Articles & Discussions

To Declare or nor to Declare…

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Amazon’s done it again.  well….They’ve already done it but I’ve only just read it back properly.  The following phrase sums up their reviewing policy on books.  Now if you remember amazon is against people being sent free items to review.  This has been in effect for a short while on amazon US with the Canadian site now following suit.  An enquiry letter to amazon has led them to confirming it is only a matter of time before the UK follows suit.  But Book reviews are exempt.  At least I think they are.  Well of course they are exempt but this cleverly worded policy leaves you wondering…

Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.

Hmmm….So I can get a book from a publisher or author, a free copy but it must be a gift and not be in exchange for a review.  Something about this phrase just doesn’t add up.  Publishers have sent me books to review with the sole request that I leave a review on amazon.  Publishers have never said ‘well have this book and no need to review it just enjoy it’  The whole purpose of getting a book from an author or publisher, as a reviewer, is to review it.

I’ve always stated I got a book free to review and will continue to do so, at least on this blog, but the question is entering my mind, should I shouldn’t I declare this on amazon UK (if and likely when the same rule comes into effect)?  The moral person in me says yes.  I don’t like the idea that people believe I bought the book for review.  But should amazon ever come down crazy on book reviews in the future as it has with products – what then?  Would I be breaking the rules for stating I got a book free to review?  Should I declare I just got it for free?  Should I not declare at all?

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What do you think of amazon’s wonderful phraseology and what would you do in my position?  And before answering that last one remember I’m currently a top reviewer in the UK, and amazon is happy to shut down accounts of anyone who isn’t found to be playing fair with their rules 😮 !

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19 thoughts on “To Declare or nor to Declare…

  1. I am a new Indie Author. I do not have the publishing power of the big publishing houses. However when I ask for a review I want it to be honest – good or bad.
    Without reviews how are Indie authors ever supposed to sell their books, unless they have thousands of friends who can buy it.
    It feels like the big houses are behind this move, they have the power to make or break, and I think they feel the Indies are getting too much of the cake. What better way to make it even harder for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s an interesting and possibly correct view. A lot fof publishers go through the vine program, or at least I know some of them do with others using NetGalley. I don’t know if NetGalley costs money to publishers but I know that vine does. The wording on this declaration is so weird I still don’t know if I should write anything other than ‘I got this free’

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  2. I think books are different than other items like electronics etc etc as they are much more subjective things. You’ll either find a toaster useful or not, and there is more incentive to give a positive review in return for free electrical goods (and the potential to receive more) in this model of transaction than with books because you know you want it before you agree to review. There’s no real integral benefit from books because they can be about anything and there’s no guarantee you’d ever want any of these books. So unless the reviewer is approaching the writer and begging a free book in exchange for a good review (which is highly unlikely), I can’t see it being a problem. Why would a reviewer keep reviewing the books of a writer they didn’t enjoy? I think Amazon knows that books are different, and that reviews are the lifeblood, especially for Indie Authors. As long as Amazon make money, they’ll continue it. The only grey area are the review services that charge for reviews. If somebody is buying reviews, then there’s the possibility of misuse there. I think solicited reviews should be declared, and paid reviews most definitely should be declared (or even outlawed). The reason people solicit reviews is that the percentage of people who leave a review after unsolicited purchase is tiny. My book has been downloaded over a hundred times on Amazon, yet I have no reviews from anyone I do not know (except from a reader of a goodreads give-away (who probably felt obligated). Therefore I’m always looking for reviewers 🙂

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    1. Thank you for your input on declaring, I do think I should continue to place a message on my reviews that I received the book for free from the author/publisher but the wording on amazon always makes me wonder whether I’m doing the right thing or not, they certainly make it easy for themselves to get out of any argument they have on whether or not you followed the rules! I’ve seen those paid services, I can’t believe a lot of authors go for those services, even if the review result isn’t a guaranteed positive, something about paying to have someone read your book is just wrong to me. Some service I’ve seen charges $50 a review – how long does it take a new indie time to make that back and all for one review? 😮

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  3. C is already aware of my views on this but I thought I would offer it up for critique. In my view if you are sent a book to review on a blog and you are not explicitly sent the book to review on Amazon once you have finished said review the book belongs to you. As per Amazons current practice you are not required to buy a product from Amazon to be able to review it on Amazon.

