Unless you are a celebrity or already a bestselling author, nobody looks up your name on Amazon (and other retailers), so you are entirely dependent on whether or not readers can accidentally find your book when they are browsing.
The title, keywords and category are the only way of getting your book seen by customers – so you have to choose wisely.
Since one of my books hadn’t been selling for months, I decided to look for it via the usual methods – keywords and categories – just to see how easy it was to find it by browsing like a customer.
The book was called Crowning Achievements: The Legend of King Arthur – a very historically inaccurate and irreverent fantasy novel for fans of light fantasy and historical parodies.
In theory my King Arthur novel should have been listed if I searched for my chosen keywords – but these often produce huge lists of books. Common keywords like “fantasy” and “historical” might produce a list of thousands of books – so it makes sense to narrow the focus with more specific words and phrases.
Typing “King Arthur” produced too many results.
Typing “Crowning Achievements” produced memoirs about dentistry.
I knew what my keywords were, of course, so I expected to find my book listed somewhere if I used them for searching. One of them was “Arthurian” because my book is a fantasy about King Arthur. Amazon suggests “Arthurian” as a keyword if you read their help guide. Amazon lets you have two categories and six keywords – which can be used to put your book into narrower categories.
Doing a search resulted in 75 pages of results. My book wasn’t on the first page or the second one, which is about as far as a normal customer will go to find something. Nobody ever looks at all 75 pages. Therefore, my keyword was totally useless.
I decided to look up my book via the other major method of finding books – clicking on categories until I reached fantasy>arthurian.
Here’s a picture of my search results, starting with five million ebooks. I whittled the number down bit by bit …
Ah! Only 5 books! My book had to be in that category because it perfectly described what it was about.
I clicked on the link and looked at the page of results. I’ve blurred the image – but you can see the books.
Mine wasn’t there.
To say I was a little bit puzzled is an understatement. How could anyone browsing find my book if I can’t find it when I know the search keywords?
Amazingly, two of the five books were not remotely suitable for the category. They were werewolf-shifter romances set in the modern world.
Why were they listed – but my book wasn’t?
I chose appropriate keywords that put my book under “fantasy”, “historical”,” Arthurian”, “Merlin”, “King Arthur” and “humor”. (The American spelling of “humour” was required by Amazon). I followed their guidelines to make sure my book could be found in the right place – but it wasn’t anywhere.
Evidently, some kind of magic had made it invisible.
I’ve now gone back to Kindle Direct Publishing to make some keywords changes. I’ve also changed the title around so it is now The Legend of King Arthur: Crowning Achievements.
Hopefully, it will be more visible now – but if it isn’t, here’s a link to it for anyone interested.