There’s Something About Reviews ~ Outside the Margins with Andrew Q Gordon

Join Prism Book Alliance® as Andrew Q Gordon goes Outside the Margins today.




I can see some of you rolling your eyes and saying, aw shit, here’s another author bitching about bad reviews. Nope. Not this author. And certainly not on PBA’s bandwidth.

As most authors will tell you, Amazon is a many headed hydra. Some of the heads are wondrous and life altering. Others are so maddening you want your own head to explode so you don’t have to try to figure WTF is happening. But for authors, one of the most important things is to get your book noticed on Amazon so it will sell. That’s where reviews help.

Somewhere in the dark bowels of the Amazon behemoth is an algorithm waiting to lift you up or crush you like a gnat. It gobbles up information, digests it and farts out your book’s rank. It is not based just on sales. There are a bunch of other data points that Amazon feeds its beast including… reviews.


No one outside of the creator demigods knows what bit of nourishment is most desirable to the algorithm, but we do know that reviews are important. The more you get, the more the more engagement the beast sees for the book. Even less than glowing or poor reviews sustain the soul devouring kraken. It’s akin to negative events, they trend on line just like positive ones.

Right, so everyone reading is like, sure great, you not only want me to buy and read your books, you want me to take time away from reading other books to review yours. Who do you think I am? A reviewer? Point taken, BUT….

Here’s a funny truth, look at the number of reviews on Goodreads for the book you last read. Then go check out the number of reviews on Amazon. Go ahead, I’ll wait. {Plays the theme from Jeaporday}

See, there are more reviews on Goodreads than on Amazon. And not just stars, I’m talking written reviews. For example, there are 42 written reviews for Purpose on Goodreads and 15 on Amazon. For (Un)Masked there are 8 reviews on Amazon but 36 on Goodreads. And those are just two of mine. I know of other cases were the imbalance is even higher.

Unfortunately this isn’t as simple as, ‘well people don’t bother to review on Amazon like they do on Goodreads.’ Sigh, if only it were that easily fixed. Amazon has limits on who can leave a review. Other authors? No. To the algorithmic beast, authors are competitors with each other and competitors can’t review the products of those they compete against. On the flip side, authors can’t review their own books. Aside from being tacky, it’s self-serving. And pointless. “I think this book is great!” Shocker right? But what if the author said, “This book is just okay,” would you even think about buying it? So honestly what’s the point of reviewing your own books.

Goodreads, on the other hand, lets anyone review a book, even authors and publishers. Want to trash your fellow authors? Goodreads allows it. (It’s a really bad idea that I’d recommend against, but you can still do it.) Feel in the mood to leave yourself an awesome sauce review? Yep, Goodreads is good with that too.

A good bit of the difference between the two totals can be attributed to the different rules. Authors review each other all the time on Goodreads, because while we are technically competitors, we are also avid readers and we like to tell other authors when we like their books. (I’m sure there are also examples of authors leaving poor reviews too, but let’s not go there.)

But that is only part of the difference. The rest is a bit disturbing. Did you know that the Amazon algorithm analyzes your on line presence? It tries to find out who you are friends with by checking your friends on Facebook and other social media. And then once is can establish who are your friends and family, it spits out and rejects their reviews. But maddeningly enough, only some. Don’t ask which ones or why, your not allowed to know. If you knew you could game the system or worse, you’d know when they disregarded their own rules. Ever get an answer from the ‘Zon that basically said, “we reviewed your complaint and our decision stands and no we’re not going to explain”?

To help, review early and often – okay, just make sure to review. If the ‘Zon removes it, so be it, but chances are that unless you’re a close relative or BFF with the author, it will likely pass muster – for a time at least. Even if they eventually take it down, it could be there a while. You can bet the author will see it and who knows, it might be there just long enough to tick enough boxes with the algorithm that will help the author.


~Andrew Q Gordon

About Andrew Q Gordon

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Andrew Q. Gordon wrote his first story back when yellow legal pads, ball point pens were common and a Smith Corona correctable typewriter was considered high tech. Adapting with technology, he now takes his MacBook somewhere quiet when he wants to write.

He currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his partner of twenty years, their young daughter and dog. In addition to dodging some very self-important D.C. ‘insiders’, Andrew uses his commute to catch up on his reading. When not working or writing, he enjoys soccer, high fantasy, baseball and seeing how much coffee he can drink in a day.

Follow Andrew:

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On Twitter: @andrewqgordon,

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From Wayward Ink Publishing:
A Closed Door

From DSP Publications:
The Last Grand Master: (Champion of the Gods – Book 1)
The Eye and the Arm: (Champion of the Gods – Book 2) 
From Dreamspinner Press:

Self published:
Ashes of Life

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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2 thoughts on “There’s Something About Reviews ~ Outside the Margins with Andrew Q Gordon

  1. I’m so glad you wrote this! I normally go into Goodreads and write my reviews unless I’m reading on my iPad. In that case I go into the ‘Before You Go’ on my Kindle app and write my review. I guess from now on I need to post a separate review on Amazon. The joys of readership need to be shared and if this helps authors I’m all for it. My life would be bleak without all of you sharing your thoughts, ideas and beautiful characters and their stories.

    • What would be the point of writing if no one read? Readers are what make writing worth the effort. Hearing back makes it even enjoyable. 🙂

      Thanks for reading, replying and reviewing. 😀


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