Carnivalesque: Liking, Tagging and Moving up the Queue at Amazon

Welcome to Carnivalesque and our Travelling Blog Show! Each week Joanne Brothwell, Hayley E. Lavik, Jana Richards, Janet Corcoran and I get together to start a discussion on a topic we think interesting. This week’s topic:

Like Me, Tag Me, and Moving Up the Queue at Amazon! Should we Like and Tag books or Review books we haven’t read?

Jana: J.A. Konrath, who is quickly becoming my hero when it comes to book promotion, says “Review each other. Buy each other. Support one another. We’re all in the same boat, and we all need to row.” So I’m inclined to say sure, go ahead and tag someone else’s book, even if you haven’t read it. Hopefully someone will do the same for you. I haven’t done a lot of tagging, but I understand that it helps to categorize a book. When a reader purchases a vampire romance novel by Big Name Author, another book with the same tags by Suzie Not So Big Name Author, may pop up when Amazon helpfully suggests that “Readers who have bought Big Name Author’s book, may also enjoy…” We’re merely categorizing books based on the description the writer gives us to make it easier for a reader to find that book.

Where things get murky, at least for me, is when we give reviews on Amazon. I got caught in a review situation once. An author I know asked if I would review her book on Amazon. In return she would review one of mine. I agreed, thinking it was a great idea. The only problem was that I didn’t care for her book. But she’d already given my book a nice review so I felt obligated to do the same.

I’ve been asked to write a review on Amazon on a few occasions since then by other authors. However, since my experience I’m reluctant to do so unless I’ve read the book and really liked it. I want to be able to give an unbiased, honest review, and if I don’t feel enthusiastic about the book, I’d rather say nothing at all.

Joanne:  Liking is different to me than tagging or rating books. I might Like a book that interests me, or that is on my to-be-read list. This seems okay to me.

Tagging? Before trying to answer this question, I didn’t even know what tagging really was or what it did. So I looked it up on Amazon: “Think of a tag as a keyword or category label. Tags can both help you find items on the Amazon site as well as provide an easy way for you to “remember” and classify items for later recall. You can add up to 15 tags per item.”

Based on this, I suppose it is fine to tag items you haven’t read yet, especially if you’re wanting to use it to find or remember items. I guess the added advantage is that the author will benefit from the tag as well. I don’t know, am I the only one here who doesn’t have a problem with it? I’m curious to see what you guys think!

Janet: My quick answer? No! The long answer? I am not a reviewer or a tagger, yet I do recommend books all the time. In person, usually, or over an e-mail – I have been known to be quite bossy when it comes to suggesting book titles to friends (especially when I know they would love it based on what they love to read). And in all those recommendations, I very rarely talk about what the book is about. Yes, I’m still having nightmares about school days’ book reports! I give a brief synopsis and then explain that because they love dark and edgy, they’d love this book or because they enjoy a good romance, they’d love this book. So to review a book online – yikes – and its something I struggle with considering my friends are writing amazing books and I should be helping to promote. And one day, it may be my turn. I’ll get over that one of these days, but if you think I’m going to tag or review a book I haven’t read, then you’re wrong. I take pride in my book recommendation ability and would feel like a heel if I suggested a book I hadn’t read to anyone – friend or stranger. Can you tell I feel strongly about this? You bet I do!

Karyn: I don’t mind tagging books and liking authors on Amazon. After all, I’m hoping people do the same for me when the time comes. Amazon sells a crap load of books after all! I don’t mind helping authors classify their books, especially if I think of a tag they might have missed. (Your welcome, Joanne.) It’s my understanding that the more tags you have the better chance of your book popping up when that criteria is searched out. Tagging books helps authors like me – the new and unknown – get noticed sooner rather than not at all. Amazon may recommend you read my book if you liked this book, and so on and so on. I just wish I had time to keep up with all the requests from my fellow authors!

But I draw the line at reviewing books I haven’t read. I don’t mind writing reviews for books I’ve read and enjoyed.Thankfully, I haven’t come across a situation where I didn’t like the book! Frankly, I don’t put much stock in reviews on Amazon. Especially, if I suspect three quarters of those glowing reviews have been written by your family and best friends.

Hayley: Clearly I haven’t spent much time on Amazon. I didn’t even know this was a thing. I don’t tend to do much about books after I purchase them. I’m bad about review sites, I forget to star things on Goodreads…but I’m huge on word of mouth. If I read something I enjoy, I tell people, I give copies as gifts, and from a reader’s standpoint, I feel that matters more.
The idea of trading likes and tags with people who may not have even read your book, for the sake of ranking, feels like a lot of work for very little result. A book won’t get anywhere on the fuel of small reciprocal groups alone. Yes, those tags and likes may help new readers find your book on page 1 instead of page 5, but I still feel like the energy involved could be better spent elsewhere gathering authentic readers who would like and tag on their own, and generate word of mouth.
But then again, I don’t like or tag, so who knows?
There you have it friends. What’s your take on the subject matter? Do you Like and Tag books on Amazon? Do you read reviews on Amazon?

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