    Thus should you then decide afterwards to post a review on Amazon why are you required to post a declaration if you are writing a review for a product that is now your property. Obviously this only applies if there was no prior arrangement to post a review on Amazon for the sample to start with. I mean would you post a declaration if you reviewed a product that you had won or were given as a promotion or as a marketing sample at a trade fair etc, etc, etc

    Reading the new rules covering reviews on Amazon.ca that changed yesterday there is significant ambiguity regarding books reviews and it would appear you are damned if you do and if you don’t when it comes to posting a declaration.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I understand your concern here. Sounds like they’re trying to clamp down on a particular aspect, but not necessarily books. I seriously doubt they would ever stump publishers from giving away ARC’s, but they don’t want them to have undue influence over your review of the book. Because that would throw off their whole algorithms for recommending books. But, the reviewing process is so subjective to the reader it shouldn’t matter to anyway.

    Benjamin

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    1. Thanks for your input :). It seems most people on amazon US are fine declaring they got a book free for a review however it’s just the way they phrase it that makes you wonder ‘are you breaking the rules?’. Amazon is using tricky wording on purpose I think, so you can’t argue back if they accuse you of breaking the rules 😮

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  5. I personally dislike to declare, mostly because the vast majority of books I review, I actually purchased. Only this year, on like 2 occasions was I gifted a book, and authors did not specifically ask for a review – I myself offered to supply one (because I like to review everything I read, at the same time, I realize most of my reviews are useless because they are for classics or books that have been out for decades.)
    When I declare or read that declaration, it is not about the fact the reviewers got the book, its just that sentence that kinda irks me. I don’t like seeing it. Ultimately, I do not care how you got the book, I care about how your review is, did you like it and similar information.
    I feel like this declaration is a triviality the establishment does not care about. When declaring, how will they know if the author asked you for a review or not, how will they know did they for example offer some sort of a bribe or issued a threat so they get a positive review et.c. You just cannot know, and this line and sentence also annoys me because it makes me feel guilty that I got a book as a gift for example from a friend (he buys at bookstore for my bday for example) and I have to justify my review, when all I want to do is recommend a book I like to other people like me who struggle tor read, as well as give budding and new, living authors a chance to spread their stories.

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    1. Wow, I didn’t know the declaration annoys some people. Admittedly in the past I’ve reviewed things and books that I got for free via gifts or free offers and haven’t declared it. Those I would still keep the declaration off the review, but I still wonder if I should mention it on amazon UK and Goodreads when an author or publisher has specifically asked for a review. I know that some people and you particularly don’t like this declaration but on the flip side there are others who don’t like there to be no declaration and would think I was somehow being fraudulent by not stating that I got it for free, especially if it’s a book I wouldn’t usually buy myself. Does it honestly annoy you seeing me declare it before my reviews? 😮 😦

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      1. Nah, I did not mean it in that way. I meant as in, it is a little bit annoying to see it at 95% of reviews I encounter.
        It makes me feel like it is all about the price, and it makes me feel like reviewers get a ton of shit, and demands, when what they should be doing is reading the book and letting people know how they felt.
        I get that some people want to know, for me, it is just not crucial to see this.
        I am not jealous at reviewers for getting free books, and ultimately, the only thing that can make me buy a book or not, is whether I like it. For example, you can write the best review ever about a romance novel, but chances are I will still not buy the book because I don’t read romance. This was just an example.
        A review has the power to make me change my mind, but lately all I see in reviews (not yours) are declarations and a thousand adds for the author of the book. I don’t like that because it makes me feel the reviewer is being told what to write, which is what I don’t like.
        The declaration also I think, and I might get hate for this, gives a wrong impression to some people. Some people see it as Oh, so I should nag this writer for a free copy, then never leave him a review! It also makes some people think Oh, this reviewer reviewed this book just because it was given free! Oh, this reviewer got this book on a free promotion, she/he would never pay attention to it otherwise!
        This is what I mean, the reviews have become so important, and it is a good thing, but I also think writers, with exceptions of course, also want to overuse it as free advertising.
        I think as a reviewer, if someone solicits you for a free review, and gives their book, should not meddle so much in what you write in it, and have demands.
        When I personally review, I get asked to put this declaration, and I can honestly tell you that this is the reason why I rarely review books I did not personally buy (but instead got as a part of promotion, giveaway etc etc), because when I personally buy, I don’t have to deal with review demands . Maybe it sounds harsh, but you know I am 100% honest 😀
        Sorry for the long comment, I don;’t want you to feel like I disslike your reviews, when it is the opposite.
        I don’t really care if you put a declaration or not, because I am used to trusting your reviews, if that makes sense. I will just skip that part, I am there for your recommendation that I trust because I like your reviews 🙂

