The Importance of Amazon Book Tags by Stacy Hoff

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The conventional wisdom of the publishing industry is that authors should keep writing within one genre, and even sub-genre. That way, readers know what to expect from an author and will readily pick up the author’s next new book. The end goal is to create both happy readers and solvent authors.

But do I stick to this rule? Sort of. Within romance (my genre) I always stay with “contemporary” (the sub-genre that requires books to be set in a time period between 1950 to the present day). I do, however, select various different smaller categories within “contemporary.” I hop from “action/adventure” and “military,” to “women’s fiction” and, for my new release, “sports fiction.” Perhaps you can tell from my very different looking book covers just how much my books shift around these different sub-categories.

DesireInTheArctic1800 DesireintheEverglades1800 LawfullyYours1800 JockeyingForYou850

Above: The DESIRE series: action/adventure, military; LAWFULLY YOURS: Women’s Fiction; JOCKEYING FOR YOU: sports fiction

There are zillions of other “contemporary” sub-categories – commonly known as “tags” on Amazon. Everything from “billionaire” to “MC” (motorcycle club) to “secret baby” to “step-brother” to “small town.” Have some fun clicking around on Amazon to see many more tags for yourself.

When I write creatively, my mind jumps everywhere, landing in a diverse world of Amazon tags. On occasion, I force myself to stay focused. Right now, I’m in the midst of writing another series that will finally be straight-out contemporary, although these books have multiple topics for which there are no specific tags: family drama, secrets, and power plays (the BUILDING LOVE series, release dates TBD).

too many books

How much are my sales effected by wandering around the world of Amazon tags? Who knows? There is no reliable control group I can use. In a way, it doesn’t matter. I write all kinds of things because my mind goes everywhere. If the result of my quirky brain is my not being brand-able, maybe I at least can offer readers a lot of options for books, so they can choose one that’s right for them.

Do you care about Amazon tags or sub-categories as a reader, or as a writer?








DesireInTheArctic1800 iheartindiefinalist






SOL cartoon Sol cover new


This entry was posted in action / adventure, Business, Contemporary Romance, Historical romance, Marketing, publishing, romance, romance novels, Sports romance, Stacy Hoff, Writing Advice and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Importance of Amazon Book Tags by Stacy Hoff

  1. PJ Sharon says:

    As a self-published author, tags and choosing categories is always a conundrum for me. My books often fall somewhere in between categories and Amazon and other distributers don’t always offer just the right category. That’s when tags can be helpful in directing readers to our work. Unfortunately, it’s more of an art than a science and you have to do a lot of leg work to discover what tags readers will use when searching for a book. If you’ve got tips on honing the process, I’d love to hear them!

    • stacyhoff says:

      I wish I had tips, PJ! I would have loved to hear them, too. Hahaha!

    • PJ Sharon says:

      I believe it was Joanna Penn who did a workshop on it at RWA. Her method was daunting but I could see how it could work. She suggested choosing less used tags that had smaller numbers of books listed in that category. For instance, rather than just using “contemporary romance” tag that had hundreds of thousands of books in that category, narrow the competition by choosing a tag or category with many less books in it. It takes a lot of trial and error!

  2. stephaniequeen says:

    Thanks for your column, Stacy. The only tip I ever heard that made sense about finding good tags was to do a search using a tag that matches your book and then check out the ranks of the top several books that show up. The higher the rank for that tag, the better. I guess. I tried it once, but the books that showed up didn’t appear to match the tag, so… back to the drawing board.

    • stacyhoff says:

      Stephanie, that idea was a good one, even if it didn’t work out that time. I’m going to try it!

  3. stacyhoff says:

    Thank you, PJ! That makes sense!

  4. ashleyarlene says:

    I will be using this for future reference thank you so much

  5. gailingis says:

    Thanks for the post Stacy, and the tag input. I too am baffled about what and which are of relative importance. Good luck with your new book.

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