WHEN I first set off on my novel-publishing mission I kept hearing the word genre over and over again.
People insisted that it was important that you established yourself in a certain genre if you were to start selling books. This is because if you are to use the Amazon algorithms to your advantage your book should turn up when people are searching for subject matter of a similar style.
It’s about discovering readers, the people who might be partial to the kind of thing you are writing.
For me, initially, it seemed pretty obvious that Crossing The Whitewash fitted in the thriller category, with a bit of suspense and mystery thrown in.
Along with that, particularly if you are publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing, Createspace or Lightning Source (the UK version of Ingram Spark) you get a number of key words you can input to help the search engines discover your novel.
I tended to throw these about willy-nilly. I included Wales and London – the two settings where the novel takes place – sport (because the Rugby World Cup is one of the backdrops), mystery, murder, gangsters and one other which I can’t recall at the moment. On Kindle you are allowed seven which seems plenty.
The trouble is that because I had chosen thriller as the main category, the amount of competition I had was vast. We all know that thrillers can be used to describe any book really with a bit of a twist and an edge. Drill down and there are all sorts of different types: medical thrillers, legal thrillers, cop thrillers… even those novels like Gone Girl and Girl On A Train find themselves in that category.
An author’s priority is to get your book to be seen, and to alert potential readers to its availability.
Your aim is to reach one of the bestseller lists, so that you find your book linked with other people of a certain genre. Let’s be honest, if you are writing about a gang or perhaps UK organised crime, you can do no worse than find you’re sharing the same Amazon page as Martina Cole.
Of course, with the word thriller in the title (I originally called it the Rugby World Cup thriller and later a UK gangland thriller) you probably don’t need to use the word again to denote your genre. With KDP, for instance, you can only choose two genres so to use up one with thriller seems a bit pointless. Search engines should find it anyway.
This week I took a close look at my Amazon page and studied the section where it lists books readers have bought as well as mine. Most of them were gang-related novels set in the UK and I found when studying a couple of them that they had something in common. They were in the ‘Urban’ category.
With that in mind I tinkered with my KDP genres. You can put your book into two of them so I used Coming of Age and Urban. Lo and Behold, by Wednesday morning, when the change took effect, I found myself at No. 66 in the Best-selling charts for UK Urban novels.
These things change hour by hour and by this morning I had dropped out of the top 100. Still, it’s pointed me in the right direction. I know with advertising targeted in the right areas and picking the appropriate key words and genres I can make my book more visible.
I am no longer lost in Amazon, up a creek without a paddle.