Book Marketing: Keywords

By Chris Olsen

The success of your book is not just in the writing of it. In fact, the success of a book is largely influenced by how well it’s marketed. One of the most important roles you’ll play as an author is marketer of your book. Regardless of how you publish, marketing is primarily up to you. Even if you choose to work with a marketing professional or agency after your book is published, you’ve got to be your book’s no. 1 cheerleader. And not just for a few months—for as long as you want to generate interest in and sales for your title.

A key component of book marketing is identifying keywords and phrases that will help your audience find your book.

Understand How Keywords Work

Keywords are the specific text that search engines look for in product descriptions, articles, etc. to elevate the content they think people want. Organic search results for specific keywords and phrases are influenced by several things including relevance to the search criteria, ranking of the domain and link, and other factors. Organic search can be outranked by paid search, where select keywords push people to specific websites from ads. The results depend largely on the advertiser’s level of investment.

Choose the Right Keywords

Start by identifying your ideal reader and book category. Think about what your ideal reader might use for search criteria without the book title or author name. Consider how broadly those descriptors are used. Choosing the same keywords as thousands of other books won’t help readers find your title. Similarly, selecting keywords that are obscure, made-up or misspelled will keep your book from being discovered. The right combination of keywords helps push your book up in your ideal reader’s search results.

Incorporate Keywords Into Your Book Metadata

Metadata is data that is listed in multiple places and identifies your book—the ISBN (International Standard Book Number), title, subtitle, etc. Once you’ve pinpointed your keywords, think about whether you could include one or more in the title or subtitle of your book. It can be tricky for books like novels, so if it doesn’t make sense, don’t force it. But it can be an effective marketing strategy for nonfiction, such as books on self-improvement, business, art, history and travel. (Note: On some platforms, keywords incorporated into your title and subtitle may not be duplicated in your keyword list.)

Create a Keyword-Rich Book Description

A book description or book blurb is the summary used on the back cover of your book, on platforms where your book is sold, and in various marketing materials. Try to keep your book description to 300 words or less and include five to seven keywords and phrases you’ve deemed most relevant to your ideal reader. Repeat them throughout the description if you can do so in a way that feels natural. In other words, don’t sacrifice a well-written book description for the sake of stuffing it with keywords.

Incorporate Keywords Into Your Author Bio

A great author bio provides background information about you and elevates your work online. It typically appears on the back cover or inside of your book and is used in book marketing. Aim for a bio that is around 100 words. Include keywords that describe your category and ideal readers. In some instances, your book description and author bio appear together (e.g., in a news release or a promotional article). Share what’s relevant in both and repeat some keywords but switch up your bio so it doesn’t completely mirror your book description.

Once your book is available to purchase or download, be sure to continue using your keywords as you promote your title on social media and elsewhere.

The dedicated team of marketing experts at Publish Her does the research and pinpoints relevant categories and keywords for authors. We make recommendations for your title or subtitle and write your book description and author bio. This provides you with a solid foundation for marketing your book that takes you well beyond your book launch.

About the Author

Chris Olsen is a broadcast media veteran turned communications consultant, educator and the author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” The founder of Publish Her and Publish Her Story, Chris has helped thousands of women tell their stories and publish their books.

About Publish Her

Publish Her is a female-founded publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all.

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