I hope you’re having a good start of the summer, by which I mean that I hope that you aren’t melting already! (A cause for concern if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, like myself.)
You might have thought that we paused the Reedsy marketing newsletter for the summer — but nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve just been involved with other writing projects at Reedsy. No need to panic, though: nothing can keep me away from my weekly marketing newsletter for too long 😉
I also bring good news this time: we’re releasing a bunch of marketing resources that I think you’re going to enjoy. Our “Ultimate Guide to Bookbub” post (written by yours truly) launched last week, and it reveals all the secrets you can use to increase your chances of landing a Bookbub Featured Deal.
Here’s a sneak peek of one such secret: submit as often as possible. Recently, I actually worked with indie author Nick Thacker to put together a handy little spreadsheet calendar that automatically calculates when you should (re-)submit each of your books to BookBub.*
That calendar is a newsletter exclusive. And you can grab your copy right here! Just make sure to follow the instructions and copy it to your own Drive, or download it as an Excel.
If you don’t understand how the calendar spreadsheet works (or what it means), then I recommend that you start by reading our BookBub post.
*When I say that I “worked with Nick,” I mean that I basically borrowed his spreadsheet (with his approval) and tweaked it. If you find it useful and want to say thanks, buy one his books :)
But enough about BookBub! We’re now working on a series of Amazon-related resources that we hope to unveil next week — and I can share a quick, handy, and actionable preview with you today.
Understanding Amazon keywords and the A9 algorithm
You might know this already, but I never tire from repeating it: Amazon is not just a retail store. It is also the world’s #1 search engine for books.
If you’re looking for a book on martial arts, the first thing you’re likely to do is go on Amazon and type in “martial arts.” And the probability is high that you’ll end up buying (or at least clicking on) one of the first results.
Which begs the million-dollar question: “How does one rank high on Amazon for a given keyword?” Unfortunately, no one can say for sure, because the order of books in a search is determined by a closely-guarded algorithm: the A9 algorithm.
Through experimentation, we do know a few things about it, though.
For instance, the #1 ranking factor by far is sales — in particular, your position in the popularity list as a result of those sales. If you don’t know what the popularity list is or how it works, then you have your work cut out for you: just watch this video below.
Another key ranking factor is keywords. And I’m not just talking about the seven keywords you include when uploading your book to KDP — I’m also talking about your title. That’s the main reason why so many authors are using genre keywords in their series titles.
Of course, your seven keywords matter as well. And here comes my practical tip of the week: for each keyword, you are allowed 50 characters. And Amazon will actually index your book for every keyword or string you enter in those 50 characters.
For example, if one of your keywords is “15th century historical small town mystery,” your book will show up in the following searches:
Does this mean you should max out your seven keywords with as many characters as possible? Yes and no — because Amazon rewards exact matches as well. So if you really want to rank high for “martial arts,” you should consider simply making one of your seven keywords “martial arts.”
- 15th century historical mystery
- Small town mystery
- Historical mystery
One last thing: a lot of authors are under the impression that reviews and the inclusion of keywords in the book’s blurb affect search rankings as well. That’s incorrect. Amazon doesn’t index the blurb (or, at least, it doesn’t pay attention to it). And reviews are only an indirect ranking factor in that they organically increase on-page conversion.
And that’s it for this week! If you have a few books in your backlist that aren’t selling well, try changing their keywords and using long strings. It’s a free tactic — and if you hit the right long-tail searches, you might be able to bring your book back afloat.
Until next time,
Ricardo, Founder @ Reedsy