Tags For Your Book

A friend asked me for a tutorial on putting keywords on her books. If you publish your own books through Kindle or Create Space or Smashwords, you’ll be asked to supply some tags (or keywords). If you have a publisher, some of them ask you for keywords.

Here’s what I said about tags a couple of years ago:

Tags are words that a reader might use in searching for a book. Think of a librarian or bookseller asking you, “What can I help you find?” And you say, for example, “I’d like a book about a strong female. If it has a dog in it, that’s even better. And I’m going on vacation to Paris next year, so something set in Paris would be fun. Do you have any mysteries like that?” And the librarian or bookseller says, “Hmmm…. Do you like racy stuff?” And you say, “Sure do! In fact, if there’s some steamy romance in it, I’m sold!” So the librarian or bookseller thinks, “Strong female, dog, Paris, mystery, racy, steamy, romance,” and finds some books to recommend.

People who are looking for books often look using keywords. People who sell books often categorize books by keywords, to help them match readers and works.

But, my friend says, what if you just can’t think of keywords? She says her mind doesn’t work that way. If she searches for something, she uses phrases and sentences, not individual words, so telling her to think of individual word searches doesn’t help her.

So I sez, sez I, “Go through a description of your book and pull out important, descriptive words.”

For example:

From Hell Alley to TerraNet comedy stardom. Connie Phelan‘s goal is to be top dog in a high-status social group calling itself The Good Society. When the Society invites her to a planet where slavery is legal, Connie is faced with choices: Accept ownership of slaves who throw themselves on her mercy or refuse, leaving them free for an unscrupulous Socialite to abuse? Abandon Honey, an alcoholic hanger-on, or risk her own status in the group to support her? And who SHOULD go into that cannibal pot?

No, I'm not going to flog this EVERY DAY.
No, I’m not going to flog this EVERY DAY.

Keywords: comedy, female protagonist, space travel, science fiction, slavery

I’m not sure if wiseass is a category; if it were, I’d just use that five times.

Click here to read the first chapter.

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A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Using the blurb for your book or someone else’s book, come up with the best five keywords (tags) to aid someone in finding exactly that book.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Tags For Your Book

  1. jane

    January 13, 2014 at 8:44am

    One couldn’t spell out this topic any better!

    Is there a category for: The writer is a wiseass?

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Cairn Rodrigues

    January 13, 2014 at 12:24pm

    This is very helpful Marian. My mind doesn’t think of keywords naturally either!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 13, 2014 at 6:32pm

      I hope it did help, Cairn. I think my years volunteering at the library back when they had physical card catalogs might have influenced my ability to think in terms of keywords. 😀

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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