As a self-published author one question you should be asking yourself is: how can I get my book in front of more readers? One way to do that is to get your book listed in as many categories on Amazon as possible.
When you first publish a book through Amazon KDP you get to select two “categories” when setting up your metadata. After your book goes live, Amazon will determine if there are any other categories right for your book and will add it to those as well.
Now that the book is available for sale you can add up to eight more of your own categories, and remove any that Amazon may have added that you don’t want.
Why are Amazon Categories Important?
You may be wondering why you should care about the categories? It’s simple, really. The more categories associated with your book the more visibility it has. Categories are like virtual book shelves, and the more shelves your book appears on the more likely a reader who is browsing that “shelf” will find it.
Categories are also your friend if you’re trying to hit an Amazon Bestseller list. What is an Amazon bestseller? It essentially means that your book is in the top ten in any Amazon category at any given time (they update their rankings every hour). Being in the top ten isn’t a technical requirement; it’s more of a generally accepted industry guideline.
The more categories your book is listed in (and more importantly, the more subcategories your book is listed in) the more likely you will hit a top ten list.
With that in mind, which categories should you choose? When you wrote your book you probably weren’t thinking about which specific 10 categories your book could fit into. Yet suddenly these categories become an important tool for getting your book into the hands of the right readers. We recommend picking a few broad categories (for a romance novel this might look like Books > Romance) and some really niche subcategories as well (depending on your specific book that might be something like Books > Religion & Spirituality > Christian Books & Bibles > Romance > Amish). These smaller subcategories can easily launch you into bestseller status because they require a smaller number of sales.
Finding the Right Categories for your Book
To find the right categories you can use tools like Publisher Rocket, which will not only show you Amazon categories but will also give you information about the number of sales needed to become a #1 Best Seller, and the number of sales to be listed on the Top Ten list for that category. Again, this information can be extremely useful if you’re hoping to make some best seller lists with your book.
Of course you don’t need Publisher Rocket to do the category research. You can also just go to Amazon and look at the product details of books that are similar to yours.
If the book seems like it was written for a similar audience, pay close attention to the categories listed in the product details underneath the book:
If you click on each one it will take you to the best seller list for that category:
The list of categories is on the left.
I like to look at the list of best sellers and ask myself “would my book belong on this shelf with these other books?” If it feels like a good fit, I add it to my spreadsheet of potential categories. If I see another book on this list that looks similar to mine, I click on it and go to the product details page and follow the same steps as above. It can feel a bit “rabbit trail-y” but I promise it is an effective way to find those smaller subcategories for your book.
Another way to find categories is by searching for books using keywords. Keywords is another way Amazon tags books so that they are searchable. If your book is about engaging influencers, one of your keywords might be “how to engage influencers.” When you type that into the search bar, see what books come up and then what categories they are listed in.
Remember when you’re doing this research to do this for both the paperback version of your book and the Kindle version, as the categories for each are different.
Adding Categories to your Book
Once you have compiled your list of potential categories for both your paperback and Kindle, pick your top eight. Now it’s time to get them added to your book. You can put in your request either through Amazon KDP or your Author Central Account. We think it’s a bit easier to do it through your Author Central Account, so we will show you how to do that below.
First, select Help in the top right hand corner:
Then click ‘Contact Us’ at the bottom on the right hand side.
On the page “How Can We Help?”click the first item on the list:
From there you will be given a pre-filled email form that looks like this:
Format: ASIN (or ISBN), marketplace, book format, category
Example: 000000000, .com, paerback, Books > Literary & Fiction > Contemporary
Categories to be added (list each category as a seperate line item):
Categories to be removed (list each category as a seperate line item):
Follow this pre-filled template to the letter, detailing each ASIN, title, and country separately and giving the accurate category string. (Your category string should look something like Books > Biographies > Professional & Academic Biographies > Philosopher Biographies. Publisher Rocket will give you the exact format if you choose to use that tool, otherwise you will have to keep track of the category trail yourself and make sure you format it correctly.)
It will take 48-72 hours for your new categories to be added. Amazon will send you an email confirming which categories they have added, and any they have rejected.
This is also where you can ask Amazon to remove your book from any categories they may have added that don’t fit. If you’re not sure which categories your book is in, you can check on a third party site. We like nerdybookgirl.com, but www.bklnk.com is another option. For nerdybookgirl.com just enter the AISN number for your book (which you can find either on your book’s product details or on your Amazon KDP bookshelf) and it will show you which categories your book is currently listed in. For bklnk.com, click on CATFINDER on the top menu then insert Amazon’s ASIN. You’ll want to do this for both your paperback and Kindle version, which should be listed in different categories.
If you find any categories listed for your book that you don’t like, or that you’d like to swap out for something else, add those to the pre-filled email template that you submit to Amazon. You can send category changes for both versions of your book in the same email.
There you have it! It’s that simple, and is a necessary step for getting your book in front of as many readers as possible.