Part 5

The fifth part of a series I'm using to share how I took my manuscript from a regular Word document to a fully-fledged, pretty book available on Kindle + my online shop.

Welcome to part 5 of this Word document to book series, and today I’m going to share with you the Amazon keywords and categories research I carried out prior to listing The Indie Author on Amazon for its e-book launch.

More specifically, I’m going to talk about a tool I used to help me with this research for my book’s keywords and categories for my Amazon listing, called Publisher Rocket.

I’m going to share with you what Publisher Rocket is, how I used it for research prior to my book’s listing, and whether I felt it was worth the cost and the effort.

So let’s get started…

What is Publisher Rocket?

Publisher Rocket is a tool an author friend of mine recommended to me, and it’s something I’d heard of before, folks like Joanna Penn – a well-known indie author who has sold hundreds of thousands of copies of her books – also recommend this piece of software.

PublisherRocket has been made by the team at Kindlepreneur, who I’ve mentioned earlier in this series.

And so:

At time of writing this, PublisherRocket is available at a one-off price of $116.40 and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. For something which could save my hours and hours of research, and to be able to access Amazon data which isn’t readily/publicly available, purchasing PublisherRocket was a no-brainer for me.

I thought about it like this: if this helps me market this first book on Amazon and make just a handful of sales, it potentially will have paid for itself already.

And coupled with the fact that I’m intending to publish more books in the future, this one-off fee, again, was a no-brainer.

Worst-case scenario, if I didn’t like it or didn’t feel like it was worth it for whatever reason, I could always ask for my money back within that 30-day period. So I decided to buy PublisherRocket and see what waited for me inside the software.

When you purchase PublisherRocket (also known as KDP Rocket), you are immediately emailed several short, helpful tutorials to help you get familiar with the software, learn what it does, and how you can make use of it.

I watched all the videos, but the two main sections of the software that I used were the ‘Keyword search’ and the ‘Category search’ functions. PublisherRocket lets you run searches on books and e-books separately, or on both together.

And these two functions I’ve mentioned let you experiment and try out keywords, so for example for The Indie Author an example for me was ‘how to write a book’ or simply just ‘writing’, and it gives you similar search terms, the estimated monthly searches for those search terms, and the competition for those search terms.

You get this handy, colour-coded competitive score, which gives you an indication of how competitive that keyword is. What you want to try to do is find keywords or phrases that are searched a lot, but not too competitive.

When you list your book on Amazon, you also need to select categories to put your book in.

With PublisherRocket, You can see all the Categories that exist for books and for e-books, you can see the books that are currently the highest-ranking in those categories, and you can also see how many copies you’d need to sell in order to start ranking at the top of that category.

It’s a benefit for you to rank in the top 10, or be on the first page, for a particular category, because it will make your book more visible and therefore more likely to be bought.

As well as the ‘Keyword search’ and ‘Category search’ tabs on PublisherRocket, there’s another tab called ‘Competition Analyzer’, which lets you type in a word or phrase to search, and bring up those books.

This was useful because I could, say, type in ‘how to write a book’, and see the books that come up, the Categories that those books were listed in, and also click on individual books to see their listings on Amazon so I could get ideas and inspiration for my own listing (i.e. the book’s description).

Tip: thanks to Kindlepreneur, I discovered a nifty way to give you book exposure by increasing the number of categories you can list your book under. This video shows you how and worked a treat for me.

My approach to categories and keywords

Overall, I spent around 3 or so hours researching on PublisherRocket.

Here’s the thing… I wanted to set my book up for the most success possible, I wanted to try to get my book listed, even if only for a short term, at the top of a category or two (which I managed to do, see below) but I was also well aware that, being my first book, this wasn’t going to make me a millionaire bestseller.

The Indie Author was even the #1 New Release in ‘Journal Writing’, though by the time I had gotten around to taking a screenshot a few hours later, it had moved back a little to #2 spot. I was pretty chuffed :)

Rather, I see this book as spreading what I feel is a really important mission of helping people be inspired to write and release their books into the world. Over time, I believe that The Indie Author will be an asset that contributes to my “writer” brand (as well as writing and self-publishing my books, my full-time business – The Indie Writer – is focused on helping writers self-publish to blogs and make money from doing so).

In other words, I wanted this book to help others find me and my work, and for the right people to step in and connect with me. I was – I am – thinking of this book as a long-term asset.

With this in mind, I had to remind myself not to do hours and hours of research. I simply wanted to do some well-informed research to help me choose some keywords and categories that made sense for my book, rather than simply take a stab in the dark.

My thoughts on Publisher Rocket

Overall, I’m really happy I used Publisher Rocket. I featured in a couple of ‘New Releases’ and ‘Bestseller’ lists for particular categories, and PublisherRocket helped me do that.

In total, I sold 43 copies of my book on Amazon during that first month (in addition to direct sales on my online Payhip shop) – I launched my book on 1st November and I listed it as a sale price of $0.99 for the month – to try and help it rank on Amazon and for it to distribute as widely as possible, in line with my goals and intentions with my book.

My expectations were pretty low, and I was thrilled to see those sales on the Amazon dashboard from a bunch of different countries.

Again, for me it’s all about the long-term, bigger picture, rather than the money and the sales.

Publisher Rocket helped me ‘find the readers who were most likely to be interested in my book’, the people I wrote this book for, and my book is still very young…

Over time, I’m hoping that more people will discover my book, through the e-book and (to be released) paperback versions that will be available.

In other words, this book will be just one component of my life and business as an independent writer.


Next time…

Well, at this point, I’d done my keywords and categories research, and I’d also decided how I was going to distribute my book.

This was a pretty intuitive and straightforward process on the whole, made simpler by the fact that I chose just two places to upload my book to.

For Amazon I used Amazon KDP and walked through the step-by-step process (with my researched lists of keywords and categories), and I talked more about the Payhip process in the last part:

📝 Part 4 / “platforms and pricing”

So I then did the exciting thing of uploading my book to both of those places. 🙌

When you break it down, there aren’t that many steps to take to go from a draft manuscript to a fully-fledged ready-to-publish book.

I know I’ve been talking about the eBook thus far but, as I record this, I’m about to get the ball rolling for my paperback book. I’m expecting that to be a lot more straightforward seeing as I already have the completed manuscript…

I’m looking forward to my book being available in the physical realm, hopefully I’ll see it in bookstores and libraries in the not-too-distant future. 😊

That’s a very real, attainable dream in the world we live in today.

I really do believe that we live in the most exciting time in history as writers, as creators, who want to produce creative work, make it available, and make an income or even a living as creative people. It is very exciting stuff indeed.



This little series was originally filmed for my youtube channel… here’s the accompanying vlog to this post:

Stay tuned for Part 6 where I’ll be sharing what I did to prepare for the book’s launch! :)

📝 Read all posts in this series

Hey, I'm Jas :) I’m a writer and writing coach. I run a self-publishing studio @ Indie Writer Press, and I run a blog for writers with ADHD @ The Indie Writer.