PSA: The #WritingCommunity & the Mighty Amazon Algorithm Myth

I am interrupting my usual deluge of questionable reviews with a new investigative post. Note to all who may be wondering, my research took about ten minutes 😈 It was exhausting.

While I was purchasing a book on Amazon I decided to pay attention to some things to see if I could disprove a myth that I hear perpetrated time and time again. With a few minutes of screen clicks I was actually able to disprove two myths in the #WritingCommunity. I bet you'll have similar results if you want to give it a go.

1st Myth: A book needs at least 25, 50, 100 reviews or it will never be seen on discovery pages by readers.

This myth is a major source of much angst and review hi-jinks around the internets because there are many in the Twitter #WritingCommunity who believe that they must have at least 25, 50 or some other magical number of reviews in order to be seen by Amazon shoppers. And some will lie, cheat, pay $$ to fiverr and other disreputable review sites and just might sacrifice their firstborn to the dark lord in order to hit that mystical, magical number. But in reality, the review number is nothing but a myth.

But I know you won't believe my words so let me show you.

I clicked over to Amazon and visited V Castro's book page for her latest book Maria the Wanted. The only other books showing on the page at this time were SPONSORED books (none of which I want, if you must know). Bought and paid for ads, basically. Can you see the little numbers there next to the stars? Those are the number of reviews for the books! Also notice that many of them have nowhere near 25 reviews. "Someone paid for this ad placement, you moron, so it doesn't count!" I can hear you saying it and it's okay. Please keep reading.



Now here I am still on Amazon after having purchased Maria the Wanted. Now I get a refreshed page after the purchase so I can buy more stuff because Amazon wants all of my money. This refresh shows me the TOP PICKS FOR ME. Again, please take note of the little numbers next to the stars. One if them has 2 reviews but remember the magic number was supposed to be 25 or 50, or maybe 100, right? NOT TRUE! Also, these aren't paid for ads (so I'm not as big of a dummy as you have been thinking).


On the same page Amazon so kindly shows me the RECOMMENDED IN GENERAL picks. Note the review numbers again. Several have far less than 25 reviews which is on the lower side of the myths. Also note, these picks are tailored to my personal purchases which is exactly how it should be because I probably want them all but I have to holiday shop for others so that sucks. Now I'm clicking away from this book to see if this is an anomaly because this myth has been circulating for years and that must mean it's true, right?



Now here I am on the book page for Sonora Taylors LITTLE PARANOIAS (lovely book, btw, you should all read it) and here are my recommendations. Look, they are totally tailored to MEEEEEE! And I feel so special. Maybe I am a special case but I doubt it. I think this "discovery" and "visibility" has everything to do with Amazon making more money and has NOTHING TO DO WITH REVIEW NUMBERS. Sorry for screaming but I feel this in my bones.


I'm still on Sonora's book page here. These are the SPONSORED books they're trying to push on me. Sorry Amazon but none of these interest me whatsover (no offense to anyone who likes them or writes them) but whoever is paying for these sponsored book ads might be wasting their money. The choices above were all much better suited to my taste. I think it's a terrible idea to pay for sponsored book ads on Amazon from my 10 minutes of research. They're pretty useless and random as you can see. I think people should save that cash and maybe mail a few books to big mouthed reviewers to get some word of mouth going instead.



So here's the moral of this little trip into Amazonland: Amazon wants writers to PAY for sponsored books. Review numbers don't mean squat and do not appear to matter on the consumer page! The proof is above. They clearly match up similar books to push on the consumer and in my case it was pretty accurate as I have most of those books on the "CUSTOMERS ALSO BOUGHT" list and those I don't have, I'll probably own whenever I get some money I can spend on myself.

Here's the screenshot after I arrowed over the "Customers Also Bought" on Sonora's book page. It's here that I continue to get a list of perfectly lovely recommendations! Many of them have less than 25 reviews too, so what is up with that?




2nd Myth:  3 stars is a book killer. 

