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So it seems that Amazon has decided that being “friends” with someone on Facebook is a like…the real thing! At first I was excited, YAY! I am totes friends with Stephen King and Norman Reedus!!! gonna go out for a beer with my FRIENDS!! …wait…oh yeah, reality bites.  In the real world I don’t know those guys.  At all. I haven’t ever met them or even talked to them on the phone.  Hard to believe right? I know! I’d totally hang with me!! Anyway…back to Amazon, (I’ll daydream later) most of us, of course realize that being friends on Facebook means you “like” a post here and there, squeee over a kitten picture or ten, and sometimes even chat on messenger.  Some of your Facebook friends are real, live, fleshy people that you actually DO interact with in the real world! But we know the difference, don’t we?  Amazon, clearly, does not.  The recent buzz about Amazon blocking reviews for books  by people they determine with their own special algorithm (c’mon…we know its Facebook) to be “friends” has now reared its ugly head in my neck of the woods.  I was blocked from reviewing a new book by a Facebook “friend” with a cruddy form letter response declaring me to be a known friend and or family member.  Furthermore decreeing that Amazon prides itself on unbiased reviews and that therefore mine would not qualify under their standards.

Yes, my knee-jerk response was to scream and rant at my computers email screen.  I’ve self-edited out my actual verbiage for fear of alienating the more gentile peeps. But…needless to say, I was MAD.  I have a blog for reviewing books! I have over 100 Amazon reviews! I review on other sites like Librarything and Goodreads! I am a review-a-holic!!  Not all of my reviews are glowing, and guess what, those authors are still on my “friends” list.  I pride myself on a fair and balanced review. Can you tell I was stung by this? So I Googled and found this is not isolated.  It’s happening A LOT. Because Facebook is a popular place to connect with your favorite authors.  And they count on our reviews.  Most people check reviews before purchasing, and reviews are not necessarily easy to come by.  Not everyone has the time or inclination to write them.  But now Amazon has made that coveted review even harder to come by.  For the new author, be it indie or traditional publishing house, this can be devastating.  More so for the indie that doesn’t have the resources of the big publishing houses, they count on their immediate circles to provide the first reviews.  Less reviews generally mean less sales, which in turn hurts Amazons bottom line.  So how does this make sense? How about when you see a review written by someone who openly admits they didn’t read the book at all or only read some of the book, yet take the time to rip the author to shreds…and this is ok with Amazon.  I have seen them, too many times for it to just be a fluke.

So how do we fix this? how do we make Amazon understand their folly?  Clearly not the way I tried, first with a quick email asking “why?” then with a longer email, both of Amazons responses were automated form letters.  Sigh….really Amazon? I even pay for your darn Prime services!! So how are we going to fix this??? Let Amazon know how you feel about this policy.  Sign this petition…

https://www.change.org/p/amazon-com-amazon-change-the-you-know-this-author-policy

Send an email to Amazon, call customer service and complain, SHARE THIS POST!! Share it like crazy!!!

The last part of this post will be the exact email I sent to Amazon…

Dear Amazon Review Moderator,
  I was recently denied the ability to post a review for a book that I purchased and read.  Amazons response was that I knew the author personally and so could not provide an unbiased review.  The determination was apparently based on an algorithm that would not be disclosed to me.  The book in question is call Tales of the Nothing Man by Brothers Dunne. Here is the link for the book as you sell it.
I AM “friends” with this author via Facebook.  But the term friends on Facebook is a bit misleading.  The authors live in Australia.  They have never been to America, which is where I live.  So I have NEVER met them.  I have never spoken to them on the phone.  I don’t actually know them.  Being “friends” on Facebook these days means very little more than, hey I am interested in you! I have been a reviewer for many years.  I have written numerous Amazon reviews, plus I review on my own blog, and many other sites.  My reviews are always fair and balanced and totally unbiased.  In this particular case I purchased the book from Amazon and wrote an appropriate review.
 I see from other friends and authors that I am “friends” with that being blocked from reviewing is becoming a commonplace incident.  I encourage you to review this practice.  I am sure that there are actually some biased reviewers out there, however basing it on Facebook friendships is not exactly fair.  Literally millions of people “friend” their favorite author on Facebook.  Most of them purchase their books through Amazon.  Some of them leave reviews.  Now that you are blocking people from posting reviews in this matter you are creating a situation where people who enjoy reviewing are afraid to interact with authors on social media for fear they will be banned from reviewing.  If this continues and less people interact with authors on social media, then they will be less likely to purchase another book.  This is due to the fact that many authors use social media to announce upcoming releases.  Do you see that you are creating a snowball effect here?  Less interaction with authors means less interest or awareness of new releases, which in turn means less sales.  So in a nut shell, Amazon will essentially be affecting its own bottom line here.  So far Barnes and Noble is NOT blocking reviews of this type.  Perhaps more authors will turn to sites other than Amazon to release their books if reviews become hard to come by.  Especially the indies.
Independently published authors may not make up the vast majority of Amazons Kindle sales but it is a powerful and constantly growing sector.  And of course social media makes it easy to get the word out when something is affecting this sector.  The recent decision to make Kindle books payable to author based on pages read count was greeted with mixed reviews. Review blocking is not something that anyone is going to ride the fence on though.  I see reviews posted by people who openly admit that they did not read a book yet felt they needed to post a slanderous review for whatever ridiculous reason they see fit, yet you block a reviewer who has paid for and read the entire book and provided and thoughtful and fair review.  Please review your policy.  I would appreciate a response.
Thank you,
Shannon Walters
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