Amazon keywords are wonderful. Get them right, and readers searching for your type of book are served your book in their search results. Get them wrong, and your book may well languish, undiscovered, and hence, unread.
I have plenty of those books.
But I’m learning! The place to start is with Amazon’s own advice on choosing key words. Did you go off and read it? If you only have a few minutes, spend it on that link and not this post
Keywords are about targeting your book. Who are its intended readers and what are their expectations when they pick up your book and begin reading (what are they searching for)? Targeting is vital beyond ensuring that you’re meeting your promise to readers (and that your promise is clear) because it helps you align all your promotional efforts.
By promotional efforts I mean: title (keywords), blurb (keywords), cover (visually express keywords), teasers (graphics + text to express keywords), guest posts (keywords), etc. I think marketing experts would call it “staying on message”.
Keeping the purpose of keywords in mind helps in defining them — or it does for me. If I start thinking about the cover and realise that the sort of cover I have in mind wouldn’t work for the story, then I know something is off. Shift between visual and text scribbles if that works for you. Coming up with keywords takes me days.
There are tools that promise they can deliver you the keywords you need. Do they work? I don’t know. I haven’t tried them. I’ve become dubious about all the things marketed to authors as guaranteeing results. If you have tried the tools, and have found any helpful, I’d love you to share your experience in the comments on this post.
Keywords are about your characters, your tropes (e.g. second chance love), your subgenre and so on. They are about meeting the market. Your book is unique, but it must be discoverable! But there are readers for everything. You just have to think about how to reach them.
I could talk about this for ages because the thing I’ve discovered is that the idea of keywords is simple, but their effect is so powerful (they’re in everything, influencing everything), that how we think about them is unique to each author, and we have to find a description of their potential that resonates with us. Then we have that lightbulb moment and spring into action. So almost all of what I’m saying is old news to you and you’re bored, but then one aspect catches your attention and you’re engaged.
Keywords have to engage!
What hooks you when you’re browsing for books? that’s a keyword, even if visually expressed.
If you look at books similar to yours, you’ll get an idea of keywords from their titles, blurbs and from the lists they belong to on Amazon — and don’t forget researching the words reviewers use! Reviewers are smart!!
The lists I’m talking about are at the bottom of a book’s Amazon page. Dare, my paranormal romantic suspense collection is currently free (till Feb 25) which means it’s gotten enough downloads to show up on some lists.
That’s great. But mostly my books aren’t ranking high on lists. Still you can see what categories Amazon has shuffled it into (based on my keywords) by scrolling right down to the bottom of the book’s page and finding these:
These lists reassure me when my books go live that I’ve gotten my keywords pretty much as I wanted them — in this case, paranormal romance and the various characters or story types that people might search for, and which I deliver.
You can tell I’m not an expert, so please point out my flaws, share your experience, and if you dare, ask me questions!