Tag Archives: keywords

Using Keywords to Show up in Searches: Review of Supercharge Your Kindle Sales

Starting out as an indie author

Last month, before Chameleon in a Mirror had its free run and Island of Glass was available for pre-release, I did an experiment. At the beginning of October, I got a review copy from Nick Stephenson of his book Supercharge Your Kindle Sales. While he made a great case for using keywords to help make your book more visible, I didn’t want to write a review until I had some actual results on which to base my judgment.

Supercharge Your Kindle Sales

I’ve already pointed out in another post in the series “Starting out as an Indie Author” how you can use keywords to get into niche categories. The first section of Supercharge Your Kindle Sales represents another method of using keywords: finding keywords that will help your book’s visibility when readers type in search terms, another way besides categories that your book can be found. Not only that, Stephenson says it is important to use keywords tied to genres that are selling well, but where the competition is not as great. The author provides step-by-step instructions in how to do this, either manually by testing keywords in the Amazon search bar and analyzing the results yourself, or automatically, using paid tools such as Kindle Samurai.

My first attempts at supercharging didn’t have much of an effect. Downloads of my permafree story Gawain and Ragnell picked up, but everything else remained about the same. The difference here, I believe, is that G&R already had a certain amount of visibility through being in the top 100 list in Arthurian fiction.

So before writing my review, I decided to wait and see what effect, if any, the new keywords might have on a free promotion. I hadn’t tested a free run with one of my novels in over a year. Back then, without doing any advertising, I managed to give away about 300 copies of my Arthurian novel, Shadow of Stone. This time, without doing any advertising, I managed to give away about 2000 copies of my time travel into literary history, Chameleon in a Mirror.

I still wasn’t completely sold on the method. What matters after a free run is how well the book sells and how long it remains visible, after all. Now, over two weeks after the promotion, CIAM is still in a top 100 list. No only that, Island of Glass is in *2* top 100 lists.

To show you how this method can help, I took a couple of screenshots while CIAM was doing particularly well.

Keyword search

Keyword search
Keyword screenshots

As you can see, CIAM was showing up right at the top for both “time travel historical” and “fantasy time travel.” The book is no longer quite as high with those search terms, but it is still on the first page — which is where you want your book to be.

I also attempted to follow Nick Stephenson’s instructions on how to improve your mailing list (the second half of the book), but that has been much less successful for me than changing my keywords. The information and tips on keywords alone, however, make this book worth reading. But as I mentioned above, a change in keywords would probably have to be done in conjunction with some other kind of promotion to get your book high enough in the rankings to show up in search results in the first place.

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

Starting out as an indie author: Interview with Kate Sparkes

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Getting Your Books into Google Play

Starting out as an indie author: Using keywords for getting into niche categories on Amazon

Starting out as an indie author

When you publish an ebook through Amazon’s KDP dashboard, you are allowed to select two categories, such as Fantasy/Historical or Fantasy/Epic. But not all of the browse categories on Amazon are available through the dashboard. I’ve written before about how important it can be for sales to get into the right categories here and here.

Much of what I wrote in those posts, however, is now obsolete, at least as far as strategies on how to get into obscure categories is concerned. But it is still true that for the sake of visibility, it’s important to be in categories where the competition isn’t as strong (unless you’re selling hundreds of copies a day, that is). Some of the subcategories for ebooks that aren’t options in the dashboard are wonderfully intimate little niches that will keep you book visible even with a much lower sales ranking. Because if your book drops out of the top 100, it is officially dead (believe me, I know).

But whereas once you had to write Amazon directly in order to be listed in the categories, now you need to use keywords.

When you publish through KDP, one of your options is to type in seven keywords. Little information is given as to their purpose, and it is easy to underestimate how important they can be. In the KDP help pages, however, there is extensive information on which keywords to use to get into various categories that can’t be chosen directly. Here are some examples that in my own experience have proven useful:

Science Fiction & Fantasy Keywords

Literature & Fiction Keywords

Teen & Young Adult Category Keywords

Of course it makes no sense to aim for a category just because there isn’t as much competition. But if you can find some niche categories where your book would fit, I highly recommend using keywords to get into them. It just might give your book the edge it needs.

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

Starting out as an indie author: Interview with Kate Sparkes

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Getting Your Books into Google Play