Indicted by the Goodreads Police

From time to time I take part in a Goodreads review round. The idea is that ten authors each offer a book to be reviewed. Four of the ten then review that book, within a set time. Within the round none of the ten has his or her book reviewed by someone whose book he or she is reviewing. Participants are supposed to inform the moderators if they have previously reviewed a book by another of the authors taking part. This enables the moderator to ensure that neither is assigned to review the other’s book.

It now appears, however, that the rule applies across all previous review groups. You are supposed to check all the reviews you have ever received. If one of them was from an author participating in this round, however long ago, then you should be aware that you are banned from posting a review of any of his or her books, on Goodreads or Amazon, ever

It just happened to me. I was assigned to read and review a book by an author who reviewed one of mine back in 2018. The Goodreads police spotted this and informed me that I may not review her book.

Well, I’m sorry Goodreads, but I will review that book – but not post the review on Goodreads. Instead it will appear on my blog and be shared as widely as possible. That of course includes, indirectly, both Goodreads and Amazon because my blog is shared there.

Image from Vito Natale at Unsplash.

I have to say I classify this rule alongside the steaming pile the creature on the left is likely to leave behind him. In the world outside of Amazon, in the world of traditional publishing, authors review each other’s books all the time. Those reviews are published in all the quality newspapers and magazines. No-one sees anything wrong with that. In fact, praise from one’s peers is valued in most walks of life. Why does Amazon dictate that self-and indie published authors are in some way immoral or unethical in doing so? (In case you were unaware, Goodreads is owned by Amazon.)

Why is a review by author ‘A’ deemed suspect simply because one of author ‘A”s books was reviewed by the author of the book being reviewed 2 1/2 years ago? More suspect than a paid for review from an organisation like Kirkus?
I can easily see, now, why so many of my fellow self-published authors are distrustful of Goodreads. And the irony of all this is that Amazon are constantly pestering me to post reviews of the books I purchase there! In that instance they don’t seem to care that the author might have reviewed one of my books in the past.

I know that a number of self- and indie published authors follow my blog. Have you come across this stupid and arbitrary rule? Let me know, in the comments, what you think.

37 thoughts on “Indicted by the Goodreads Police

    1. Frank, are you going to remove my replied again? As the person who moderates that particular group on Goodreads, perhaps you might consider letting the people reading you blog here the rational behind our rules rather than consistently removing my replies?


      1. I was not aware that I had removed any of your replies, Emma. I’ve just been through them all and ‘liked’ each one. I’m very much in favour of free speech, especially so on my blog, unless someone posts something abusive.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Claire – I agee about the 1* operators who go out of their way to be mean and spiteful – Amazon should investigate. But I also deplore the many scams currently continuing to produce 4* & 5* reviews on badly written books. Is there an answer?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I had no idea the rule existed or that Amazon owned Goodreads. This appears to be an outrageous rule. I’ll discontinue the practice of reviewing books on either site. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a member of the Vine community on Amazon and can’t get a review of an indie book published. I get the “sorry we are not accepting reviews from this account at this time” when I try. I go to BookBub when this happens


  3. I think Amazon and Goodreads are in danger of killing the goose that laid the golden egg. They are annoying so many authors with their rules and their returns policy. If we all stopped using them, they might do something, but they are the biggest, so no one seems to dare to take the step.
    All they’re interested in is getting bigger and bigger and making more and more money.


  4. We can’t win whatever we do. I only review on GR and nothing else as I’ve heard it’s troll land. Also, there has been a recent outbreak of 1 star reviews, all left on the same day and nothing was done about it and there was no response from GR when authors complained. will re-blog

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very familiar with this as I have participated in review rounds before.

    The reason they are so strict predates Amazon’s ownership of Goodreads. There was all sorts of trouble with fake reviews by people who hadn’t read the books and were trading positive reviews as well as by hostile people who made up standard phrases to one-star books by authors who disagreed with them about something or other.

