Books · The River Series

How To Avoid the World’s Most Common Self-published Author Blunder of All Time

So, I’ll make this real quick and blunt: Amazon loves self-published authors, but they’ll crush us if we get out of line.

What I mean is that out of the dozens of platforms for self-published authors to get their finished books into the hands of readers, Amazon does this in the simplest, most cost-efficient format, hands down. Their price point can’t be beat, and the usability of their system is on-par with the best online tax filing website. Just fill in the blanks with the accurate data, and we’ll do the rest.

The thorn in the flesh to self-pubbed authors who use Amazon is in their algorithms. Amazon has tweaked the heck out of their algorithms in an attempt to prevent legitimate reviews from mixing in with “fraudulent” reviews (or reviews which would be classified as such according to their definition of the word). What that means is that if they think that an author has in any way, shape, or form persuaded an Amazon user to write (or otherwise alter) a review of that author’s book, then Amazon will just throw that review out with the trash (or they may prevent it from ever happening in the first place).

So, while I agree that an author should not do anything fraudulent or underhanded in the pursuit of reviews (i.e. pay reviewers for 5 star reviews, etc), Amazon takes their liberality in the definition of “persuasion” to pretty extreme distances. In fact, one of their algorithms directly searches for the use of the world’s MOST COMMON BLUNDER self-pubbed authors make, a pitfall which could prove detrimental to their future success.

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

You want your Facebook friends to read your book, right? What better way than to post a link to it on your Facebook page! But let’s say you get on Amazon, search for your book and then copy and paste the book’s link on your Facebook page. You’d hope tens, hundreds, even thousands! of Facebook users will click on that link, buy your book, and then review it so that Amazon’s algorithms will boost your book to the tops of Amazon’s list, thus drawing in for yourself some organic readers, and you’ll become the next John Grisham, etc.

But there’s a problem: That link could get you into trouble (or, at the very least, lose you some reviews—this has happened to myself and other self-pubbed authors I know). Why? Because your link contains a timestamp.

This is bad because that timestamp indicates a precise point in time (down to the second) that your book was searched for. It would not be too far fetched to imagine that two or three people searched Amazon for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the precise second in time, thus yielding the same timestamp to their searches. However, if tens, hundreds, even thousands! of people buy your book using that same timestamped link which you shared on your Facebook page, Amazon’s algorithm is going to think: this author has used a form of persuasion to get readers to buy their book, thus all reviews which are generated from those timestamped purchases are to be thrown out.

No reviews = Sliding swiftly down Amazon’s rankings into self-pub oblivion

How to avoid the most common self-published author blunder:

Don’t copy and paste the Amazon link to your book. Instead, when you share an Amazon link to your book, simply type:{your book’s asin}.

That’s it.

So, for example, the timestamp link for my book Bordertown Gypsy would be

The simplified and untimestamped version is

See the difference?

Not only does this type of link prevent Amazon’s algorithm from being triggered thus rejecting all reviews from books which were purchased using that timestamp link, but it’s a much shorter and more attractive link.

Now, quit making the world’s most common self-pubbed author blunder and get yourself some reviews!

PS—An ASIN stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number. It’s basically Amazon’s product code for your book. You can find it on your book’s Amazon webpage under product details.

2 thoughts on “How To Avoid the World’s Most Common Self-published Author Blunder of All Time

  1. Ah, yes, and I’m still trying to figure out why some of my reviews make it through and others do not. Also, emailing and asking gets no response. They simply blow you off. 😡

    Liked by 1 person

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