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Cindy L. Freeman Blog -Selling Books During a Pandemic, 07/18/20

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We authors are content sitting in our favorite comfy chair, with a cup of coffee, wearing our furry bunny slippers, and pecking away on our laptops all day. If truth be told, the pandemic has provided us with a socially acceptable reason to be socially distant, so we can spend more time writing. 

But, if we want to sell books, we must market them. Marketing is the most challenging and odious aspect of being an author, doubly so during a pandemic or economic recession, triply so–is triply a word?–because most of us can’t afford to hire an agent or distributor…unless our last name is Patterson or Baldacci.  

Without our usual in-person book signings, tours, and festivals, we must rely on Amazon sales to keep our publisher happy. And as my publisher, Jeanne Johansen of High Tide Publications, knows, I live to make her heart sing. “Cha-ching” is her favorite song. So, she has been holding Zoom workshops with her authors to help us understand the confusing world of branding, metadata and search engine optimization. Oh my!

I’ve learned that my brand is Cindy L. Freeman, my author name. The key is to use that name consistently in my online presence: website, Facebook page, blogspot, Amazon bio and wherever my name appears on the internet. Okay, that’s not so hard to understand, but metadata is another story. Yikes!

According to the dictionary, “metadata is data that describes other data, as in describing the origin, structure, or characteristics of computer files, webpages, databases, or other digital resources.” More simply put–for those of us with more simple minds–it is data about data. I’ll have to trust Jeanne on that one. But now I think I understand how to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to market my books.

Whenever I learn something new–or rather, when something finally sinks in–I get excited and have to share. So, here goes. For each of our books, Jeanne challenged us to come up with multiple keywords. These are words that are most frequently typed into Amazon’s search engine by people looking for books like ours. For fiction, these words might relate to genre, topic, and character type. For nonfiction, they might identify a problem, solution, and audience.

So, my novel, Unrevealed, might come up in an Amazon search if someone entered any of these words or combinations: fiction, intrigue, romance, mystery, secret, heiress, business woman, lost sibling, powerful father, or family conflict. The goal is to optimize the chances of this happening.

My novel, The Dark Room, could be tagged with any of these keywords: fiction, family dynamics, child abuse, domestic abuse, hidden child, abuser, abused women, abused children, dysfunctional family, power and control and others.

Possible keywords for my novel, I Want to Go Home, include but are not limited to: fiction, homelessness, kids alone, teenager, brothers, protector, homeless kids, child protection, homeless shelters, etc. You get the idea.

So, how do authors ensure that our books pop up in searches? We must use the keywords often in our book descriptions, blog posts, websites, and social media posts. In this way we maximize the number of visitors and potential instances of our books being tagged.

Wish us luck!

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website:; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through or Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.

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