Earlier this year Amazon changed their policies to forbid any relationship between authors and book reviewers, and now word is coming in that they’ve taken the policy international and may have forbidden even more connections.
SelfPublisherBibel.de reports that author Micheal Meisheit was received a warning email from Amazon:
Good day, we noticed that you may have manipulated some product reviews. Authors at amazon.de may not manipulate reviews and feedback. If this problem continues, we can not let you continue to sell at amazon.de. For more about this policy please refer to the Author Central Help pages.
Sincerely, Amazon Services Seller Performance
Meisheit insists that he was not buying reviews or otherwise scamming Amazon, making him one of many authors who have been caught up in Amazon’s algorithmic sweeps.
Instead, he thinks that Amazon has decided to take a dim view of the vouchers that authors sometimes send to proofreaders and reviewers. (I have yet to find confirmation in the four days since I first read this report, so I can’t confirm it.)
Just to be clear, we’re not talking about 50-euro vouchers with a message to the effect “five stars – as always”, but vouchers which just cover the cost of the ebook.
Update: An author has clarified this issue in the comments, and explained that Meisheit is probably referring to gift cards, not vouchers. Amazon has long had a policy that an author can’t send a gift card to a reviewer to cover the price of the book.
Admittedly, a voucher sent to a reviewer does come close to smelling like a paid review, but let’s not forget that reviewers have long received free copies. That’s how NetGalley works, and in fact book reviewers been getting free copies since time immemorial. (Free copies are such a standard practice that I usually pick up a dozen discarded ARCs at BEA every year.)
So is this story true? Did Amazon decide vouchers are on the no no list, or is this just another wrinkle in Amazon’s inconsistent review policies?
I don’t know. I can’t find similar reports at Kboards, and the several authors I queried had not encountered this issue.
And that’s why I am posting this as a question, in the hopes that authors could confirm the report from personal experience.