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When you browse through a bookstore, chances are you have an idea the genre of book you are searching for. If you are searching in the science fiction fantasy section, you might be checking out the latest Game of Thrones novel by George R. R. Martin. Looking to invest your money and learn about personal finance? You might want to check out David Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover in the Business — Personal Finance & Investing Section of the Barnes & Noble book store.
But how about kindle books? Well, similar to the browsing experience you’ll have at a Barnes & Noble bookstore, Amazon’s Kindle Store has thousands of categories in books to choose from, spanning across every variation of genre and subgenre.
For book browsers, a category is a place where they can go to to find the specific book they are searching for. For authors, we need to think strategically so that we can get our books in front of readers searching for the specific book to match their needs.
But, with dozens of categories and thousands of sub-categories to choose from, and so many books competing for attention on the Amazon platform, how can you choose the right category to make your book “pop” out when the reader is browsing through book titles? How do we know if our books are on the right ‘digital shelves’ on Amazon?
In this post, we will look at the strategies authors use to place their books in the best categories and, how to get your book into ten categories on the Amazon platform.
Amazon eBook Categories: How to Choose?
The categories you place your book in makes all the difference between a successful book launch and….well, a complete flop. So, selecting the best categories for your next bestseller is a critical decision that you arrive at through selective research and, crunching the numbers on the category page. To get your book in front of thousands of readers hungry for your next literary masterpiece, you should invest the time to research the best categories for your book.
We can think of our categories as the big, broad term that describes your book, and should say something unique about the type of book you are offering. For example, if you had written a book on Habit Stacking, I would expect to find it in the Amazon categories as follows:
But the category for self-help is broken down further into hundreds of other sub-categories, and they trickle down even further into niche-specific categories that are not available in the KDP dashboard. More on this in a bit.
So, where do we begin? Your journey into discovering the best categories for your book begins with the category paths, or, the Amazon browse categories.
BISAC Subject Codes
It’s good to know that when KDP is figuring out which category would best fit your type of book, they use a cataloging system called BISAC Subject Codes. When selecting the best browse categories in your KDP, Amazon translates your category choices into the best possible browse categories to help readers find the books most relevant to their search.
When setting up your Amazon categories, it’s important to remember to cross-categorize your book into two separate category paths for broader exposure. This provides more avenues for browsers to find your book. This means a better ranking when more readers download your book, and adds to your monthly royalties. We’ll expand on this more soon.
Category Considerations: What You Need to Know
When working out the best categories to target, there are four specific areas we need to consider.
- Competition: How competitive is your category? Is Anthony Robbins or Stephen King ranking #1? If you put your book in this category, can you beat them?
- Traffic: is this category very active? Do the books in this category have a decent sales volume?
- Earning Potential: Are the top ranking books making any money?
- Niche Placement: Is this category the best one for your book’s genre and content?
We can research this information in a matter of minutes with some basic strategies and advanced tools. I’ll get into such valuable tools as KDP Rocket and Kindlespy in a moment. But first, let’s get our hands dirty and start doing some digging to discover the best categories for our book.
Let’s take a closer look…
You can check out the competition by scanning the bestselling books on the first page. A category may have thousands of books with hundreds of pages stacked with titles, such as the self help section or business and Investing.
But we aren’t concerned with looking at thousands of books. We are only interested in the first page of any category, and more specifically, the #1 book on that category page. Why?
That is what our readers are going to be looking for. If you are looking for a book on how to become a minimalist, you can go to the Amazon bar and type in minimalism. You’ll land on the first page that features the top ranking books such as The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
When we look into any category, we want to know the top ranking books. Our goal is to be able to compete on the first page and, where possible, rank in at least the top 5 in that category.
It may be possible to rank in the number one spot in a certain category, but what is the point if that category has low sales volume and weak traffic? We want at least two categories that are low-average in competition and are popular with browsers.
Category Earning Potential
Would you like to bring in several hundred dollars a month from your book? How about several thousand? The earning potential of your selective categories is something to consider carefully. For example, according to the ABSR [Amazon Best Seller Rank], the #1 best selling book in the category path nonfiction > Business and Investing is The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.
And, according to KDP Rocket, the book is currently earning $12,496 a day at this ranking and price. This is good to know. Even if you could rank at #19 in the same category, such as Turn Your Computer Into a Money Machine in 2017 by Avery Breyer, you’d still be earning $5000 a month. There is nothing wrong with that.
Now that we know what to look for when choosing categories, let’s do a step-by-step on setting this up. Then, I’ll show you how to easily get your book into ten categories.
Amazon Category Rankings: A Brief Note
As we will see, placing your book in a category with low competition but has potential is key. But what would be considered a competitive rank? Well, I’ll make it simple. In any category, if the book is ranking under #1000, chances are it is a highly competitive category. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t place your book here, but just know that, if you do, be sure to have a strong launch pushing your book and a lot of verified, positive reviews. I would aim for the sweet spot with the highest ranking book around 3-7,000. You can also calculate how many books you would need to sell in order to outrank the highest ranking book in that category. Just use the Amazon Sales Rank Calculator to determine the amount of books needed to sell to compete.
