Ratings and Reviews at Amazon, Suddenly?

Ratings 2

New Ratings

I noticed a new ratings number at Amazon today: http://amzn.com/1480250201 .

Look closely at the top of the page, below the author name. Between the gold stars and the 34 reviews tally, you see the number 56 (well, I suppose it’s subject to change before you read this post).

When I place my cursor over the 56, I see a gray rectangle near my cursor that says, “56 customer ratings.”

When I place my cursor over the 34 reviews link, it pulls up a chart showing all 56 customer ratings, averaging out to 4.3 stars.

Scroll down to the review section and the chart is different. That chart shows 34 reviews, averaging out to 4.4 stars.

I only see the non-review ratings on my paperback books. I don’t see any non-review ratings on my Kindle e-books at this time.

(By the way, if you click on the Kindle edition, you can see that the cover is changing. Melissa Stevens, http://theillustratedauthor.net, designed the new cover.)

Author Central is still only showing the reviews.

In case you’re wondering, I have a book that has one rating, but no reviews: http://amzn.com/1467970727.

If you have print books for sale on Amazon, I know what you’ll be doing for the next few minutes. 😉

Now we can speculate. Is this here to stay? Is Amazon just testing it out? Will it be coming for Kindle e-books, too? Time will tell.

You may be wondering how customers gave those ratings. Keep in mind, these weren’t from the end of a Kindle e-book, as the ratings are only showing on paperbacks presently. I had to go to my account at Amazon and explore to figure out how to rate books without reviewing them. I won’t be rating any books though; I much prefer giving reviews.

Has it occurred to you that ratings are anonymous? I’m not ready to think about the ramifications of that…

~ Chris McMullen ~

KDP now Supports HTML Descriptions

HTML pic

Amazon Book Description HTML

How it was:

  • Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) didn’t used to support HTML for the book description.
  • In order to use boldface, italics, ordered lists, and unordered lists, it used to be necessary to visit Author Central (https://authorcentral.amazon.com).
  • Once you used Author Central for your Kindle e-book description, republishing the e-book at KDP wouldn’t have any effect. You had to return to Author Central to revise the blurb.

It’s changed:

  • KDP now supports HTML for your description. (I know this because I just tried it and it worked.)
  • The HTML at KDP is the same as the Author Central HTML (e.g. there is a funny space in the linebreak tag, <br />).
  • If you republish your Kindle e-book, whatever description you have with KDP now overrides your Author Central description.

If there was any announcement regarding this, I missed it. I just discovered it by checking my product pages after republishing and hearing from others who’ve done the same.

Important notes:

  • Just a small change, like modifying your price, causes your Amazon book description to revert to whatever you have at KDP.
  • Before you republish at KDP, visit Author Central, edit your book description, select the HTML option, copy the description, save one copy in Notepad, and paste it into the description you have at KDP.
  • After your updated book goes live on Kindle, check your blurb at Amazon.

Good news:

  • This is better because now the Kindle description can include formatting when the book first goes live.
  • Although you can’t preview the description at KDP, you can edit the description with an existing book at Author Central and preview it there (then simply cancel the edit so it doesn’t affect your other book).

You don’t need the <p> tag to make paragraphs. Just use two consecutive <br /> tags; they work like using the Enter key twice to create a blank line between paragraphs.

Note that KDP respects the Enter key. Therefore, if you’re using <p> tags and using the Enter key, you may get much wider linespacing than you expect. Ordinary HTML ignores the Enter key. Author Central ignores the Enter key (in HTML mode). But KDP doesn’t.

Basic KDP Blurb HTML:

  • Place text between <b> and </b> to make boldface, as in <b>bold</b>.
  • Place text between <i> and </i> to make italics, as in <i>italics</i>.
  • Use <br /> at the end of a line to have the same effect as the Enter key.
  • Use <br /><br /> to create a blank line between paragraphs.
  • Don’t use the Enter key in addition to the <br /> tag.
  • If you use <p> tags, don’t use the Enter key in addition to the <p> tags. (Use <p> at the beginning of a paragraph and </p> at the end. Don’t press Enter between paragraphs.)
  • Use <ol> to start an ordered list (with numbers) and </ol> to end an ordered list.
  • Use <ul> to start an unordered lists (just bullets) and </ul> to end an unordered list.
  • Use <li> to create an item on a list and </li> to end that item.

You don’t actually need to know HTML to format your description with it:

  • Edit a book description for any book at Author Central.
  • Type the description with boldface, italics, the Enter key, bullets, or ordered lists.
  • Preview the description to see how it turned out.
  • Switch to HTML mode. (There is a little yellow rectangle for HTML and another called Compose. Click the HTML rectangle to switch to HTML mode.)
  • Copy the HTML for your book description into Notepad.
  • Cancel the edit at Author Central so it doesn’t affect the book’s actual description at Amazon. (That’s why it didn’t matter which book you used.)
  • Paste the HTML into KDP. (If you also want to use it at CreateSpace, remove the spaces from the <br /> tags. You can do a find and replace in Notepad.)

There is an important difference between KDP, Author Central, and CreateSpace HTML: At Author Central and KDP, the linebreak tag <br /> has a funny space, while at CreateSpace there is no space, <br/>. If you use the linebreak tag in your HTML, be sure to adjust the space between CreateSpace and the two other sites.

Also noteworthy is that KDP, CreateSpace, and Author Central all permit descriptions of 4000 characters (it used to be 2400 at Author Central).


About Me

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

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