AMAZON REVIEW KILLER & WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

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We love Dave over at Kindlepreneur! He keeps his eye on the ball with all things Amazon. Here is something you may not know you are doing. READ CAREFULLY! It could mean the difference between keeping and losing your hard-won reviews! And go subscribe to Dave’s info-packed blog. You will be glad you did! https://kindlepreneur.com

Amazon Super URLs: They Might Be Killing Your Reviews!

Amazon-Super-URL

There’s a strategy that a lot of people are talking about.  It sounds wonderful, and it makes a LOT of sense…but guess what…it’s not good!

Maybe you’ve heard about it?

It’s a link that people think you should use.

But in truth…

It’s quietly killing your books and I believe is quickly becoming one of the reasons why so many decent and legitimate reviews are disappearing.

What’s worse is some people are actually using it without even knowing it.

It’s called the Amazon Super URL.

In This Article, You’ll Learn:

  • What an Amazon Super URL is
  • How to find out if you are using them – even if you don’t know it
  • Why you SHOULD NOT use them
  • One special tactic you SHOULD use

WHAT IS AN AMAZON SUPER URL?

This:

what-is-Amazon-Super-URLAn Amazon Super URL is a link that was created by going to Amazon, searching for your book using a keyword, clicking on your book, and then copying the link at the top.

Creating a Fake Super URL 2

OKAY…BUT WHAT’S SO SUPER ABOUT THAT LINK?

That may sound innocent and probably something you already do when you are quickly looking for a link to send someone when they ask, right?

But here is where it gets bad and spammy, and why Amazon probably dislikes these links:

Many authors use them to cheat the system.

You see, the Amazon A9 search engine wants to list the products that bring them the most money for that search query.  So, according to Amazon, if a higher percentage of people type in a specific keyword, and purchase your book over others, then your book will rank at the top since it proves to Amazon that YOUR book makes the most sales for that keyword.

There are other super awesome factors that help improve your Amazon rankings, and you can get in on those secrets in my free book here.

Because of this ranking factor in Amazon, many authors have started sending Amazon Super URLs to their fans, thinking that these URLs trick Amazon into thinking that the person didn’t click the link…but instead went to Amazon on their own volition, typed in the keyword, found your book, and bought it.

They believe this because, as you can see, the Keyword term is in the link and that was the link that was constructed when THEY did the search:

Super-URL-Make-Extra-MoneySo, why is that bad?

WHY AMAZON SUPER URLS DO NOT WORK

In my post on Amazon Link Anatomy, I showed you the secrets to the Amazon linkand what it means.  I highly recommend you check that out.

But, let’s break down that Amazon link above and discuss the parts that are important in debunking the Super URL theory:

QID:  The QID is the number of seconds since January 1, 1970.  Yup…that’s right, there is a time stamp inside of the above link.   Each time you create an Amazon link using keyword searches, Amazon marks and tracks it.

Amazon-Super-URL-with-QIDBook Rankings Number: This shows where the book ranks for that keyword search at the time of the search.  In this case, when I did a keyword search for “Make Extra Money,”Nick Loper’s excellent book showed up as the 22nd book in the results.  Because a book’s ranking changes all the time, this set of numbers creates what mathematicians would call a check-sum.  It validates whether or not the link is true based on the rank at the particular time it was created and that someone hasn’t manipulated the link.

Super-URL-Book-Ranking-NumberSo, what does this mean?

  1. Amazon tracks when searches are made – so you’re not fooling anyone.
  2. Amazon knows if you messed with the link – some people actually recommend you remove the QID or book rankings numbers…haha…oy.

As you can see, Amazon won’t be fooled, and the rest of the link structure ensures your attempt to manipulate (if that is what you were intentionally doing) your rankings with this trick won’t work.

If you don’t believe me, then here’s a modern day example.  In the news story, notice that Amazon tracked the bad reviews from one link that was posted in Reddit….and boy did they act!

