by Iola Goulton

I often find my clients ask questions that go beyond editing or proofreading. I see from the various editor groups I’m involved in that I’m not the only one hearing these questions. Today I’m going to offer my answer to one of the questions I often hear. I hope it will help you if you’re asked the same question.

Will you review my book on Amazon?

Many of my clients are self-published authors. Savvy self-published authors know Amazon reviews are important. Reviews offer social proof, especially for new or unknown authors.

After all, who is going to buy a book from an unknown author without checking out the reviews? Almost no one. That’s why authors ask everyone they know to review their book.

But reviewing a book you edited is against Amazon’s reviewing guidelines, as Amazon considers that to be a promotional review. Amazon says:

“content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation (whether direct or indirect) is not allowed, including:

Creating, modifying, or posting content regarding your (or your relative’s, close friend’s, business associate’s, or employer’s) products or services.”

“Content” includes customer reviews. Amazon clarifies this on their “About Promotional Content” page:

“To help illustrate, here are a few examples of reviews that we don’t allow … A relative, close friend, business associate, or employee of the product creator”

As an editor, you’re either a business associate or an employee of the content creator (aka author). So if an author asks you to review their book on Amazon, there is a simple answer.

You can’t, because it’s prohibited by Amazon’s reviewing guidelines.

What About Other Retail Sites?

All online retail sites have rules about who can and can’t leave a review. Most sites have similar rules to Amazon, in that they do not permit authors, publishers, or anyone else associated with the production of a book to review that book.

Other Ways to Help Clients

Not being able to review a book on Amazon doesn’t mean you can’t review the book or help promote it at all—should you want to. You can still:

  • Review the book on your own blog or website.
  • Review the book on sites which do permit reviews from content creators, such as Goodreads.
  • Mention the book in your client newsletter.
  • Mention the book on social media e.g. retweet the author’s posts about the book.

Note that Federal Trade Commission Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising require you disclose any financial relationship, whether you review the book or simply mention it.

Have you been asked to review books by clients? How have you responded?

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand-based freelance editor specializing in Christian fiction for adults and young adults. Iola holds a degree in marketing, and has a background in human resource consulting. She has been editing since 2012, and is a member of the Christian PEN, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of New Zealand. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading, writing her next book review, or avoiding working on her first novel. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand with her husband, two teenagers, and one cat.
Twitter: @IolaGoulton