Friday, March 20, 2009

Policing Amazon Reviews

Recently on an author E-mail loop, one of the novelists was bemoaning a review of a newly released book. The problem wasn't that the book was given a terribly low number of stars. The problem was that the reviewer gave away the entire plot, including the final twist--in detail. A novelist's worst review nightmare.

Giving away a spoiler on Amazon is against the site's review regulations. Amazon's forbidden list:

Comments on other reviews or features visible on the page. (This information, and its position on the page, is subject to change without notice.)

Notification that the catalog has typos in it. (E-mail Amazon with the correction instead.)

Profanity, obscenities, or spiteful remarks.

Time-sensitive material (e.g., promotional tours, seminars, lectures, etc.).

Single-word reviews. Amazon wants to know why you liked or disliked the product.

Comments focusing solely on the actors, directors, authors, or artists.

No spoilers! Please don't reveal crucial plot elements.

Phone numbers, mail addresses.

More than one URL.

Availability, price, or alternative ordering/shipping information.

Solicitations for helpful votes.

If you see an inappropriate review of your or someone else's book on Amazon, there are some things you can do. The most obvious is to click the "Report this" button near the review. Unfortunately, however, clicking this button won't allow you to add a note as to why you're reporting the review. The person at Amazon who's reviewing all the "Report this" clicks may look at the review, see no bad language or personal attack and think, "Hey, what's the big deal?" So how to get Amazon to listen if a review is a complete spoiler?

1. Push the "Report this" button simply to make a record of which review you're protesting.

2. Go to the help area on Amazon and click on the yellow "Contact Us" link on the right. Sign in to your account. You can E-mail or ask for Amazon to call you. The author above did the latter, and an Amazon rep called right away. After hearing the author's problem, the rep sent a message to the Amazon folks in charge of reviews. The rep said the review would be taken care of in the next day or two.

3. You can also delete or edit a review you have posted. All your Amazon reviews appear in your Profile. To find your Profile, click "Your" at the top of any Amazon page and then click the "Your Profile" link in the blue navigation bar. On your Profile, you'll find a list of your reviews as well as other community content you've provided. Under the list of reviews, click "See all reviews." You'll see "Edit review" and "Delete review" options for each one. If you choose to delete you will be taken to a confirmation page. Clicking "yes" on that page will delete the review. Your review should be deleted from the website in several minutes.

The vast majority of Amazon reviews fall within the site's guidelines. Opinions are opinions. If someone wants to give a book you love (or wrote) a one-star review, so be it--as long as that person doesn't violate any of the items on the forbidden list. If someone does violate the rules, it's nice to know you can take action.


Holly Magnuson said...

Thanks for sharing this. I HATE it when people give away the ending! I didn't realize it violated Amazon's review regulations.


Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Thanks Brandilyn! That's great information to know!

Anonymous said...

It's very frustrating when this happens on Amazon or in any review. Thanks for posting this. I have had this happen to my book, but I also hope I've never accidentally done that to another's book!

Lynn Squire said...

I don't write many reviews on Amazon, but this is a good reminder. It's nice to know that Amazon will remove a spoiler.

Brandilyn, I wanted to let you know I've posted your blog as an award recipient on my blod. I very much enjoy reading your posts.

Sheila Deeth said...

That's interesting. I'd always wondered if there was a way for an author to avoid that sort of review.

CherryBlossomMJ said...

I cannot tell you how many times I cringe and click off of a page when I am expecting to go and find a glowing review and instead find a completely detailed plot synopsis as well as rewording of the back of the book blurb.

It infuriates me that people do not know the difference between book report and book review. Obviously if someone gives away the entirety of what is magical in the reading then it will not have the same effect and will almost always ruin the novel for me!

More people need to scream at these people.

Thank you for sharing this. Hopefully, people will listen!! :)

Patricia Hickman said...

Thank you so much, Brandilyn as many authors including me have fallen prey to reviewers with spoilers and inaccurate plot reporting. This happens on other sites where books are sold too.