I recently received the following email from a reader:
If someone is inappropriately discrediting my book through a review at Amazon.com, is there anything that can be done? I received an e-mail from someone (who I believe used a false name) stating that articles I had written included material that were not part of my discipline. I wrote back politely expressing my view.
There is now a 1-star review on Amazon, apparently posted by the same individual. The review is totally inappropriate and not factual. I do not believe this person even read my book as the information in his review is available from the Table of Contents and back cover – available through Amazon’s Search Inside feature. There are other questionable comments that I will not go into at this time.
This is a common complaint we hear about Amazon. Amazon allows any Amazon customer to post a review about a book, even if that person did not purchase the book from Amazon. This means Amazon has no way of verifying if that person has even read the book or not.
Unless a review contains profanity or some other offensive item, Amazon isn’t likely to remove it. If you can get a real Amazon employee to contact you, rather than generating an automated response, your chances of success are much greater. While you could probably convince a smaller company to remove a review that obviously contains false information, Amazon is just too big to give regular, individualized attention in this regard. If you’ve ever tried to get a missing cover up on Amazon or tried to get corrections to your book page there, you probably know what I mean.
The first thing you should do is to address any controversial comments by posting “Author Comments” to your book page on Amazon. You can even post information about controversial comments in the book description itself. You can post this by going here.
You will need your publisher’s contact information in order to submit content.
Second, you should contact Amazon with a detailed narrative of what is incorrect, offensive, or just plain suspicious about the review. You should give example from your book that disprove the review’s contents. You should submit these online to Amazon, but you might also consider sending them a certified letter.
Amazon is a great store for authors’ books because anybody can find your book there and you will occasionally get surprise sales (people that simply find your book who were just browsing). It’s a good idea, however, to not depend on Amazon for a lot of book sales for many reasons, fraudulent reviews being just one of them. You should give your customers several options for purchase, preferably your own website or that of your publisher (who will easily recognize if a review is tainted / contains inaccurate information).
While Barnes and Noble may sell fewer books online than Amazon, they do seem to get it right when posting books much more frequently than Amazon. And, if you send them an email asking for a correction, a real human usually writes back!
You can request corrections at Barnes and Noble by emailing them at corrections-at-barnesandnoble.com. You must include your ISBN in your correspondence.
Use THIS LINK to submit content to Barnes and Noble about your book.
Authors who write about particularly sensitive topics seem to be frequent victims of this type of fraud but, in other cases, it just seems like some Amazon customers have way too much time on their hands and want to ruffle authors’ feathers. The good news is the author who wrote above was able to convince Amazon to remove the false review from his page, so persistence is the key!