Monday 28 July 2014

Reviewing Ethics: Deleted Reviews

By Iola Goulton

My reviews have been deleted! What can I do?

Reviews can be deleted in two ways, by Amazon, or by the reviewer. Amazon can—and will—delete reviews which fall outside their reviewing guidelines in some way:

  • Paid reviews
  • Reviews written by someone with a financial interest in the book
  • ARC reviews where the free book has not been disclosed
  • Reviews where the author has gifted the book to the reviewer and this hasn’t been disclosed

A review may also be deleted if it includes specific words (e.g. ‘nazi’) which Amazon does not permit to be used on the site. This might be difficult to avoid if you were reviewing a book about, say, politics in Germany in the 1930’s. In some cases these reviews will be deleted automatically, in others they will be deleted if enough customers Report Abuse on the review.

Amazon will edit but not delete reviews where the review links to an external website, or where the reviewer has linked to their own book (which is seen as promotional, and therefore against the Reviewing Guidelines).

Review deleted without reason

If you believe a review has been deleted without reason, you can contact Amazon and ask them to review their decision. This usually results in a standard email saying the review was deleted because it was against the Reviewing Guidelines.

The other way reviews can get deleted is if the reviewer deletes them (e.g. because they are closing their Amazon account).

I didn’t mean reviews I wrote. I meant reviews on my book.

There’s nothing you can do about reviews written by other people. They are not your reviews, so you can’t ask Amazon why they have been deleted. If you remember the reviewer name and have their contact details (e.g. if it’s a review you solicited), you could ask the reviewer to ask Amazon, but they’ll probably just get the standard email (and may be threatened with having their review privileges revoked if they keep asking).

However, you can take some proactive steps to ensure reviews of your book aren’t removed by Amazon:

  • Don’t review your own book
  • Don’t ask/allow family members to review your book
  • Don’t ask/allow editors or your publisher to review your book
  • Don’t gift your book to potential reviewers through Amazon. Post them a hard copy, or email the pdf or mobi file
  • If you do give a copy to a reviewer, ask that they include an appropriate disclosure statement (e.g. “Thanks to the author for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes”).
  • Ensure reviewers don’t use their review of your book as a platform for promoting their own book, either in their reviewer name, through links, or by mentioning their own book in the review.

This is the final post in a series on reviewing and reviewing ethics.

We’ve looked at a range of topics:

And we’ve debated whether authors should review (and where), and looked at copyright on reviews. I could write a book!

What is the most useful thing you’ve learned from this series? Is there anything else you’d like to know about reviews and online reviewing?

By Iola Goulton. I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website (, or follow me on Facebook (, Twitter (@IolaGoulton) or Pinterest (

I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog ( I'm a Top 25 Reviewer at Christian Book, in the Top 1% of reviewers at Goodreads, and have an Amazon Reviewer Rank that floats around 2000.


  1. Thanks Iola. It's been a really informative series. I've bookmarked it for future reference.

    1. Thanks, Nola. I appreciate the feedback!

  2. Iola, great post! Thanks for writing an excellent series on reviewing. Hopefully it won't need to be updated too often.

    1. Thanks, Narelle. Amazon don't tend to change their rules often, but they may choose different rules to enforce at any given time, so this advice should hold true for a while.

  3. Hi Iola - interesting that Amazon deletes reviews mentioning the word 'Nazi'! I think I understand the reason why but it would make reviewing say Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller difficult. This series has been very informative. If I've learnt anything, it's that I will probably not review on Amazons but stick to Good Reads and my own blogs - just too many pitfalls for an (aspiring) author.

    1. Amazon has a lot of odd rules. In the discussion forums you can't use the word "idiot" to describe another poster, but you can call a politician an idiot.

      I still think it's worthwhile to review on Amazon, but can completely understand why you would choose to only review on your blog - at least there, you make the rules!

  4. Oh BTW thanks for providing all the links to the series in this post - makes it much easier for future reference.

  5. Loved the whole series, Iola. Learned heaps. Definitely should write an e-book on this subject and pop it up on Amazon. You'd get great reviews from all of us. Oh, hang on, is that ethical? I'll just go and consult the previous posts ...

    1. It's fine if you acknowledge the relationship :)

      (But given I've reviewed your books on Amazon, it's probably safer if you review anything I publish on another site).

  6. Hi Iola,
    I've only ever noticed one review of one of my books disappear from Amazon, and I'm pleased to say it was a 2 star one with very weird comments.
    I don't think I've ever had any of mine deleted, but one time it refused to accept a review, for some reason. I remembered I ran it past you at the time. We were trying to re-submit it with the absence of all sorts of possible key words, but in the end I just gave up and wrote an entirely new one, which it did accept.
    I'm glad for the summary of links too. Thanks. I think you should indeed write a book on this subject.

    1. I'd wondered about that review, Paula. It seemed fine to me, but there was obviously something that worried the Amazon bots. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Definitely write a book, Iola! ;-)

    And I was just reviewing all the links - the last one that tries to link to the sins of online reviewing and the rules of online reviewing doesn't appeear to work for either link.

    1. Thanks, Ellie. I think I've fixed the links ...

  8. Great post, i think I've had a couple of reviews deleted from my books. One was a harsh one star review... I was very happy to see it removed. Xx :)


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