Tuesday, February 5, 2013

ASK PZM: Feb 2013 - Keywords

Add caption

I like that our IWSG day generally falls around the same day Phyllis Zimbler Miller answers questions about marketing. Let's face it, we have to know this stuff if we want to succeed as prolific authors. Writing is lovely, but what fun is it if nobody reads our novel? So, I'm combining both IWSG and ASK PZM.

Without going into a song and dance, I am feeling insecure these days. Not sure if it's winter, overwhelming research, or circumstances, but if you're doing a little keep-my-fellow-author-uplifted, please put my name on your dance card.

Thanks to Ninja Captain and IWSG creator Alex J. Cavanaugh, on the first Wednesday of every month, we have a gathering place where we can share, encourage, or express our insecurities. If you'd like to join, sign up at http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html   

Next all you have to do is post something, insert the logo, link back to Alex, then go off and visit as many other IWSG blogs as you can. The list of insecure bloggers is at Alex's IWSG blog.

Today to celebrate IWSG day, Phyllis is answering questions about keywords and bio placement. 

Take it away, Phyllis~!

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the co-founder of the online marketing company Miller Mosaic LLC, which has just introduced a Kindle ebook conversion service. Read about this at www.millermosaicllc.com/kindle-conversion She is also the author of fiction and nonfiction books, and she blogs on author topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com

Q. Could you explain how and where to use keywords?

A: First, I’ll begin with a definition appropriate for book authors (because keywords can be defined differently).

On Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), for example, when you upload your Kindle format ebook to KDP, you are asked for up to seven keywords (which can really mean seven keyword phrases) each separated by a comma.

Let’s take my romantic suspense spy story CIA FALL GUY (free on Kindle on Feb. 7 at http://amzn.to/Sp29TC) as an example:

Drum roll, please: 

I just looked at my keywords and I don’t like them (thankfully, they can be changed). I actually used seven keywords rather than seven keyword phrases:

adventure, CIA, espionage, mystery, spy, thriller, women

Now I’ll try to improve on these by being more specific because the above keywords are way too broad – I’m very unlikely to place in the search results with those keywords. (An Author Central rep confirmed that more specific keyword expressions are better.)

Here are my revised keywords as keyword phrases:

CIA, spy adventures, romantic suspense, espionage fiction, espionage mysteries, spy stories, women sleuths (spy thriller is not included per information below)

Okay, I could perhaps do better. I could plug these keyword phrases into the Amazon search field and see what book results I get. (Go ahead and try a couple of the above keyword phrases to see the results that you get.)

And this is what keywords – or keyword phrases – are for: to help our books be found by people who are searching for books on specific topics.

Another drum roll, please: 

I just discovered that tags are missing from my Amazon book pages. So I called Amazon Author Central for information.

Answer: Amazon is rolling out the removal of all tags on book pages. And, after talking to Author Central, I learned that tags did not help in general search results as keywords do. While you still may see some Amazon book pages with tags, eventually these will all have disappeared. (There are the Amazon book categories, which are often broader than keyword phrases. Discussing these with the Author Central rep, I learned the answer remains that the keywords are the most important for Amazon search results.)

Another nugget from my Author Central rep conversation: 

Shelfari information shown on book pages is becoming more important. Amazon now owns Shelfari, and it is a good idea for authors to utilize this opportunity. While Shelfari information on your book’s Amazon sales page will not help with search results, it will help with a stronger book product page.

I called back Author Central for additional information and spoke to a second rep: 

If you have linked your physical format of a book to the Kindle format (which you should via Author Central), the keywords on the Kindle format will also help the physical book be found.

But if you only have a physical book, such as I do for my Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION, you have to email or call Author Central to have Author Central manually add up to seven keyword expressions. (The rep helped me add keywords to my two books that do not have a Kindle format.)

Regarding Author Central: The rep suggested I remind authors that you do want to be a member of Author Central – go to authorcentral.amazon.com and click on JOIN NOW – even if you are traditionally published. This way you have the right to make certain changes, including asking for seven keyword expressions for your books only in physical format.

The second rep also explained to me that there is no advantage in using as keyword expressions the words already in a title or subtitle. Thus, for example, there is no advantage in having “spy thriller” as a keyword expression for CIA FALL GUY because “spy thriller” is part of the book’s subtitle. In other words, there is no reason to use up one of my seven keyword expressions on that expression.

P.S. I asked the first Author Central rep to recommend to higher ups that, since Author Central has the email addresses of all Author Central authors, Author Central could please send an email when major changes such as eliminating tags are made. He said this was a good idea – and I hope Amazon does this.

Q: Do you think an author bio should be at the beginning or end of a book? 

I do not believe there is one correct answer. But I do think it is important to consider what you want to tell your prospective readers and when.

Let’s say you are writing on a nonfiction topic. I believe it is a good idea to have your author bio at the front of your book. In this way, when people utilize the LOOK INSIDE feature on Amazon, for example, they can read in the author bio why they should trust that you can write a book on this topic.

The one item I think should definitely be at the back of a book these days is the acknowledgments. While these are very nice for the people being thanked, acknowledgments are unlikely to encourage people to buy and read your book.

You want to put upfront in your book those items that will encourage readers and leave until the end those other items.

Fritzy-Girl says, "Have a great day, everybody."

"How and Where to use Keywords." (click to Tweet)

"Where to place your Author bio." (click to Tweet)


  1. I'll have to check my keywords. I'm already set up with Author Central, both US and UK. Good stuff!
    And like the Ninja, Joylene.

  2. Thank you, Phyllis. (and to Joylene for posting the article.)This is such a timely article for me. I just spent most of Sunday afternoon hashing over what keywords to use for my non-fiction book for girls, Girls Succeed. So glad to know I don't have to use up a keyword/phrase with the title name. I was flabbergasted you actually called and talked to someone about author central. Glad to know there really ARE actual people who can help out an author!! LOL..Do you ever use the Google tool to help you with keywords?

    1. Phyllis is unable to leave comments on my blog. No idea why. But she'll contact you directly, Janet. Thanks for visiting.

  3. Thanks for the advice on keywords. I wasn't familiar with them at all.

    1. I know what you mean. I didn't get it until Phyllis took the time to write an article about it. Thanks, Sara.

  4. Thank you for sharing this interesting information.

  5. Hi Joylene and Phyllis,

    Ah yes, handy advice regarding key words. I like to think a key word would ideally be in the opening sentence. A sentence that actually makes somebody want to read beyond the first sentence.

    I'm not an insecure writer as such because I never considered myself an actual writer. Ironically, that sounded kinda' insecure. Any modicum of help in the background is still on offer, Joylene. I need some positive distractions to take my mind off things.

    Peace and yay Canucks, eh.


    1. Did you see the game last night, Gary? I was a bit stressed until near the end of the 3rd period. Do you suppose they understand how worried they make me? Probably not, eh?

    2. I listened up to the end of the first period. My brain cannot concentrate and I actually went to bed and like an idiot, listened to British radio until gone eight in the morning. Found out the score when I switched on the computer.

      The stress they put you through is totally unacceptable. Remember, I was there when the Canucks made the finals. I listened to the seventh game against Chicago that year, while still in England when Burroughs scored in overtime. That was stress...

    3. Yes, too bad we didn't know in advance which periods to watch to save ourselves such stress. Thinking of you, Gary, and sending positive vibes! Lots of 'em!

  6. Such a very helpful post, Phyllis,and Joylene, your support literally keeps me battling on! Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Carole. What a nice thing to say. Thanks.

  7. Most interesting information here! Thank you! :)

  8. This is very useful information for people who publish on Amazon. Thank you!

  9. Great post--lots of good information here. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thanks for the post Joylene. Take some vitamin D. THe sun will come out, we'll shake off this FFFOOOGGG and get back to bein' human again: Green grass, bare feet, turning earth, sowing seeds. None of us will be wanting to sit at our computers faced with that!!!
    ~Just Jill

  11. I will add you to my dance card, I'm sorry you're struggling right now! I know for me this time of year often saps my energy and gives me the blues.

    I'm thrilled to learn about Phyllis' marketing tips, I wasn't aware of this weekly Q&A. Great information, thank you for sharing!

  12. Thanks for the info on keywords, Joylene.

    And don't stay down, the only reason you have writing problems is because you always challenge the boundaries.


    1. thanks, Chris! Part of the problem is this flu. Only up from here.

  13. Great information! I know that keywords I've used are not specific enough, so off to make those changes!

  14. Joylene, you're welcome to a few dances on my card... :)
    Phyllis is really clued up with this stuff! A marketing gold mine...

  15. Like the others have said before me, this is wonderful information. Thank you.

  16. I needed this. Never knew how important keywords are or how to use them. I have to edit mine.

  17. I thought I had already commented. guess I need to refill my coffee mug, or play outside with the puppies for awhile. Thanks for sharing your writing journey with us. It's nice knowing that you can feel insecure and still be an accomplished writer!

    1. LuAnn, I'm having that kind of day too. Thanks for using the adjective accomplished. I saw that and blushed. But really, I've got two novels published. Maybe I better go look up the word "accomplished".


  18. I was just thinking about keywords earlier today, so this is timely. Appreciate it very much. Great minds really do think alike. LOL Thanks, ladies! :)

  19. Would wanting to almost completely re-write the whole thing almost every time I read one of my books lean toward being somewhat insecure?

    1. Haha. Actually, it makes you quite normal, Jerry. I'm laughing because I've felt like this so many times.


Thank you for visiting my blog. Please come in and sit for while. We will talk about writing. We will share our dreams. Then I will serve tea and cookies. Home made and Gluten Free.