Self-publishing: Keywords and Categories

Ha, I came back to keywords and categories, and I still remember promising you to tell about my adventures with setting up a business bank account. However, I won’t bore you with that now, just with exciting things like categories to push your work into. If you are groaning already, I promise there’s a dance at the end (boring one, mind you.) No gifs as I have to admit I have never tried to produce one. I’m helplessly old-fashioned that way. You might laugh to know I’m writing the first draft of this blog by hand. Only then I will type it into my writing software (Scrivener). I do this because of writing by hand helps me think. That doesn’t mean it makes the text any better.

I should get back to the topic as I’m yet again derailing somewhere else. Keywords and categories. A few weeks ago (more like a week ago) keywords and categories were horrors from my nightmares. I was hopelessly lost. That is not the fault of Amazon or anyone else, just my own. I kept pushing the issues for a later date, thinking of them as impossible to do. To note: the categories and keywords I came up with are not perfect; some of them are good, others meh; but I’m going ahead with them as those I saw more exciting wouldn’t be anything someone would type into Amazon’s search bar. Shame on me for thinking inappropriate things (now you are wondering what they might be. I leave your imagination to fill the caps as I couldn’t come up anything as nasty as you would, and you know it!) Good gods, I don’t seem to be able to stay on the matter at hand. Yes, let’s move away from the dreary subject and let’s have a dance party. Ha, fooled you! Not yet.

Okay, maybe I didn’t fool you as you can see there is more text below and you my dear reader are not an imbecile like I would be. What was I saying?

Instead of thinking categories and keywords as this horrible monster who hunts you and has only one purpose in life and that is to sit on your chest and smother you to death, act and slay it! Stash it under your bed where it belongs by googling about Amazon keywords and categories. There are many helpful sites about them, and KDP’s own site being one. Amazon is your friend, use it. They want to help you sell your book to make money out of you. (Hurrah!)

Okay, I might as well give you some clue how to find keywords. Go and find on Amazon book(s) that are close to yours. See what words they have used on their title, description, and under what categories they are listed (you find those by looking at their sell ranks. Amazon has helpfully provided you the necessary information under Product details.) Now do this several times to different books, and you get a clearer picture under what category you want your book under and what keywords there might be out there. I recommend you copying categories, titles (+writer’s name), and possible keywords to Word, Excel, or even to a notebook, whatever rocks your boat. After you have done this, you began to see what keywords might be useful and what are the two possible categories to put your book under. What I did with my categories was look at the path at the top of a book whose category I wanted to get into (getting there by navigating the side panel!), copied it and pasted it to KDP help query and sent it (+ the second one) along with my ASIN and rest of the info to Amazon. They have a pre-made email for that, and all you need to do is fill your info and be polite. They added me into those categories.

I ended up making one mistake. That was going a category too far. (Kindle Store : Kindle eBooks : Science Fiction & Fantasy : Fantasy : Humorous : Gods & Goddesses.) Gods & Goddesses is not a category. It is a keyword. Amazon helpfully pointed that out for me and send me info/link how to get onto that list. When I saw their helpful and polite email and that they added me to those categories I wanted excluding the Gods & Goddesses, I smiled and danced. You can try that now. No need to get up or anything that fancy. Just smile from ear to ear. Then wave your hands in the air, and maybe do something with your chest, circular motions! (I warned you that the promise of the dance was better than the actual dance. You should have trusted me. If you suddenly seem to think dancing can’t be this boring, yes it can! If you happen to be doing with me who has an underlying distrust of anything others might call fun.)

I need to stress that when you send the inquiry to Amazon be polite as *** and they will be helpful. And yes you should go an extra mile to getting your book under a precise category because of the two categories you choose will affect your sales. Also, think the keywords as subcategories which will make your boom pop out from the sea of books.

Before I finish this post, there is one thing I need to say about keywords. Go to the incognito mode of your browser, open Amazon, and slowly type your possible keywords in and test them. That is to see what people have actually searched from Amazon (not the kinky stuff you came up with.) Be slow about filling the letters in, let Amazon suggest the word. Then pick the best seven (all of them.)

I learned all this from Amazon and other indie writers. So for now, I have bested my beast, but the battle isn’t over. If there is trouble with my sales, I have to go back and tune those keywords and categories. (Also, follow Amazon’s rules with the keywords, don’t be a dick. They will punish you. They are a mega-corporation and I’m sure they have assassins.) The work never stops, does it?

Thank you for reading!

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