Publisher Rocket – Is It a Good Tool for Your Kindle Publishing Business?
New Name, New Features
Formerly known as KDP Rocket, version 2.0 of this popular software includes a load of great new features and also has a new name – Publisher Rocket.
If you are an old school user with version 1.0, don’t worry. You get the new and updated Publisher Rocket free of charge! So what has changed and what will still feel familiar in the new version of the software?
That’s what we’ll cover in this updated review:
Table of Contents
- New Name, New Features
- Publisher Rocket Review (Updated for 2020)
- What Exactly Does it Do?
- Features of Publisher Rocket
- Our Verdict
Publisher Rocket Review (Updated for 2020)
Every Kindle publisher has asked this question at some point: is there a way to make the Kindle book research process easier?
Kindlepreneur Dave Chesson seems to think so. He always had a knack for coming up with good book ideas. He understood the language of the market and was able to craft compelling titles, subtitles, and descriptions. He was also able to take an objective look at the successes and failures of his competitors and use that information to refine his own ideas.
So, how did he do it?
Well, like most successful authors in the self-publishing space, Dave used a lot spreadsheets and a whole lot of time. After becoming frustrated with the tedium of validating a book idea, Dave decided to build Publisher Rocket to automate the process and do all the heavy lifting for him. He has now launched the software to the public.
This post is going to cover Publisher Rocket’s features and take an in-depth look at how it can help authors with the market research process.
Let’s get to it:
What Exactly Does it Do?
Publisher Rocket is a book marketing research tool that helps authors better understand their chosen niche. You may be wondering why you should abandon tried-and-tested research tools like excel spreadsheets for a desktop application. Well, Publisher Rocket can help you:
- Confirm your book idea and see if it has potential to sell well, before you start writing it.
- Know how many people are actively interested in your book idea.
- Discover profitable categories that are either tapped or untapped.
- Get a handle on the strength of the competition in your chosen categories.
- Select keywords that increase your discoverability on Amazon.
- Choose titles and subtitles that connect with your target market.
- Choose the right keywords to use for Amazon advertising campaigns.
- Find the perfect Kindle category for your book.
- See data for both digital and physical book sales.
These are all the things you could probably discover on your own if you spent enough time gathering data, but there’s no doubt software should be able to make this easier for us. Publisher Rocket is one such software tool that gives authors an easier and quicker way to research and validate their ideas before starting the writing process.
Publisher Rocket has four core features that can help you figure out which market is hot, learn more about your competitors, discover the most profitable keywords for advertising campaigns, and find the most profitable category for your book.
These core features will look familiar to users of the previous KDP Rocket version, but they have been updated and pack an extra punch in the new version, and are now a lot more user friendly with the updated design and layout.
Let’s take a look at each of those features:
Features of Publisher Rocket
The Publisher Rocket home menu screen contains four features: ‘Keyword Search’, ‘Competition Analyzer’, ‘Category Research’, and ‘AMS Keyword Search’. You can use the features by clicking on them or by clicking on the tabs with the labels at the top of the page.
Here’s a breakdown of what each feature does.
1. Keyword Search
Experienced self-publishers know that keywords play a huge role in driving traffic to books. Publisher Rocket’s keyword search feature will help you compile a list of known words shoppers use, discover the level of competition of the keywords, see the average amount of money the top books make in a month, and learn how many times a keyword is searched on Amazon and Google every month.
The big change to this section is that you can now choose to search for physical books and ebooks with your chosen keyword. Previously, only ebook data was available and while these may be the focus for many sellers, there is still a strong market for physical and print on demand books that you can now tap into.
Below is a look at each of the columns on the keyword search page:
This column shows you different keyword phrases based on the seed keyword you type into Publisher Rocket. The tool provides three types of keyword phrases:
- Amazon suggested searches – These are popular terms people have typed into Amazon or phrases Amazon thinks you’ll want it to autocomplete in its search bar based on their algorithm/research.
