KDP Rocket, now known as Publisher Rocket, is a software used by many self-published and independent authors. But what is it exactly? And do you really need it?
This makes it difficult for aspiring or new self-published authors to determine which tools are actually worth investing in as they learn how to publish a book.
Our KDP Rocket review is meant to provide an overview of the software, with an in-depth look at each of the four main functions, so that you can decide if it’s a tool you need to succeed as a self-published author.
In this KDP Rocket Review, here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is KDP Rocket?
- KDP Rocket & the importance of keywords
- What does KDP Rocket do?
- Publisher Rocket Feature #1: Keyword Search
- Publisher Rocket Feature #2: Competition Analyzer
- Publisher Rocket Feature #3: Category Research
- Publisher Rocket Feature #4: AMS Keywords
- How much does KDP Rocket cost?
- KDP Rocket Review: Is it worth buying?
What is KDP Rocket?
Publisher Rocket, formerly known as KDP Rocket, is a user-friendly online application created by Kindlepreneur’s David Chesson. It helps authors promote their books and eBooks.
KDP Rocket, the original application, was mainly targeted to eBooks, but it’s updated version, which is Publisher Rocket, works for both eBooks and print books.
Related: How to Publish an eBook on Amazon
Publisher Rocket is lighter to the eye compared to its previous version and just as easy to use. Its target group is independent authors, or those in the self-publishing space, who wish to promote their books on Amazon.
At its heart, Publisher Rocket is a targeting tool.
It lets you reach the right people: readers interested in your kind of book. It does so by picking the best keywords for your advertising campaigns and the best categories for your book.
KDP Rocket and the importance of keywords
In order to understand KDP Rocket’s value, you have to understand the importance of keywords when it comes to self-publishing a book on Amazon.
A crucial aspect of setting up an Amazon Advertising campaign is selecting the right keywords, for your book launch and beyond.
Having effective keywords ensures that you’re targeting the right audience. Failing to do so results in wasted funds and unsuccessful campaigns on Amazon marketing.
The manual way of choosing keywords is remarkably time-consuming. It involves visiting your book’s page on Amazon and writing down any other books mentioned there, in the “More items to explore…” and “Books you may like” rows.
Most people choose keywords by focusing on books similar to theirs and copying the book title, author’s name, and genre categories into their advertising campaigns.
What does KDP Rocket do?
Now that you understand the importance of keywords when it comes to self-publishing on Amazon, we’ll get into the details of Publisher Rocket’s features.
Publisher Rocket automates and expands the keyword research process. Not only does it speed up and simplify your searches, it also analyzes your competition and categories.
You can do all this with just a couple of clicks. The application has four basic functions:
- Keyword Search: With this function, you enter a specific search word and Publisher Rocket finds and rates related keywords from Google and Amazon.
- Competition Analyzer: You enter a keyword and Publisher Rocket find books and authors based on the keyword. Then, it provides the links to their Amazon pages.
- Category Search: This feature provides a searchable list of all the “hidden” categories of Amazon, so you can locate the best for your book to achieve a good ranking.
- AMS Keyword Search: Similar to Keyword Search, this feature specifically concentrates on keywords appearing on Amazon searches, ignoring any Google ones.
Let’s explore these in more detail.
Publisher Rocket Feature #1: Keyword Search
Keyword Search searches both Google and Amazon to locate keywords around a word or combination of words that you are interested in. These can be the title of your book, a genre, or a keyword that you would like to use as a starting point.
Publisher Rocket asks you to choose if you are interested in keywords for an eBook or a print edition. You cannot search for both at the same time, presumably to better target the search.
After you enter your keyword, Rocket “goes get em” and presents the results in a table:
- The first column, Keyword, includes the keywords retrieved.
- Number of Competitors is an estimation of how many books use this keyword on Amazon.
- You can also see how many times this keyword has been used in searches in both Google and Amazon. This offers a good indication of whether your keyword is trending or not.
- The Competitive Score column is an estimate of how hard it is to use the keyword and rank your book for it, on a scale from 1 (easiest) to 100 (hardest). Your ideal keyword combines lots of search results in Amazon and Google with a low Competitive Score, i.e. few books for it. Keep in mind that this is no easy feat, and it’s an exceptional keyword which can do this.
- The Average Monthly Earnings column is an estimate and should be taken with a pinch of salt… or I am much richer than I knew! While there’s no harm in being optimistic, the estimates I see seem unrealistic. Maybe they include bestselling authors who raise the average to extents that most independent authors can hardly reach?