Time stamp? Yup.High percentage of certain type of review from a link? Yup

Chance that link is producing biased reviews? Yup

…I rest my case.

BUT IT GETS WORSE…

Amazon’s terms and conditions do not state anywhere specifically that creating links like this is prohibited.  However, they do state MULTIPLE times that any “intent” on manipulating their metrics will be dealt with.

So, keep that in mind as you read the following:

NOTE: This is where I start to connect the dots seeing that lots of people have commented losing legit reviews and a high percentage of those reviews being linked to these type of links.

As we authors know, Amazon has been on a witch-hunt to remove biased reviews.  Currently, they use an automatic system that scrubs their database of books looking for violations – the rules at this point are convoluted and are difficult to fully understand.

However, what we do know is that Amazon’s criteria for review removal isn’t consistent.  I believe this is because their automatic system calculates the potential of biased review based on certain factors – remember, automatic means automated, which means non-human.

So, using certain factors, Amazon decides the probability that a review is biased and should be removed.

Keep that in mind as we discuss how Amazon Super URL’s play into this.

Seeing that you created a link, used a keyword in order to potentially game their algo system, and a high percentage of those who use that link ultimately leave a review, Amazon’s automated system probably sees the connection and combined with other factors, initiates the auto-removal of the review.

Again, this is just another factor that raises Amazon’s review removal response. That’s why not all reviews are removed, and why there is inconsistency across the board.

Again, the above is my belief based on the following criteria:
  • Amazon’s review removals are inconsistent
  • Working with other authors, I’ve seen a high number of reviews from Super URLs removed
  • It is against Amazon’s policy of intent

WHAT LINK YOU SHOULD USE

The best and safest link to send to your raving fans is what I call the base URL.  This is the Amazon link up to the 10 digit ASIN number.  See below:

Amazon-Link-Base-URLUse this or an Amazon Associate link (see below for why this is safe) when sending your fans to buy your book.

AMAZON ASSOCIATE IS SAFE

Amazon associate is a program in Amazon where you can create a link, and if someone clicks on it, you earn a percentage of any sale on Amazon within 24 hours.

So, wouldn’t a link you create through this program also be flagged and marked for the reasons discussed above?

Great point.  But there are four parts to Amazon Associate that keep us safe and are therefore okay to use – and why I continue to use them myself:

  1. There are no Keyword Tagging, time tags, or checksums inside of an Amazon Associate link – therefore, there is no “intent” to game the system nor does it affect their algo rankings.
  2. Amazon actually encourages the use of Amazon Associate links to point to your own book – therefore, they basically say these links are a-okay.
  3. As someone who loves using Amazon Associate links to point to his books, I’ve never seen any adverse effects of using them.
  4. When you sign up for an Amazon Associate account, you sign terms and user agreements, making yourself an official Amazon affiliate.  You’ve – supposedly – read and understand their rules.

CONCLUSION

If you are creating links this way in hopes to game the system, then stop.  I’ve proven that they don’t work, and you are only endangering your potential reviews.

If you are using these links by mistake, then I recommend using the base URL instead to minimize the risk that such links are endangering your reviews.

Either way, they don’t work and there is GREAT potential that these links are frowned upon by Amazon and their automatic review removal system.

So link wisely my friends!

Cheers,

Dave-Signature

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10 Simple Things A Writer Can Do To Get Published

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(This is a partial repost from an August 2012 blog post written by author,  editor,  and publisher Cat Spydell)  To follow: CatSpydell.wordpress.com

From the publishers at World Nouveau Inc.:  While this article was originally posted as tips for our own would-be authors, the information can be applied universally to any publishing house. Here are some ideas and tricks to breaking into the publishing industry!

Ten Simple Things a Writer Can Do to Get Published

1. This may seem obvious, but follow the rules! The rules for submitting your query/manuscript are posted on our very detailed website. There is a reason we want a certain subject line in your email and for your Word document to have specific words and abbreviations in it, so we can FIND it again. Many writers name their documents something like “fictionmanuscriptversion1″ and their emails often are labeled “Submission.” Nice knowing you. Make sure your last name and book title are in the email subject line and in your document name. Also, check our webpage to see what genres we are currently accepting. Yes, we published a popular poetry book, but we aren’t taking poetry right now.

