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Amazon’s Metadata Crackdown on Book’s Search Keywords and Titles

Posted on 2013-Nov-29

by BB eBooks Staff

Book Removal 2.0


In a bid to boost discoverability of eBook, authors would do anything to make sure their book will come up on top in any search result. Tweaking metadata to include other authors’ titles in the eBook has long been known to lead curious readers to discover your book. Like this x title, you’ll find y interesting. Unfortunately, Amazon does not sit still and let that happen any longer when several authors’ eBooks on the Kindle Store have been removed without being given prior notification from Amazon. The link to Author Marketing Experts on The Passive Voice has raised an issue of the eBook being removed from Amazon for authors who write other authors’ names or book titles in their book description or search keywords.

Unintended Violation of KDP Program Policies


Although there are voices of wisdom reflecting upon violation of KDP Program Policies, it seems some are not totally aware of the situation and risk losing their book from the shelf. One user, Phil, on The Passive Voice reports how ten other books “piggybacking for more visibility.” What it means is those other ten books might take advantage of Phil’s book title by including his book title in the metadata. Consequently, when readers search for his book, they will also find other books and buy them instead of his. Under other circumstances, authors may reference famous titles or author name in the metadata (e.g. Hunger Games, Tom Clancy, Fifty Shades of Grey) in their search keywords to quickly compare their work to those titles. The comparison has long been considered a “strong market tool” to help authors find more readers according to Penny of Author Marketing Experts.

DIY Solution

The follow-up post shows how authors can solve the issue by themselves. According to the website mentioned above, the eBooks processed through KDP are most likely affected if their keywords include references to authors’ names and titles. When one of the books they were working on was pulled, they further wrote to Amazon and simply asked why. Amazon’s response clarifies how they prohibit “any and all keywords with other authors or similar book titles in the description area.” You, as an author, hold the right to have Amazon Author Central contact you if you have any questions regarding the keywords. For those whose books have been pulled, it is unfortunate but do not give up.

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining


Before writing the letter, make sure you have the information you can refer to your book (i.e. ISBN or ASIN). Penny writes an open letter both to Jeff Bezos and the KDP support team in which their immediate response from an Executive Customer Relations person promised to reinvestigate the removal of such book. After she got an email from the executive team, the book became live but there was nothing on the page. So she wrote another email to him so the error could be fixed within 15 minutes. Not only did Amazon bring the book back to life, he also attached Metadata Guidelines for her review. In Book Titles and Search Keywords, these are prohibited in the title field and search keywords.

Book Titles

  • Unauthorized reference to other titles or authors
  • Unauthorized reference to a trademarked term
  • Reference to sales rank (i.e. best-selling)
  • Reference to advertisements or promotions (i.e. free)

Search Keywords

  • Reference to other authors
  • Reference to books by other authors
  • Reference to sales rank (i.e. best-selling)
  • Reference to advertisements or promotions (i.e. ‘free’)
  • Reference to anything that is unrelated to your book's content

Play It Safe


According to Author Marketing Experts, the best practice is to contact Amazon by emailing your query to KDP Support Team or refer to the Help Topics. Regardless of whether your books may have been removed or not, taking a precautionary step to review the book is the quickest way to play safe. If you are not following the guidelines regulated above, you can either edit the keywords or contact the support team for further suggestion. One user commented that he removed the statement “if you liked this, you’ll like this” from his book description for search results. Since holiday season is just around the corner and you have spent all of your marketing effort to promote the book, even one tiny offending mistake in keywords or title should be dealt with ASAP.

Label: Self-Publishing

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