In order to sell books, my books need to be visible in order to be discovered. One way to do that is through searching on Amazon. Another is through advertising, and in this review, I am referring to advertising through Amazon Marketing Services (AMS).
Each Kindle Direct Published (KDP) book on Amazon has seven keywords (or phrases) associated with it that help with visibility. KDP Rocket is a software product that helps find the best seven keywords to associate with my KDP books. The software’s creator and frontman, Dave Chesson, is friendly, personable, and goes out of his way to help, whether answering questions, or being receptive to ideas.
I had been struggling with these seven keywords for six months, convinced that I could do it myself. But trying to think like a reader looking for my books was difficult. I also tried other methods like stuffing as many keywords as possible into those seven fields, all with limited success (more information on that at Evenstar’s Monster Post on Amazon Keywords at KBoards). I decided to try KDP Rocket.
KDP Rocket is simple to use and has no learning curve at all. Seriously. The screen layout is simple, pleasing, and reflects Dave’s amiable attitude. I can do only four things with KDP Rocket: search keyword ideas, search competition for a keyword, generate keywords for AMS ads, and search for top categories. And it couldn’t be easier because it’s all in front of me.
Keyword Searches (previously Idea Search):
I enter an idea (eg. cryptozoology), click “Go Get ‘Em Rocket” and a large list of keywords are returned. The top of the list features keywords that people are actively searching for on Amazon. Tacked onto the bottom are keywords people are searching for on Google. This information is gold, akin to reading a customer’s mind. These are the keywords I had been searching for but remained out of my grasp because I could come up with all the variations.
For each keyword, various statistics are returned including number of competitors and number of searches per month for Google and Amazon (estimated). After clicking the box labeled “Analyze”, more data is pulled, showing average monthly earnings and a competitive score. If any keywords look promising, I can click “Check Competition” for more information.
Either coming from the Keyword (Idea) Search tab or starting a fresh competition search, the top ten books that match those keywords are displayed. This is exactly what I would see if I entered that keyword into a Kindle search at Amazon.com (in private browsing mode.) With this data, I can see what books I’d be competing with, their Amazon best seller rank, estimated daily sales and other data.
I can click on a title and see a cover thumbnail and I can also see all the competition’s categories. Clicking on a category pulls up the Amazon Best Sellers list for that category. Knowing the ranks of my own books, I can judge whether I’d be able to realistically claim a spot in this list.
AMS Keyword Searches:
While finding the seven keyword phrases for each of my books is important, so is finding keywords to target AMS advertising. This is where KDP Rocket puzzles me a bit. Presently, I visit Amazon’s Best Sellers lists, my books’ “Also Bought” lists, sometimes Google AdWords’ keyword planner, and YASIV.com to collect keywords. It’s a time consuming task. KDP Rocket streamlines that workflow.
The first dozen or so results of an AMS search is made up of your chosen keyword and the results of the competition search for that keyword. This in itself isn’t bad. It’s the results beyond the first dozen that I’m a little disappointed by.
At first glance, there looks to be a nice big list of books to target AMS ads to. And it is, but they are often not in the correct genre and I must to go back to Amazon to check (unlike the links on the competition search tab.) Also, many of the books listed afterward are written by mainstream authors. As an indie, I have more advertising success by targeting mid-list authors.
The last thing I want to do is advertise in a genre completely unrelated to my books. Or do I? Some may argue that any exposure is good and can lead to a sale. Let the AMS Ads AI take over and filter out the irrelevant keywords. Perhaps that is true, but it could also lead to more untargeted clicks and really eat into my ROI. I’ll have to test that.
Just a guess, but I think KDP Rocket is taking the Amazon Best Seller categories of the top ten books listed in a competition search and pulling the top twenty titles from each of those Best Sellers categories. The results are tacked onto the AMS keyword search results. If this is the case, then the genre problems are more Amazon’s fault than KDP Rocket’s.
This is the most recent addition to KDP Rocket. It’s been live for only a few weeks. It’s also the feature that requires the most amount of improvement. I found that the categories that were returned, while easy to hit number one for my horror thriller book, were often not in an appropriate category.
I’m not going to place my book in a category unrelated to my genre just to hit number one. A book about blood-thirsty rats doesn’t belong in a children’s category, even if I could get a number one spot. Amazon would likely not allow it either.
For example, I entered “scary books for adults” and received a mixed bag of results. I understand that any story could be tailored to fit any of these categories, but when I think “scary books for adults”, I don’t think “Children’s eBooks > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Family Life > Blended Families” (although to be fair, a blended family could be scary 😉 ). In fact, for this search, half of the categories targeted children’s books. Not a good fit.
Perhaps I was being too specific with my search terms. Even so, I’d rather see less results that are relevant, than a whole bunch that are not. I hope to see this feature refined more in coming updates.
As I use KDP Rocket, I can see how useful it is. The amount of time it has saved me is immense. I still pull books from my “Also Boughts” and visit YASIV, but KDP Rocket has proven itself. Less administration means more time to write books.
There were a few small issues and bugs, and I’ve notified Dave about them. I am confident that he will consider and resolve them (if deemed important) in a future update. The software has already received two minor revisions since writing this article.
The current price tag for KDP Rocket is $97 USD, which some may find steep. To those I ask “how much is your time worth?”
Some additional goodies Dave has supplied, free for the taking:
- Free 5-day AMS Advertising Course (Affiliate link)
- Amazon Sales Rank Calculator
- Amazon Book Description Generator Tool
Check them out!