Improve Your Amazon Book Categories: 3 Steps

Posted on Jun 2, 2023

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Written by Scott Allan

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When it comes to self-publishing your upcoming book, do not make light of selecting your Amazon book categories!

Although it may appear to be a small detail, you must realize that your readers often resort to categories when looking for books on a specific topic.

Therefore, selecting the best book categories for your upcoming bestseller is a critical decision as it will impact your book sales.

Here are more notable reasons why your book should have best-fitting categories:

  • It can help you become a bestseller. Like the New York Times bestseller, Amazon can also tag your book with an orange badge that says “#1 Bestseller”. And with thousands of Amazon categories to compete and rank for, this means that there’s plenty of opportunity for you to become an Amazon bestseller!
  • You can gain more exposure on Amazon. By appearing in different categories, your book can appeal to different audiences. And if your book ranks in the top ten of any category listings, Amazon will include your book to its “Recommendations Engine”  which will generate more publicity!

But with plenty of book categories on Kindle Direct Publishing as well as the plethora of books competing for attention, how do you choose the right categories to make your book stand out to your reader?

In this post, we will share our best strategies to help you pick the right categories for your book that will increase your sales rank and obtain maximum exposure through Amazon’s search engine.

Here are the three topics we will cover:

  1. Research Your Competition
  2. Strategically Select Your Category
  3. Apply for Additional Categories

Let’s get started!

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How many categories can my book be in on Amazon?

Amazon will allow you to apply for three book categories.

Editor’s Note: It used to be the case that you chose two categories when you uploaded your book, then you could email Amazon to request up to ten more. That policy was updated in late May 2023 and three categories is now the maximum.
You cannot request more.

June 2, 2023

How often should you update categories and keywords?

In order to keep your book in the right categories, we recommend our authors update their book’s categories on Amazon 1x a year, and also update in the UK and DE store using Publisher Rocket.

For your Amazon keywords (separate, but also related to Amazon categories), check these every 3 months. You may find that you’ll often replace these several times a year.

Not all of them, but only those not as relevant anymore since this space and the Amazon algorithm change so much.

Where can I find the best Amazon categories for my book?

If you want to find the categories that will best set you up for success with your book, we recommend using Publisher Rocket, and our students even get a discount code to purchase the software.

When it comes to keywords, what works best is actually looking at the keywords other books like yours (that are ranking well) are using, and refreshing those when needed, as stated above.

How to Find Better Amazon Book Categories

If you want your book to be more visible on Amazon, the trick is getting it into better categories so it can rank in them. Not just any category, though.

It has to be a category that will put your book in front of your unique target audience.

#1 – Research Your Competition

If your goal is to appear on the first page of search results on Amazon, then you must take advantage of every window of opportunity to succeed. In order to do so, you first must research your competition.

When you begin researching for book categories, you should start by scanning the bestselling books on every first page results of your target category.

Amazon Categories

The reason is simply due to the fact that the first page results are most likely what your readers are going to be looking for! Therefore, it’s important to identify the top selling books for each category you want to target.

Next, go through each of the books on the first page results and study its category string links. For example, here are the category links for Taylor Pearson’s book, The End of Jobs:

Book Categories On Amazon

Notice that for a book on Entrepreneurship, it’s ranked highest for “Labor & Workforce” and “Economics”. This goes to show that by placing their book into such unique categories, the author completely understood their target audience which is why The End of Jobs appears on several first page results.

So if you want to have a high ranking for your category, make it a priority to research your competitors’ categories and emulate their methods with your book.

Action Plan: Research the first page competitors in a handful of categories of your choosing. Take note to any unique categories your competitors rank in, and choose the top three to apply them to your upcoming book.

#2 – How to Strategically Select Your Category

Because the Amazon’s Kindle Store has thousands of categories to choose from as well as an overwhelming amount of books fighting for attention, the competition can be relentless and unfair to new writers. But there is one approach that will have you stand out: Select trending categories with little competition.

What is considered a competitive rank?

We find that any categories with books ranking higher than #2000 is considered very competitive and not a recommended category for new writers.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t place your book in a competitive ranking, but if you do, be sure to have a well-planned book launch with a sizable audience that can provide a lot of verified Amazon reviews. For new authors with a smaller following, we recommend aiming for certain categories with books that rank between #10,000-30,000.

Once you’ve completed this research, you should have a list of thriving categories to place your book in that will outrank your competitors.

Action Plan: With the categories you’ve researched, take the time to review your competitors’ ranking that fall between #10,000-30,000. For even better results, we also recommend using the KDP Calculator to calculate how many books you would need to sell in order increase your ranking. If you really want to go deep in this, learn how to use Helium 10 – Cerebro.

#3 – How to Acquire Additional Categories

When you publish your book on Amazon, they will offer you a select list of categories to choose from. At first glance, you will notice that the selection seems rather limited and is missing plenty of categories that you’ve seen other books rank for.

Unfortunately, Amazon has done this intentionally so that they can place new books into their own kindle categories.

Don’t let Amazon determine your categories! There are thousands of sub-categories you can rank for.

Here how you can acquire these categories:

  1. Use Amazon Keyword Selection. Include the name of your category as one of your “Amazon Keywords”. In order to obtain a particular category, you must include specific keywords in the Kindle submission form. For more information on Keyword requirements, visit Amazon’s browse category page to learn more.
  2. Place your categories in strategic places. To convince Amazon that your book should be placed in specific category, strategically work the words of the category onto the title, subtitle or even the summary of your book page.
  3. Contact Amazon. You can contact Amazon and request your book to be placed in a particular category. Amazon will then assess your entire book and determine if it’s an appropriate fit for the specific browse category. If approved, These categories will appear in the “Look for similar items by category” at the bottom of the book page.

Action Plan: Experiment with these strategies to acquire additional sub-categories for your book. Remember you can also customize the eight additional keywords to help convince Amazon to place your book in the categories of your choosing.

If you want a successful book launch, you must not overlook even the tiniest of details.

By following these guidelines on how to select your book category, your first book will have maximum exposure and the best chance to appear in the Amazon bestseller list.

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