Monday, September 18, 2006

amazon spotlight reviews

i keep trying to figure out how the amazon spotlight reviews work. i did a google search and ended up on an amazon message board where people were talking about how the negative spotlight reviews were impacting sales in a huge way. i tried to get in on the conversation, but this was some kind of private programmer board. they were saying that the negative reviews eventually got bumped by a good one, and then sales went back up. i know that's not the case. one of the few negative reviews posted on amazon for hush has been a spotlight for two years. there's another spotlight negative review for sleep tight that's been up since 2003 even though good reviews have followed. i know these negative reviews impact sales. as soon as they're posted you can see the rating change drastically -- and remain changed as long as the review is a spotlight.

two of my spotlight reviews were posted by the same person, someone who obviously knows the triggers for getting a spotlight. length is one. breaking up the review is another. i also suspect that certain words are triggers. things like good and fan.

anybody know anything about this?


Kelly Parra said...

I don't. =) Amazon is too new to me. In fact, I tried to post a review for you and I can't yet until I buy something! *laughs*

btw, you're new pic is cool!

anne frasier said...

kelly -- :D

well that sucks! thanks for trying!

i'm not sure about the new pic. i feel very exposed....

Kelly Parra said...

I know what you mean, but I like it because it's more natural and you... of what I've seen in other pics on the net. =D

Anonymous said...

I saw that review getting kicked up to "spotlight" and it royally pissed me off. It has the LOWEST number of agreement votes.


Stephen Blackmoore said...

Amazon suffers from the problems of being a closed system where no one really knows how their algorithms work, and from the perception that it's important. Hence the conspiracy theories surrounding it.

As booksellers go, my understanding is that Amazon doesn't begin to compare to Wal-Mart, for example. The only thing that it's got going for it is that it's a convenient place to look at and has tools for tracking their sales.

That said, I still think we should all delve in there and write some stellar reviews for your book.

anne frasier said...

kelly, yes, that's why it makes me a bit squirmy. that IS me. LOL!

jason, here i go with the conspiracy stuff, but i do know that people who work for amazon can go in and move things around. and that one particular negative post went up like one second after midnight on the release date. what kind of person just sits there and waits to post a scathing review? it's bizarre. i expect to get bad reviews, but when that one bad review out of 40 (hush) remains at the top, it's odd.

could easily just be a glitch in the system.

stephen, i agree that amazon sales can't compare to walmart or even the actual store stores, but i do often go there to read the reviews when i hear about a book. even if i don't buy it from amazon.

and I SWEAR TO GOD i wasn't hinting, but i like your idea!

on the message board where they were discussing this problem, one suggestion was to not allow the software (or whatever!!!) to spotlight a review with words such as hate, suck, etc. that might work for a while, but the people who know their way around amazon would figure it out fairly quickly.

Sandra Ruttan said...

No, but that sucks.

There's no qualification for posting a review on Amazon, you don't even have to prove you've read the book, can post anonymously and could be a vindictive ex-lover or whatever.

I have serious issues with the amazon reviews. I never read them, and haven't a clue what I'll do when my book comes out. I've been told it would be rude not to read them, but I could spend forever reading each review - couldn't I?

Bill Cameron said...

I honestly have to wonder if T.Avon actually read the same book we all did. Certainly jumped right on it, posting the release day. Maybe they got it early. Amazon does that sometimes. (I got the last Harry Potter from Amazon three days early). But I am suspicious.

Amazon is a great mystery to me anyway.

anne frasier said...

sandra, i have mixed feelings about amazon reviews because i do think they also help sell books. and i don't mind some bad reviews mixed with the good. just this damn continuous featuring the bad review that IS making me a bit paranoid. i have pissed off some people this past year. :D

bill, i have the feeling t. avon is someone who receives ARCs. and i did post here about someone selling an ARC on ebay. somebody emailed me and warned me that i might be doing a lot of damage to myself by complaining about it so publicly. or t. avon may have been expecting a traditional vampire romance. i do think the cover is misleading in the that way.

anne frasier said...

okay, here's some info. maybe. i called amazon customer service, and the person i talked to said that the spotlight reviews have gotten more votes -- negative or positive -- and she thought that's what kept them at the top. that makes sense.

anne frasier said...

i haven't check the vote numbers, but this means that if
if a lot of people are mad about a review and are hitting the no button, it keeps it at the top. arggghhhh!

that's actually pretty funny.

bekbek said...

That makes a lot of sense.

I like the reviews, but I only use them for content --i.e., never "this is bad" but "this is bad because stuff that makes sense to a bekbek." It's the context that counts. Mind you, I've mostly been buying nonfiction for the last several years, so context/content applies a little more, perhaps.

If Amazon's algorithm is flawed, call it to attention. Write an article (not you, perhaps, anne, but uh... "us," I guess) for the literary/review mags. Amazon is a marketplace and responds to the market. Make them suffer, and they'll fix it.

Damn, that's work. Okay, I'm on it.

anne frasier said...

bekbek: :D

the customer service person i talked to today was very nice and said she would definitely submit a report. the more people who point it out the better.

Bill Cameron said...

Sounds like we need to all go vote for good ones.

Susan Flemming said...

That's just what I did after I read about Anne's phone call. I voted for all the good reviews. It's just not fair that a single bad review should be spotlighted when all the other reviews are good.

I'm also working on revamping the review I wrote and posted to my blog for the Release Day party, so I can post it to Amazon.

anne frasier said...

bill: :)

susan: i just saw your fantastic review. thanks so much!!!! and it made me slap my forehead. i need to put up an amazon post about the two chapters on the PI blog. thanks!!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Anne, I just wish there was a system in place. Something that protects. I mean, bad reviews happen, that's fine. But a few years back Phil Collins' fans were conspiring against Mark Billingham, because his protagonist doesn't like Phil's music. They actively discussed on forums going on amazon and posting scathing reviews of the book.

Stuff like that is a bit worrying. Hope an author never goes through a bitter divorce... A negative review is fine, as long as it's about the book.

anne frasier said...

sandra, i agree. one thing amazon will do is remove a review that is obviously a revenge review. but i think it has to be really obvious.

i think the negative review of PI is legit. i've worried all along about the cover -- beautiful though it is -- screams vampire romance. those books are very specific, almost their own genre, and this reader felt she'd been tricked. i don't blame her for being upset about that.

anne frasier said...

here's the amazon reply to the submitted report.

lesson here: DON'T SAY NO! :D

The product detail pages of most items on our web site give top
placement for up to two Spotlight Reviews. These featured reviews
are selected by a process that is driven by recent votes cast by our
customers for reviews.

Spotlight Reviews are re-calculated periodically to incorporate new
voting activity. Voting history will determine which reviews are
given featured placement.

We are constantly re-evaluating and examining our features and

Susan Flemming said...

You're welcome, Anne. I'd been meaning to get that rewritten into a suitable review to post on Amazon. You mentioning the Amazon review and how they work, reminded me to get it finished.

Tami said...

Not sure if you know about TitleZ Anne, but I came across a new website that tracks numbers (I think Amazon numbers.) It seems like a decent program/site to track the numbers over time and print the pages etc.

It's free during their Beta's the link:

anne frasier said...

tami, no i hadn't heard of that!!!! thanks so much!

Tami said...

welcome! I just found it and thought of you right away! hope it helps some.

anne frasier said...

i just noticed that the spotlight review section is gone on the PI page. nice!