When people talked about "algorithms" on Amazon, I had no idea what they meant. Wikipedia says, "An algorithm is a finite list of instructions, most often used in solving problems or performing tasks."
I was still puzzled. When I learned that a recipe was an example of an algorithm, I began to understand. In cooking, I had to follow the recipe in the correct order.
1. Gather the ingredients. There was no need to go to the next step if I did not have all (or most) of the ingredients. I did my fair share of substituting one ingredient for another, though.
2. Preheat the oven. Such a simple but necessary step. If this step was overlooked, the oven would not reach the proper temperature and the mixed ingredients did not cook properly or in a timely fashion. I learned from experience that turning the oven to a hotter temperature than recommended, to make up for lost time, would not solve the problem.
Amazon has become the #1 search engine for books. If someone wants a book about a particular subject, the person types the subject into the search bar. Books that Amazon thinks are the best matches will be shown. Chances are strong that the person will click on one or more of the books shown and possibly make a purchase.
How can an author of a particular book, one of millions in a particular genre, get Amazon to show that one book to someone searching for books in that genre? Algorithms.
Only Amazon knows all that goes into its algorithms. Apparently, it is a closely guarded secret. Certainly, one important factor is the sales ranking of the book. More sales, better algorithms, more exposure, better ranking ... Somehow, they must be tied, or looped, together.
It's been a year or longer since I watched "Dancing with the Stars." The show was based on the premise that a well-known person was matched with a professional dancer, and they became a dancing couple. Weekly, they competed with other such couples, until one couple proved to be the best dancing partnership in the dwindling number of contestants. Ideally, the best couple won. Popularity played a part, especailly at first, until the dances became harder and the weaker couples were eliminated. It was more than a popularity contest. Hard work and skill were involved.
To get a book noticed by Amazon so that buyers notice the book, the author needs more than popularity. People who are much smarter about this than me, specifically the people at Reedsy who send free, weekly emails, say that "keywords" are extremely important. To Amazon, keywords are more important than the words in the book's title, subtitle, or back-cover blurb.
Having placed my books on Amazon and filled out the forms, I already knew that authors are allowed only seven keywords. Here's the "key" to this problem. We can insert more than one word in each of the seven spaces. That was welcome news to me.
In fact, we can enter up to 50 characters per keyword space. Now, that makes a difference! Instead of using "Noah" for one keyword and "Ark" for a second keyword, I could type "Noah's Ark, Great Flood, Rain, Rainbow" in one keyword space. Did you count the characters? I still had room for more, plus six more keyword spaces to go.
When I did that seven times, I knew I had a better chance of my book being noticed. If someone searched for "Noah," my book might be recommended by Amazon. In fact, it was. For awhile, my book was #1 in the cagetory of "Children's Noah's Ark Books." Amazon's rankings are very fluid, though. My book is no longer #1 in that category, but it's still doing much better than it did during the first two years that it was on Amazon.
"How do you like them apples?" (Good Will Hunting).