Did you know your book can be listed in as many as 10 categories on Amazon? For free? There are lots of companies out there trying to get you to pay to do this, but you can do it yourself.
It involves some research though, so it's not a five-minute job. But if you find the right categories from the hundreds of obscure sub-categories on Amazon, and it's much easier to top the charts in those than it is in the generic 'Thriller' category where you're competing with James Patterson and Stephen King.
And of course you want to top the Amazon bestsellers in your categories because this helps the Amazon algorithm to boost and suggest your book wherever other books in that category are seen. More traffic = more book sales. That can only be good, right?
The first problem, and the one which takes a bit of work, is how to find all those hidden Amazon subcategories.
When you add your book to KDP you get a really limited list of broad categories, and you're allowed to choose 2 of those. This is no good for authors who don't already have a massive fan base. So let's find those subcategories.
How to Identify Amazon Sub-Categories
This takes a bit of time, so don't expect to get it all done and dusted in half an hour. You need to do some research so be patient. It will pay off.
Note: I'm basing this article on marketing an e-book.
If you have a paperback version of your book you'll need to repeat this process searching within books instead of e-books. The 'paper' books and e-books sections on Amazon have totally different categories.
First search for books that are similar to yours.
Make sure you're searching within the eBook Store
For example for my short story: Made: The Frankie Finch Story I searched for ‘Gangster Thriller’.
If you don't see the results you expect first time, experiment with your search until you find books similar to yours popping up.
From the search list pick the top book (ignoring random things which aren’t relevant).
I really recommend opening a new browser tab at this point so you still have your original search list to go back to. Otherwise you’ll fall down a rabbit warren of Amazon pages, keep losing your place, and keep having to start from scratch again.
Once you're on that books’ page scroll down to the 'Product details' section. This shows you up to 3 categories that the title is listed in, but not all of them.
To see all of them copy the ASIN number for that book:
Then paste it into your Amazon search bar.
When you do this you will see all the categories the book is listed in on the left.
Click through the layers and it will show you all the categories this is listed in.
For example: This book is listed in 3 subcategories within ‘Crime, Thriller & Mystery’ and 4 subcategories within ‘Literature and Fiction’. These subcategories are all invisible from within KDP.
Next you want to find the path for each category.
To find the path click on the link in the left menu and for each category copy this path:
You can see the path you need for this subcategory is:
Kindle Store: Kindle eBooks: Literature & Fiction: Short Stories: Single Authors
Make a note of this. You'll end up building up a list of categories and how popular they are so you can choose the best ones for your book.
Then remove the ASIN number from the search bar and press enter.
This will give you the top books in that category.
Check out the top ranking book.
You can see the top book on this list is Cleaning the Gold by Karin Slaughter.
Click on that top book and scroll down the page to the Product details.
You can see that the book at the top of this category is ranked #502 in the Kindle Store. Your aim is ideally to get into the top 10 in your categories, so it's also worth checking out the book ranked 10th in the list to see what their store rank is.
Make a note of these Bestseller Ranks along with your category path, the URL.
The aim is to build up a list of lots of useful (but slightly obscure) subcategories which you can’t see via the usual KDP interface.
Which Categories are Right for You?
When you’ve repeated this laborious process enough times to have built up a good list you'll need to compare the stats.
You want to choose categories where the top ranked book in that category have the largest number for their Amazon Bestsellers Rank.
Why? Because if you want to get into the top 10 in a category and maximise the Amazon juice so that Amazon does your marketing for you, you want to be competing with books that are ranked 3,600 in the rankings rather than something that’s 2 in the rankings. Yes? Makes sense doesn't it?
How to Get Your Extra Categories Added
Once you have your list of up to 10 categories. Get in touch with Amazon. Do this by going to Amazon Author Central > Help > Contact Ushttps://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-usWhere you’ll see this page:
Choose the options:Select an issue: My BooksSelect details: Update information about a book > Browse Categories > I want to update my books’ browse categories.
Then select the email option and type something like this into your browser:
Please could you add my book [TITLE] [ASIN number] to the following categories:- Kindle Store: Kindle eBooks: Literature & Fiction: Short Stories: Single Authorsetc
Then type in your list of 10 most-likely to be topped categories.
And they’ll change them for you.Simple as that.Cool huh?
How to Check Your New Categories
You'll get an email confirming the changes once they've been made, but they won’t all show in your Product details section (I think this only ever shows a max of 3 categories). If you want to check which categories you're in do the ASIN search you did earlier (but using your ASIN number obvs) and you’ll be able to see all the categories it’s listed in. Hope that helped!
Oh, and if you fancy an easy way of finding the categories take a look at:
Guest post by TM Thorne
TM Thorne lives messily in the English countryside with her motorsport-mad husband and son and three demanding cats.
When she isn't writing, spending time with her family or tripping over racing engines littered around the house, she likes to eat, drink and feel guilty about not doing enough exercise.
She released her debut novel Driven:Racing, Rivalry, Revenge in November 2019.