You may have seen adverts for, or heard about, KDP Rocket. You might be wondering either what it’s used for, or if it’s worth the investment? I came across a discussion in one of my online writing groups and asked J.M. Butler to give me her thoughts as a skeptical user of the marketing software…
My KDP Rocket Experience
I purchased KDP Rocket about a year ago because I was struggling to sell my books and I didn’t have a lot of money from ads. I also wasn’t especially certain how to fix my marketing or what keywords to target, so I did a lot of stabbing in the dark. It wasn’t working. At all. So I decided to try KDP Rocket, and I went through the tutorials (an essential step since the program isn’t the most intuitive and the information gathered needs a bit of explaining).
Once the program was installed, it took me a couple hours of researching to find appropriate keywords for each of my fantasy novels, especially the ones not connected within a series. At first, there wasn’t much of a change. Amazon can take a bit before the new keywords kick in, but after a few days, I noticed that I was selling more books. I went from selling one copy of one book every so often to selling one or two books a day with a couple gap days. Obviously this isn’t huge, but these numbers are coming in with zero money going into advertising as of the time of this writing, which is October, 2018.
The biggest shift that KDP Rocket brought about was in helping me understand what keywords readers use. I tended to think in a more “authorly” way, I suppose. And I had never considered the competition level I was facing. At least not in that way.
Upon first publishing, it seemed clear to me that my books belonged in epic high fantasy, but when I ran that keyword phrase through KDP Rocket, the results were rather grim. Not only was the phrase highly competitive but the market was heavily saturated. At that time, I would have over 3,800 competitors for the same keyword with a competitive score of 80 (which means that there is little room to break in unless you have a lot of money for ads and swaps). The competition listing showed me the books using that keyword phrase, their price, overall review rating, daily sales, and number of reviews. And from there, I realized, yeah…there was no way I was going to get to the first page of the epic high fantasy search. And as you probably know, if you can’t get to the front page of a search, your books are not as likely to be purchased. All my efforts to place in that keyword search were likely to return low result. Indeed, I had one book that had never broken past the tenth page.
So I played around with other possible keyword bundles, keeping it fairly simple. Eventually I discovered that a then lower competition point was “epic high fantasy with romance” and “epic high fantasy shapeshifters” and “high fantasy romance mindreaders.” Similarly, switching “little mermaid retelling” to “black mermaid romance” and “mermaid love story” proved to be much more effective, taking my story from the fifth page back to the first. These and similar terms (often combinations of a subgenre and character/race type) allowed me to get to the front page and sometimes even as the top listing for that keyword bundle.
The initial price of $99 for KDP Rocket might seem a bit steep, but I consider it one of the best purchases I’ve made. At this point, it has earned its keep multiple times over. Even using Google Analytics and Adsense keyword analytics did not give me enough insight into the specific platform I needed. The other issue that needs to be considered is that keyword efficiency changes over time. So while you may be able to hire someone to gather and test keywords for you, you need to bear in mind that they will have to be updated as more authors and stories enter the competition or others fall out. It’s especially important for someone like me who is not yet spending much money on advertising, and the little differences can really add up.
All the best to all of you in your stories and your writing!
J.M. Butler is an adventurer, author, and attorney who never outgrew her love for telling stories or playing in imaginary worlds. She is the author of The Tue-Rah Chronicles, which includes Identity Revealed and Enemy Known. Independent novellas set in the same world include Locked, Alone, and Cursed. She has also written a number of other stories including Mermaid Bride, Through the Paintings Dimly, and more. She writes primarily speculative fiction with a focus on multicultural high fantasy and suspenseful adventures with intriguing romances. She lives with her husband and law partner, James Fry, in rural Indiana where they enjoy creating fun memories, challenging each other, and playing with their three cats.
Visit her website www.jmbutlerauthor.com to learn more.
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