    I take all Goodreads reviews with a grain of salt (if I read them at all) and stopped participating there years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was banned from reviewing products altogether on Amazon several years ago after submitting a negative book review, then telling Amazon what I thought of their policy after my review was rejected. I’ve never reviewed anything on Good Reads and after reading this, unless their policy changes, I never will.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am aware of this and also Amazon’s rule of authors not swapping reviews. Both Amazon. and Goodreads before it was purchased by Amazon, were swamped with thousands of bogus reviews, post positive and negative. I review on Goodreads but don’t participate in any other way there. The reviews and ratings I’ve received on Goodreads have universally been positive, similar at Amazon with one exception where I think he took dislike to the character most closely related to a real person (sometimes reality is more astonishing or distasteful than imagination can dream up).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Frank, as you know I do participate in the odd Goodreads challenge so I am aware of this rule. My understanding is that Amazon does not like collaborations and cross reviews and this is why this rule is in place. It is to protect the integrity of the reviews resulting from these groups on Amazon. Amazon has recently removed all my reviews of While the Bombs Fell. I had nearly 50 reviews which I sweated to get, mainly through these Goodread reviews. The reviews were mainly from people I don’t know and whose books I have not read and reviewed, yet Amazon has removed them. It is very demoralizing and I believe that Amazon is very bias in its treatment of authors. Non-USA authors seem to bear the brunt of their rules and often unfair treatments. Never mind, onwards and upwards, I always say. I’ve working in corporate for 25 years so I know you have to just keep going, regardless of unfairness. It is everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Maybe I am out of step here but I think it is a fair rule in an attempt at preventing the ‘you give me a good review and I’ll give you one’. Of course it creates collateral damage but that’s life. I’ve lost reviews that were honestly.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. These are rules set up by a specific group on goodreads, not ‘goodreads’ itself. The people who run the group, who are ALL volunteer authors conducted multiple polls to confirm that to not run foul of amazon rules that all the reviews must be ‘non-reciprocal’.
    Is is possible to put a time limit on reciprocation? Is a year ok, three? its a HUGE job to run these rounds, so should the moderators also calculate the time between reviews as well as ensuring authors are telling the truth about who they have or have not reviewed in the past?
    Yes, ‘big’ authors review each others books in the press etc, but those reviews are in the ‘editorial’ section of a books page, not in the general review section.
    if you think you can do better, and are willing to give hours of your time to help fellow indie authors, by all means, have at it.
    Feel free not to join any more review rounds, although as you felt the need to join, I guess you don’t find reviews easy to come by.

    oh and yep, I was part of the original ‘Review Group’ Team. We have over 3K members and the rules are clearly stated.


      1. Your point being that because we are indies it should be ok to give and receive reviews that Amazon and Goodreads consider biased? Yes, its unlikely that you will be ‘caught’ but the ‘Review Group’ can’t condone those practices for fear that EVERY review posted as a result of the group rounds (over 10,000) could be pulled and the members banned from Amazon. Not a risk we are prepared to take.
        We do things honestly, and with transparency.


  11. My point being that everyone has the right to be assumed to be, and to be treated as if, innocent, unless and until proven guilty. The implied suggestion, that because an author once reviewed a bok of mine, I am not qualified to provide an honest review of that author’s work is an insult to my integrity. As for Amazon, they are acting as judge and jury when they should leave it up to cutomers to form their own opinion as to the value of what is, at the end of the day, only one person’s opinion about the reading experience provided by a book. That it is, or is not, an opinion shared by others, some of whom may be fellow writers, may help the potential reader with his or her purchasing decision. It seems to me entirely wrong of Amazon to censor reviews in this way. Goodreads should be fighting for free speech and for the integrity of its author members, not kow-towing to the great god Zon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Review group is not ‘Goodreads’.
      It is no more Goodreads than a group on Facebook is ‘Facebook’, or that you are ‘WordPress’ because you use their site to host this blog.
      Users of such forums have to adhere to the rules these organisations impose. If you want to have a go at Goodreads or the mighty Zon, go ahead, but don’t blame the volunteers on the review group for following the rules.
      And yep, Amazon are acting as judge and jury, but its their playground, and everyone has the choice to play by their rules or go elsewhere.


  12. I had no idea this was a rule. How anyone is supposed to keep track of who has reviewed their book in the past, I don’t know. Sounds very bureaucratic.
    Meanwhile I have found a few cases where an author reviewed their own book on Goodreads….

    Are reviews in Kirkus paid for?


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