Amazon Likes, Tags, Reviews, and complicated math stuff

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

It’s probably a fair assumption that most writers consider themselves wordsmiths not number crunchers. Thus, when I recently stumbled upon Melissa Foster and a group of writers discussing the algorithms with which Amazon sells books I was intimidated by the complicated math stuff. Despite this aversion to numerical analysis, the topic has proved to be interesting and worth exploring.

 

In my simplified layman’s terms, it is speculated that Amazon takes note of books that light up the system with dings and pings, rewarding them with explore-similar-items or other-customers-have-bought recommendations and other such prompts. So just what constitutes these dings and pings? A few examples:

 

The like button

 

Toward the top of a book’s page, there is a “like” button. (For an example follow this link to see my book, The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls: http://www.amazon.com/McCloud-Home-Wayward-Girls/dp/0425241319) Amazon, apparently, registers when a book garners a healthy number of “likes.”

 

Tags

 

Toward the bottom of a book’s page, there are a number of tags. My book, for instance, has been tagged as “contemporary fiction,” “family secrets,” “family drama,” “family saga,” “fiction,” “heartmates,” “Iowa,” “mainstream fiction,” “Midwest,” “women’s fiction,” and “romance elements.” (The “fantasy” and “paranormal romance” tags are misleading as it’s my other two YA novels that fall under these categories. Oh well, not a perfect system.) In front of each tag is a box that the viewer is able to check in agreement with the tag. Again, lots of checks make the Amazon folks happy. (Ironically, clicking the “agree with all tags” button does NOT do the trick. It’s necessary to individually check the boxes.)

 

Reviews

 

To the right side of the Customer Reviews section, is a “create your own review” button. Books that earn enthusiastic reviews also make Amazon happy. From an author’s perspective, enough can’t be said about the importance of positive customer reviews. For all the above pings and dings, it is the weight of a personal recommendation that rewards and gratifies an author. An important note here is that the review doesn’t need to be lengthy or analytical. Personally, nothing makes me happier than a simple “I couldn’t put it down” comment.

 

Melissa Foster’s facebook group can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/womens-literary-cafe/tagnlike4authors/117822258317589

Together, they’ve banded to tag and like one another’s products. I know I’ve personally benefited from this exercise. After joining in, my name was mentioned in tweets mentioning my name, book, and some variation on  “newly tagged” by people who are not my followers, nor had I followed them. (@multiplytraffic, @KindleReviews, @JmoRocks, @bestdealtoday99, @wartonoantarest, @bestdealtoday33, @NiceWorth)

 

I want to give credit to the two blogs listed below for information on this topic:

 

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2011/04/21/amazon-recommendation-algorithms/

http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/tag-your-it-making-your-algorithms-work-for-you

 

So off you go to Amazon to like, tag and review your favorite books. You’ll make both the author and a statistician very happy.

6 Comments

  1. Jan Blazanin says:

    Thanks for uncovering this “secret stuff!” Very informative.

  2. Thanks for sharing the #ShareTheLove4Authors information with your readers, Wendy. No one knows how the algorithms of Amazon actually work, as Amazon keeps it under wraps. As authors, we are banding together on WoMen’s Literary Cafe to do what we can to maximize exposure while keeping a very strict hand on ethical procedures.

    I’m so glad you’ve found us. When we roll out the website, we’ll be showing authors how to market without charging fees. My aim is to give back, to share knowledge without making authors pay. The more successful we all are at handling our books, the better authors we’ll become. #ShareTheLove4Authors

  3. Sharelle says:

    Wendy, you’re brilliant and savvy! Thank you!

  4. Wendy, thanks for writing an informative and interesting article. It’s great to have you as part of the #ShareTheLove4Auhors network. Look forward to following you.

  5. Wini says:

    Seriously great stuff here, Wendy. Thank you.

  6. Great article and really succinct.

    There has been alot of discussion as to the relative worth of liking and tagging products on Amazon. I myself have participated in a few of these efforts in the past year or so. I haven’t necessarily seen a jump in sales of my own book, however it has given me the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and purchase their own works.

    Melissa’s group most certainly ticks those latter boxes and it provides opportunities to participate in discussions as this one right here.