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As many of you know, I recently self published a second novel, The Siege of An Lộc, on Amazon. As an independent author, I rely on word-of-mouth advertising and reader reviews published on Amazon to promote my books. My first book, Village Teacher, garnered 22 reviews, all positive. My second book so far has zero review on Amazon. I have now found out why.

Amazon has been plagued by fake reviews from companies and individuals selling their products on Amazon. There appears to be companies that hire people or even review mill companies to write fake reviews to promote their products on Amazon, without having purchased or even used those products. It got to the point where customers have complained that reviews on Amazon are unreliable if not outright misleading.

So, a few months ago, Amazon instituted a new policy which requires people who post a review to have purchased at least $50 on Amazon over the previous 12 months. Reviewers who try to post and do not meet this new requirement get this message:

“To contribute to Customer features (for example, Customer Reviews, Customer Answers, Idea Lists) or to follow other contributors, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card in the past 12 months.”

Two readers of The Siege of An Lộc have contacted me and told me that even though they like it, they are unable to post a review because of Amazon’s new policy. One person had another member of the family purchase the book. The other person did pay for the book with a credit card but did not meet the $50 minimum requirement (my book costs $25.99).

While I understand why Amazon has such a policy, I think it is unduly harsh for independent authors like me who are not well known at all. I am not trying to mass market a consumer product through fake reviews in hope of amassing millions. I don’t have the means to run expensive campaigns to advertise my books. If people are like me, unless I know an author well, I would hesitate to buy a book that has no review and would prefer to wait until at least a handful of reviews are published before making a purchase.

I went to Amazon’s site to complain about their new policy but I did not find any place to do so. If you have any suggestion, please comment below.