ASK PZM: Feb 2013 – Keywords

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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   
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 is also the author of fiction and nonfiction books, and she blogs on author topics at

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 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 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)

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