These quick tips will help authors reach more readers on Amazon and cost nothing more than a small investment of time.
Every author would appreciate a helping hand with the marketing of his/her book. The task of reaching new readers and having them read your latest release seems intimidating, right? Companies like Author Solutions make a bucket-load selling over-priced marketing services that tend to under-deliver. (Just read the comments in my post linked above for proof of many unhappy Author Solutions clients.)
The secret is that the fundamentals of marketing your new book actually begin when loading your book’s metadata on the Amazon KDP platform.
While busy loading your title on Amazon KDP, you are prompted for a few bits of info that will make up what is known as the book’s metadata, or the basic info about the book. Spending time researching your answers to Amazon can make a world of difference for the author looking to reach as many readers as possible.
Yes, we all know of authors that seem to bend or break much of this advice; ignore them. Authors with sufficient marketing-spend behind them are seemingly able to ignore the wisdom shared in this post and still sell. For a while anyway. For those of us who have a very lean marketing budget, this advice will make all the difference.
(I have listed additional resources for inquisitive authors at the end of the post.)
Metadata, is loosely defined as information about information. In Amazon-speak, metadata refers to the information you give Amazon describing your book.
Metadata includes details such as the book title, subtitle, series name, book description and yes, the price too.
Here they are: six easy-to-understand tips helping you improve the quality of your book metadata. This will ensure you appear higher in the Amazon search results that you want to target.
This is where you share your book metadata with Amazon
#1 - Your Book Title
Amazon ranks your book title as one of the most important fields used in its search algorithms. Yes, it really matters what title you choose for your book. Here is why.
By default any search-results within the shelves at Amazon are sorted by relevance. Let me repeat: the search result are not sorted by best-seller status but by the keyword relevance . Relevance in human-speak means Amazon searches through the book’s metadata fields for words or terms that match or are similar to the reader’s search query.
That’s right, your book could feature more prominently in the search-results IF the Amazon’s search-bots see the right keyword contained in the title of your book.
What to do.
When deciding on the title of your new book, give some thought to the keywords your ideal reader would type into the Amazon search-bar. To help raise the rank of your book in the search results, include these cherry-picked terms in your title. This exercise is obviously easier for authors writing non-fiction. (For fiction authors, the subtitle should become your new best friend.)
- Have you considered that the words in your book title may have better-suited synonyms in other countries?
- Has your title used US or UK Spelling?
Experiment before deciding by searching for your book title in Amazon as a reader would. Is there a different word that might be more popular in your target market? Amazon is sometimes kind enough to suggest an alternative term that seems more popular.
As an example, let look at my fictitious book with the title of “Household Repairs”. How could I tweak my book’s title to get in front of my ideal reader more often?
Searching “household repairs” on Amazon I notice the first few search results (sporting multiple positive reviews) listing book titles starting with phrases like “DIY-projects” or “Household DIY”.
I also notice that Amazon has an aptly-named Do-It-Yourself category.
Comparing the quantity of books returned when searching for “household repairs”, only 57 other books, it seems that sticking with my intended title would place me in a very small pool of other books. My fictitious book title seems a bit too niche.
Improve your chances of being found online by making your book title more relevant to reader-searches.
How much research have you put into the title of your book?
#2 – The Subtitle
Too many authors don’t harness the power of the subtitle. For fiction authors who tend to have more abstract title names, this is the ideal spot for a few descriptive keywords for the reader’s benefit. Similar to your book title, the subtitle should be a keyword-enhanced and user-friendly collection of words. The primary goal of a good subtitle is to help the reader better understand the content of your book and then secondly, to help flag your book in relevant search results.
What to do.
The advice is really “What not to do”. Avoid keyword-stuffing your subtitle.
Keyword-stuffing is the equivalent of stopping at the table on Christmas day and trying to cram your plate with as much dessert as possible. The result would be a very sick Santa. The result of keyword-stuffing for authors is a very cheap-looking title. I see that the writers of romance-erotica are particularly guilty of trying to fit as many keywords as possible into the subtitle.
Here is an example of a tacky-looking result of keyword stuffing:
You might rank high in the searches, but the readers are not biting.
The same applies to the research carried out for your book title. Know the keywords you want to target. Investigate the Amazon book categories and sub-categories that you would like your book to appear in. Book categories often make great terms to include in your subtitle.
Keeping with the household repairs theme, here is a great example of an author who has made good use of the subtitle field.
DIY Household Hacks: 40+ Proven Household Hacks To Increase Productivity And Save Time, Effort And Money.
Can you see how the author’s subtitle (the underlined bit), helps the reader better understand the book content? Imagine if the author had no subtitle and readers only saw “DIY Household Hacks” - The title would feel a bit lonely, right?
#3 - Series title
The series title is an underutilized tool in the kit of the Amazon warrior. The series title has the power to tie a number of books together within the Amazon ecosystem. It also means that readers can easily see all books in a series on a single page. Yes, the series name can also have a few choice keywords. The great thing about the book- series field is that you do not have to have the name of the series appearing on the cover image of your book, or in fact, mentioned within the book at all. This means it really is a quick and easy update.
The sales figures of stand-alone titles on Amazon always fair worse than their counterparts published in a series. If you want to unlock access to more readers and the potential profit that mass-readership can bring you should release some of your writing in series form. Aside from gaining additional visibility through your very own series page on Amazon, having several books linked within a series gives clear direction to a happy reader.
A happy reader who reads the last paragraph of your book is subconsciously asking themselves, “I just finished this author’s book, I really liked it, what’s next?”
If this is a stand-alone title the author will risk losing the reader.
