Genre novels drive the publishing industry today. And within those genres, romance/erotica is the top-selling genre, reaching at least $1.5 billion annually. And there are obvious frontrunners – Danielle Steel is worth well over $6 million, and no one can dispute that E.L. James catapulted himself to fame with Fifty Shades of Grey. And James actually self-published her trilogy before a publisher picked it up.
And because this genre is so popular, Indie authors are drawn to it, pumping out their books and listing them on Amazon.
Competition Is Tough
Writing a great romance novel is not enough. While there is a huge audience for romance, that audience tends to stick with the authors it likes. And getting “found” is the toughest job of all. For Indie authors, marketing budgets are not great, to say the least. A website, a blog, and social media have to suffice for most.
But there is another strategy that can help – finding and using the right keywords and keyword phrases that readers use when they are searching for books on Amazon. It can be a powerful tool if done right.
Here are the steps to do just that.
Finding the Keywords That Readers Really Use When Shopping on Amazon
Finding keywords for non-fiction works is easy. Words like “diet/weight loss,” “content marketing,” and “Chinese cookbooks” all relate to shoppers’ pain points and/or solutions they seek.
But fiction? Keywords here relate to the story. And figuring out what keywords your audience might use to describe a story is certainly more challenging. Here are some steps you can take to get and use those keywords/phrases that will bring your novel up when searches are conducted.
Brainstorm Keywords that Describe Your Piece
All pieces of fiction have four elements – setting, plot, tone/style, and characters. Your first step is to develop a comprehensive list of keywords that describe each of these elements in your book. Remember this is a working list, so come up with as many as possible. And as you are doing this, see if you can combine two or more words to craft pairings and combinations.
Time to Turn Your Best Hunches into Some Research
You can do a few things here.
First, you can type some of your keyword pairings and phrases into your own Amazon search and see both what books show up and how many total books you find. This may help to determine sub-genres that will be a fit for your book, as well as how to market it.
Another part of your strategy has to be a decision: should you list under a large sub-genre with more readers (also more competition) or a smaller sub-genre with less competition (and fewer readers). You may have to experiment a bit, as you can always change out your keywords by re-writing your description.
Second, you can use a keyword tool. For Amazon books, the best tool to use for word pairings and combinations is KDP Rocket. You’ll find the following:
- The number of competitors within that keyword phrase
- How many searches per month occur with that phrase
- Average earnings of the top five books in that category
- A score of 1 – 100 of competition.
Here is a sample table that KDP Rocket shows for romance fiction:
Another cool feature of this tool is that you can view lots of information about your competition in a sub-genre, and this can provide ideas about crafting your titles, descriptions, etc. that are converting well.
As you can see, keyword research has become a science today. It is no longer based on hunches and guesses. There is enough data available for any business or entrepreneur to find those keywords that are most popular and result in the most conversions.
KDP Rocket is a fee-based tool ($97 lifetime subscription) but there is also a free 30-day trial with a money-back guarantee. There are a lot of other features with this tool that can certainly help you with your marketing efforts.
Third, if you have not yet finalized your title and your description, you are in a position to use your keyword string research as you craft those. And you may want to use some tools and/or suggestions from other creatives to do this. You can submit those keyword strings into title generator tools, such as Random Romance Novel Title Generator, Fantasy Name Generator. Sometimes, a more objective approach or a new pair of eyes can generate title and description ideas that you may not have considered. None of us has a monopoly on creativity.
A Few Other Tips
- You can use up to seven keywords or short phrases, but be mindful of the character limit in the text field. As Sue Thomas, content editor for Topessaywriting states, “The more you can drill down into your niche, becoming more specific with your keywords, the more you will acquire those readers who are more likely to convert.”
- Be certain that the phrases you use in your description match those that searchers actually use, and in the word order they use them.
- If you are not getting hits and conversions, go back to the drawing board and experiment with other pairings and combinations that may place you in a different sub-genre. You have nothing to lose but a bit of time. Lots of authors change out their keywords regularly.
- Think like your ideal reading audience. If you were going to search for your book(s), what terms would you use? Again, you can also use data analysis for this. Conduct careful analyses to identify which of your keyword phrases could bring in the most clients. You can experiment with new phrases regularly, not based on what you think should work but, rather, on what the data tells about how your client base thinks.
In the End…
You are in charge of the tasks that market your book(s) effectively, and often on a tight budget. Getting your keyword strings right is a challenge but can be a powerful tool in getting your work “found.” Start with your thoughts, do the research, use good tools, and be willing to experiment by changing out those keywords and descriptions until you find the right combinations.
About the Author: Daniela McVicker is a blogger and content editor for Top Writers Review. She graduated from Durham University and has an MA in Psychological Science. Daniela also has experience in digital marketing and she’s keen on exploring the latest digital trends.