completely right! Amazon allows people to write reviews of products that they BOUGHT elsewhere. But Amazon states that they are not allowed to review products that were given to them by the manufacturer. (Books being the exception). Sorry for the confusion.

      Reply
  13. Ronald J. Kule

    Well, your post here is certainly enlightening, Amy. All of your posts are effective. BTW, I wrote you over in LinkedIn, asking for full-services rates, but you have not gotten back to me with those figure(s) in a while. I have a partner willing to explore hiring your services in my behalf.

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      Hi Ronald, I would be happy to discuss. Thanks for the heads up.

      Reply
  14. sally cronin

    Thanks Amy for the clear cut and helpful breakdown. It is difficult if you want to post on another country’s Amazon which is a shame.. I used to be able to add my reviews to both. It is a pity that the money you spend on one site is not counted against the other. However, at least for the time being Goodreads is still a place you can write a review without buying the book, but since Amazon owns Goodreads, it will be interesting to see how long that lasts. They do need to remember that they are a bookseller and that they get paid commission by the authors on their shelves. Whilst I do not agree with buying reviews, the majority of my contacts online, who buy my books are fellow authors and as I promote books regularly on my site, there is going to be a very wide grey area.

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      I have seen a number of my fellow authors and book industry pals try to leave a review of my book only to be blocked. Such a weird “grey area” ( I love that visual) to be stuck in.

      Reply
  15. Amy Collins

    JJ. Amazon will address an unfair review. I have seen them take down many reviews that say that they could not get the book or wrote a one Star because of delivery issues.

    BUT Amazon does not move fast on these and many many times you are dealing with a computer-driven checking system. So if they deny your request, you will need to escalate.

    My advice is to not spend a lot of time on a one Star review that says that the review is not about the book. People will read that and not take it to heart. Consumers are savvy nowadays.

    And you will get “unfair” low star reviews. It happens. Keep focusing on getting more 4 star reviews and the few low-Stars will fade to the background.

    Reply
  16. Frances Caballo

    Amy, this is an excellent explanation on a topic that all writers worry about. I love how you laid out the questions and answers and explained what authors can and can’t do to expand reviews of their books. Kudos to you.

    Reply
      • Theo

        Hello,
        I’m a new author and I recently published a self help book last month.I got 5 reviews so far and 4 of them are 4 stars and I only got 1 5 star review.I feel bad.I don’t understand why Im not getting more 5 star reviews like other authors.Does this mean my book is bad?Also I didnt tell my family or friends about the book.But what if they still find out without me telling them and write a amazon review saying they know me.Will Amazon ban me?
        Thank you
        Theo

        Reply
  17. JJ Toner

    Hi Amy, What about 1-star reviews from trolls, attacking an author in person? Or 1-star reviews that say: ‘I haven’t read this book’ or ‘I couldn’t download the book’? What is Amazon’s policy wrt these?

    Reply
    • Amy Collins

      JJ. Amazon will address an unfair review. I have seen them take down many reviews that say that they could not get the book or wrote a one Star because of delivery issues.

      BUT Amazon does not move fast on these and many many times you are dealing with a computer-driven checking system. So if they deny your request, you will need to escalate.

      My advice is to not spend a lot of time on a one Star review that says that the review is not about the book. People will read that and not take it to heart. Consumers are savvy nowadays.

      And you will get “unfair” low star reviews. It happens. Keep focusing on getting more 4 star reviews and the few low-Stars will fade to the background.

      Reply
  18. Bobby R Treat

    We’re not supposed to offer compensation, but we ARE encouraged to focus on professional book reviewers and bloggers. Professional = paid, no?

    And this: “”This means that you should not ask anyone you know to post a review. End of story.” Nope. That’s not what the Amazon quote says at all. It says NO advertising or promotion.

    The post is full of contradictions and euphemistic re-interpretations.

    Reply
  19. Amy Collins

    I can see why it is so frustrating. Professional book reviewers and bloggers DO get paid for their time and work, but not by the author. The compensation does not come from the publishers or authors. That is the big difference.

    And Amazon does state on their site that we are not allowed to solicit reviews, even indirectly. “content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed”

    I used the definition of solicitation to include “asking” for a review.

    With all the changes and confusion, I will keep digging to see if I can get more clarity from Amazon.

    Reply
  20. Amy Collins

    I can see why it is so frustrating. Professional book reviewers and bloggers DO get paid for their time and work, but not by the author. The compensation does not come from the publishers or authors. That is the big difference.

    And Amazon does state on their site that we are not allowed to solicit reviews, even indirectly. “content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed”

    I used the definition of solicitation to include “asking” for a review.

    With all the changes and confusion, I will keep digging to see if I can get more clarity from Amazon.

    Reply

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