Kindle Keyword Strategy For Fiction Authors


A lot of people have had great success getting their books discovered on amazon thanks to selecting the right Kindle Keyword.

However, I’ve had a couple of authors tell me that the Amazon keyword strategy “doesn’t help fiction authors, only those in non-fiction.”

Well, using keywords for amazon books aren’t just a non-fiction tactic and can be incredible for fiction authors as well…it just takes a different approach is all.

Don’t believe me?

Okay, well, as long as shoppers are looking for their next book by typing something into Amazon’s search box, keywords do play a role in your book’s discoverability and I’ll show you how you can implement some strategies that work.

It’s true that non-fiction is more straightforward – what’s their pain point, right?  But with fiction, there are some ways you can use keywords to get your book out there and in front of more eyes.

In this article, we will explicitly look at those tactics and show how fiction authors can get their books in front of more readers – in a moral and Amazon compliant way of course. This technique can also be good for non-fiction as well, so pay attention 😉

In this article you will learn:

  • Fiction book buyer mentality
  • How to get your fiction book in front of more readers
  • Examples where this has succeeded – even if the author didn’t know what they were doing

Who Am I to Talk Fiction?

As readers of Kindlepreneur know, I’m a non-fiction writer who aspires to one day write his own Sci-Fi military novel.  So how can I talk about Fiction tactics?


Credit to the amazing book, but terrible movie, Battlefield Earth.

Great question!

Because…over the past couple of years, I’ve worked with both fiction and non-fiction authors, helping them to craft and better optimize their books for more exposure on Amazon (and no, I don’t offer a service so that wasn’t a sales pitch).  I’ve enjoyed using the below tactics to help get books seen.

Now, notice I said, “exposure” and “seen.”  That’s because keywords only help to get your book to show up in searches.  However, that doesn’t guarantee book sales.

If you’re trying to rank for a word that you shouldn’t, your book cover stinks, reviews don’t exist or are bad, and or your description is bland and reads like you just threw it together at the last moment, rankings and keywords won’t matter. They’ll get you in front of customers…but your book won’t convert and sales won’t occur.

Plus, the beautiful thing about the Amazon ranking system is that it will naturally lower the rankings of not-so-awesome books…even if you are “gaming” the system, optimizing, or hustling like mad. If your book can’t naturally compete with others around it, Amazon will naturally lower your rankings.

So, I am not pushing a silver bullet here…I’m only trying to show you how to initially get your book in front of more people – your other marketing skills need to do the rest to get them to buy it after that – which I cover in a lot of other articles here on Kindlepreneur.

And when you get there and prove your book belongs there…then you’ve made it.

So, with that said, let’s look at ways fiction authors should approach keywords and how keyword research can get you more “exposure.”

Fiction Buyer Mentality

To best understand how keywords play into fiction sales, let’s first look at how fiction readers buy books on Amazon.  From this, you’ll naturally see how my fiction keyword tactics were created and how to use them to your advantage.

Randomly searching: This is where the customer doesn’t know where to start.  They know they want a book, but aren’t sure where to begin.  So, they start typing random broad phrases into Amazon.  I’ll cover this – but NOT in the way you think I will.

Niche Topic Searching: Those buyers who have a specific niche topic in mind, generally will begin by doing an Amazon search for that particular type of book.

Search for books they’ve heard of: In this case, the customer has heard of a book, saw it somewhere, or was recommended it.  So, they are now on the hunt to find that book.

Look at other books associated with books they’ve enjoyed: Have you ever typed into Amazon a book you loved so as to see what comes up as well?  I sure have and according to the stats, a LOT of people do too.

Go to their favorite book category and look at the bestsellers: I go pretty deep into this with my article on categories vs keyword selling but the truth is, unless you can become a top 25 bestselling book in a super competitive but well-loved category, this won’t help you sell more books.

Now, there are some other ways out there as well, like clicking on author pages and finding their previously written books, or Amazon advertisements, etc…But we’re going to stick to these since they result in the highest percentage of actual shopping ‘on’ Amazon.

