Indie Rambles # 13 – Making Sense of Amazon Keywords and Categories

Becoming a successful indie writer/publisher/entrepreneur depends on visibility.

And everyone knows it.

With laptops in hand, we scurry in frantic circles looking for a magic mixture of strategies that will set our stories apart from millions of others. Harsh truths echo in our ears. What worked for one author, may not for work for another. What worked last month, may not work this month. New software comes and goes. Advertisements bombard us. We need to find our own way through the chaos. Chasing shadows of fads and rumors, we struggle forward, naked in the digital confusion. 

We live in interesting times.

Don’t expect the dust to settle. The digital revolution is just getting starting. Publishing will continue to change.

What I look for are the most concrete pieces of the puzzle.

Three Key Factors to Visibility

  1. how popular your title /cover is
  2. how well your search terms work for you (i.e., keywords and categories)
  3. how much public support you gather

Amazon Keywords

  • Amazon allows you 7 keywords for your digital books (but they are actually phrases)
  • they help your readers find you
  • you can change them if they aren’t working and you need to watch how well they are doing over time (i.e., trends change googling habits)

I spent most of Thursday researching keywords for the first two titles in my series. I tried using, which I heard about a lot about, but I couldn’t get it to work for me, so I ended up doing my own searches in Amazon Kindle. I typed in phrase after phrase and wrote down the results. Easy.

The goal is to use keywords that put your book into a small group, to increase your chances of gaining a high ranking. Think: big fish in small pond. When you rank high in a group Amazon algorithms notice and promote you. 

That being said, your keywords do have to describe your book, or you’re really going to annoy readers, and they have to be in categories that generate traffic and money. I`ll talk more about this in another post.

I’ll monitor how my choices perform. At the moment it feels a bit like a crap shoot.


Amazon provides a drop down menu and allows you two. Choose carefully.

That’s my ramble for today. Any thoughts?


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Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

10 thoughts on “Indie Rambles # 13 – Making Sense of Amazon Keywords and Categories”

    1. Hi Marsha
      I’m muddling along, but enjoying the process. There’s so much to learn.
      Thanks for your comment and support.


  1. I like your search approach, I’ll give it a try. Contemporary romance, the sandbox I play in, is enormous on amazon, so any help at all to differentiate your book is vital. Trying to think like a reader … what would they search for? Trying to think like amazon? Impossible. An ongoing challenge, for sure. Thanks, Jo-Ann.


    1. Hi LizAnn
      I bet “island contemporary romance” or “Gulf Island…” will give you a smaller pool. That uber site is suppose to generate the most popular current search words, but like I said, I didn’t get anywhere with it. It’s an intriguing piece of the puzzle.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
      Best Wishes


  2. Very interesting post! My publisher changed my categorization for Shift Happens to increase its visibility. The paranormal romance field is flooded, so even with an Amazon ranking of 3500 (out of millions) I still wasn’t reaching the top 100 in any of the PNR subgenres, save one. We changed it to horror>dark fantasy and suddenly I’m #50 in the subgenre and my other book is making the top ten list for “most popular recent releases” in the same subgenre. I’m still in the large cache of PNR/UF books, but it definitely pays to get into some of those smaller, more specific, less populated categories! Great post!


    1. Hi JC
      TOP TEN list!
      Awesome, truly awesome. Congratulations.
      Thanks for your kind words and stopping to share your experience.


  3. Reblogged this on Ruby On Tuesday and commented:
    With so many books in the market place, commercially published and self published authors look for ways to increased their revenue. Understanding how the biggest on-line retailer uses keywords and categories is explained by Jo Ann Carson. Don’t forget to leave a question or comment at the end of the post. And thanks for visiting my blog.


    1. Hi Ruby
      Thanks for the reblog. I’m glad you liked my post.
      I know I’m not getting many comments, but I am getting lots of hits. Hope you do too.
      Best Wishes


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