Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Scoop on Amazon Tagging

If you have a book for sale on Amazon or other vendor sites, you know that getting it up there is merely the first hurdle. Once your book is listed how do people find it? Even if it’s the greatest novel since Moby Dick or has the potential sales of Gone with the Wind, potential readers still have to see it first.

Tagging is one way that Amazon has ensured that will happen. It is also one form of promotion for authors which is relatively invisible, simple and free.

Now tagging isn't just for authors. Readers can and should use them as well. If you read a novel and want to let other readers know they would enjoy it because it's an adventure or science fiction story or has Robert Bruce in it, you can add adventure or science fiction or Robert Bruce as a tag.

When another reader searches on that term, Amazon uses the tags to give them results. Amazon has thousands of books they bring up when someone searches on phrase. The frequency with which a book has been tagged with that phrase is an important determiner in where a novel is on Amazon's list when the results come up.

So how does tagging work? First, you must have an Amazon account with which you have made an Amazon purchase; otherwise, no one else can see your tags. Then you can tag a book with up to 15 tags.

Here authors can exert at least some control. Pick out about ten tags that you think will be used by readers who would want to read your novel. For my historical novel, Freedom's Sword, I used terms like "historical novel", "Scotland", "Scottish independence" and "knights". Readers will add tags which they feel are appropriate. Someone added the tag "medieval" which was a good addition and will help people who like medieval fiction find it.

I strongly advise against using tags that have nothing to do with your novel even if you think they're popular. It just annoys readers and they may decide to "vote down" the relevant tags. They may also add negative tags, so care is a good idea.

To add tags, you can hit "tt" and it gives you a tagging pop-up window where you can type in tags. If you want to simply agree with existing tags, you can click on the button next to the tags.

By the way, there is a text line "Agree with these tags?" Clicking it does not agree with the existing tags!

If you look at a novel and think the tags are not appropriate to it you can "vote down" the inappropriate. That is when you click "Agree with these tags?" That gives you a list of the tags and if you hover your cursor over the number of clicks that tag has received, you can vote against it. If enough "down votes" are received, the tag is removed.

The explanation sounds complicated, but it's really a simple process. It helps both authors and readers. We should all take advantage of it.


V. Furnas said...

Thank you so much for explaining this. I am a few months out from putting my writing online and was confused by this.

J. R. Tomlin said...

I had no idea how they worked when I started either, so I know exactly what you mean.

Anonymous said...

I think that tagging is fun! And there are boards like KB that allow authors to get together to tag each other's books. I am still trying to decide, though, how much it is helping ;)

J. R. Tomlin said...

Good point about the authors helping each other with tagging. I'm also part of that thread on KB. I don't know how much it helps, but work on the "every little bit you can do you should" principle. A tag that turns up your novel on a search might be the last nudge a potential reader needs.

Darke Conteur said...

Thank you! This will come in very handy. :)