While I'm here, those authors who say that 3 stars are bad and ruin their chances of visibility? I don't think that's true either and also 3 STARS MEANS I LIKED IT. This list of books was recommended to me today. Please pay special attention to "Three Incidents at Foster Manor" (I haven't read it so I am not commenting on the content just using the rating numbers as an example). I clicked over to the book page and it has reviews that are all over the map AND an average rating of a 3.2 as of right this moment. Please remember that this book with 3 star (OMG) reviews was put front and center so I would take notice, discover it and give it a one-clicky.




Final Thoughts for Today:

I'm only one reader but I can tell you I rarely (like never) search Amazon to discover new books. Same goes with Goodreads. Have you ever gone searching for a list of new horror novels on either site with nothing in mind? You just want a new scary book that will make you pee your pants? No? Well I have and trust me, you could waste years of your life on that fruitless endeavor. I depend on recommendations from my reading and blogging friends and sometimes a striking cover and great author post/Twitter persona can sway me into trying someone new. THAT IS ABOUT IT. Who has time to visit Amazon to pluck a book out of the plethora of new books released each hour? I want to be the person with that much time on my hands because I would spend that time reading more books.

Here's my advice  (and it's worth what you're paying for it) to people worried about Amazon and their algorithms. Forget about it. Write your best book, don't pay for questionable reviews and reach out to the readers and maybe join a community. Stop agonizing about review numbers and getting down about low ratings/visibility. Instead reach out to bloggers who have review policies on their blogs, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads and offer to send them an ARC if you like their style and get that word of mouth going.

Also, for the love of all the demonic cats, please stop repeating myths and go back to enjoying what you do.

Further reading can be found here:


Comments

  1. This is really interesting. I never go to Amazon to look up books mostly because I don't trust anything on there.

    But honestly, I just don't care about any of this anymore. There's so much drama and people telling you what you need to do/should do from all angles and I just want to read in a way that doesn't cause me stress. lol

    Karen @ For What It's worth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it is exhausting and never-ending. This should be a fun hobby but sometimes all of the rules imposed on everyone by everyone make it stressful and ugh. I should do a poll and ask who actually looks up books to read/buy on Amazon. I'm curious if people actually do that kind of thing. It's a weird concept to me.

      Delete
  2. This is fascinating. I didn't know anything about this myth, but I'm glad you debunked it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) If you visit the #WritingCommunity over on Twitter you'll see all this stuff. I don't recommend it though. Sometimes it creeps into my feed and that's bad enough.

      Delete
  3. I never bother looking at the sponsored books as they never match the books they are meant to relate to and never interest me! Whoever pays for them should realise that they aren't being shown to the right people if we all ignore it! I do look at new releases from Amazon for apocalypse and horror books but I never base my purchases on anything except the blurb!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, those Sponsored Books never appeal to me. I wonder how much they cost? I hope not very much!

      Delete
  4. tell it like it is. LOL love the post and i never thought otherwise. i have so many books i want to read i rarely go looking for any. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same. My worry is that I'll go blind or something and have this ginormous stack of books sitting there that I'll never get to read!

      Delete
  5. I often see the writer posts agonising because they can't get to some arbitrary number of reviews - the spoof one where 50 reviews gets the author a unicorn springs to mind - and I've noticed the same as you about how Amazon's suggestions are far better tailored than their sponsored ads selection. In fact I often see sponsored ads for books I have already bought through Amazon. So they know I've got a copy yet some author/publisher/whoever is being charged for a pointless advert. That's just greedy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm curious how much those sponsored ads are costing people because they seem like a complete waste of money.

      Delete
  6. Thank you so much for putting this together!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I had a feeling this was the case -- thank you so much for digging into it to research it. I wonder where those rumors even came from!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's amazing how these rumors snowball when they have no basis in the truth.

      Delete
  8. I honestly go to Amazon with the intent of purchasing a specific book, so I never browse. I also didn't know all the myths you've busted are a thing in the writing community! Well done, you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I see these falsehoods spread on an almost daily basis. It's kind of crazy.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

All The Horror Reviewers You Will Ever Need

TTT: Let's Celebrate Love My Way!

Review: A Collection of Dreamscapes poetry by Christina Sng