Strategy #1: Niche Searches vs. Broad

In the fiction buyer’s mentality discussion above, there are two types of topic searches: Broad and Niche

Broad searches are those where the buyer has no idea what they are looking for, so they type in something broad like “Science Fiction” to hopefully get them started in finding their next book.   In essence, they know they want a book, but aren’t sure what they are looking for.

The second type of topic search is the niche or sub-genre search.  This customer knows what they like in a book so they know what they are looking for.  In this case, one would search Sci-Fi Military or Space Marines instead of just Science Fiction.

Here’s an example showing the numbers for these types of searches – from broad to more niche (numbers were generated using KDP Rocket):


As you can see, there are a LOT of competitors for “Science Fiction” but so is the competition.  Even more so, looking at the list of books, you’d be competing with some of the top dogs out there.

However, as we go further down, “Space Marines” isn’t as competitive, brings in money and probably has the right kind of buyer – someone who knows what they are looking for.  As a matter of fact, it does have better conversions when you look at the $$ average compared to the # of searches.

So, which search is more likely to end in a buy on the first try?  “Space Marines” or “Science Fiction.”

But fiction keyword hunting doesn’t just stop there.  We can go even further into the data and find more ways to niche down. Here’s a great example of how character descriptions play a large part in a fiction reader’s search path.

Say you’re writing a Fantasy novel and your  main character is a man who uses magic.  Naturally, we’d immediately think of the word “Wizard,” right?

Well, let’s look at what Keyword Research tells us about Wizard synonyms because there are many different ways you can describe a “man who uses magic.”  Using KDP Rocket, I found the following information:


Granted, some of these have a different feel to them: Warlocks are more man witches, and Mages are more Dungeon and Dragon-ish.  But from the numbers you can see that maybe “Wizard” isn’t the best – only $18 dollars?

Honestly, don’t ask me why Amazon’s Algorithm has messed up that badly with the term “Wizard” but they really did.  However looking more into the numbers, you can see there are clear differences in sales success, searches, and competition.

So, what did we learn with this strategy:

  • Broad terms are usually pretty useless
  • Niche terms have more potential for better conversions
  • Particular characters, times, settings, etc can and have active searches on Amazon – just find the right one
  • Niche terms do exist and can bring in buyers, did I say that already? Good.

Strategy #2: Similar Book Mentions

Another way Amazon shoppers shop for books is to look for a particular book that they heard of before or a book they previous read and loved.

Now, if your book is the book they are actively searching for, then Kodo’s to you for your awesome-sauce book marketing! Finding the target market and bringing them to your book is super hard.

However, most of the time, it’s a more well-known book getting that love.  So, how can we tap into this?

By finding ways to rank alongside such types of books…

If someone broadly types in a popular book title, does Amazon just show that one book and nothing else? Of course not!

Instead, Amazon searches for anything else relating to the other book so as to provide more options for their customers – just in case they are actually looking for something else or just browsing.

The #Kindle Keyword strategy that works for FictionClick To Tweet

This is where you fit in.

The idea is that you find a book that is similar to yours, that is popular, and has a market that is actively searching for its title, and work to have your book associated in the same search results.

Need Proof?…Okay!

If you were to type in “Starship Troopers” in a Kindle search, you’ll get Robert Heinlein’s famous book and the different versions of it to include the Spanish version.

However, just below that ranking #4 is a little-known book by Marko Kloos titled “Terms of Enlistment” – of which I enjoyed reading.

Terms of Enlistment in the Starship Troopers Results

While the number of reviews would show this to be an instant success, I’ll tell you from experience, that that book was there years ago when it only had 50+ reviews – I was one of the first reviewers. So, why is it sitting right there, under a highly sought after, famous epic military sci-fi book?

And yes, “Starship Troopers” and “Forever War” are two of the biggest award winning classics.

I’m pretty sure Markos Kloos didn’t use “Starship Troopers” as one of his 7 kindle keywords because that would violate Amazon’s Kindle keyword terms.

So, how did Mr. Kloos get his book initially ranked for that?  How about his description and buyer association?

If you check his book description, the author mentions three famous authors in a sales conversion type manner – which I wholeheartedly agree with after having read his.

PS: The key is that he didn’t state it as a quote, testimonial or review, which would violate the book description requirements of Amazon.

