Are authors allowed to vote on Amazon reviews of their books?

When I reviewed How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon: A Guide for Independent Authors & Sellers here a few years ago, I noted that reviewer ranking is influenced by the number of times that site users select “yes” when asked “Was this review helpful to you?” Many “Yes” answers help reviewers move higher up on Amazon’s top reviewer list.

When you vote on Amazon reviews, you’re “up-voting.”

I was reminded of this recently when a discussion group member and prolific Amazon reviewer wondered why more people don’t do it.

She wondered if authors think it isn’t allowed by the great and powerful ‘zon.

Why authors don’t vote yes or no

Most authors responded one of four ways:

  1. They never noticed that question at the end of a review
  2. They do it all the time
  3. They didn’t think they were allowed to up- or down-vote one of their own reviews with a “yes” or “no” response
  4. They didn’t know if they could or couldn’t vote on reviews on their own books, but they’re so terrified of getting kicked off the retail site that they stay as far away from reader reviews of their books as possible

There was a significant amount of back-and-forth in the discussion about whether Amazon allows authors to vote “yes” or “no” on reviews of their own books.

Those who said it is allowed used as proof the fact that they do it, and their books are still sold there.

Those who said it isn’t allowed linked to Amazon’s terms of service, which don’t directly address this specific question, but do say that manipulating reviews is banned. That is close enough to “no” for many.

The definitive answer

But still . . . in spite of what they said, nobody in the discussion really knew for sure if they could vote on Amazon reviews of their books.

So I asked Amazon if authors could vote “yes” and “no” on reviews of their own books.

The answer is “yes.”

Here’s the message I got from Amazon:

“You may vote on any review.”

There you have it.

Why you should vote on Amazon reviews

So vote, because you can. Vote early, vote often.

There are three reasons why you want to vote on reviews of your own books as well as those that helped you make a decision about whether to read someone else’s book.

1. Reviewers want you to.

As already noted, “yes” votes help prolific reviewers move up in rank on Amazon’s list of top reviewers.

There’s no tangible benefit for the reviewer — they do all of this voluntarily, after all — but a higher ranking is validation that their reviews are valued by site customers. Who doesn’t want to feel valued?

(For more on this, read the post on this site, “Book review: How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon.”)

2. It shows that readers are paying attention to your book.

Visitor engagement with reviews suggests activity and momentum. It shows that there’s traffic on the page.

Does that mean that a page with no review votes is bad for your book? No. It’s more that any activity is better than no activity. But the fact that there’s no interaction with reviews isn’t going to crush your book.

3. It might help readers make a decision.

You know what “groupthink” is, right? In short, it’s conformity.

It’s similar to what happens when I’m looking at a menu with too many choices. I get so overwhelmed (heaven forbid I should select something that tastes bad . . . ) that I ask my companion, “What are you getting?” That’s often what I order.

It works that way with review votes, too. If a reader review does a nice job of making a case for reading a book and several people have declared that review helpful, it gives others the courage to take a chance and buy it.

It also works the other way around. If many found the specifics in a one-star review helpful, those noticing the review and the votes might decide to move along without making a purchase.

So vote “yes” . . . or “no”

Consider adding up- and down-voting to your regular Amazon browsing routine for one simple reason: It’s a nice thing to do for reviewers.

They want you to do it because it’s good for them. And, it takes no effort to show that support.

After all, just as they need your books to review, you need their reviews for your books. Do your part in this symbiotic relationship.

Do you vote on reviews on Amazon? Why or why not?

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  1. Hi Sandra.
    This is a really helpful article. Regarding reviews, I was wondering if you could clarify something for me. I recently had a reviewer who loved my book and gave it 5 stars but he/she also gave the plot away in the review. Would Amazon consider removing such a review? Or should I just give it a down-vote? Your thoughts, please.