2. Use correct spelling in your query letter. Yes, we will notice if you wrote “our” when you meant to write “ours” or if you made other small errors. It is my job to edit! We assume if you can’t get it right in the letter, you will make our jobs harder because your book will need more editing, and that is already a strike against your manuscript before we have even seen it. Read your letter out loud before you send it to us; you’ll catch most errors that way.

3. Read up on cover letter writing. It is a skill that needs to be honed just like writing good fiction is a skill that needs to be honed. A wonderful cover letter speaks volumes for a potential author. Be friendly, keep it brief, tell us your background, describe your book, maybe even tell us how you heard about our company. One page. Two and I worry that your manuscript may be verbose.

4. Find us and introduce yourselves to us. If you hear that we will be speaking at a conference or have a booth at an event like the LA Times Book Festival, by all means come and talk to us. We accepted for publication many manuscripts from authors we met at a recent event. When we connect in person with future authors, we tend to give their books more time in our decision making process.

5. Get serious about being a writer. Don’t act as if this book you want us to publish is a one-off! We get a lot of submissions from “bucket listers” and we prefer polished writers who know their craft. It takes a lot of work to get a book from manuscript format to a quality book on the shelves. Show us how serious you are: Do you have a blog, perhaps one about being a frustrated writer? Do you promote yourself online? Have a marketing plan? Attend writing conferences? Let us know if you have a Twitter account or a Facebook page with friends who support you, or better yet, a self-published book. We look at all of these aspects of a potential author and appreciate veterans who have put in their time to make it in the publishing world.

6. Review before you send. So we agreed to read your manuscript, and…there are twenty “ly” words on the first page. ‘He quickly pushed his hands in his pockets. “Dang,” he whispered quietly, wondering what the lump in the road ahead could possibly be.’ Yes, when I read, I am counting “ly” adverbs. Adverbs in general equal lazy writing. We know you can do better, and expect you to! I won’t go into too much detail here, but quickly pushed could be shoved, whispers are quiet, and could possibly be is just ugly. Don’t get lazy, fry those “ly” words if they add nothing to your sentences. Avoid lazy verbs too: She was going to the store vs. She skipped to the store…much more vibrant. Wake your story up.

7. Watch point of view. I’m reading along and getting to know Henry, your engaging main character, and all of a sudden (notice I didn’t say “suddenly”?) Henry’s wife Madge shows up. The scene continues in Madge’s point of view: Madge looked at Henry’s craggy face and smiled, emotion filling her. But I was just in Henry’s point of view when you wrote Henry spread peanut butter across his bread, ignoring his rumbling stomach. When was the last time I ate? he wondered. So the scene with Madge should continue with Henry in his POV, such as: Henry looked into Madge’s eyes, and he could tell by the twinkle there, she was amused. Stay with one character at a time when it comes to POV.

8. Make your story believable. I am the first one who will call ‘bullshit’ on your story line if it is careening into unbelievable territory. I am one of those people who knows a little about a lot, so when you are trying to convince me a horse would behave this way when it wouldn’t, that tree would thrive there when it won’t, this law would bend in this circumstance but there is no way that is true…research it first so you get your facts straight. I write fantasy novels about things like fairies and time travelers. Those subjects take a lot of research because if I’m going to push the boundaries of reality with my science fiction story line, then everything else, from how the sun shines in October on Hollywood Boulevard to the flora and fauna of King George’s England, had better ring true. Make it real. I’ll go there with you if you do.

