Things I Learned About Keywords

I wanted to post an update related to Aimee’s post last week about using categories and keywords on Amazon. These are a few things I learned over the weekend:

1. The categories I picked do not match the categories that actually show up on the bottom of the book page. I chose FICTION>GHOSTS and FICTION>FANTASY>DARK FANTASY. At the bottom of the book’s page it says:

HORROR is one of my keywords, but not one of my categories. I don’t think this is related to the keyword though so much as how screwy their categories are: the ones you can pick don’t match the ones you can browse, and neither seem to match the ones they use on the book pages themselves.

However, if you browse to FICTION>FANTASY>DARK FANTASY, it will show up there.

2. You can use keywords to get into the smaller, more specific categories. I used HUMOR as a keyword. If you browse to FICTION>FANTASY>DARK FANTASY>HUMOR, it will show up there.

3. But not the bigger ones. Using PARANORMAL and WOMEN’S FICTION as keywords did not put me in those categories. That meant WOMEN’S FICTION wasn’t doing me much good, so I took it out and added DEMON instead. I kept PARANORMAL though because I think there’s still some benefit to having that as a search term. People might type “paranormal ghost story” into the search box, but I don’t think many will type “women’s fiction ghost story.”

ebooksmAnd yes, Ghost in the Canteen is in the store! But not officially “launched” yet. Amazon and CreateSpace both did everything so much faster than they said they would that I was a bit taken by surprise to have it available so quickly. After 24 hours I sent Amazon an email to link the two formats (didn’t happen automatically in that timeframe), and they did that within a few hours as well.

I hate the idea of starting my release announcements on a weekend rather than the nice tidy Thursday I planned, but I’m going to anyway because I think it’s the lesser of two evils. The way I figure it, you only get 30 days in which you qualify as a New Release, and you want to make them all count!

Per David Gaughran’s advice in Let’s Get Visible, I’m spreading the love a bit on launch communications. Newsletters/my mailing lists today, then blog/Twitter/Facebook tomorrow, then my other blog the next day.

Of course, you guys should, like, totally check it out now. 😉

23 thoughts on “Things I Learned About Keywords

  1. Thanks for this great post, Jen. I’m heading out the door right now, but will study this in detail (and learn from it) when I return. I’ve already gone straight to amazon and downloaded the book, because I’ve been looking forward to reading it ever since I read the excerpt on your blog. And I’ve tweeted it out (for the first time), too.

    Folks, please don’t forget to share posts like this one, and any and all promos, as often as you can, with all of your Peeps. THANKS! We’ll do the same for you.

    I shall return! SO glad to have you sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joshua, just as a thought, you can change your current ones, too. In fact, David Gaughran suggests changing the categories often, to find new readers. Just in case it’s something you’d like to do. You have full control over that aspect, anyway, and can update, revise, etc, to your heart’s content, especially if you’re disappointed in the current results.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Replying to myself because…wow! Your book is extremely well written. I gulped down the first three chapters, full of humor, fun, and a little terror, and now I’m going to have to wait until my husband gets home before I keep reading because it’s getting scary. 🙂

      Everyone else — go get your copy! It’s excellent!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I knew it! I read an excerpt on Jen’s blog, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this. I just know it’s going to be great, and I’m glad you are loving it, Aimee. I’m in the middle of a book right now, but as soon as it’s done, I’m reading Jen’s next!!


      • Aimee, thank you so much for the kind words. And you are my first (and currently only) borrow, which is very exciting for me!

        Thank you both. And I know you know your stuff, so if you happen to notice any errors or formatting problems in the Kindle version, please do let me know.


  2. Ok a brief update for the paranormal fantasy peeps, if it’s interesting or useful. With the categories the way I had them, if I went to paranormal fantasy and checked the box next to ghosts, my book would not show up, even though I was under fiction>ghosts and had spirit (required for ghost category) and paranormal as keywords. Same with all the other subcategories in paranormal.

    In other words, the only way for your book to be browsable in paranormal fantasy is for you to give up one of your categories for it.

    So I did, and took out fiction>ghosts instead, even though paranormal is a big category and I haven’t got a prayer of ever getting on a paranormal bestseller list, because I think it’s more important that I not be invisible there–a large chunk of the people looking for a book like mine would be likely to browse that category.

    And what I got in return is that between that category and my keywords, I’m now in 4 subcategories of paranormal fantasy (ghosts, devils and demons, horror, and humor), some of which are small enough for a shot at getting in the first few pages to be a reasonable goal.

    I’m also in those same four subcategories of dark fantasy, so now I’ve got 8 places I can be found by browsers (if I ever get higher than page 20, that is ;)), although they’re similar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jen. Every bit of info from you helps, though I still find this whole process incredibly confusing. I think amazon could simplify it quite a bit by letting us type in the entire string we want for our categories. Plus the keywords. Or something of that nature. New self-publishers have enough to try to sort through, without trying to figure out how to work the system. Of course, that’s just my personal opinion, but it sure has flummoxed me, over and over. I’m going to make changes to both of my current novels before I upload #3 this month. Hopefully with your advice, this will work. And now to try to figure out MailChimp, as well. (I may come weeping to your doorstep later, begging for help.) 😀


  3. Also worth noting… everything I just said pertains to the Kindle Books store. People who go to shop in just plain Books instead will see a different set of categories (they don’t quite match up) and rankings.

