Amazon recently revamped their review policy…again. Honestly, I think it was a step in the right direction, since there were many, MANY review clubs popping up all over the place. Consumers were growing far too wary of glowing, five star reviews for products. Especially when they got to that glaring disclaimer at the bottom of the review: “I received this product in exchange for my unbiased review.”
Companies understand the power of reviews…particularly Amazon reviews. A positive review can enormously boost sales, while negative reviews can (sometimes) be the kiss of death. I say sometimes, because, when it comes to books, opinions are much more subjective and can vary greatly. For example, did you know that Fifty Shades of Grey, as of this writing, has garnered 47, 0043 five star reviews and 20, 308 one star reviews – not exactly split 50/50, but each are significant numbers. Yet, this literary drivel has sold gazillions of copies and become a multi-million dollar movie. Go figure.
The good news is Amazon’s book review policy has remained mainly untouched. Authors can still offer their books free to readers. What isn’t allowed is offering free books in exchange for a review (ESPECIALLY a positive review). In other words, if you’re an author you can continue offering your books free of charge to book bloggers and anyone else who may be interested. You just can’t state that a review is required. So, be prepared to give out free copies of your book and receive nothing in return.
I get it; no one wants to make an enemy of Amazon. Reviewers who violate Amazon’s TOS run a very real risk of losing ALL REVIEWING privileges FOREVER. Authors who are found violating these terms can be kicked right off of Amazon. It’s already happened to many reviewers and merchants and it will continue to happen. Consumers have spoken and Amazon has listened – make sure reviews are legitimate or else they’ll take their business elsewhere.
What’s the takeaway here? If you’re an author, don’t stop promoting your books with the offer of free copies. There are many, many reputable book reviewers out there who will accept your kind offer of a free book and love your book so much that they’re compelled to leave a glowing review – even without the slightest bit of arm-twisting. Book bloggers love books. Plain and simple and they’re willing to take a chance on a newbie author. That book blogger you had the guts to approach could very well become your next big fan.