Publisher Rocket does not fully populate the Keywords Search table, presumably to speed things up. You need to click the orange “Analyze” button for each keyword to do so. The button then turns green and reads, “Competition”.
If you click on it, Publisher Rocket takes you directly to the second function, “Competition Analyzer,” for the selected keyword. This is a particularly useful automation, as it lets you run a speedy Competition Analysis. Thankfully, the original Keyword Search is not lost and you can return to it after checking out the competition.
Another big help is the ability to export all data for Excel, letting you study them at your convenience.
Pros of KDP Rocket’s Keywords Search:
- Keywords Search is a great timesaver. It searches Amazon and Google for keywords with just one click.
- Searches are surprisingly fast.
- It also provides a quick link to the Competition Analyzer function for each keyword.
Cons of KDP Rocket’s Keywords Search:
- You need to click “Analyze” to populate the table with numbers.
- The estimated average earnings per keyword seems on the optimistic side.
Publisher Rocket Feature #2: Competition Analyzer
If you select Competition Analyzer you are asked to enter a specific keyword. Publisher Rocker will then present a list of books with their title/subtitle and cover, plus related data in columns and a link to each book’s Amazon page:
The columns of the table are:
- Book cover: Including the book cover is a nifty feature. An author can speedily check out cover trends, something particularly useful if they are designing their book cover.
- Type: Lets you know if the competition is paperback or e-book. Audible format is not included at this stage.
- Age: Days since a book has been published (isn’t it telling that a book’s age is measured in days?)
- ABSR: Amazon ranking
- KWT / KWST: Tells you if the keyword you searched for is in the title or subtitle. This is another great piece of information. Sometimes, specific trends emerge, such as including a keyword in the subtitle. For example, the subtitle “A sci-fi anthology” includes both sci-fi and anthology keywords. If you see many others do it, maybe you should too. This is an easy way to discover industry trends. However, this function looks at the exact term you used as a keyword. Therefore you could get different results for “sci fi romance,” “Sci-Fi Romance,” “Sci-Fi Alien Romance.” If you are interested in trends, use the exact keyword you would like to include in your title or subtitle and experiment a bit.
- DY Sales and MO sales: Estimated daily sales and estimated monthly sales based on ABSR, respectively. Like estimated earnings, this should be taken with a pinch of salt and seems to be on the optimistic side.
- Sales page: Click this to open the Amazon book page.
Pros of Publisher Rocket’s Competition Analyzer:
- Competition Analyzer can save you a lot of time, discovering books that you should otherwise search in Amazon through categories, keywords, “also boughts,” etc.
- It can help you (re)design your book cover.
- Includes a quick link to the Amazon book page for more detailed data.
Cons of Publisher Rocket’s Competition Analyzer:
- The estimated daily and monthly sales seem optimistic.
Publisher Rocket Feature #3: Category Search
Often overlooked, Category Search is a great feature, unique to Publisher Rocket.
If you think that looking for keywords and competition is hard, try looking for the real Amazon categories that might pertain to your books: it’s an almost impossible task, no matter how much time you are willing to spend on this.
Amazon seems to deliberately thwart attempts to unearth their categories and I had to marvel at Publisher Rocket’s uncanny ability to do so.
Finding the correct categories matters—a lot. The right category can help you rank among that group’s bestsellers. You can use this not just for promotion but also to improve your Amazon ranking.
But this is hard. The categories you set on KDP when you create your book are just generic—think of them as buckets holding dozens of subcategories each. Amazon decides under which subcategory to place your book, depending on search results.
The only way to view these detailed categories is on the left of any amazon.com search page. To complicate things further, they are different for your e-book and print edition.
Each of these subcategories has its own internal ranking. If you target a subcategory with low competition, you could become number one or feature with a great rank for it with just a handful of sales.
There are two ways to discover which category is best for your book in Publisher Rocket:
You can drill down the main categories listed by Publisher Rocket:
You can enter a few characters of a keyword that may be included in a category. Keep in mind that keyword combinations don’t work here. So, if you are interested in choosing a category for your Sci-Fi Romance book, you need to check Sci-Fi first, then Romance. As an example, you can check out below the results which feature Romance in the category path. As you can see, while many are very similar, they can have different competitive dynamics.
Publisher Rocket provides categories for both e-books and print editions, as these are not necessarily the same.
The results shown include:
- The full category path: This is very useful. With this information, you can contact KDP Help and ask for your book to be linked to this exact path. Amazon tends to honor these requests, thus letting your book rank higher.