Relating those three authors to his book

Because of this simple statement, you’ll see his book ranking for the following search terms:

  • Starship Troopers
  • Old Mans War
  • Forever War

Why, you ask?  Two reasons:

  1. Because those books were written by those three authors, and yes, Amazon does index the description as metadata and they say so directly in the first paragraph of this page.   So, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  2. Likening his book to those three greats, he has improved his sales conversions immensely.  It’s as if he is saying “If you like books by these authors, then you’ll love this.”  And guess what, people who bought those books, also bought his as you can see in the “Also Bought” category below for “Starship Troopers”:

Books featured in Customers also bought

As I’ve said in other articles, the number #1 way to improve your rankings for a term is the Search-Click-Buy ratio.  If people types in “Old Man’s War” and scroll down, see Marko Kloos’ book “Terms of Enlistment”, clicks it and buys it, then it only proves that that book should show up in those results – which is why his book ranks #4 for the term in Amazon.

This just goes to prove to Amazon that his book should show up in those searches because people actually do tend to buy his book when searching for the original.  This is a checksum so as to ensure that the changes made by the algorithm continue to benefit the shopper…aka stopping spam tactics from working.

Will it ever beat out the original book’s title search? Of course not.  But like we discussed in a previous article, Amazon shoppers like to scroll and click on things that rank even 7+ down the line.  So, there is a piece of the pie that you can naturally attain.

Clicks on Amazon based on Ranks

Using KDP Rocket we know that the phrase “Starship Troopers” gets typed into Amazon’s search box approximately 11,547 per month.

Using the data in the above chart, and knowing that Kloos’ book ranks #4, we can estimate that his book has benefited from an average of 923 extra clicks per month (not sales, but clicks).  That’s pretty snazzy, right?

Now, not to muddy the waters here, but I’m sure that the real number of clicks is a lot lower since the chart above was generated using data on even playing fields – not title specific searches.  But I’m sure we can all agree that Kloos has earned lots of extra purchases because of his placement for that particular term.

Well played Mr. Kloos, whether you knew what you were doing or not.

But one last thing on this.

Kloos wrote a book and designed a cover and created a description that was TRULY worthy of the statement and the placement. If it wasn’t, I am sure the fans reading it would have destroyed him in the reviews.

How DARE he claim he is amongst those stars!

But lucky for him, his book was good and he belongs there…which is why Amazon keeps him ranking there.

He got discovered, and his good book with a good fit kept him there.

What Not To Do

I’d like to stress upon you that you need to be morally correct with these tactics and not try to rank your books for something that they aren’t suitable to show up for.

However, if you do decide that your book would be a good fit, there are still some things you should consider before choosing the books to try to rank next to.

Do NOT try to rank for BIG time books like Harry Potter, 50 Shades of Grey or others of that magnitude. These books are so highly sought after that your book will never make it.  I’d say Kloos was a little lucky to crack that keyword list.

Instead of going for the obvious, if you’ve done your competitive author research, the Kindlepreneur way, then you’ll know what other authors are out there that would be a good fit.

Basically, you’ll want to find a niche book that has had success, has a following and is close to your book. You’ll find higher conversions this way, as well as relative ease in getting your book to rank right under it.

Hopefully, with a better Title, Subtitle, Book Cover, and a good description, you might sway those looking for the original book to also check yours out and buy it as well. I know I’ve bought a couple more epic military sci-fi books because of this.

Besides, who just buys one book?

Fiction Book Buying Habit

So, Can Fiction Books Use Keywords?

After reading this, I’m sure you can now answer that question.

Again keywords are not a silver bullet and will not make a bad book become a bestseller. But using them can be a powerful method in which to increase your traffic and ultimately your sales.

Keywords for both fiction and non-fiction, are an important part to online discoverability – but how well your cover, title, description, and reviews, etc are, drives your overall sales.

So, take some time, do your research, and find those opportunities.




Hey Guys, I’m Dave and when I am not sipping tea with princesses or chasing the Boogey man out of closets, I’m a Kindlepreneur and digital marketing nut – it’s my career, hobby, and passion.


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