An author with another two books in a series waiting for the happy reader, you will enjoy better sales than if the other two titles were floating separately in the Amazon ecosystem.
I was helping an author recently who had several individual titles on Amazon’s shelves. Although his non-fiction books covered a variety of topics, some on counselling and others on parenting, I was able to create a series based on an abstract concept of “Improve your essential skills.”
I did not update the book cover or the actual book content at all and just inserted the series name in the right place in the Amazon KDP backend. The result? Amazon groups the books together in the shelves and readers of the first book are led though to the second and then the third etc. Not bad at all.
As a note to the reader, when experimenting with the pricing of your books in a series, consider making the first book cheaper than the other books in the series to help entice the wary reader.
#4 - Book Description
This field allows 4000 characters or roughly 400 words to help the author entice the reader to part with his/her money. The mistake many authors make is that they summarize the book instead of selling it. Most authors cannot distance themselves enough from their work to write compelling sales text. My advice would be to enlist the help of a good editor to write this blurb for you.
Aside from having a well-written and compelling blurb, make sure you give your blurb a face-lift using HTML tags to to make the words bold, italicise and underline where you need it.
Example of Blurb without HTML
Here is my great book-blurb
Example blurb with HTML
Here is my great book-blurb
Here is how we created the prettier blurb above. The actual blurb text is still saved in the same field within the KDP dashboard and just includes some extra bits.
Here is my <b>great</b> book-blurb
"<h1></h1>"- This makes the encased text into a large heading.
"<b></b>"- This will make the text bold
"<hr>" - This will insert a horizontal rule (line)
Here is my post with more detail on adding HTML to your Amazon book description.
Try this simple trick to help you book-blurb stand out now!
If you don’t want to learn the basics of adding the HTML tags to your book descriptions, there is a simple tool that I use to generate the HTML description that I then just paste directly into Amazon. The tool allows me to write the exact text and format the look using a simple to use text editor, taking the pain out of the process. Heads up, the tool is not free and the link will pay me a bit of money if you decide to go ahead and buy the software. Amazon Blurb Editing Tool.
#5 – Keywords
Keywords play a big role in Amazon determining your book’s position in the search results. Otherwise worded as relevance, Amazon allows you to pick up to 7 keywords or phrases. Amazon recommends 2-3 word phrases as the most effective.
The mistake many authors make is using generic terms for their seven keywords. An example would be an author using the word “romance” as one of their seven keywords. Looking at the image of the search-results below, your book would be one of 673 000 odd books fighting it out for a spot on the first page. The first page only shows the first 16 books within the search results. Good luck.
Tag your book with more specific or niche keyword phrases (also known as long-tail phrases) such as “romance suspense Christian,”.
This would help reduce your competition for the first page from 673 000 to 5361 other books. Your chances of being listed on the first page have been given a big boost. Obviously your keywords used should not mislead the reader.
Test the keywords you plan to tag your book with, aiming for terms that do not have large numbers of other books in the search results. Less than 2000 other books in the search results would be ideal. Aside from carefully picking your keyword phrases, repeating these keywords/ phrases in the book title/ subtitle and description will also raise the book’s position in the search results.
Useful to remember when deciding on your 7 keywords is that the phrases used can describe things such as the book’s mood or setting. For example, you can select a character keyword like “single dad”. How about using a character role such as “strong female lead” as a keyword. A setting keyword could be something like “urban” or “outback”.
Here is where these abstract keyword choices are reflected to the reader, helping them refine the search results and hopefully find your book.
A word of warning.
The keywords you use cannot mislead the reader. Terms like best-selling or free will get you in trouble with the team at Amazon.
#6 - Rounding-off your book’s list-price
This very simple update will only take a few seconds but can have a big difference in the way readers perceive your book. When first deciding on your book price you would normally want a list price of between $2.99 and $9.99. (If you are not sure why, read here)
I am sure most of you already pick prices for your book that roll off the tongue. Pricing like $2.99 looks more attractive than say $3.15. I won’t go into the reasons why, I trust that you all just agree with me that the “rounder” numbers will appeal more to the reader.
As an example, I list my latest eBook released at $2.99 to get the 70% royalties from Amazon. Now what about the price that someone, say in the UK sees for the same book on Amazon.co.UK?. Looking at the image below, readers from the UK will see a price of £2.10 which was automatically converted by Amazon.
Wouldn’t the price look more attractive if it is was listed at £1.99 instead?
Deselect the auto-conversion tick box for the major currencies and instead decide on your own rounder prices.
Authors who take the time to improve the quality of their book’s metadata will have a visibility boost, appearing in front of the right readers more often. Although tweaking keywords and your book title can be fun, always keep the reader in mind. Be honest with the keywords you pick otherwise risk the wrath of the annoyed Amazon admin.
Each of the topics we covered can be expanded on in greater detail still. The topic of keyword-selection is an art and we could have a whole post dedicated to selecting the ideal keyword. If you want any one of the topics explored in greater detail, let me know.
I hope this post helped you improve your book sales on Amazon, please let me know if it does!
For those want to learn more on the topic of author visibility on Amazon right now, I would suggest the eBook: Let's Get Visible: How To Get Noticed And Sell More Books written by David Gaughran. The book is a well-written summary of the internal engines powering author visibility on Amazon.
Wondering how to pay Amazon to feature your book often? Read this post on paying Amazon to promote your book.
Here is a link to the relevant support pages on Amazon where I have spent many hours learning about the inner-workings of the world’s largest eBook store:
- More on Selecting the 7 best Keywords on Amazon.
- More on the book Category Selection at Amazon
- Amazon metadata guidelines