Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fiction, Keywords, Amazon Searches and KDP Rocket

The non-fiction books I authored are very niche in their nature and I had a specific target audience in mind when I wrote them. The keywords I provided to CreateSpace and KDP when I uploaded my files for publication where jargon specific to the targeted audience. Several of my books became Amazon Number One Bestsellers for specific categories and keywords. I was lucky in a way due to the nature of the niche audience and the fact I was well versed in the professional jargon.

Fiction is an entirely different animal.

I am a huge believer in proactive planning. You cannot control everything nor can you prevent every problem that might crop up from happening. But sound planning and proper execution of that plan can go a long way in creating success for your endeavor.

It has been written repeatedly that for a book to be successful the author must start marketing it before the book is completed. 

Taking that statement to heart, I began planning the marketing for my first work of fiction, The Predator and The Prey. I'm not as far along as I need to be despite the fact the book's cover is done, the manuscript is finished and the interior files uploaded. All that needs to happen is hit submit and publish and if a few days the book will be available for sale to the general public via Amazon.

Unfortunately, I still have a lot of work to do. Work that stops me from clicking on submit and publish.

I have been focused on learning as much as I can about two very specific topics. The first is obtaining those all important Amazon Customer Reviews. My goal is to obtain 100+ Reviews, preferably of a nice 4 or 5 star variety. One piece of research I stumbled across was fairly disheartening. For every 100 Amazon Reviews, the author needs to ask for 900 reviews. 300 hundred readers will agree to read the book (a free copy) and of those 300 only 100 will actually write a review. 

That's a lot of free copies of my book. It's also a lot of e-mails and thank you notes. Nor is it easy to control the timing and effort of people who are doing you a favor for the price of a free book. A book they may or may not have wanted to read if it were not for the fact you gave them the book.

On a more positive note, Amazon's use of keywords is something you, as the author, do have more control over. Selecting the right keywords is essential for the successful marketing of your book. Amazon after all, is essentially just a big search engine for books and other products that are for sale.

As I mentioned earlier, selecting the keywords for my non-fiction books was easy. The topics were very niche and had a specific jargon that buyers would use to search for books related to that niche.

Selecting keywords for a cross-genre fictional novel? That's a different matter. How do I get my book in front of the Amazon customers most likely to want to read my book?

After quite a few hours researching the topic with no success, I stumbled across a website run by a self-published, entrepreneurial author of both non-fiction and fiction by the name of Dave Chesson. The website is

Dave had written an excellent post on his blog about the use of keywords as a selling strategy on Amazon.

Dave makes an excellent argument for his strategy and I decided it was worth trying. The problem is, it takes a lot of data to discover which keywords will produce the desired results and I had no way of generating and collecting that data.

Enter KDP Rocket.

Let me say right now I don't get any affiliate commissions if you decided to invest in this tool. It will cost you $67.

Having wasted a LOT OF MONEY trying to learn how to run my tiny self-publishing business, I have learned the hard way to always be skeptical. 

After several days of considering how to generate the best possible list of keywords and not being able to come up with a single strategy, I finally broke down, got out my plastic and made the purchase.

One very long night later (the software is very easy to learn how to use), I had seven pages of possible keywords, along with the number of competing titles, the average earnings in the sales of the top five selling titles and a score indicating how difficult it would be to compete for that keyword.

$67 and all those hours later, I was still not completely sold this KDP Rocket thing was worth the time and money I had invested.

Culling out the ten most promising keywords from the several hundred I had collected the data on, I pulled up my Amazon account and typed the first keyword in.

Instantly a scifi crime noir thriller appeared. Along with several pages of other books in the same cross-genre vein.

Another keyword and the same result.

Did I mention that eight of the top ten keywords I would NEVER have thought of on my own? In the process of testing the keywords you type in, other similar keywords come up and you start to generate keywords on your own you would never have thought of.

It gets better.

You can research the competition with a feature specifically designed for that!

So, how did I do selecting the keywords for my non-fiction books?

Actually, pretty good, but not as good as I thought for several of the titles. I'm happy to report since changing some keywords, a couple of those titles have sold a few more copies than normal this past month.

Check out KDP Rocket yourself and make your own decision.

While I'm pretty sold at the moment, the real test will come when my novel goes on sale. I'll report back then when I have enough data to determine if my investment was worthwhile.

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