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text 2016-10-27 18:56
Presenting... Amazon's Early Reviewer Program!!!


Initally discovered posted on Reddit of all places.



What is the Early Reviewer Program?

The Early Reviewer Program encourages customers who have already purchased a product to share their authentic experience about that product, regardless of whether it is a 1-star or 5-star review. Amazon shoppers depend on reviews to learn more about products, and this program helps to acquire early reviews on products that have few or no reviews, helping shoppers make smarter buying decisions. Customers who have purchased a product participating in the Early Reviewer Program may be asked to write a review and those customers who submit a review within the offer period will receive a small reward (e.g. a $1-$3 Amazon.com Gift Card) for helping future shoppers.

1. Can I trust these reviews?

Yes. We are not giving free products or discounts to these reviewers. We only ask customers who have already purchased the product to share their authentic experience, regardless of whether it is a 1-star or 5-star review. This program is not limited to elite reviewers - we want to hear from all of our customers as long as they have no history of abusive or dishonest reviews.

2. How are reviewers selected for this program?

We want authentic reviews, and we want them from all of our customers, not just a select few. We select at random from all customers who have purchased products participating in this program, as long as they have no history of abusive or dishonest reviews and meet our eligibility criteria. We do not disclose at the time of purchase whether a product is participating in the program because we want to hear from customers who have authentically chosen to buy that product without any knowledge of a future reward. Not all products are participating in this program and not all buyers of participating products will receive reward offers to write a review. We want this program to generate enough reviews to help shoppers make smarter buying decisions; this is not a rewards program intended to encourage purchases. Amazon employees, participating sellers and their friends and family are not eligible to participate in this program.

3. How are reviews rewarded.

Reviewers will receive a small reward (e.g., a $1-$3 Amazon.com Gift Card) after they have submitted an authentic review within the offer period which meets our community guidelines. This small reward is given to thank reviewers for sharing their authentic experience, regardless of whether it is a 1-star or 5-star review. The nature of the review does not affect the reward or the chance of getting future rewards.

4. How will I know if a product has a review from Early Reviewer Program?

Early Reviewer Program reviews are identified with an orange badge that reads "Early Reviewer Rewards".

5. Can sellers influence these reviews or reviewers participating in this program?

No. Sellers can select products to participate in this program but they do not have any influence over which customers are selected to receive the reward offers or the content of the customer reviews. Sellers are also prohibited from communicating with customers about their reviews. Amazon does not modify or remove reviews from the Early Reviewer Program, as long as they comply with our community guidelines.



OK, Amazon's has a long haul ahead of it trying to get all these incentivized reviews under control, so I'll never fault them for trying- despite their complicity and complacency with it.  But is anyone else thinking this is another cobblestone on that Road to Hell?

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text 2016-07-22 20:49
Amazon (Finally) Suing Sellers Over Fake Reviews

(reblogged from MarketingLand.com)





One of Amazon’s most appealing features is the unbiased reviews provided to members. Unfortunately, it turns out that some sellers have taken it upon themselves to feed fake reviews to their customers-to-be. This wouldn’t be a prudent idea. Amazon is (and has been) suing those sellers that are buying positive reviews.


Amazon has previously sued to stop websites that sell fake Amazon reviews, along with individuals offering to write fake reviews. This latest batch of lawsuits is against the companies that buy fake reviews for their products.


A story from TechCrunch this week reports that three new lawsuits were brought against sellers where the fake reviews made up 30 percent to 45 percent of the overall reviews. According to TechCrunch, the defendants are Michael Abbara of California, Kurt Bauer of Pennsylvania and a Chinese company called CCBetter Direct.


We reached out to Amazon for comment and received the following in regard to these cases:

While we cannot comment on active litigation, we can share that since the beginning of 2015, we have sued over 1,000 defendants who offered to post fake reviews for payment. We are constantly monitoring and will take action against abusive sellers by suspending and closing their accounts and by taking further legal action. Our goal is to eliminate the incentives for sellers to engage in review abuse and shut down this ecosystem around fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation. Lawsuits are only one piece of the puzzle. We are working hard on technologies that allow us to detect and take enforcement action against perpetrators while also preventing fake reviews from ever surfacing. As always, it is important for customers to know that these remain a very small fraction of the reviews on Amazon and we introduced a review ranking system so that the most recent, helpful reviews appear first. The vast majority of reviews on Amazon are authentic, helping millions of customers make informed buying decisions every day.

The rules in this type of a case are fairly straightforward. Amazon has sellers agree to the following:

You may not intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free or discounted products, in exchange for a review. Review solicitations that ask for only positive reviews or that offer compensation are prohibited.

Furthermore, when sellers choose to break selling policies, they may find themselves without much recourse. The seller policies make it clear that any disputes or claims will be resolved by binding arbitration and won’t go to court and that each party waives their right to a trial.


So sellers take heed, if you want a good review, make sure your product/service earns it. To make sure that you are adhering to Amazon’s rules, read the full Participation Agreement in its entirety.


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text 2016-02-24 15:59
How Writers Ruin Their Amazon Links

(reblogged from Gwendolyn Kiste)


So your book is available on Amazon. That is AWESOME! Congratulations! All your work as a writer is done now, right?


Not so fast. You have to share that link, so that everyone knows how to find your book! And I know how you’re probably going to copy the link too. You’ll enter your name and the title of the book in the Amazon search box.


