Keywords provide small, easily discernible bits of information that are vital to accurate search results in the bookstore. Making a strategic selection of keywords and keyword phrases is important in helping potential readers find your book based on topics and themes associated with your book.
In general, you should choose words that relate specifically to your book but are also general enough to attract readers looking for a broad category of work.
Nonfiction works (true stories and writing of a factual nature) that are not biographies should include keywords related to your topic, your potential audience, problems that you tackle, and major theories or ideas that you address.
Biographies and memoirs should include keywords related to the time period for the narrative, the setting for that narrative, the themes of the subject’s life, and important events discussed.
Fiction works should include keywords related to people and places, concepts, ideas and storytelling elements within your book.
Poetry collections should include keywords related to the theme of the collection, the subject of important poems within the collection, and, if relevant, the type of poetry included.
Select at least 15 keywords to describe one of five key parts of your book: the theme, plot, genre, setting, or character.
Keyword Examples for Books Already in the Marketplace
Let’s look at some examples of books you probably know, to see some suggested keywords and which categories they describe.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. (Nonfiction, memoir, history.)
1942; World War II; Amsterdam; Holocaust. (These keywords describe the setting.)Anne Frank; Nazis; family. (These keywords describe characters. In nonfiction, characters are real people.)Diary; memoir. (These keywords describe genre. They tell what type of book it is.)In hiding. (These keywords describe an important part of the book’s plot.)Coming of age; tragedy. (These keywords describe theme. Notice the difference between theme and plot. Plot keywords talk about things that happen in the story. Theme keywords deal with concepts and ideas.)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. (Fiction)
Depression Era; Deep South; Alabama. (Setting)Atticus Finch; Boo Radley; Scout. (Character)Mystery; Southern Gothic. (Genre)Murder; trial. (Plot)Racism; innocence. (Theme)
Dracula by Bram Stoker. (Fiction)
Transylvania; England. (Setting)Count Dracula; Jonathan Harker; Dr. Van Helsing. (Character)Horror; suspense. (Genre)Vampire; undead; kidnapping. (Plot)Seduction; revenge. (Theme)
Now apply what you’ve seen to your book. Make a list of 10 to 12 words, some describing the book’s setting, its characters, genre, plot, and theme. Be specific – the better you can describe your book, the more effective your keywords will be. Use this grid to help you: