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Guest Post by Randy Ingermanson on Marketing: Amazon’s Crackdown

Recently Amazon seems to have begun a crackdown on authors in an attempt to root out illegitimate reviews.

I had been hearing isolated reports about this for months, but lately I’ve seen an uptick in complaints from authors that Amazon is sending out scary letters.

The Scary Email:

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Typically, an author gets a form email out of the blue from Amazon that begins like this: “We understand that you may have manipulated product reviews.”

The letter goes on to explain that Amazon does not allow authors to manipulate product reviews.

The letter includes a link to a frequently-asked-questions page on Amazon about reviews .

It also includes a link to Amazon’s anti-manipulation policy.

The letter closes with a threat that Amazon may close the author’s publishing account “if the problem continues.”

Note how vague this is. What’s missing is any explanation of what the author might have done that’s wrong.

Obviously, an author who gets an email like this is going to have a stressful day. Most authors are honest and can’t imagine how they might have been manipulating reviews. And when they ask Amazon what they’ve done wrong, they get the unhelpful response that they’ve violated the terms of service.

It’s very hard to know why this is happening. The information I’m seeing is confusing and incomplete.

My read on the situation is the following (and this is a guess, because it’s impossible to know): Amazon knows that some authors are buying fake reviews. This has been an ongoing problem, and it’s serious. Fake reviews damage the credibility of all reviews. Amazon is a big corporation with a lot to lose when their review system loses credibility. So they set up a system to look for red flags and send warning emails to authors that might be cheating. It’s not clear if this system is fully automated, or whether there are humans involved. It appears that the system is wired a bit too tight right now—it’s sending out warnings to honest authors.

Red Flags For Reviews

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I’ve read through Amazon’s guidelines for reviewers and for authors. Here are some of the most common issues to be wary of, because they’re red flags for Amazon. Some of these are obviously dishonest. Others merely violate Amazon’s Terms of Service.

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An Open Letter to Nancy Drew @HerInteractive

Dear Nancy Drew,

I am a huge Emma Watson fan. I love just about everything she does, especially on the gender equality front. Seeing a sneak peek of her role as Belle in Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast got me thinking about what female character influenced me the most growing up.

To my surprise, it wasn’t Belle. It wasn’t even Hermoine.

It was you.


Thank you for teaching me I didn’t have to love the boring books my mom wanted me to read, like Jane Eyre or A Tale of Two Cities, in order to love reading. I mean, somebody else loved artifacts and archeology as much as I did!

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My 2016 Creative Goals

Can you believe we’re almost halfway into January already??

I must have passed out somewhere. I mean, that’s gotta be the reason for all those missing days.

Last December arrived and I tried to tally everything I did. At first, I was really upset. It didn’t seem like I got anything done, despite my anti-goals. Another year without an agent. Didn’t get my new book finished. Mark me a failure. Moan.


Then I really thought about it.

We freakin’ bought a HOUSE last year. With grass. With its own water bill. Which also flooded two months after moving in. And we got a puppy. That was sick for three months, and had to take the retard to the ER 3 times for doing dumb things like eating 10 lbs of my parents’ dog food in one sitting (and who is literally running circles currently in the backyard). And my DGH got a new job. And I lost 6 months from being sick to my disorder.

The fact I got ANYTHING creative done is freakin’ amazing. I got two drafts done on my Middle Grade fantasy, handed it off to my CPs, a verrrry rough draft done on the sequel to WPF, brainstormed other projects. Not to mention paintings!!

Then I didn’t feel so bad 😀

This year, I wanted to make some realistic creative goals. Two weeks ago, I made a giant list of everything I wanted to do. Then I spent some time hard core scaling it back. If chronic migraine life has taught me anything, it’s how to be realistic.O N E D R O P

So, here’s my Migraine Adjusted Creative Goals:

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