Reviewers; Keep your ARCs a Secret!

I was just on Facebook when I came across a post one of the groups I’m in put up about leaving reviews on Amazon for authors when a free ARC is received. Basically, the post was instructing reviewers not to mention where/how they received their copy of the book, and I agreed with the post. Why? Because Amazon has been known to remove reviews entirely if they don’t think the method of receiving it is “legitimate”.

In other words, according to Amazon, getting a review from a friend or family member is biased, which means their opinion on the book may not be exactly accurate.

books copy

So I think this is a practice all reviewers should follow when it comes to Amazon. If you mention that you didn’t actually buy the book there, and the author gave it to you, there’s a chance they’ll think “you know” the author, as in personally, and remove whatever review you’ve left because maybe it’s biased and you’re not being fair.

I personally find this practice of Amazon’s to be questionable for more than one reason as well. I’ve seen a number of non-book related product reviews where someone would state that they received the item for free in exchange for an opinion, but as far as I know, these reviews aren’t actually removed for any reason. I’m sure there are cases where someone leaves an inappropriate review that gets taken down, but that’s an entirely different story. So why are the books being singled out? (If someone has information on this I’m not privy to, feel free to let me know in the comments!)

Also, why does it matter if the author knows the person who left the review to begin with? Sure, my mom’s biased, and might just end up calling me the next Nora Roberts or something. But what if everyone agreed with her opinion? (I should be so lucky lol). Point is, maybe she’s biased, but her opinion could still be accurate. Besides, most authors get their start by passing their books on to friends and family, or, in this day and age, reviewers on the internet, who then tell others, and so on and so forth. So basically, this makes it sound like Amazon is saying, “We’re not going to let you actually get a start unless it’s on our terms, such as running a promotion and getting lucky enough to have some random stranger leave feedback behind.”

Maybe I’m being overly dramatic here, but what does it sound like to everyone else? At its most benign, this makes it look as if the author just hasn’t had any reviews and no one’s reading their books. But at worst, it can really cripple an author’s career, and cause them to lose sales and/or the reputation needed to get them.

Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think! Cheers! :D

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10 thoughts on “Reviewers; Keep your ARCs a Secret!

  1. I never say that I have recieved an ARC. My reviews, good or bad, are about my opinion of the book. I feel like if I say I am revising an ARC, then people will assume I gave it 4 stars because I got the book for free. I feel like it undermines my review.

  2. I know as a blogger there are FTC guide lines that we must adhere to about revealing anything received free from publishers or authors. Also each website, goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, all have there own rules that we agree to when we review a product. I just try to be as open as I can so they will never come back to me and say “you were trying to hide information.” But that’s just me.

    • Everything’s gotta be complicated! I can understand having some rules for reviews, but I do think some places go overboard with their demands. Either way, I really do think this thing with reviews being removed if someone mentions they got it for free only applies to the books enrolled in KDP Select. I could be wrong, but it seems likely. I also can’t blame you for being open about your sources. Seems like it could help save a potential headache in the future.

      • I agree! I think that they are getting crazy “warlord” like with this pulling authors just because they can.

  3. I never saw the value of saying which books I’d got from the author or promoter as opposed to spending my hard-earned cash on a book. It felt like I was unlevelling the playing field by doing so. I do indicate a review group if that is where I chose the book from but that’s it. I think Amazon is getting too extreme deciding which of us collude with authors, but I am lucky or just consistent, and not had reviews removed (yet-never say never). I hold a book to the same standard no matter the source.

    • I’ve also been lucky enough not to have any of the reviews on my books removed (yet), and I agree, they do get very (and needlessly) extreme with their policies and stipulations on it. I just don’t understand it when reviews can help to sale a product/book, and when an author gets paid, they get paid, too. So you’d think they were just shooting themselves in the foot or something.

      • I think they get flack from, ironically, other reviewers who want votes. There’s always someone who feels they need more public appreciation.

      • Agreed, that has to be an issue as well, and the truth of the matter is that you can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try, you know? So there needs to be some examination of what’s going to get the most for everyone involved because it doesn’t feel like there’s really a balance here.

      • I think they could do with a panel of authors and reviewers to thrash out what’s fair and practical. This would put the shady practices of paying for reviews out of business.

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