- Amazon A-to-Z suggested keywords – These are keywords Amazon provides when you manually enter your seed keyword into Amazon search followed by the letter ‘a’, then ‘b’, ‘c’, and so on.
- Google suggested keywords – These keywords will automatically have data points in the ‘Google Searches/Month’ column. Google suggested keywords are useful because they aren’t dependent on previous Amazon success. Sometimes Google can suggest keywords that authors haven’t thought of before or aren’t very competitive. It can give you an opportunity to discover a new market on Amazon.
Number of Competitors
This column shows the number of books that show up for an Amazon search using the keyword phrases Publisher Rocket pulls. It should give you an idea of how popular or targeted that term is. It’s useful for gauging your competition during the research process.
Naturally, you should aim to get your book on the first page of Amazon search results for a particular keyword. That’s where Publisher Rocket’s ‘competitive score’ comes in. It’s designed to show you at a glance how hard it will be to compete for a particular keyword. The score goes from 1–99 with ‘1’ being very easy and ‘99’ being extremely difficult.
To come up with the competitive score, Publisher Rocket analyzes the top 5 books that show up for a keyword and uses information like whether or not that keyword appears in the title or subtitle of the book, the popularity of the book, the number of reviews and review grades, and more.
Average Monthly Earnings
This column shows the estimated income books ranking for a keyword make every month. It’s useful for checking the profit potential of a keyword phrase. The figure is based on the average monthly earnings of the top five books for a particular keyword. If the monthly earnings for a keyword is too low, then that either means there isn’t a market for that keyword term, or there is a market, but there aren’t any good books.
Check the Amazon monthly searches column to see how many shoppers are typing in that word or phrase into Amazon. Using that information together with the average monthly earnings, you can quickly tell if a keyword has a market and can get Amazon buyers to see your book.
Estimated Monthly Google & Amazon Searches
These two columns show the estimated number of times a keyword phrase is searched on Google and Amazon every month. Amazon is technically a product search engine and demand on Amazon is a good indicator of a keyword’s profit potential. Publisher Rocket gets this information by using Amazon’s and Google’s public API.
Publisher Rocket gives a competition score of between 1-99 to show you how hard it would be to rank for a particular keyword. The right score will depend on you and your current platform. Dave recommends new authors with no email list or fans to stick to keywords with a competitive score of 40 or less.
Seasoned authors with an email list and decent advertising skills can take on keywords that are scored 65 or less, and veteran authors with a large following and email subscriber list should be able to compete for keywords with a score of 90 or less.
With the competitive score, you can glance at two keywords and quickly see which one will be easier to rank for. Just understand that the higher the number, the more work you’re going to have to do in order to become a bestseller.
2. Competition Analyzer
Before tools like Publisher Rocket existed, learning how well a competitor’s book was ranking for a particular category required a lot of digging and clicking. The competition analyzer can tell you everything you need to know about your potential competitors, including how long it has been since they published their book, their Amazon bestseller ranking, estimated daily and monthly earnings, reviews, and more. You can quickly go to a book’s page on Amazon by clicking on the link in the ‘Sales Page’ column.
There are two ways to use the competition analyzer. The first is from the keyword search page. When you click on the ‘ANALYZE’ option in the last column, you can choose to use the competition analyzer to further analyze the competitiveness of a keyword you like.
The second way is by clicking on the feature’s icon on Publisher Rocket’s home page and then typing in the keyword phrase you would like to analyze the competition for. Here, you also should choose whether you want to see results for books or ebooks, although Amazon may still show digital versions when searching for hard copies. Although it is not implemented yet, the Publisher Rocket developers are also working on adding Audible sales data to the competition analysis.
Once on the competition analyzer page, Publisher Rocket will list the top books for that particular term. It gives you the following basic information about every book it finds:
- Title – The title for every book in the search results as registered on Amazon.
- Subtitle – The book’s subtitles, if any.
- Author – The name of the author.