Search Box


So far, so good. Then you’ll click on your product in the search results, admiring the pretty entry for your book. I completely condone all of this behavior.


Amazon Search Results


But here’s where you’ll probably go wrong. You’ll copy and share that link as is. It will look something like this (and yes, it’s so long I had to copy it in full below the screen cap):


Full Super URL


Now I’m not usually one to judge, but I’m going to be honest. This is bad. REALLY. BAD. As in, it could cause Amazon to remove legitimate reviews of your book, it might hurt your book’s place in search results, and if nothing else, it proves to the world that you don’t know the ins and outs of how Amazon works.


So what’s the problem?


Amazon Links


These extended links are known as “super URLS,” and independent authors and publishers all over are using them when they shouldn’t. The links are not only long and ugly, but also include a certain string of numbers that follows the letters “qid.”




These numbers mark the exact time you performed the search. At first blush, that doesn’t sound like a huge deal. So what? Your readers can track when you did the initial search. Well, the people over at Amazon can track it too. They realize that the dozens (or maybe hundreds) of people who click on your link after you post it couldn’t have all searched at that exact same time, especially if their purchases come days or weeks after this “qid” (which acts as the Unix time stamp, marking the number of seconds since January 1st, 1970).


So in a strange roundabout way, this can jeopardize your reviews. Ever hear about Amazon removing reviews because the reviewer knows the author? Well, these “super URLs” are likely one of the ways Amazon figures it out. As the theory goes, if the reviewer purchased a book from that “qid,” then Amazon knows the individual probably got the link from the author. So on the one hand, it’s nice to know Amazon isn’t going through our stuff when we’re out, figuring out which reviewers are our acquaintances and which aren’t, but it’s still somewhat distressing to realize how many writers (and publishers) are making this easily fixable error.


(Read the rest of the article here.)

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review 2015-07-01 23:45
The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
The Star Side of Bird Hill: A Novel - Naomi Jackson Groves

This rambling little book presents a decent coming-of-age tale of two sisters, but it is disorganized and I found its supposedly wise grandmother figure at best trite and at worst infuriating.


Sisters Dionne (age 16) and Phaedra (10) have grown up in Brooklyn, but when their severely depressed mother realizes she can no longer care for them, they’re off to spend the summer with their grandmother, Hyacinth, in Barbados. It’s hard to describe the plot, because there isn’t much of one: the girls adjust to their new surroundings, become familiar with the community and deal with further developments in their tumultuous family life. All this is interspersed with the author's simply telling us a lot about these people and their histories, in a way that often feels disjointed and rambling, lacking smooth transitions.


Jackson’s characterization does show promise: I found Phaedra, the most prominent character, endearing, and empathized with the pricklier Dionne. Both girls have well-defined personalities, and their relationships with each other and the people around them are believable. Although they aren’t real, I found myself hoping that they would succeed despite their difficult childhood. If the author had shown us more, through a more focused plot, they might have truly shone, but the potential is there.


Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for their grandmother. Hyacinth is positioned as the moral center of the novel, unlike her troubled daughter and almost cartoonishly villainous son-in-law. But I soured on her within the first couple of chapters. Phaedra goes out to play with a boy who tells her to do something; she refuses, so he grabs a large rock and hurls it at her head, knocking her over. When Phaedra tells Hyacinth she is done with this boy, Hyacinth’s response is: “What did he do to you?” – it can’t be simply that he gave her a concussion, keeping her in bed for days. Telling a young girl that serious assault is not a good enough reason to stop seeing a boy (that’s just how boys behave when they like girls, says Hyacinth) is one of the most irresponsible pieces of advice I can think of. On other occasions, Hyacinth spouts banal advice that is meant to sound deep, often to cover for her own shortcomings (let anyone criticize her and she will take the opportunity to lecture them about not blaming others for their own problems, even when the criticism is warranted).


Finally, the novel would have benefited from more precision in the narration. Some key facts are kept unclear: we’re told the girls have never visited Barbados nor Hyacinth the United States, yet there are several indications they’ve seen each other before. And then there are passages like this, telling us practically nothing: “Vacation Bible School always followed the same schedule: a prayer when they arrived, morning activities, lunch, afternoon activities, and a prayer before dismissal.” I doubt any reader would be surprised to learn that Vacation Bible School includes prayers, nor that the students eat lunch between morning and afternoon activities, whatever those might be.


At any rate, this is a fast read and it seems to be written with knowledge of Barbados and its culture, so for many it may be worth reading. It is the author’s first published novel, and shows potential which she will hopefully continue to develop. But in the meanwhile, there are other coming-of-age novels out there more deserving of your time.

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text 2015-06-20 22:51
Amazon now supports authors uploading books not ready to publish?

Okay, that's a facetious and even slightly misleading headline.


But, amazon's new review display algorithm will show reviews of later editions of a book first.


Which feeds right into some author practices and tantrums I don't like.  Like encouraging rough drafts, outlines and slushpile offerings to be uploaded undisclosed in expectations of profits that will fund the publishing of your final version.  Customers are supposed to be buying products on amazon, not funding kickstarter/fundraiser programs.


Practices like encouraging authors to think it's okay to attack reviewers for reviewing an older edition even if that was edition read, or the idiots who think they will get a better review if they can force you to re-read their book (seriously, if I don't like it the first time I don't want to read it again plus if I already know what happens it will be a boring book getting an even lower rating because I was bored...).


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