For authors who want to sell ebooks or paperbacks, having their Amazon books tagged seems like it can be a big deal. Tag-my-book parties are even common at forums for writers including Goodreads, Authonomy and more although they have been banned from Amazon forums for “gaming the system.” But regardless of the ethics or lack of ethics, does tagging really help?
What exactly are tags for books, you might ask? If you visit any book at Amazon, try one of mine for example, and scroll down past the product description and reviews, you’ll find a list of tags that customers (or others) have used to identify genres and subject matter of a book. This is meant to be helpful to browsers searching for books of similar nature and for Amazon to group books accordingly. In my example some of the tags will be: self publishing, sell ebooks, ebook business, writers, kindle, online marketing, etc. You can click on an individual tag and find a huge list of books with the same tag, usually ranked from highest number to lowest. Therefore, the consensus of many authors is–having more tags is great and having lots of commonly used tags–even better.
What are commonly used tags? Words like Kindle, adventure, fantasy, romance, humor, fiction, science fiction, history, young adult, vampire, christian fiction… the list goes on. Amazon has a page of commonly searched tags here. But tags don’t have to be so general; they can be much more specific as many of mine are like social marketing and ebook publishing.
How does a Tag Party work? A collection of authors (and sometimes readers/family/friends) agree to add tags, up to 15 per person, to each others books. A forum list develops with an agreement to tag everyone on the list and get tagged too. The more people in the party, the better. Once several dozen people are tagging each others books, in little time a book can achieve a fair number of tags.
However, at first glance it appears this helps with visibility and book sales, but that really hasn’t been proven to me yet. For example, currently my book has more tags for the tag term “epublishing” than any other Amazon book and will come up very high if you click a tag that says “epublishing.” But if you type the same term “epublishing” into an Amazon search box, my book doesn’t even appear in the top 100 results. Odd, isn’t it? The question becomes; what percentage of Amazon buyers really search for new books by using tags? Conversely, we know that many book buyers, myself included, search for books by typing terms into the search box.
The tag term “sell ebooks” currently places my book #2 in a tag search, but if you type that into a book search it comes up as #1 probably because those words are a part of the title. So, I’m still in the school of thought that keywords in the title are far more important than a huge number of tags. I’d still like to know, do the tags help? Maybe. I know of at least one reader, from her forum comments, who says she uses tags to search for new books of a certain subject. Maybe there’s more people like her, but I believe she represents the exception and not the rule.
Still, when it comes to selling both ebooks and paperbacks, Independent authors (Indies) should try a bit of everything and hope it helps. There are several good places to join tagging parties. You can find them on Amazon Kindle discussions at the Meet Our Authors Forum and currently at the Kindle Book Forum, though that might get moved to the former due to Amazon’s restructuring of what they consider to be blatant self-promotion. You can also find taggers at Goodreads, Authonomy and even some of the Indie groups on Facebook.
By far the best place I’ve found to date is at Kindle Direct Publishing New April 2011 Tag My Book. This group is serious and selective on who they accept. You will have to get your tagging act together, however, or you will not be tagged. This means you will have to learn how to copy and paste the author’s preferred 15 tags and do it for everyone on the list before you will be added to the list. There’s a thorough explanation for newbies at the start of the thread. Once that’s done, the tags on your books will increase by HUGE amounts. If you think you can handle that, try this exceptional tagging group.
Also for trans-continental efforts, notice that for a US Amazon author to tag a UK Amazon book, she/he must have made a purchase from UK Amazon. This rule is true regardless of the country of the author’s origin and the country of Amazon products (US, UK, Germany, Japan, France, etc.)
Any other highly recommended groups or opinions on this? Please share them in the comments section.