- Age – How long since a title was added to the Kindle marketplace. A negative number means the book is available for pre-order and will launch in that many days.
- ABSR – The Amazon best seller rank for a title. The higher a book’s ranking, the less successful the title.
- KWT – This tells you if a book has your keyword in its title.
- KWST – This tells you if a book has your keyword in its subtitle.
- #Reviews – The number of reviews a book has on Amazon.
- Review – The book’s average review grade on Amazon. The lower the grade, the easier it is to beat the competition.
- Price – How much a book costs. This is handy for deciding how much you should charge for your book. You can also use it to undercut competitors by charging less or charging a premium for a superior product.
- DY Sales – The estimated daily sales of a book based on its best seller ranking.
- Sales – The estimated monthly sales of a book based on its best seller ranking.
- Sales Page – This is a link to the Amazon page of a book title.
If you’d like to see a book’s cover and summary of its details, just click anywhere on that book’s row and it will show up on the bottom-left corner.
You’ll also see an ‘Unleash the Categories!’ button on the bottom-right corner. Clicking on it will show you the Kindle category for all of the books listed in the competition analyzer’s results. If you’d like to check out the Kindle category page of a particular book title, just click on it and the software will open the page.
Finally, if you want to export the information, click on the ‘EXPORT’ button and download the data. The information the competition analyzer provides can help you reverse-engineer your competition and craft titles and descriptions that will help you sell more books and improve your Kindle rankings.
A lot of self-publishers avoid performing competitive analysis because of how tedious the process can be, but that can be a costly mistake. Publisher Rocket takes the chore out of the process by making it straightforward. All the data it provides can be intimidating at a glance, but this information will enable you to judge how hard it will be to beat your competition.
3. AMS Keyword Search
AMS or Amazon Marketing Services is the old name for what is now known as ‘Amazon Advertising’ but everyone still just calls it AMS, and to avoid confusion Publisher Rocket has kept the old name in this update.
AMS is Amazon’s book advertisement system that shows an ad for your book when shoppers type in a specific keyword or look at a specific book. You pay Amazon for every click your book gets. If you’re unfamiliar with AMS campaigns, Dave actually offers a good free tutorial at AMSCourse.com.
A lot of authors struggle with using AMS because you need to create campaigns that have hundreds of keywords in them in order to get significant traction. In the official documentation for AMS, Amazon recommends you use a minimum of 100 keywords per campaign for best performance.
Manually finding good keywords for AMS campaigns is a painstaking process that can take a ridiculous amount of time. You have to go through Amazon suggested keywords as well as the top books in your desired categories, copy and paste the titles and author names into a spreadsheet, and then finally upload that data on Amazon.
Publisher Rocket can do all of that for you with its AMS keyword search feature. All you have to do is click on the ‘AMS Keyword Search’ icon, type in a seed keyword, and Publisher Rocket will pull up all the pertinent information for you. The results include Amazon suggested keywords, Amazon A-to-Z suggested keywords, the title and author names of the top 20 books in the keyword results and the categories they are listed in.
One big change to this function in Publisher Rocket 2.0 is the addition of product ASINs to the keyword search. From 2019, Amazon allowed targeting by ASIN numbers in its advertising program and now the Publisher Rocket search has been optimized to help you take advantage of this new feature.
You can export the results into a spreadsheet and upload it to your AMS campaign. It is easy to customize the results you do export by either using the filters tab at the top of the results page, or by deselecting individual results from the list.
4. Category Search
Amazon allows authors to choose up to three categories for their book. In the past, one of the only ways to discover new categories was to look at the ‘string’ at the top of a listing and manually list the categories, but now Amazon has removed that feature, making manual category research almost impossible.
Publisher Rocket’s category search feature can help you quickly discover the best categories for your book out of the more than 12 000 Amazon categories and increase your chances of becoming a bestseller. Click on the ‘Category Search’ icon and then type in a keyword phrase. Publisher Rocket will use your keyword phrase to create a list of Amazon categories. The category search page contains columns for:
- Category – A list of Amazon categories with book titles and subtitles containing your keyword phrase.
