As an indie author, when you have your shiny new book ready to go, who are usually the first people you give it to and say “Tell me what you think?” It is without a doubt your family and friends. I know it was for me. They are going to be the people who encourage you to keep going. they will be the ones to shout “Yes! We love it!” However, you may want to think twice about asking them to post a review on Amazon.
Let me just say this. Amazon has rules. Confusing, weird, ass-backwards rules. But they are rules none the less, and this policy isn’t anything new. They allow people to leave a one star review that says things like “This book is shitty and should be set on fire.” (not one of my reviews but it’s almost word-for-word what I’ve read on someone else’s review page) but my dear old granny cant leave me a review saying how much she loves said pile of flaming shit because she “Knows the Author”. Really? Okay Amazon.The reason people are a bit worked up is because only recently has Amazon decided to regularly enforce said rule. I don’t know why it is that Amazon enforces some rules but not others.
Right now amazon is the biggest, most widely recognized platform for indie-authors and they seem hell bent on making us scrape and claw our way out of their bottomless pit. It’s already hard enough to be seen among the millions of titles on Amazon, now the one thing that seems to really matter, positive reviews, are going to be moderated in such a way that is detrimental to us. I’m not famous. Most indie authors aren’t. We just want our work to be seen.
Amazon’s censoring process isn’t limited to family members either. If you happen to have linked a Goodreads profile to your Amazon author page, you may see that reviews from people in your friends list may start disappearing. In the indie author community we often review each other’s work honestly and fairly because we would want someone to do the same for us. We’re not all conspiring to send a shitty book to the top of the charts although Amazon has no problem allowing such a thing to happen for a more prolific/popular/ author ***cough***EL James***cough.
Is it a war on self-published authors? I don’t know. Amazon has reaped the benefits of self publishing more heartily than any other. You’d think they would be trying to help. Maybe they are tired of seeing titles like “Bear-Shifters Screwing in the Moonlight” get 5 star reviews. I don’t know.
It might help if Amazon were a little more transparent in their decision making process, but of course in true Amazon fashion, details on their renewed interest in granny-reviews is sparse.
So what can we do about it? Not much. amazon dominates the market on eBooks and that doesn’t look like its going to change anytime soon.