    1. Adite, what a great question! You could ask Amazon, but I doubt they’ll review it.

      How harmful is this revelation? Is there some amazing plot twist that the reviewer shares? You could try to track down the reviewer’s email address and send a gushing, private, thank you note with a request for a slight edit to the review, but I wonder if it’s worth it.


      1. Adite, I had an Amazon review that spilled the beans about the ending of a book. Fortunately, I knew the person and immediately emailed asking if she’d remove the one spoiler sentence. She understood and did. (But she left it up on B&N, where it remains—bummer…I just couldn’t ask more of her when she was both enthusiastic and taking time to write anything at all.) However, it would seem basic reviewer etiquette to not give away outcomes. And it’s easy enough to edit a review. I feel authors have the right to expect that sensitivity from all reviewers.

  2. I’ve always voted on the reviews I got for my books, but then I never considered if it was allowed or not.

    Not until I read your email today – I’m glad to learn that I didn’t do anything against Amazon’s rules.

    1. Britt, the group discussion I referenced was surprising in part because of the number of authors who thought doing that would create problems for them. Here’s hoping that anyone who worries about this will see this post and rest easy!


  3. Bravo! 1) For actually getting through to a human on Amazon and 2) for this valuable tip. I was wondering if I was doing something wrong by occasionally clicking “Yes.” Thanks a million for clearing this up.

    1. You’re very welcome, Muz. I was very happy to get the info. we needed from Amazon. The loudest voice in the group discussion on this topic said, “I do it, so it must be OK,” but that wasn’t definitive enough for me!


  4. I have always voted on reviews of my books for the reasons you outline, Sandy. I’ve never received a negative backlash for doing so. Thanks for this encouraging post.

  5. Thanks Sandra.

    I heard from a top rated reviewer that she removed her reviews after a year if there are not enough yes votes.

    When I launched my book a year ago September, I had 20 reviews from one of those paid programs. At one point recently I had 51 reviews. Now it is down to 48. I’m wondering if a few of those early reviewers removed their reviews.

    Have you heard anything about this practice?



    1. Reviewers are pretty serious about this, that’s for sure. I hope the reviewer removed the reviews w/out “enough” yes votes because they impacted her average and ranking, rather than out of spite.

      Regarding missing reviews on your book, Amazon removes them, too, so maybe that’s what happened.


  6. Thanks, Sandra, I just learned this last week. You are right, writers were loath to upvote their own work. True especially with some of Amazon’s other rules (no family, no real friends, no one whose books you have reviewed the same genre etc.).
    In any election, if you are running you are encouraged to vote for yourself, so…!

      1. I’m glad it’s helpful, Sally. You can apply this logic to all products you’ve used on Amazon, too. The goal is to more or less thank those who have provided information that has helped you make a purchasing decision.


  7. There are a number of changes in the way Amazon handles helpful votes:
    1) Yes, reviewer ranking is influenced by the number of times that reviewers gets “yes” votes when asked “Was this review helpful to you”. However, more influential is the impact of people who vote your review as “unhelpful”. There is a factor of about 5 to 1 in this – so just one unhelpful vote can really hurt your rank. This seems unfair and subject to attacks from trolls, and Amazon has indicated it will tackle this, so expect this change.
    2. The biggest change is not so much on the reviewer ranking, but the order of book reviews for your book. This use to be ordered by those with the most helpful votes going to the top. NO MORE. Perhaps several of you have noticed that the top review for your book does not have the most helpful votes, but is from a reviewer with the highest rank.
    In other words, Amazon is not adding more weight to the reviews from higher ranked reviewers, even if other reviews have more helpful votes (because it comes from a lesser ranked reviewer).
    Go figure. Amazon changing its rules yet again.

    1. Thanks, Richard. For those reading these comments, I want to make it clear that your statement that “just one unhelpful vote can really hurt your rank” is referring to Amazon reviewer rank, not book rank.

      In addition, reviews from verified purchasers show up on the first page of reviews.


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