- ABSR of #1: How the book currently at the top of this category ranks on Amazon.
- Sales to #1: How many books an author should sell daily to become number 1 in this category. There are categories where just one sale per day could let you rank at the top place for this category!
- ABSR of #10 and Sales to #10: Similar to the previous, only it refers to the tenth book in the category. This shows you how many sales you need to rank among the top-ten books in each category.
- Check-it out: This is a link to the respective category page on Amazon. Click on it to see the current 50 bestsellers of this category.
Pros of KDP Rocket’s Category Search:
- Category Search is a unique tool, offering you crucial insight into “hidden” Amazon categories and their competitive potential.
Cons of KDP Rocket’s Category Search:
- Few people know how to take proper advantage of this exceptional tool.
Publisher Rocket Feature #4: AMS Keywords
AMS Keywords is similar to Keyword Search but excludes Google and focuses solely on Amazon.
Keywords Search only looks at terms entered by customers in Google and Amazon.
AMS Keywords only searches Amazon for terms already used in book titles and author names. This narrow focus means it’s optimized for Amazon Advertising.
Specifically, AMS Keywords looks up Amazon search results and identifies best sellers, new releases, and their authors. It also includes books “also bought” by customers who bought the above books, etc.
Performing this kind of task manually lets you search intuitively and incrementally. You may form a personal opinion about the genres and categories you are interested in. But it is terribly time-consuming.
For authors with precious little time, AMS Keywords is the perfect tool to automate and speed up the process. It performs all these searches on Amazon for you, saving you lots of time.
When you enter a keyword, you get a table with the following results:
- Title: a category or book title.
- Author: when the title is a book title, the author also appears.
- ASIN: when the title is a book title, its ASIN also appears.
- Type: this shows what kind of search brought this result. For example, if the results come from looking at a book series, the title of the series appears. This way you can relate a keyword to a specific book or series.
Again, you can export the results to work on keywords at your convenience in Excel format.
From personal experience, Dave’s methodology is pretty comprehensive and therefore his tool does a great search. However, you still need to have an initial list of keywords. The best way to obtain this is by running first a Publisher Rocket Keyword Search.
Also, Publisher Rocket does not search for the “also bought” books your customers bought, as it has no way of knowing which books you have published. Instead, it checks out the top books of each category.
Finally, several results will be useless to you. You need to manually wean out anything not relevant to your book.
Pros of Publisher Rocket’s AMS Keywords:
- AMS Keywords saves you a lot of time, finding books, authors, and keywords that trend on Amazon either because they are top of their categories, are selling well, are part of series, or are new releases.
- It performs multiple searches and is a quick way of generating keywords for your Amazon ads.
- It is optimized for Amazon Advertising.
- The results can be exported in Excel.
Cons of KDP Rocket’s AMS Keywords:
- You still need to apply personal insight and instinct.
- You still need to add manually your book’s “also boughts.”
- It lacks the broader approach of Keyword Search.
It lets you reach readers interested in your kind of book.
How much does KDP Rocket cost?
Publisher Rocket costs $97, at the time of this article. While there isn’t a free trial currently offered, it does include a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee in case you don’t find it valuable for you.
The software works on both Mac and PC, and includes access to the software and all its features, including help support.
KDP Rocket Review: Is it worth the investment?
Publisher Rocket is easy to use, generates a ton of data in seconds, and provides helpful links to Amazon pages, books, authors, and categories. It can even help anyone looking for book cover trends.
One of its greatest advantages is the ability to export results in Excel format. This makes up for the lack of extra tools within the application itself—for example, most tables cannot be sorted. However, by importing them into Excel, you can manipulate the data as necessary.
The application comes with a detailed tutorial, plenty of helpful articles, and several videos by Dave Chesson (aka Kindlepreneur). Study those and you’ll be a Publisher Rocket expert in no time!
All in all, if you are serious about selling more books on Amazon’s KDP self-publishing platform, Publisher rocket is worth the money.
If you take advantage of the training materials, explore all of the functions, and nail down the strategy, the software will save you time and money, as well as give you invaluable insight for promoting your book on Amazon.
What other questions do you have about Publisher Rocket?
You can find Nicholas on nicholasrossis.me, where he blogs about books, writing, and book marketing.
Latest posts by Nicholas Rossis (see all)
- KDP Rocket Review: 4 Ways to Use Publisher Rocket & If It’s Worth It - October 31, 2019
- Show, Don’t Tell Your Reader: Master How to Show Not Tell in Writing - October 4, 2019