Collateral Damage as Amazon Applies the Thumbscrews to Reviews

Have you spent more than $50 on Amazon in your lifetime? (I think it’s in your lifetime.) They’re now instigating this rule where they won’t let you post a review, even though you’ve bought the book, unless you have spent that amount.

Guess which dog has not spent $50.

Guess which dog has not spent $50.

 The $50 rule

I was recently emailed by someone who’d bought my collection of short stories Dropping Out at and went to post a review, only to discover they were not allowed to do so because of Amazon’s new $50.00 rule. This rule is as follows:

“To post a review, customers must spend [must have spent] at least $50.00 [with Amazon] using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50.00 minimum. Customers in the same household cannot submit a review for the same product.”

I had heard of this rule, but hadn’t known any instances in which it had been applied. Until now. It’s an interesting rule, and one that is well intentioned. There are paid review mills out there who, using one or two credit/debit cards, can post hundreds of reviews under different names, thus pushing up an author’s chances of having his or her book bought.

OK, I see that. But I wonder about all the new people coming along, who are only just finding their way on the web and only just beginning to buy online. These people will be excluded. For the moment, at any rate. And when they’ve chalked up $50 (Will they be counting?), will they remember to go back and post a review for you? Don’t think so.

Collateral damage.

Review swapping

Another little rule, especially designed to catch out writer friends, is the long established habit of review swapping.


people-exchanging-gifts Amazon has always frowned on this but made few active attempts to police it. No more. Be aware, oh indie writers out there, that this has now changed. And even if you’re not a bestseller, you’re still not safe. I know of instances where Amazon has actively pursued small-time writers who swapped reviews (and some who hadn’t), removing favourable reviews —and in the process sometimes mistakenly removing reviews by people the poor writer had never even heard of.

More collateral damage, pay no attention.

The online world is a hard world, especially where money is concerned. If you’re an indie writer, watch out for these two things. The first is obvious. The second might just catch you unawares.

If you would like to read more about the new Amazon rules, Anne Allen has a very readable post on this subject at:



About Danielle de Valera

Award-winning Australian author. Editor, mentor. manuscript assessor since 1992.
This entry was posted in advice about writing, advice for indie publishers, advice for writers, Amazon reviews, Australian manuscript appraisers, Danielle De Valera, indie publishing, manuscript assessors, Patrick de Valera and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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