Setting Up Your Categories in the KDP Bookshelf
It’s relatively easy to setup your categories in your bookshelf. Remember: Amazon allows you to choose from just two browse categories in the KDP Bookshelf.
Let’s walk through the steps.
- Sign into your KDP Bookshelf.
- Click on your Book Title.
- Scrolling over the Promote and Advertise button, and click on Edit eBook details
- Scroll down until you find the Categories section. Click Set Categories. These are the main browser categories. Choose two accurate, specific categories.
“Nonfiction > Self-help > Emotions”
“Nonfiction > Business & Economics > Business Communication > Business Writing”
- Cross-promote your book. You want your book to show up in as many relevant, popular categories as possible. How do we know if a category is popular?
As I mentioned already, you can use a great piece of software such as Kindlespy. Wesley Atkins’ tool will walk you through the process for finding the best eBook categories, as well as how each category performs when it comes to profitability, popularity and competition.
The other tool that really gets down to the nitty-gritty in terms of stats and numbers, and provides you with not only the Amazon search rankings but Google as well, is KDP Rocket by Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur.
But wait a minute. Not all of the category paths are listed in the KDP Bookshelf. As a matter of fact, Amazon has thousands of sub-categories that you can break into and have your book rank in special categories not found in the usual channels.
So, that brings us to…
Opening Up the Secret Batch of Amazon Categories
To discover these hidden categories, you simply add in specific keywords to your keyword list. You can also add the name of the category itself and this tells Amazon that book belongs in that specific category.
How do we do that? There are several ways you can find these categories.
- Search for the titles that are similar to yours. You can find the browse categories assigned to those books by scrolling down to the book detail pages to the section “Look for Similar Items by Category.”
- You can also search for relevant browse categories on the left of the category paths page under the Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks header. When you find the categories that are most relevant to your title, as we discussed earlier, check out the top three books and take note of the rankings. If it is a category you can compete in, contact Amazon to have your book placed in that sub-category. If you have already selected your two main browser paths in the dashboard, we can add up to eight more categories, so keep a list of the category paths specific to your book.
- Breaking into the sub-categories. You want your book to rank in a more specific category? You can add Search Keywords relevant only to that category. For example, go into the Business & Money subcategory, locate the specific category you want on the left, and the targeted keywords are featured on the right. Plug the keywords [or the category path] into your keyword selection box in your KDP Dashboard, and it should tell Amazon to place your book there. If it doesn’t show up after a few days, contact customer support and they should get back to you within 24 hours.
Gaining Approval for Additional Categories
What if I told you that you could have up to 10 categories in your category selection?
Yes, that’s right, ten! Instead of being limited to the two browser categories that we’ve already discussed, you can have your book show up in eight additional categories of your choosing. But where do we find these categories?
It’s simple. Follow these steps.
Step 1: Using the same steps above for category placement, start with checking your competitor’s books and the category paths that books similar to yours are placed in. Again, you want to aim for low-average competition so, check the rankings of the first couple of books. Once you have found a category path that looks good, just copy and paste your category strings into an email.
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Teacher Resources > Education Theory > Philosophy & Social Aspects
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Counseling & Psychology > Cognitive Neuroscience & Cognitive Neuropsychology
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Counseling & Psychology > Mental Health > Emotions
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Counseling & Psychology > Pathologies
Step 2: Then, directly contact Amazon’s super-awesome support team with your category choices. With 24-72 hours, your book will appear, not only in the initial browser categories you selected in your KDP Bookshelf but, across eight more categories. These categories will appear in the “Look for similar items by category” at the bottom of the book page.
Step 3: To make any changes to any of the categories after Amazon sets them up for you, you will have to contact support directly to have any categories removed or switched up with another.
Yes, it really is that easy.
Amazon Magic Working For You
Your book starts ranking as soon as a browser becomes a buyer and downloads your book. When your book starts ranking, guess what happens? Amazon takes notice. Somebody says, “whoa!” this book is on fire. That is when they step in to help you out by promoting the book for you.
If you check out the Amazon page for Tim Ferris’s Tools of Titans, scroll down and you’ll see a section titled “Customers who bought this item also bought”. It is here that your book might appear depending on category ranking, browser traffic, and history of paid sales. If you’re running Amazon KDP Select Ads Campaign, you’re book could also be displayed in the “Sponsored products related to this item” section.
Getting Your Orange Banner
If your book is ranking #1 in one or several categories, it is a high probability you’ll get the #1 orange banner indicating you’re now a #1 bestseller. This also depends on whether your book meets a threshold of a minimum number of paid sales historically and recently.
Although the Amazon Bestsellers Rank shows how items are selling in relation to one another in each Amazon marketplace, the ranking is further divided into Free and Paid lists within each Kindle Store.
If you can place your book in the top ten on the first page of the category listings, you gain more visibility by browsers who generally won’t click beyond that first page. Most book browsers will check out the top ranking books [1-20] and then move on
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it. A set of strategies to help you set up your book in the right categories that get you ranked faster with maximum exposure in the search engines in Amazon.
Be strategic in your book launch and dedicate at least a few hours to researching the best kindle categories for your next bestseller. And remember, as soon as your book is live, contact Amazon with your list of eight additional categories for reaching your readers on a broader scale.
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