Sunday, 7 October 2007

Amazon Vine


Twisty, originally uploaded by xrrr.

Completely out of the blue yesterday I got an invite to join the Amazon Vine programme. With Vine, Amazon will ship me three pre-order items a month to review. As long as I keep reviewing I keep getting free stuff to review. I assume it will be books, CDs and DVDs as those were the questions I had to fill in on my invitation form.

Amazon's web site says:

Amazon Vine™ is a program that enables a select group of Amazon customers to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make educated purchase decisions. Customers are invited to become Amazon Vine™ Voices based on the trust they have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews. Amazon provides Amazon Vine™ members with free copies of products that have been submitted to the program by vendors. Amazon does not influence the opinions of Amazon Vine™ members, nor do we modify or edit their reviews.

I assume that I got an invite because I preorder stuff and am a Top 500 reviewer on the UK site.

I must admit that I have not reviewed anything for over 2 years because it ended up being too hard. I would spend 20 minutes writing a review and then if you were lucky they posted it. If you were unlucky then they would not. You can chase them but they just send back a form email saying that the review did not meet the guidelines, of which there are many! Because the review was filled in on a web form then you did not get a copy of what you wrote. I therefore started writing the reviews in Word and then pasted them into the form. At least then I got spell checking!

Hopefully they have improved the process now, or maybe there will be a Vine forum that I can post my issues to. Maybe because of the last part of the Amazon statement ("nor do we modify or edit their reviews") they just allow reviews through without approval (unlikely!).

I'll keep you posted.

8 comments:

travbailey said...

Thank you so much for explaining what the Amazon vine voice program is.

I was browsing Amazon and saw a viewer on Amazon who had a "vine voice" tag and clicked on the badge. The amazon badge page didn't explain anything about vine voice. I then googled "vine voice" and found your blog as #1 on google. Thanks.

I have no idea how you got that vine voice information on amazon, since it seems impossible to search amazon if you are looking for a policy, not a book or merchandise.

Two other comments on your posting:

First, Firefox browser automatically does spell checks now. It is really wonderful, much better than Internet explorer. No need to cut and paste from Microsoft Word.

Second, you mentioned that your book reviews are often rejected. I have the same problem with Amazon when I write book reviews, it is really frustrating and discouraging. When a review is wrong, Amazon should email the person the full review and tell them it did not post, and the reason why. Maybe you should post some of Amazon's rules about reviews.

xrrr said...

I got that info from Amazon by Googling. If you follow the link it is still there. I found it was before Vine was well known so maybe I had a better chance of finding something relevant.

Regarding your other comments - I do use Firefox and love the built in spell checking. Although I wrote the bulk of my Amazon reviews before Firefox did spell checking.

However, because Amazon reviews can sometimes end up in a blackhole I find writing them in Word and saving them offline is useful. If a review goes missing then I can email Amazon to chase and if I get the standard "it did not meet our guidelines email" then I can easily reword the original and repost.

Since being a Vine member I have started submitting "normal" reviews again but I am disappointed to note that the process does not seem to have changed much.

I would very much like Amazon to automatically send an email indicating the accept or reject status of the review and include the review text in the email. As a bonus it would be useful to know *which* of the various guidelines the review has broken in order to get rejected.

Thanks for the comments :-)

Loren Woirhaye said...

I was recently invited into the vine program too. I had no idea what it was so I was pleasantly surprised... I just sort of wrote reviews because I admire good criticism and as a freelance writer any kind of practice is good.

I'm in the USA, and I don't recall ever having a review rejected by Amazon. I usually write them on Notepad++ and paste them in. That way if Amazon's submission process has an error I can re-submit and not lose my work.

If you want to get into the VineVoice program, just keep writing good reviews of things Amazon sell... by "good" I mean fair. I'm appalled by reviewers that gush and give 5-stars to everything and I bet if the VineVoice reviewers are hand-selected the judges look for balanced, thoughtful reviewers who call 'em like they see 'em.

Happy reviewing!

-Loren Woirhaye

Loren Woirhaye said...

I was recently invited into the vine program too. I had no idea what it was so I was pleasantly surprised... I just sort of wrote reviews because I admire good criticism and as a freelance writer any kind of practice is good.

I'm in the USA, and I don't recall ever having a review rejected by Amazon. I usually write them on Notepad++ and paste them in. That way if Amazon's submission process has an error I can re-submit and not lose my work.

If you want to get into the VineVoice program, just keep writing good reviews of things Amazon sell... by "good" I mean fair. I'm appalled by reviewers that gush and give 5-stars to everything and I bet if the VineVoice reviewers are hand-selected the judges look for balanced, thoughtful reviewers who call 'em like they see 'em.

Happy reviewing!

-Loren Woirhaye

-=A.R.N.=- said...

Thx for explaining what the Vine Voice is...I must say, I was baffled with that.
But tell me, do they also select you if you live outside the country of the original site?

For instance I live in Germany, but mostly use the UK site.
So will I qualify?

Paul said...

Thanks for the info on Vine Voice -- I saw the tag for the first time this evening and was frustrated when I could not identify the badge from the Amazon site itself.

Its a great idea. Good luck and happy writing!

worddreams said...

I'm curious how this has worked for you. I've been invited and am wondering if it's worth it. What are your thoughts four years later?

miraclepups said...

I realize you're completely serious when you're miffed about taking 20 minutes to write a review and have it rejected. I'd guess though, that most people can't write a good review in 20 minutes. On the other hand you'll do very well if you can type very quickly, you know the plusses and minuses of the product inside and out, you're able to tell people the benefits, the price, and how the price and product compare with similar products. Things like that, when written with sincerity and honesty, are of great value to those who are unsure whether or not they want to purchase something.
IMO, 20 min just isn't enough time to compose a thoughtful review unless you have Dragon Naturally or another such software program!
I'm an avid Amazon reviewer & Vine member. I didn't realize Amazon returned reviews which they felt weren't up to par. I don't think Amazon has excessive guidelines, but I spend too much time writing mine, & then edit, edit, edit! I think, if your reviews are written with the reader in mind, & w/the understanding that the review is out there to help someone decide whether or not to plunk down "x" number of dollars - which I believe is what makes or breaks a review(er).
Since I began reviewing for Amazon I've been asked to review for other publishers and authors, a much more time consuming proposition! I didn't charge the first time, but have a schedule of prices now.. no freebies for days or weeks of my time and effort!
For me Vine has been very worthwhile, but I can understand not everyone has the time to devote freely.
What I don't like, but understand, is when people complain that Vine members are getting freebies, and yet when I've checked those people's profiles, they rarely have more than 1 review, sometimes a few reviews - which in my mind lends more credability to any comment or complaint! All too often the complaint is their first comment on Amazon, those complaints have no credibility with me - so I just pass. A lot of people think it's an easy hand out, but it's not.. as you've experienced!
I've chosen excellent books and wonderful products. I've chosen books I could NOT finish.. they were so bad. And, every once in a blue moon, there has been the rare product or book which I wouldn't bother to give away free (if it were mine to give - Disclaimer: Giving Vine products away, or selling them, isn't allowed.).
There are SO many people on Vine it's not unusual for me to pass on the 1st offering, the 2nd offering.. sometimes I pass on both.
I wish you the best..
With best regards,
Juliette