    FICTION>GHOSTS for example is a category choice you can pick from your dashboard, but it doesn’t exist as such in the Kindle store (but you can get into any ghost subcategory just by having it in the keywords).

    It does exist, however, in the Books store and has its own Hot New Releases and Best Sellers lists there. And the only way you’ll be included there is if you’ve chosen FICTION>GHOSTS. Having ghost as a keyword does NOT do it.

    Like Marcia said, it’s probably worth changing up occasionally to make sure you’re visible to as wide an audience as possible. (In my case though, my ranking in the print book store will almost certainly always be too low to make any lists anyway, because I don’t expect to make a lot of print sales compared to Kindle sales, so it’s probably worth prioritizing the Kindle store.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I go back and forth on the print-only lists. Ebooks actually will show up there if you sell enough copies, but I’ve recently discovered (by looking at the also-boughts) that people who buy indie ebooks seem to be very different from people who buy print books. So I’ve changed categories to avoid the print-only categories, which I’m hoping will mean I stay closer to my target audience.

      Off to write my review of your book now. Definitely a 5-star read!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That makes a lot of sense, I think I’ll follow your lead and do the same. And THANK YOU for reviewing!

        By the way I’ve got Shiftless waiting on my Kindle and I’m about to drop Diana Gabaldon for it, halfway through the second Outlander book, because OMG DIANA YAWN! I’m thinking I might join KU without mentioning the monthly fee to my husband… all the indie books I want to read are starting to add up. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, Kindle Unlimited *does* have the free trial month. I used that up a couple of weeks ago and ran out of indie books I wanted to read during it. Then, a couple of months later, I’d added up enough books I wanted to borrow that I figured it was worth trying another month. I suspect that’s what I’ll do, in my usual cheapskate way — drift on and off it from month to month so I definitely get my money’s worth. 🙂

          Thanks in advance for reading Shiftless! I hope you enjoy it!


        • I really loved the first Outlander book. A lot. The second one, not nearly as much. And I quit halfway through the third. But the first one sticks in my mind to this day. I mean…it had MEN IN KILTS! 😀 And standing stones. Everything I could ever want.


  4. Learning more and more from you two, thanks! And I’m so glad you are giving Ghost a 5-star review, Aimee. I’m almost done with the book I’m reading, and definitely plan to read it next. I’ll review and tweet, too, when I finish it, Jen.

    Thanks again for everything you share with us. I’m changing the header slightly today (I hope it will let me) to reflect our “motto,” as well: Writers Helping Writers.


  5. GRRRR… fair warning, if anyone’s been tempted to make changes since we’ve been having this discussion, make NO CHANGES to your meta data right now. KDP’s been a bit bumpy (not just for me) and I strongly recommend waiting for them to work out whatever kinks they’re experiencing.

    I made some changes to my categories and keywords yesterday and when the changes were done and the book was live… it was gone. The product page is still there if you happen to follow a direct link, but if you search in the Kindle store? No matches. If you browse my categories? Not there. My product page also has a lovely blank categories section.

    But don’t worry! KDP support says they might have it figured out BY NOVEMBER 13.

    Yay for a launch week where nobody can find my book! That’s not going to completely hobble me AT ALL!

    I am bitter. Is it too early to start drinking?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yikes! I’ll be hoping they do it much faster than that! On the plus side, when I search for your book, I *do* get the paperback, which is linked to your ebook. An extra step is painful and loses readers, I know, but at least people *can* find it if they know what to look for but don’t have a direct link.

      I’m so sorry!


    • OH, drat!!! I’m so sorry to hear of this, Jen! I wanted your launch to go perfectly for you (and for all of us, when it’s time). SO frustrating. I’m sending you a double shot of whatever virtual alcohol you choose. What’s your poison? Me, I’ll take Absolut…with a touch of Rose’s lime. A double vodka gimlet just might do it in a case like this. Or not. Might not be enough liquor in the world!

      But have heart…you WILL get through it, and your book WILL find a solid audience, I’m sure of it. I started reading it last night, and remembered why I loved the beginning (excerpt) so much. Nothing makes me happier than snark, for one thing, and this gal’s got it. So far. I guess when the screaming starts, that could change.

      If you do a quick post here with your picture and links, etc, I’ll tweet the heck out of it for you, and ask others to do the same. It won’t fix this issue, but it WILL get it in front of a few more viewers, until amazon gets their act together. And thanks for the warning. Hopefully by the time I launch Rabbit, I’ll be able to tweak my categories, too, without this kind of thing happening. Sending you loads of love and positive thoughts!! Hang in there.


    • I’m a fan of the brown liquors myself. Rye, bourbon, whiskey. Not much of a scotch drinker, but that’s because scotch is like wine in that you kind of have to be educated about it, and I’m not.

      Thanks for the kind words! I am slightly consoled that the paperback comes up on a search. I’m also still–for now, since my rank is falling fast–listed under Hot New Releases in dark fantasy so I’m not completely invisible in the Kindle store. It’s still a huge hit to my visibility and discoverability, but it’s out of my hands. I asked for advice on the Kboards and got a suggestion that sometimes these kinds of glitches sort themselves out in a day or two.

      Most books take a long time to find their audiences anyway, especially a first book. Launch week is important because of the algorithms, so I really don’t want to lose it, but in the scheme of things, it’s not like it’s going to sink me and I’ll never work in this town again.

      This keywords post already had so much self promotion in it, Marcia, I feel like another one would be spammy!


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