A note about…Amazon keywords

Jun 30, 2023 | Indie Publishing, Writing | 0 comments

There’s something every indie author should know about – Amazon keywords.

Now, I am absolutely not an expert. In fact, the reason I’m sharing this post with you today is to show how wrong you can get it. If you’d like an actual guide on how to do Amazon keywords well, then check out the links below (and yes, I’ve used the below resources myself to help my own keyword research now that I know what they are!):

Picture the scene: it’s 2015. A young(ish) author is excited about releasing her debut novel into the world via self-publishing. She uploads her cover and manuscript excitedly and then gets to this screen:

In a rush, she quickly types out the first keywords that come to mind: book titles that are in the same genre, alongside generic overarching categories. She puts one word in per box and then hurries onto the next (more exciting stage), actually publishing her novel! She doesn’t think about her keywords again! She thinks it’s a one-time thing! She never even considers these could be a factor in getting her book in front of potential readers!

Fast forward eight years. That same author is ready to finish her series and be serious about her writing. And as she gets ready to update her first book’s cover in preparation for releasing the rest of the series, she realises in horror that not only are her keywords woefully out of date, but they’re also hugely inadequate and don’t accurately reflect what her novel is about.

Yes, dear readers, you guessed correctly. That author is me.

I was the one who typed out the first seven keywords I could think of in a rush. I was the one who only wrote one keyword in each box without a thought and then moved swiftly on, NOT REALISING that keywords are actually SUPER IMPORTANT to how many people see your book on Amazon!

Look, I’m not gonna lie. Over the past few years, have I done as much as I could to promote my book? No. Life got in the way of my writing ambitions and after having my son, I just lost all confidence in myself as a person and as a writer. But I did think that the keywords that I’d used meant that somewhere, someone might discover my novel. It turns out I was sorely mistaken. Those seven words I chose in a mad panic did nothing to market my book for me. Hell, I’d be surprised if my book showed up on anyone’s ‘recommended reading’ page!

Choosing the right keywords for your novel takes a lot of time. Not only do you have to think about your genre and your characters, but also what themes your book covers and – perhaps most importantly, although like I said, I’m not an expert – what people are searching for on Amazon when they want to buy a book. There’s a really easy way to check this – simple go to Amazon, type your search terms in the search bar at the top of the page, and see what comes up. Those words that autofill when you type are the most searched keywords on Amazon, and those are the ones that you should consider for some of your keywords. However, don’t use ALL the popular search terms as 1) you may risk confusing readers if you’re just throwing keywords down willy-nilly and your interdimensional goblin sci-fi book comes up while they’re searching for romantasy and 2) you also risk getting lost in the crowd. It’s a really fine balance and I highly recommend you read the above links to dive a bit deeper into this.

Anyway, I really really wish I’d taken a screenshot of what I originally used for my keywords, so you could see what not to do – off the top my head though, my keywords were something like: Divergent, The Hunger Games, sci-fi, science fiction, YA, young adult, YA sci-fi.

I’m not even joking. If I had a screenshot, I’d show you. However, I can share the new keywords I’ve updated Synthetica with – I still don’t know if this is entirely right, but I did a lot more research before choosing them, and at least now I know I can always tweak them in the future if I need to:

[Apologies for the tiny pciture – no idea what’s going on with my computer but it won’t let me take a larger screenshot, so I’ve written the keywords for you here as well: ‘Young Adult Science Fiction’, ‘Female lead sci-fi’, ‘futuristic genetic engineering’, ‘fact paced dystopian future’, ‘Hacker capitalism and freedom’, ‘Dystopian murder mystery’, ‘Beautiful gritty urban sci-fi’]

So there you have it – how not to use amazon keywords. May your own keyword journey be less painful and more fruitful than mine!

Z xx

What tips and tricks do you have for using Amazon keywords as an indie author? 


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