The other key: Keywords, Part II

So, you have taken a look at your BISAC categories and selected the two best, noting with confusion that the BISAC categories KDP has you pick are not one-to-one direct translation to Amazon’s browse categories.

You’re combed through the KDP Help page, and picked the keywords to unlock the subcategories you want, and now you knwo right where your story will go!

But wait! There are 7 slots in keywords you an fill, and you only needed three of them for the subcategories! What do you do with the other four? Ooh, why not fill them with related search terms?

Okay, this is where I tell you to take your hands off the keyboard, go make yourself a nice cuppa, and prepare for some serious research and thinking instead of impulsive decisions. Yes, you’ll want search terms. However, there are a couple things you’ll need to do beside just throw terms you think will fit in there.

The first thing you need to do is go back to the KDP category and Keyword page, and look at all the other categories, the ones you don’t write in, and see what their keywords are. If you don’t, your “really super-obvious” search term may unlock some categories you really didn’t want to be in!

For example, Peter’s written and soon to release a western, with the working title of Brings the Lightning. It’s set around and after the civil war, and goes from the Appalachians out to the west. So, you’d think, oh, “cowboy” or “indian” would be good keywords. Unfortunately, “cowboy” unlocks “Romantic Heroes/Cowboys”…

Yeah, if we put that in a keyword, his action and adventure would be the only title in the category without bare male chests and lots of decolletage. Let’s not go there!

And “indian”? … Nope. “History/Americas/Canada/First Nations”

After you’ve looked through that, sit down and come up with a list of search terms that Yon Random Reader would be likely to use, to look for stories like yours. Come up with 10 if you can.

Now, log out of your amazon account, and clear your browsing history. Why? Because Amazon is focused on giving you what you’ve been looking for. So if you’ve been checking, say, lots of westerns lately, then your search returns while logged in are going to be completely different from someone who’s been looking at kid’s party supplies, or costumes, or gluten-free cookies.

While Amazon has no cookies to know who you are, start plugging in the search terms. Ideally, you’ll stop to clear your browsing history between every search. See what comes up.

With some search terms, you’ll hit the autocomplete jackpot – this is a term that so many people use, Amazon has an autocomplete for it! The customers are looking for this, and using these phrases!

With others, you’ll suddenly realize that the word has other meanings. “Indians” brings up lots of Subcontinental-India cookbooks and religious books, and stuff all over the map. Scratch that!

“Old West”, on the other hand… very promising.

What happens if you go through all your search terms, and none seem to work well?

First, clear your browser history, and then head back to amazon, searching this time through the categories. For Peter’s next book, that was by linking through Kindle ebook, literature and fiction, genre fiction, western. What comes up in the first three pages? What common words do those titles, series names, & blurbs have? Then, go to the top-100 bestsellers in that category, and repeat.

Yes, you’re mining for data. There be gold in them there categories!

As Sabrina Chase put it, I do respond to the dial-a-post feature, or the “Can you please tell me more about X?”

So, what topics would you like to see me address?

And hey, does this sound like a book you’d be interested in?

Where can a defeated Johnny Reb go when he can’t go home?

Out West, the land is hard and danger’s on every side. But no one cares who you fought – only how well. Walt Ames, late of the First Virginia cavalry, is headed west with little more than his guns and a pocket full of looted Yankee gold. In his way stands rough trail, bushwackers, con men, restless natives, and the most dangerous of all: the woman he can’t forget.

When you can’t go home again – go west!

Brings The Lightning, by Peter Grant – coming soon!

11 thoughts on “The other key: Keywords, Part II

  1. I for one will be very interested in hearing how y’all’s experience taking Peter’s western through a publisher compares with your typical indie publication. In particular, how much input/control will you have over how the book gets promoted. Will you handle Amazon key words or does the publisher do all that in their style and their rules?

  2. Unfortunately, “cowboy” unlocks “Romantic Heroes/Cowboys”…

    Is this certain? I believe that the keyword gets a book into a sub-category only if the higher level category was also chosen.

    For example: My novel Fate’s Door would fit well in more than two BISAC categories. I chose Historical Fantasy and YA Greek & Roman.

    I wish I could also have chosen: Romance Fantasy, YA Fantasy & Magic, and YA Love & Romance.

    My keywords are: Greek god, Norse folk tale, love story, coming of age, ancient historical, magic sea nymph, young adult.

    This gets the book into:

    Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Coming of Age

    Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends > Greek & Roman Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends > Norse & Viking

    Books > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends > Greek & Roman

    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Coming of Age

    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends > Greek & Roman

    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends > Norse & Viking

    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Literature & Fiction

    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Coming of Age

    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends > Greek & Roman

    Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends > Norse

    Even though the keyword “ancient” is listed for the sub-category “Historical Fiction Time Periods/Ancient,” and even though “ancient” is one of my book’s keywords, Fate’s Door is not listed in that category, because I did not choose the higher level category of History.

    Even though “magic” is a keyword listed for “Teen & Young Adult Fantasy/Sword & Sorcery,” Fate’s Door is not listed in that sub-category.

    “Magic” is also a keyword for the sub-category “Teen & Young Adult Romance/Fantasy & Paranormal.” My book would not fit in that subcategory at all, but fortunately use of the keyword has not unlocked it.

    In fact, certain keywords appear in multiple places on Amazon’s keywords lists for the sub-categories, but – in my experience – have not unlocked a sub-category unless the higher level category or BISAC is also selected.

    I had hoped that using “love” as one of the keywords for Fate’s Door would at least unlock “Science Fiction & Fantasy/Romantic,” but it did not. Probably because the BISAC is Historical Fantasy, and the tree for that category does not have romance in it.


    1. You’re right. The Witch-Child and the Scarlet Fleet, being fantasy, does not go in the SF category of pirates in spite of being justly tagged “pirates.” sigh Aren’t there a lot of fantasy pirates, too?

      1. Seriously! There are tons of fantasy pirates. I wish we had more options for sub-categories and more control over where a book gets placed. Some books fit only in one category. Others very legitimately fit in half a dozen. And some don’t fit smoothly in any of the existing options.

  3. One way to deal with clearing your browser status is to keep another browser on the computer that you only use for these searches. That way, when you clear the browser status/history, you’re not wiping out the useful stuff that the cache and history keep around for you. So, if you’re a heavy Firefox user, download a copy of Chrome or Opera and only use it for the keyword searches, clearing the status in between. That way you don’t lose your history and cache on Firefox.

Comments are closed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: