R.V. Doon

Using Categories and Keywords On Amazon

On an earlier post I mentioned that Body Wave was a hybrid book, and I coined the term CoRo for it. CoRo means cozy mystery with a light romance line. I thought I’d talk a moment about self-publishing it. Self publishing is a big topic, but on my blog I’ll break it down into small bits. One of the purposes of my blog is to share my errors, so others don’t have to repeat them. In that vein, I’d really like to mention something I did wrong in the initial process, and hopefully if you’re thinking about putting an e-book up on Amazon, you won’t repeat my mistake.

Here are the steps that can take you to the starting point once you’ve written and formatted your book. Log on to Amazon.com and set up an account if you don’t have one. Then scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for ‘Make Money with us’ and click on ‘Independently Publish with us.’ Follow the directions to upload or read through all the help categories first. I read through the help section and it does make the process easier. When I was ready to upload my book, two things popped up that made me go back to help because I wasn’t prepared to answer. One was choosing Categories and Keywords, and the other I will write about on another post.

Categories are browsing paths for readers to find your book on. There are no sales people to help you find a book on-line, so Amazon’s browsing path is the alternative. Amazon allows a writer to choose two categories or two paths for a reader to discover their book. It seems easy enough, right?

The categories break down into sub menu’s. For instance, I choose fiction as a category and then a long menu popped up. I looked for cozy mystery but that wasn’t available. I looked for series and that wasn’t available. So, the first one I chose Fiction > Mystery > Female sleuth. My first selection was good, but I left the second category as General. To be honest, I was eager to move on to the harder points of uploading the book and the cover, but leaving General in the category path was a mistake. Why?

Because General is like a beige color–no one notices it. Would you as a reader type in Mystery > General to find a book? I wouldn’t.

So, last night I updated my second category to be Medical. Body Wave is now on the reader browsing path as Fiction, Mystery, Female Sleuth, Medical.

Medical fits better than General because Reece Carson, the protagonist, is an entrepreneur and RN. She’s trying to get her business, Text-A-Nurse, off the ground when the mystery takes off. She’s a protagonist that solves mysteries by using a nursing care plan and her well honed gut instincts developed from being a Critical Care nurse. For those of you that aren’t nurses, every hospital patient gets a nursing care plan that makes sure standards of nursing care for their diagnosis are being met. Hospitals have templates that are pre-printed and nurses personalize them for their patients. Frankly, as a Critical Care nurse I hated them, one more piece of paper to fill out. When I decided to write a cozy mystery featuring a nurse, I decided to embrace care plans, and I’m glad I did. Even in the story the character mentions that every time she fills one out for a client, she senses her old nurse colleagues laughing at her for dragging the dreaded care plan from the hospital to her business.

I wanted a method to showcase Reece’s viewpoint on solving mysteries. Detectives have murder books; Reece uses a nursing care plan. I took a time honored concept – a nursing care plan, and I made Reece write one out for a dead woman. It totally turns the idea of a nursing care plan-an action oriented plan of care to help heal a patient, into an action oriented plan to discover if her patient had been murdered. Read the book if you want details, but as a trained nurse she uses the tools that are most familiar to her. Other reasons for choosing medical as a category. In the book, Reece goes on stroke call hoping to find out if an old colleague is back to the same tricks that sent her to jail. In addition, the reader tags along with Reece while she makes house calls on her clients. And finally Reece writes an historical health column for the local paper. For all of the above reasons, I chose medical fiction as a category once I decided to change it. Why I didn’t click on it the first round, I can’t answer. Now, you’ve been forewarned. Don’t be in a rush to accomplish your mission > uploading your book. Everything you do before you upload is equally important.

There is another way readers can find your book on Amazon’s browsing path and that is by choosing Keywords. Amazon allows writers to choose seven key words or phrases. The easy choices were cozy mystery, light romance, series, and I think I threw in southern because the book’s setting is in Mobile, Alabama.

I think a writer should think long and hard about what categories they choose for the book before uploading it. Don’t place your book where even a dedicated reader can’t find it. The beautiful thing about Amazon is no error has to last forever. You can go in and change your categories, your formatting, your cover, and even your price. The downside is the book may not be for sale for twenty-four hours. That’s an easy price to pay for making it easier for a reader to find. Categories and Keywords allow a writer to point a reader at their book, but then I noticed something else–Tags.

I first noticed the tags on Body Wave’s  product page. But the really nice thing about Tag is that it’s only for readers to use which I thought was a great idea. This means a reader can add an actual tagword that they feel might help other readers find and enjoy the book. So far, Body Wave doesn’t have a review, but I hope someday to see a reader give it an additional tag.

To summarize: Think long and hard about your book’s contents when you choose categories and keywords. Don’t cheat the reader by claiming categories or keywords that aren’t in your book in the hopes of making it stand out. You wrote the book with a reader in mind, so stay true to them when you choose cats and keys for the browsing path. Both can make a difference in helping a reader find your book. Use the tools Amazon gives you. And, if you’re reading this blog please consider telling others about my book. Because Word of Mouth is the best way for a reader to find a book. Friends helping friends. So please if you’re reading my blog, help readers discover Body Wave. If you’re a nurse or know a nurse reader, please tell them about Body Wave. Spread the word. Thank you.

2 thoughts on “Using Categories and Keywords On Amazon

  1. Latorria

    Just got blindsided by a great quote in “Alas, Babylon” – hope this book continues to be good, and that my seniors actually read it as well!

%d bloggers like this: