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Choosing Publishing Keywords

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Use Keywords to Make Your Book More Discoverable

As a blogger you are aware of how important keywords are to having the search engines find your articles and present them in the search results for the subjects you cover in your blog. The keywords associated with your book play a similarly important role increasing the popularity and sales of your book.

When you submit your book to most publishers they will request a list of keywords that will help readers to discover your book. Therefore, it's important for you to come up with 5-7 keywords (or short phrases) that accurately portray your book's content and use the words customers will use when they are searching.

Similar to Google the Amazon search engine is very sophisticated and can be used to help you determine the best keywords for your book. We will list a few ideas that will help you come up with the keywords that will help increase the visibility of your book.

Brainstorm a List of Potential Keywords

Try to create a list of 20 to 30 possible keywords that accurately describe the subject of your cookbook. Some of these may be broad such as "Grilling" and others might be narrow such as "Savory Dessert". Remember to structure the keywords in the way that you think your readers would search for them.

Evaluate Your List on Amazon

For this you will want to use the power of the Amazon search engine. In the drop down to the left of the search box select the word "Books" so that you will limit the Amazon search to their books. Then slowly begin to type in a keyword and study the types of suggestions that the search engine provides.

It would be ideal if your keywords show up as one of the "searched for" terms. Certainly the very broad terms will usually show up but keep in mind that there will be many search results for those broad topics, thus making it difficult to get to the first page of the search results. You may want to have a mixture of keywords addressing both broad and narrow topics.

Evaluate Your List on Google

Another valuable exercise is to input your list of potential keywords into the Google Keyword Planner. This tool will provide you with the number of times a particular keyword is searched for on Google, which will reflect its overall popularity. The more long tail keywords will definitely have lower search volumes, but that does not necessarily mean they are unattractive - especially if they are an accurate description of the content in your book.

Pick Your Seven Keywords

Using what you've learned on Amazon and Google narrow down your list to the seven that you think would be the most effective. Remember, to always be thinking like your readers - what would they ask a search engine in order to find your book. The keywords are not set in stone and you may want to do some experiments with different ones to see which seem to be most effective.

Don't use quotation marks in search terms: Single words work better than phrases-and specific words work better than general words. If you enter "savory desserts and snacks" only people who type all of those words will find your book.

Keyword Don'ts

Here is a list from Kindle Direct Publishing to not include in keywords:

  • Information covered elsewhere in your book's metadata-title, contributor(s), category, etc.
  • Subjective claims about quality (e.g. "best")
  • Statements that are only temporarily true ("new," "on sale," "available now")
  • Information common to most items in the category ("book")
  • Variants of spacing, punctuation, capitalization, and pluralization (both "80GB" and "80 GB", "computer" and "computers", etc.).
  • Anything misrepresentative, such as the name of an author that is not associated with your book. This type of information can create a confusing customer experience and Kindle Direct Publishing has a zero tolerance policy for metadata that is meant to advertise, promote, or mislead.

Keyword Examples

Here's some examples of the keywords we decided to use for several of our books. You can see how much overlap there is between the keywords in our books, this is largely because they are all in the same niche.

Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Sous Vide

Sous vide, under pressure, modernist cooking, modernist cuisine, slow cooker

Modernist Cooking Made Easy: The Whipping Siphon

Whipping siphon, modernist cooking, modernist cuisine, molecular gastronomy, whipped cream

Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Getting Started

Molecular gastronomy, modernist cuisine, foam, sous vide, gel

Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Party Foods

Modernist cooking, modernist cuisine, party, party food, molecular gastronomy

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