How To Choose The Best Keywords For Your Book | Self-Publishing Relief

by | Other Helpful Information | 1 comment

How To Choose The Best Keywords For Your Book | Self-Publishing Relief

An important part of the self-publishing process is accurately filling out the forms on Kindle Direct Publishing, B&N Press, and any other e-book vendors where you’ll upload your book for publication. The title, categories, subtitle, and back blurb questions should be easy, but the “keyword” section might not seem as clear cut. How do you know if you’re using the right words? The experts at Self-Publishing Relief explain how to choose the best keywords for your book.


Choose The Best Keywords To Boost Your Book Sales

The Key To Keywords

The right keywords will get your self-published book in front of the reading audience most likely to buy. Keywords help in “discoverability” by presenting your novel, memoir, poetry collection, or nonfiction book to those who are interested in your genre.

The key is in the magnifying-glass search box on every book website. That little box, usually at the top of the webpage, works as a search engine. Readers type in what they want to find, and the website offers a list of books that fit that phrase.

As an indie author in search of powerful keywords, your task is to discover the most relevant phrases your ideal reader would use to find a book just like yours. Great keywords will boost your book’s visibility; terrible keywords can bury it.

So how do you find the best keyword phrases?

Brainstorm Keywords

Discovering powerful, relevant phrases first requires brainstorming. You’ll need to drill down to the elements that most clearly define your work. To get started, make a list of possibilities using these suggestions as a guide:

  • Genre: meaning deep-niche genres such as Science Fiction Space Opera, Carpentry DIY Guide for Beginners, Regency Romance Comedy of Manners, etc.
  • Setting: such as African Safari Adventure, Tuscan Cookbook, French New Wave Cinema
  • Time Period: be specific for historical fiction and nonfiction
  • Story Tropes: examples would be enemy-to-lover romance, bad robot, the powerful artifact, etc. Check out these TV Tropes for inspiration
  • Character Traits: these include undead heroine, Navy SEAL hero, middle-grade mage
  • Mood: inspirational, funny, romantic, feel-good, atmospheric, dystopian, noir


Use These Tips And Tools

Choosing powerful, relevant keywords can be a labor-intensive process, but there are ways to make it easier. Here are a few tips:.

  1. Starting with your book’s primary genre, such as Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, etc., type the genre into the Amazon search bar. Then add a space and the letter “a.” The drop-down menu will show you what other readers have typed during their searches in that genre. Add the relevant terms to your list, and then continue through the alphabet for more suggestions. (Note that this works best if your browser is in “incognito” mode.)
  2. With the Amazon search bar set to “Kindle Store,” type in the main category of your work. Scroll down and check the left sidebar for a list of possible character types, tropes, and themes to add to your list.
  3. Note that Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) offers seven boxes for seven different keyword phrases. Each box allows for forty-nine characters. Amazon will use all combinations of the words in each phrase in one box, so it helps to maximize the length of your keyword phrases. Play with different combinations of genre, trope, setting, etc. to find the most relevant keyword phrase, such as epic dark fantasy reluctant mage young adult romance.

Test Your Keywords

Once you’ve selected your keywords, it’s important to determine which are most relevant. Type the keywords or keyword phrases you’ve chosen into the search bar of your favorite e-book vendor. Does your book match well with the list of books Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any other e-book vendor offers for that keyword? If yes, congratulations, you’ve found a relevant phrase! Keep testing your list of words until you find the keyword phrases that bring up books most like yours.

Tracking down perfect keyword phrases can be time-consuming. Fortunately, there are many software options available that will generate keywords for you. Check out the most popular app for the indie author, PublisherRocket.

When it comes to keywords, don’t be afraid to experiment. The beauty of self-publishing is in flexibility. If the keywords you choose aren’t performing as you would like, you can always change them and try new words and phrases!

Question: How do you choose keywords for your self-published book?

1 Comment

  1. Karen Phillips

    Thanks for the “incognito” mode tip!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Find An Article

Recent Articles



Thank you so much for all the amazing help you provided! I’m already thinking about my next project and you better believe I plan to use Self-Publishing Relief!

—Bianca Chambers Carter, Writer

Read Bianca’s review!



Using Self-Publishing Relief is the only way I would ever consider publishing my work… the process was seamless: They answered all of my questions and always kept me apprised of the next steps.

—John McCord, Writer

Read John’s review!


The team at Writer’s Relief and Self-Publishing Relief was supportive and helpful in creating my chapbook — from sending multiple cover design options to patience and thoroughness during review rounds. They made the publishing process easy and enjoyable!

Laurin Becker Macios, Poet

Read Laurin’s review!



I have found my people with Jill, Carol, Dave, Joey, Ronnie, and all the fellow “bookies” at Self-Publishing Relief. Their level of expertise is seasoned and savvy for navigating through the indie publishing landscape, as we established the imprint Occupy the Word Publishing. What is more, the team’s enthusiastic tenacity to solve difficult issues and create new opportunities in developing serious readership for my novels makes it a powerful pleasure to work with them. 

King Grossman, Novelist

Read King’s review!

Thinking about self-publishing?
Receive your FREE copy of our helpful guide...


Act now! Enter your name and email on the right to receive..
  • Design tips to boost your book's marketability
  • Insider secrets for writing the best back cover book blurb
  • The importance of a flattering headshot

Send Me My FREE Guide!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Pin It on Pinterest