9. Don’t hound us. There are two of us making ALL the decisions for our fast-growing company, and we both do or oversee most of the jobs, so it takes time to respond to our own parents, let alone hopeful writers. There are whole months where we don’t even look at submissions and queries because we have events or book publishing deadlines. Once we do get to it, and we decide we want to see your manuscript, and you send it, the process is long. Any book we are considering goes through up to five readers, and sometimes our legal team. I recommend that you send us a query, and then send another one to ten or twenty other publishers. If you haven’t heard a thing from us in four months (rare but we have had some submissions disappear into that murky place where The Other Sock goes missing), send us a follow up email then. Contacting us two weeks after your query arrived makes us think that you’re too impatient to join us on the slow but steady path to publication.

10. Be ready to market. So you did it! We took your book, we are about to publish it next season: and you are doing nothing? Get real! We do a lot for our authors. We send out press releases, give them a launch party/book signing event, work to get titles in eBook format, put books into local libraries, saturate online markets, put books on store shelves, and set up individual book Facebook pages, get reviews, and give each author tons of marketing ideas. And some of our authors listen to the crickets and do nothing to promote themselves after the conclusion of their initial book launch. Be ready to hire a publicist, talk at local schools and bookstores, get yourself radio interviews, get reviews and mentions. Treat the publicizing of your book as a part time job, because it IS a part time job, and you will get paid in royalty checks! To give yourself a boost up in the publishing arena, mention marketing ideas in the cover letter. Learn the ropes. Be savvy.

The publishing world is changing every day, with more small publishers popping up amid the crumbling giant houses of the past. While it is unclear as to what it means for the future of book publishing, it does represent a window of opportunity for the writer who has had no way to “break in” (probably because he or she wasn’t a television personality-turned-author, an alarming trend in my opinion). Study the business, persevere, never give up. Even though Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is to do something over and over again and expect different results, we writers know that is not the definition of insanity, but the methodology required to toughen up the skin so we can enter the publishing world and find eventual success.

Six Ways Friends Can Help Promote an Author’s Book

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We caught this info going around Facebook and thought we’d share it:

6 Ways You Can Help Promote an Author Friend’s Book

 

1. Look for their book in stores and if it’s not available, request that they stock it.

A lot of my friends are authors, so I do this for them at Barnes & Noble all the time. I also turn the cover face out on the shelf so it’s easier to see, and when there’s more than one copy, I add one to a display at the end of the shelf, too. If you catch me doing this, I might even smile and tell you, “My friend wrote this book! It’s great!” When the book isn’t in stock, I ask the store to order it.

You can also ask for the book at your local library.

 

2. Share info about their book with appropriate people by forwarding an author’s marketing emails.

Friends can forward an e-mail to people they know who might be interested in a friend’s book. Ask your author friend to compose an e-mail message that describes the book, explaining who will find it interesting, and give a link to an online purchase site.

 

3. Provide information about organizations that might use the author as a speaker.

A complimentary word or two from a friend who is a member of an organization could be all an author needs to be the luncheon speaker at a monthly gathering. Every appearance helps spread the word about a book!

 

4. Share a review online.

Friends can write an honest review on Amazon and other retail sites (Amazon is the most important). It doesn’t have to be lengthy or time consuming.  Even a single line or a few words can be very helpful! An author building a following is said to need 60 to 75 reviews before social credibility is established. So get on Amazon and write; “Great read!” or “Would definitely recommend.” Every review counts no matter how short it is and it’s appreciated more than you know!

 

5. Use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks to share a link to a purchase page.

Friends of authors can write a personal message with the link, such as “Can’t wait to read my friend’s new book about sparking creativity!” or “Nobody writes better cozy mysteries than my friend Sam Cowen – buying his latest book now!”

 

6. Interview your author friend on your blog.

If your blog’s target audience matches your friend’s book or you think your readers may be interested in your friend’s personal story as a writer, email your author friend with a list of questions that he/she can answer by emailing back. Then cut and paste the questions and answers into your blog as an interview with an eye catching title like, “Author Reveals What it Takes to Succeed. Words of Wisdom to Benefit Anyone who has a Dream.”

 

A word from The Muses:

Help your writer friends! Buy their books, promote their books, and give their books as gifts!