Amazon’s Review Policy and Advanced Review Copies (ARCs)

Guild member and publisher Rick Lakin shared information he posted on his website regarding Amazon's revised review policy.

To Independent Authors on Amazon:

In October 2016 Amazon updated its policy for product reviews including books. Reviews that are posted in exchange for receipt of a product are, and always have been, prohibited by Amazon and by the Federal Trade Commission.

Recently, Amazon has been cracking down on clubs and groups that require compensation or product in exchange for reviews. For those who have an active social media presence, Amazon has been deleting Friends and Family reviews.  On the other hand, I am not aware of a single review being deleted for any of the thirty-plus books I have published.

As a publisher, I recommend to my authors that they ask their reviewers to include the following statement somewhere in their review:

“I received a free/reduced price copy of this book with no obligation to post a review”

Therefore, it is ok to send an Advanced Review Copy (ARC), e-book or hardcopy to potential reviewers.

Here are the words from Amazon at the end of their latest policy update:

"The above changes will apply to product categories other than books. We will continue to allow the age-old practice of providing advance review copies of books."

As Indy publishers and authors, we are in a tough market with 1.3 million books published annually.  Reviews are essential to the effective promotion of your books.  Be aware of the guidelines but keep on sending those books to reviewers and colleagues in the community who can help you promote your books.

Rick Lakin
iCrew Digital Publishing

2 thoughts on “Amazon’s Review Policy and Advanced Review Copies (ARCs)”

  1. Although I understand the reasons for so many of the rules Amazon puts in place, I must object to some of them because they are somewhat draconian and could be dealt with via technology.

    Behind Amazon is a huge network of databases capable of incredibly deep searching. In fact, I know the people who programmed some of that network. However sophisticated, in the end, it’s still a database. Amazon could make some minor changes and not alienate its customers and clients.

    For example, it is simple to add a field that defines relationship to the author. If a parent, child, boss, aunt, employee, etc., gives a review, that could be easily stated and shown. This way, start-up authors could still get their reviews out there and hear the kudos they crave while identifying the relationship to the potential buyer. Friction-free reviews.

    Likewise, a few checkboxes could identify that an ARC copy was received and allow someone to state, “No, I did not receive money for this review” and “This was a solicited review” or “I purchased this book.”

    I still might want to read what “Mom” thought about her kids book, but I could figure that into my evaluation before purchase.

    Amazon has the technology. Why they don’t use it to be more author and buyer friendly boggles the mind. We click on “Terms of Use” agreements all the time. This is a walk in the park.

    Another restriction I’ve heard is that authors can’t review each other’s books. How ludicrous! Using the same technical strategy as above, we can identify that we’ve done reciprocal reviews easily.

    As a reader, I can make my own decisions whose reviews matter more to me, rather than have Amazon decide for me.

    Because when J.K. Rowlings reviews my book, I don’t want her review deleted.


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