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      2. Thank you. I like your honesty, always :). Thank you. I’m glad my own declarations don’t annoy you. In future though to comply with amazon rules if they do bring in those silly phrased rules I might have to just put I got this free, though I’ll have to see what other reviewers are doing too. I agree with why you get annoyed at seeing them though, I think before I started reviewing as often as I am and being asked to review books and things, I felt the same way about a lot of reviews I saw. I would wonder if the reviewer even wanted the book or item as only those who really want them should review them. I confess some of the books I’ve reviewed at the start were ones I wouldn’t usually pick up, I found it hard to say no to people but as I’ve gone on I’m no longer taking books I wouldn’t want to review. It’s not fair on me to feel like I have to read something if I didn’t want to and likewise not fair on the author if the person isn’t truly interested. I hadn’t thought of it from the points of view you’ve brought up but I can now see why so many people might dislike the declaration about a free book. To be honest while I don’t want to stop reviewing books I’ve been asked to review and don’t want to make some people feel I’m not being honest…I do wish I could just review something om amazon without stating the declaration. For many of my product reviews it’s done harm rather than good as people think I must have reviewed something just for the sake of reviewing and it’s difficult to know how to react in a situation. Thank you for your thoughts. always be 100% honest with me, no matter whether you agree or disagree with me. I really value your opinion 🙂 ❤

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      3. You can count on me for that! And if it means something, I am honest only with people I have an interest in, as in friendship and any sort of conversation or communion.
        I am not dishonest with others, I just avoid their worlds 😀 What I am trying to say, I will never lie to you or tell you what you want to hear, so you would think better of me!
        As for the declarations, I totally see the other side of it, I know how it is to be in that position. It sucks that companies like Amazon are making certain sentences necessary, thinking that will somehow fix their faulty review system. There is so much stuff wrong with it that books could be written about (wonder what would they do with reviews for a book like this? Add more criteria for a review? Must give credit card number if you agree with criticism?). This is one of the reasons that for the few reviews (2) I have for my book, and when trying to get more, I specifically told the reviewers they do not need to bother with posting them on Amazon, if it is a problem for them, they feel insecure and similar. I wanted them to know I appreciate them reading it and just telling me what they think, even if they can’t be arsed to write an actual, theral review. This is what I mean, I hate rules and demands, especially from someone who is basically doing you a great favor, that also impacts on your business.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t know what to tell you…. mainly because I’m still not sure how this will be affecting me – yet.
    Normally, when I agree to review a book, I do not ‘trade’ reviews.. IF I feel their book rates less than 3, I will share my opinion with them and ask if they want me to post the review. Strangely, most people do not.
    When I do post, I put my review on Goodreads (Part of Amazon); plus Amazon US and UK.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I know exactly how you feel… At present, I’m in a Goodreads Review Group, wherein 10 of us agree to give honest reviews to 4 books + give 4 copies of the book we enroll to 4 other people for honest reviews posted at Amazon, Amazon UK and Goodreads. I just posted the reviews for #3 and have begun reading book 4.
        HOWEVER, when I finish this book, I plan to verify what is going on prior to getting involved in another group.

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      2. Yes I’ve read the amazon rule where authors are not allowed to give each other reviews. I’ve also heard some authors getting reviews deleted for this although they’ve also had innocent reviews deleted from genuine customers because of amazon’s mistakes in thinking everyone’s related. I’ll keep you informed if I hear anything on my end.

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      3. It is better to be safe than sorry. Plus, when I agree to read a book, I read the whole book, so I would be very upset if my review was deleted after spending the time to read, then write.

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