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Kindle Categories: What Are They and How Can they Help You Sell More Books?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Kindle categories cannot be overlooked.

Spend some time around the indie author community and you will come across countless tales of authors crafting well-written books, agonizing over their choice of cover, and testing out titles.

Despite all of this effort, the book doesn’t sell as well as it could.


Many writers overlook the magical marketing ingredient of Kindle categories.

There’s a commonly held belief that categories are nothing more than a browsing aid for buyers. This is far from the truth.

Read on to discover the benefits that come with careful KDP category selection and a step by step method to figure out the best Kindle categories. You will also learn about a way to simplify the entire process.

Why Are Amazon’s Kindle Categories Important?

I get it. Categories are boring. After creating an awesome book, choosing categories may seem like a pointless formality. Who cares when someone has a book on their Kindle Fire where they got that from, right?

Don’t fall into this trap!

If you take the time to understand the Kindle collection of categories and make them work for you, there are two major benefits you stand to experience. They basically boil down to one thing – more sales.

1) Kindle Categories Make Your eBook Stand Out

A bestselling book instantly sounds attractive.

Even the most famous lists of bestselling works, like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times, use categories. If you make the monthly New York Times list for a book category like Espionage or Expeditions, you still have a New York Times bestseller.

Amazon also recognizes bestsellers – however, there are over 19,000 categories you can potentially become an Amazon bestseller in!

No-one is claiming that an Amazon bestselling book carries the same credibility as a New York Times bestseller.

However, Amazon will mark bestsellers with an orange icon, as seen below.

Put yourself in the shoes of an Amazon browser. If you saw a book with the bestseller icon, up against books without it, which would immediately catch your attention?

Interestingly, a book with a ‘bestseller’ icon does not mean it has sold more copies than a book without one – it just means that the book is doing better within its particular category.

The immediate visual attraction of the bestseller icon cannot be overstated. This is one major reason why following the steps to find the right categories is so essential.

2) Better Chance of Amazon Promotion

If you manage to make the top 10 within any Amazon eBook category, you will reap benefits that extend beyond the boundaries of the category.

Buyers won’t have to come across your book’s sales page through chance – Amazon will actively promote your book within your chosen categories, and in others.

Ranking within the top 10 of any category also makes Amazon more likely to make your book a ‘recommended buy’.

And Amazon’s marketing efforts reach far beyond their own site.

If you have ever seen an email suggesting a list of books to buy based on your previous purchases or come across a Facebook ad which seems to understand your eBook preferences, this is no coincidence.

Think about it. Amazon will spend resources on external marketing for books which are ranking well – after all, Amazon stands to profit.

By ranking well within a category, yourself and Amazon both stand to benefit through external marketing exposure leading to better sales.

But There’s a Problem…

Amazon doesn’t just give you all the categories that you need. Usually you start out with only one or two, but did you know that you can have up to 10?

This is partially due to the BISAC categories (a relic of prior categorization for books, usually for use in book stores) that you have to fill out when you’re setting up your KDP categories before you publish your book on your KDP dashboard.

Any other categories you’re automatically assigned will depend on the keywords and description that you input for your book.

But what if you have the wrong Amazon category? What if the one you want is not included?

Don’t worry, we’ll get to the bottom of this, and I’ll show you exactly how you can add the right categories and get Amazon to help out for a change.

How To Choose The Best Amazon Keywords

Let’s take a look at the step by step process through which you will be able to make Kindle categories work for you.

The phases will be illustrated through the situation of someone exploring potential categories for a gardening book they wish to release. Gardening is a broad topic – but you will soon see that it has a lot of potential to uncover some great, specific niche Kindle categories.

Phase 1 – Research the Appropriate Niches

The first stage to finding the most important Amazon book category for your book is to begin browsing through your competitors’ offerings.

A lot of the time, you may not be able to find any categories outside of the obvious ones you were already aware. However, now and then, you will be able to come across a great, obscure category that never even crossed your mind – heck, you might not have known it even existed.