- ABSR of #1 Book – The Amazon best seller rank of the #1 book in the category.
- Today’s No. of Sales of #1 Book – How many books you would need to sell in order to become the #1 best seller for that category. This is important because you’ll get the ‘Best Seller’ tag on Amazon if you manage to beat the current #1 seller.
- Today’s No. of Sales of #20 Book – How many books you would need to sell in order to be the #20 bestseller for that category. Being listed in a category’s top 20 books will greatly help your sales.
- Category Page – A clickable link that takes you to the category page.
Publisher Rocket costs a one-time payment of $97. This includes free lifetime updates of the software, as shown by the very generous free upgrade to version 2.0 for existing users. Dave reportedly plans to move to a subscription payment model once the software has been thoroughly tested and had all its bugs squashed. Whether that’s actually the case or not, we don’t know. But right now, it’s only a one-time payment which is nice.
- Shows estimated Amazon searches per month – This is one of Publisher Rocket’s most useful features. Amazon search volume data can help you to quickly gauge whether there is demand for a particular keyword. Other Kindle research tools don’t show this data.
- Helps you FIND keywords and niches– This is a crucial difference between Publisher Rocket and other Kindle software. While other software allows you to analyze keywords you know, Publisher Rocket helps you find keywords you didn’t even know about. This gives you an edge over the competition by being able to target keywords your competitors are unaware of.
- Find categories – Getting the bestseller tag in a category leads to a huge boost in sales. Publisher Rocket allows you to find the categories that your competitors are ranking in and target low competition categories to gain a best seller tag for that category.
- Packed with features – Publisher Rocket is a full suite of tools. It has a huge range of features that are essential for anyone serious about publishing on Amazon.
- Automatic updates – Publisher Rocket will automatically update itself, which is something some Kindle book research tools can’t do.
- Good support – You can contact the Publisher Rocket support team directly from the program.
- Provides results without bias – The results you see when you personally make an Amazon search are affected by your personal search history, your account, your buying habits, and even your location. To combat this, Publisher Rocket pulls data straight from Amazon HQ without any of those biased values. It gives a better representation of the common market search.
- New Updated Look – The software was always very usable, but with the new update the design has been refreshed and is easier to use than ever.
- Easy to separate physical and digital books – One of my biggest issues with version 1.0 was the inability to refine the search to only physical or only digital books. This has been addressed with the update and it is a massive improvement that is going to make researching new categories a lot easier.
- Takes time to analyze a lot of keyword suggestions– Running a keyword search provides a lot of information for the exact match. However, Publisher Rocket doesn’t autoload data for related keywords. This can take a bit of time if you are analyzing a lot of keyword suggestions.
- Price – At $97, Publisher Rocket does cost more than other Kindle book research tools like KDSPY and Kindle Samurai.
- Desktop software – Publisher Rocket is a desktop application that only works on Mac OS and Windows. Linux users are out of luck.
Publisher Rocket’s features can quickly show you if your book idea can make you money, if there is an active market for your desired keyword on Amazon, and how hard it will be to beat the competition. That’s basically dozens of hours of manual research saved.
Its features are similar to those offered by KDSPY and Kindle Samurai, but Publisher Rocket improves on some things, like showing estimated Google and Amazon searches per month and providing keywords specifically for AMS campaigns.
Although no ground breaking new features were added in this update, it was great to see the existing ones refined. Especially useful is the ability to search for either physical or digital books. The future promise of being able to get data for Audible books is an exciting prospect and could open up a lot of new opportunities!
Publisher Rocket may be more expensive than other tools, but it’s undoubtedly a worthwhile investment if you’re fully committed to working in the self-publishing business and it’s only a one-off cost. The developers are clearly working hard to update the software and value their customers by offering free upgrades to the new version. Overall, we recommend it to publishers looking to expand their arsenal of marketing tools.