Sunday, April 5, 2020


Hi folks,
Many, if not most of the folks who visit my blog are writers or avid readers. Therefore, I think you are the best possible audience to let know what recently happened to me.

As you know, it takes a lot to create a book. In my case, I average about a year for each book. Since writing is my only job, that’s a year without pay. Then, once the book is done, I have to find an agent, and/or find a publisher. Once a publisher is found, that’s not the end of it. Now there are edits to perform. All of this takes time and work. My next novel, for example, took a little over a year to write and I actually sold it seven months ago. It’s scheduled to launch in November. A long time from when I wrote the first words.

There are a lot of things arrayed against the publishing of a book and a lot of time to wait on a paycheck if it overcomes all the obstacles. Up until now, it’s just been part of the deal. Nobody likes it, but we all accept it.

And now, one more obstacle has been thrown into the mix. And this is a big one.

As you know, unless you’re a brand-name author, any publicity you get for your work is hard won. Mostly, publicity for your work consists of reviews for it. And, virtually the only place reviews can be placed and seen is on Amazon. Authors have little to no control over the reviews they get. Folks buy and read your book and then post their opinions of it on Amazon. Hopefully, their reading experience was positive and so is the review they write and post. Not always. And, we have no control over that.

Over many years, I’ve received many reviews for the books I’ve written. Thankfully, the vast majority of them have been positive. Very few negative ones. And, they’ve helped tremendously with sales.

Imagine how I felt when about a week ago, I decided to check the number of reviews I had for my books. I knew a couple were getting close to those “magic” numbers that trigger Amazon’s algorithms and once achieved, leads to them including your titles in various promotions. I’m not sure what those numbers are, but someone told me that 50 reviews was one of them. A couple of my books were approaching this number.

One that had been close was my novel, THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING. I hadn’t checked in several weeks but the last time I had it was at 48 or 49 or thereabouts. When I clicked on the title, I received a severe shock. A bunch of reviews that had been on it for months and sometimes years, had disappeared. They only showed 23 reviews! After telling several writer friends and notifying the publisher, I was hugely disappointed in their responses. A couple of friends said things like, “I’ve heard of them doing that,” and offering their condolences, and the publisher saying the same things, but no one offered to help me figure out what had happened or what my recourse could be.

It took some digging and trying to figure out Amazon’s maze to reach an actual person, but I finally did. I sent an email and a couple of days later, received this:


For privacy reasons, I can only discuss specific Customer Review removals with the person who originally posted the review.

However, I can tell you that reviews are typically removed from the website for one of four reasons:

1. The review conflicted with our guidelines ( This includes reviews that were posted as promotional content.
2. The review was removed by the customer who submitted the review.
3. We discovered that multiple items were linked together on our website incorrectly. Reviews that were posted on those pages were removed when the items were separated on the site.
4. We detected unusual review behavior.

For more information, search Seller Central / Vendor Central / Author Central Help for “Customer Product Reviews.”

We appreciate your understanding. We hope to see you again soon.

We'd appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Best regards,

This time, I went through their maze of responses and finally got a real person to talk to. Oh… also, by this time, reviews for another book of mine, BOMB!, had vanished close to 40 reviews or more and there were only 11 left! Here’s the exchange I had next.

Hi Les Edgerton, Ada here.
10:44 AM
Hi Ada,Reviews have disappeared from my books on sale with Amazon. Last week, over 30 reviews disappeared from a novel and this week about the same just disappeared from another novel. I responded to the first instance and got an email saying that there were four reasons this happens, but it didn't tell me which of the reasons applied to mine, nor was I given any info on what I could do to remedy the situation. Now, it's happened again. I don't have a clue why this is happening.
10:45 AM
Ada | Customer Service
Oh no!
Sorry to hear that.
Let me check it for you.
10:47 AM
Yep. I've been a loyal customer of Amazon's for many years--have purchased many, many books myself as well as sold my own books. This is disturbing as I've never had any problem in the least with y'all.
10:48 AM
Ada | Customer Service
i don't have a direct contact to the department that handle this kind of issue at this moment,is it okay if I sent an email to them?they'll just get back to you after 24hours.
10:52 AM
That would be great, Ada. I just don't understand this at all. Now I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop... wondering which book is next on someone's hit list. Reviews help drive my sales and are very important to me. Thank you for any help you can give me--I appreciate it.
10:54 AM
Top of Form
Ada | Customer Service
i already send an email to them
they will just get back to you after 24 hours
10:56 AM
Bye and have a good day. I appreciate your help.

Ada | Customer Service
Thank you for contacting Amazon.
Have a great day!
Take care and God bless.
10:57 AM

I got a reply from them and they didn’t actually lie—I received it after 24 hours… to be accurate, after 72 hours, and it was the same message they’d sent the first time, this time signed by a guy named Justin H. Up to this point I had been polite and restrained, but this was too much. Here’s what I sent Justin (or whatever his or her real name was):

Justin W
This is totally unacceptable. This is out and out censorship. Someone is systematically removing dozens of reviews from my books and I have no recourse to see who or why they were removed? This flies in the face of everything that is American and is more akin to something done in a repressive country like Russia, Cuba, North Korea or China.

Of your four "reasons" I cannot think of a single review I have ever received that would apply to any of those criteria.

i have spent literally thousands and thousands of dollars on Amazon books and other products. This is simply venal and evil.

Les Edgerton

I don’t know what to do. I guess I’m hoping that enough of you will forward this to friends and make it go viral and maybe Mr. Bezos will see it and realize the kind of censorship his minions are performing. Probably not. If you think this can’t happen to you, think again. Someone in a cubicle or working from his mom’s basement seems to have control over you and your livelihood.

Or maybe thousands of you will rise up and flood Amazon with millions of reviews for my books. Yeah…

I’ve just never felt this helpless. I depend on your wonderful reviews to help sell my books and to have some halfwit just take them down for one of their “reasons” arbitrarily because his mommy forgot to put the jelly on his PB&J sandwich or wash his tidy whities on time just makes me want to meet this dude in a dark alley and “talk” to him. I can face my accuser in a court of law, but I can’t face the unknown moron who is messing with my livelihood on Amazon. It’s clear they have us writers by the short hairs and care nothing about our rights. This is a cautionary tale—this is what monopolies like they’ve become often do.

If anyone has any idea of any recourse I might have, please let me know. I’m just sick. This is symptomatic of many other things happening to our country and our rights.

Blue skies,