(I'm posting this both on my blog and in the Forums because this is important information that every author needs to know.)
Since breaking the news yesterday about my battle with Amazon over reviews (ones I wrote on books I'd read) that they deleted (85 reviews) because I included author of Whale Song in my signature line, I've received emails and phone calls from concerned authors, many who tracked me down via the Internet after reading about me on Twitter, The Write Type or John Kremer's Marketing Tips email. Some authors have already discovered missing reviews; some have gone through the same hassle I did.
The fact that Amazon is now going through reviews written by authors and deleting them if they reference the author reviewer's book title has created a huge stir. People are talking about it, blogging about it, and there could be authors out there wondering why their reviews are all deleted, since Amazon gives no warning before the axe comes down.
The only review I've ever written for Amazon was removed for reasons that evade me--too negative, I guess. It was scathing, but not personal in any way. I went around and around with Amazon about it, but to no avail. I'm guessing the author's publicist may have demanded its deletion; it wasn't the worst/meanest review of that book (terrible non-fiction piece that shall remain unnamed), but it was the most detailed.
Umm, yes. I also have a bad feeling about reviewing books by other authors. I've never done it, though I've often been tempted to praise someone's book. There is always the notion of nepotism, of one author helping another author and expecting quid pro quo. In the case you cite there may also be a problem with using the review to advertise yourself.
Yeah, I'm with you. I'm not bothered by their decision to remove these reviews. After all, your brand is your name, as an author, so the fact that your name is on the review ought to be enough. I'm always baffled by people who name blogs after the current book - what will they do when the next comes out? It's like any business. Tim Hortons doesn't bring out a new donut and create blogs and website named after the donut. They have sites named for the business.
That's the purely practical level, but after this you get into the nepotism, and how it looks, and it's problematic at best. I always find if people are interested in what you had to say, they'll look you up anyway, and the e-mails I get support that conviction, so you don't need to say much.
There are certainly some venues where you're welcome to have your book title in your sig line and it's appropriate. I'm not universally opposed to it, but if amazon is cracking down on promo through reviews, it's certainly their right.
So much has happened in the past 24 hours. I have been contacted by authors, author organization reps, reporters, book marketers, bloggers and finally, someone from Amazon. Amazon has been bombarded by emails from authors, orgs, marketers etc, and last night I noticed that Amazon in Seattle had checked out my blog posts. ;-)
Today I received an email from a senior member of the Amazon Communities team. He apologized and stated that my reviews had been reinstated.
I began my reply with a thank you and how I knew they'd been reinstated 2 days ago. It wasn't until I got to the end of writing my reply that I had a strange thought. I immediately went to check my reviews on Amazon. Guess what I found??
All my reviews have "author of Divine Intervention" added to them! It's not how I signed them exactly, but it's a start.
I am now gong to notify the dozens of sources who are following this story.
To those who edited their review signatures, I'm sorry but I gave you the info that Amazon reps told me, that we had to remove our book titles and any product links to our own books. At this time, by reinstating my reviews to include my book title (not linked), I think it's safe to say that they are not going to reinforce this policy, so we can relax and add this info without worry.
I am trying to get an official statement from someone in Amazon on this.
Anyways...lots of people to contact...I'll be blogging about this later when I have time to breathe.