You want to check each competing book out, one by one, and scroll down until you come across the following data –

screenshot of kindle categories for a book

From this image, you can see that the book has several categories. You can click on each one and see what other books are in those categories. From clicking around, you’ll quickly amass a list of categories that books that are similar to yours are ranking in.

But this is, unfortunately, limited. First, remember that there are literally thousands of categories, and this method will only give you a handful. Not only that, but Amazon only displays three categories in this space, when each book likely has more.

So what do you do to fix this?

Phase 2 – Find a Great Tool to Help

So there are a couple of these tools. I’ve got a browse category tool of my own that will help you find all the categories for a specific book. But even that is limited.

For a comprehensive tool that will search through ALL of the available categories and find the right ones for you, I recommend Publisher Rocket.

Seriously guys, there’s nothing like it.

Rocket used to be mostly a keyword tool, but their category feature has skyrocketed (pun intended) in the last few years.

As far as I know, they’re the only reasonably priced service that will let you search through a catalogue of literally every category. That’s over 19,000 remember.

It also gives you a ton of useful research material, such as how many books you would need to sell in order to get that coveted orange bestseller tag in a particular category. It also helps you find the categories that are more niche, meaning it’s easier to rank well in those categories.

So yeah, go get Publisher Rocket. It’s definitely one of the more affordable options for what it gives you.

Go Get Publisher Rocket Now!

publisher rocket category features

Phase 3 – Analyze Your Keywords

With a tool like Publisher Rocket, this step will be easy. It automatically tells you how hard it will be to rank for a particular category, as well as sort through all the categories available to select the best one.

Typically, when choosing your categories, you want to choose ones that have the following qualities:

  • They are relevant to your book (don’t go picking something in Home & Gardening when your book is about game fiction)
  • They are relatively easy to rank for (meaning the bestsellers in that category are not super competitive)
  • They aren’t TOO obscure. (it’s great to rank #1 for a category, but if that category is undiscoverable, then that Kindle ranker means little)

Rocket will help you select these automatically. However, if you don’t have Rocket, or just want to dive into the weeds yourself, here are some tips:

  1. Select a giant new collection of relevant categories.
  2. Look at the top 20 books and see how high they are ranking overall in Amazon’s store. Are they ranking very high? Is the 20th book neck and neck with the 1st book? If so, this category might be too competitive.
  3. Find a category where the #1 ranking book is above 10,000 in the overall Amazon store. Bonus points if the 20th ranking book is at least 20,000 behind that one.
  4. Make sure the genre is relevant, as are the books in the category.
  5. Choose that category!

This can be a tedious process (19,000+ potential book categories, remember), but it can be very rewarding if you do the work, or get a program like Publisher Rocket to do it for you.

Phase 4 – Get Amazon to Add Your Categories

This can be a complicated process, and I recommend looking into more thorough posts about how to do it, but it boils down to these few steps:

  1. Get your list of 10 categories that you want to rank for (if you haven’t already)
  2. Go to Amazon’s Help Center for authors
  3. Go to “How We Can Help” and then “Amazon Book Page”
  4. Select “Update Amazon Categories”

At this stage, you will have to list the ASIN/ISBN of the book(s) that you want to update the categories for. Then you will need to list out the whole path of the categories you want. That path will look something like this:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > History > Ancient Civilizations > Celtic

Which you should be able to find in the Amazon store, or though a tool like Publisher Rocket or my category tool.

Kindle Categories: Conclusion

Following the above steps will help give your book the best chance in an increasingly competitive Kindle world.

Most authors are like the citizens of The Matrix – they are plugged into a complex system and they don’t know the extent to which the evil Amazon agents manipulate their reality through aspects like categories.

You are now like Neo – you can see the Kindle Matrix for what it is – even if that reality isn’t pretty.

Knowing how to choose the right Kindle categories is like calling into a specific Matrix phone booth – you give yourself the best chance of survival in a crazy code based world.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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