For authors, building up a social media presence is key. You want your fans to know when you have a new book coming out or to provide updates on your projects. It is good marketing sense, especially for authors who self publish or who publish with smaller publishing houses that do not have much of a promotional budget.
But those authors who promoting themselves socially could run into an unforeseen consequence… Amazon blocking reviews by those fans, due to the social media connection.
Imy Santiago wrote a review for a book she chose to leave unnamed, and received a warning that it was not allowed. Santiago detailed the issue, which resulted in her receiving the following letter from Amazon, detailing exactly why the review was disallowed.
We cannot post your Customer Review for (book title deleted) by (author name deleted) to the Amazon website because your account activity indicates that you know the author.
Customer Reviews are meant to give customers unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers. Because our goal is to provide Customer Reviews that help customers make informed purchase decisions, any reviews that could be viewed as advertising, promotional, or misleading will not be posted. To learn more about this policy, please review our Customer Review Guidelines (http://amazon.com/help/customer-reviews-guidelines) and FAQs (http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/?nodeId=201077870).
We encourage family and friends to share their enthusiasm for the book through our Customer Discussions feature or Editorial Reviews feature. To start a Customer Discussion visit the Meet Our Authors forum and enter your discussion title in the Start a new discussion box. You’ll find the forum here:
To have your Editorial Review posted to the detail page, e-mail it directly to the author so they can add it for you.
If you believe you’re eligible to write a Customer Review for this book, send additional details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope to see you again soon.
She says that she is only associated with the author in author circles, as she is a writer herself.
The ebook was one she purchased, so it wasn’t even a review copy, even though people regularly receive review copies and post reviews on Amazon without any issues, so it is interesting that Amazon is making the determination that this review is not allowed in this case… an ebook that was legitimately purchased.
Amazon doesn’t make it clear how they were able to determine there was a so-called “friendship”. And it is unfortunate for marketers that Santiago doesn’t detail exactly how she was connected to the author, whether it was following each other on Twitter or being friends on Facebook, so that people could try and reverse engineer how Amazon is determining these relationships.
There is also the possibility that Amazon is somehow mining the relationships between the two parties through Goodreads, a popular book review site and community which also happens to be owned by Amazon. If so, this could have a dire effect on the writing community, many who are very active on the site.
Regardless of how Amazon discovers relationships between book reviewers and authors, it is a dangerous situation if authors must choose between social media relationships with their fans or having those fans write glowing reviews that could then lead to additional sales. And neither situation is good for authors or their readers.
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