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How Keywords Can Help You Sell More Books

In 2000, in an American romantic fantasy comedy movie “What Women Want”, Nick Marshall, played by Mel Gibson, suddenly gains the ability to hear women’s thoughts. At first it overwhelmed him, but then this advertising executive realises that his new found superpower could skyrocket his career and he could break into the multi-million dollar women’s market.

Knowing what customers want is a key component for success in business. Companies dedicate large amounts of their annual budget to research in this area. According to an article in IBISWorld, who provide industry research on thousands of industries worldwide, Market Research in the “US Market Size” in 2022 is estimated at $28.5bn.

Companies want to know how to best plan and execute their strategies. Yet, as authors, we often ignore this crucial part of the marketing mix because we don’t think of ourselves as salespeople. I regularly tell my clients that in order to transform hearts and minds, you must sell books. You can only reach people when they have your book in their hands. That means that sales are an important part of your mission.

Knowing what readers want is one of the best techniques you need to master before you launch your first book. Yet most authors write the book and when they see the “keyword” part of their KDP account, they panic and quickly throw something together. But how do authors know how to find the best Amazon Keywords? Sometimes they ask their publishing company to come up quickly with something, or worse, they do nothing. Most authors and publishing companies have no clue what keyword research is. And so authors tend to leave their book’s success in the hands of a company who has little or no market research background.

A publishing company is not a market research company. Their job is to publish your book and if you look at Amazon and find your book there, then they have done their job. The moment they hit publish, the success of your book lies entirely in your hands. Yet I hear so many authors say, I am not making any sales. I paid company Y to publish my book, but I see no results. Does this mean that you chose the wrong publishing company? Certainly not, it just means you either have false expectations of the publisher or the publishing does not know the importance of keywords.

Walk into a few retailers and ask them if merely opening the store made them reach their annual sales target and they will tell you; “No.” Successful retailers constantly run promotions, have sales personnel and a specific marketing strategy to attract customers and convert them into buying customers. You may say, but I am an author, not a retailer. But Amazon is a retailer and so to sell your book on what is arguably the largest online bookstore in the world, you must understand the market and what drives sales.

Now, before you give up on your book, don’t feel bad. Most start-up entrepreneurs just start doing what they love and then learn the skills along the way. So roll up your sleeves and let’s get going with that first crucial step. Even if you are currently doing it in reverse order, you can correct the process and start moving in the ‘right’ direction.

So What Are Keywords?

Kindle Keywords are the words readers type into Amazon when they are looking for a book or Kindle ebook. In short, they are what readers want and when you know this, then you know the words you want our book to show up for when someone types it in.

Choosing the profitable keywords for your genre before you self publish is the best way to prepare for your book launch on Amazon. There are several other steps you must also take, but starting with some solid keyword research is an excellent technique for how to build your author brand.

What are we looking for when choosing profitable keywords?

Your focus here is on how to choose the right kindle keywords to reach more readers. In order to best position your book, an Amazon Keyword should be a phrase or word that:

  • Readers are actually typing into Amazon
  • Readers will actually pay money for
  • The competition isn’t too hard

You can use up to seven keywords or short phrases in your keyword section when you load your book onto Amazon KDP.

Amazon KDP also has a list of keywords to avoid, which you can find on their website. Kindle Direct Publishing has a zero tolerance policy for metadata that advertises, promotes, or misleads readers inside your book descriptions or keywords. So make sure that you choose keywords that apply to your books.

How do I know what people are looking for?

A good starting point is to head over to Amazon and type in something into the search bar. This will show you some of the other words readers are typing into the Amazon search bar. Amazon created a function in their search facility which predicts what you are going to type. It is making this assumption based on popular keywords that other readers are typing. In this example, I typed in “How to sell”. A word of caution, though; once you have started this process, Amazon will start recalculating based on what it thinks you are looking for.

Make Sure You Avoid Bias

In the research industry, bias can happen from a missed step in the research process or improper feedback techniques. When doing keyword research, you must do everything they can to steer clear of this, so that you can trust your findings and give your book the best chances. Amazon’s preemptive function creates bias because they focus it on helping readers to find the best books that match what they want. However, as an author, you don’t want to know what books Amazon is going to recommend to you; you want to know how to get your book in front of more buyers. This is why we recommend to authors that they do their research using the Google Incognito functionality or that you do a facilitated Keyword research session with one of our consultants. We also can recommend certain Amazon specific Keyword research programmes.

What Do You Do With Your Keywords Once You Have Them?

Your goal is to improve the visibility of your book to get more sales. There are hundreds of books being added daily to Amazon to your genre and so you want to make sure that you position your book to maximise your chances of being seen. To do that, you need to add your keywords to places that the Amazon algorithm uses to find information to recommend books to readers. There are three places you can add these keywords.

Add Your Amazon Keywords To Your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Dashboard

Your KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Dashboard has a slot where you can add the seven keywords. KDP allows you a maximum of fifty characters for each slot. Characters include the spaces as well, so make sure that you calculate the spaces and letters before selecting your keywords and phrases.

Add Your Amazon Keywords To Your Book Title or Subtitle

This is a step that is most appropriate if you are still writing the book. There are several authors who do keyword research before even writing their book. This way, they write a book that the market is hungry for. If your keywords are in your title, Amazon will pick it up and this will improve your chances of the right readers seeing your book as it improves the relevancy of your book for reader searches.

Amazon loves new releases and even gives you a little boost in visibility in the first 30 days after you launch your book. So if you have positioned your book well with well researched kindle keywords, then you stand a far better chance of a successful book launch.


Add Your Amazon Keywords to Your Book Description

Once Amazon has recommended your book as a potential choice, readers will have a look at your cover and book description. The book’s description is the sales pitch which will tell the reader whether this book is the best choice for their needs.

Develop a Marketing Strategy

So now you have your keywords and you are going to make sales… right? Keywords are a crucial part of your book marketing plan, but it is not the only part. In terms of the marketing mix, we would make this part of the “positioning” strategy. Keywords help you position your book for success, but you still have to work on promotion.

Now that you know the importance of keywords, you can work on repositioning your book or better plan for the launch of your next book.

Happy Writing

In this facilitated interactive keyword research one-on-one session, session, we will do a 60 min one-on-one session going through an Amazon Keyword search.

Hello, I am Kim Vermaak

I spent most of my adult life helping other companies build their dream and their brands.

After I turned 40, I wondered if there was more to life than taking care of children and slaving away to earn a living.

I wanted to create a legacy for my children and the next generation. I found that through my books I could celebrate who I am as well as teach others to earn a living through their writing.

Being an author is not a hobby. It is a business, and it is my passion to teach authors how to thrive in that business. I look forward to seeing your book business grow.

Your Book Whisperer


Kim Vermaak Round Profile Image

BookSirens is a legitimate resource for authors and readers alike that can help readers find books they’ll love, while matching authors with prospective reviewers so they can get more honest reviews.

What Kim was able to offer me in terms of insight, price with her experience in understanding the needs of authors was outstanding. Kim is not only creative, but she takes on your views and comments willingly and it’s professional open process.
Horror Author

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