Kindle Categories Crash Course – How To Choose The Best Kindle Categories

By April 10, 2016Kindle Categories
Kindle Categories

Kindle categories cannot be overlooked.

Spend some time around the self-publishing 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.

Why?

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 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.

Kindle Categories – Why Bother?

I get it. Categories are boring. After creating an awesome book, choosing categories may seem like a pointless formality.

Don’t fall into this trap!

Kindle Categories Meme

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

Make Your eBook Stand Out To Buyers

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.

kindle categories best seller

Amazon also recognize bestsellers – however there are over 13,000 categories you can potentially become a 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.

Kindle categories orange icon

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.

Amazon Internal 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’.

Promoting a book is one of the hardest and most frustrating aspects for most writers. Why not let Amazon do some of the work for you? By taking Kindle categories seriously, Amazon will help your book to sell more copies.

Amazon External Promotion

You’ve already seen how Amazon will promote your book within its own system if you take the time to rank within a particular category.

Guess what?

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.

Now that you know categories can help Amazon do the hard work for you, read on to discover the exact process for category selection.

How To Choose The Best Kindle Categories

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

Kindle Categories steps

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 – Competitor Research

The first stage to finding the most important Kindle categories 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 –

Kindle categories example

From this image, you can see that the book has several categories.

Phase 2 – Find The Most Specific Niches

When it comes to Kindle categories, it is always wise to go as specific and niche as possible.

Many Kindle writers make the mistake of choosing a broad category for their book, rather than delving deeper into the dark, dense jungle of Amazon subcategories.

In the following image, you will see that underneath the broader category, there are a range of smaller, more specific categories that can be chosen.

Put yourself in the shoes of an Amazon browser. If you could find a more specific, specialized category that more closely related to what you wanted, you’d choose it wouldn’t you?

By putting your books into these highly specialized categories, you stand a much greater chance of reaching the right readers for your work.

Phase 3 – Category Competitor Analysis

After following the first two steps to this method, you should have a wide range of potential categories in which to place your book.

Knowing the categories is not, on its own, enough – you need to know which categories are good options, and which are less favorable.

The guide by which you will evaluate your identified categories is easy – how competitive are they?

Sadly, Amazon does not directly tell you how many books are selling within a particular category.

However, there is a little known way around this issue.

You see in the following image that by searching for the key term ‘gardening’ at the top of the Amazon search page, and looking at the menu on the left, you see a list of different categories.

kindle categories categories

The bracketed number to the right of each category is the number of books for the keyword ‘gardening’ within each category. Based on this information, you can quickly see which categories are more and less crowded.

Phase 4 – Competitor Sales Rank

The number of competing books within a particular category is not the only evaluation you need to carry out.

On the surface, a category with 3 books competing in it, and a category with 300 books competing in it may be an obvious decision.

But what if the 300 books weren’t selling, and the 3 books were selling like hotcakes and were written by some author with the last name ‘Rowling’?

Knowing how well a competing book is selling is important in judging how easily you will be able to compete against it.

As a general guideline, books ranking between the 100,00 and and 30,000 mark on Amazon have the optimum combination of enough sales to be worth your time, but enough chance of you beating them out and standing a chance.

You can learn more about Amazon sales rank here .

Phase 5 – Secure Your Target Category

Now that you’ve found your target categories and analyzed their competitive situation, that’s job done, right?

Wrong, my friend. Very wrong indeed.

Much like finding the person you want to settle down with, you’ve still got to convince Amazon to say ‘yes’ to your category marriage proposal.

Sometimes, Amazon will make it easy and offer your category to you, on a plate, at your time of publishing.

Other times, it’s a little more difficult.

Kindle Categories Cheat Code

Maybe carrying out the steps needed to find the right Kindle categories sounds about as interesting as watching paint dry to you – maybe watching paint losing moisture even sounds like a pretty fun option at this point in time.

If so, don’t worry.

Check this video out.

Kindle Spy is a small, easy to use browser extension which works with Chrome or Firefox.

It allows you to do in seconds what would take hours to carry out manually.

If you use Kindle Spy well, you will be able to recoup its cost through your first book.

The software isn’t perfect and could be improved upon in several ways, but it’s useful all the same.

Kindle Categories Recap

Phase 1 – Competitor Research

Phase 2- Find The Most Specific Niche Categories

Phase 3 – Category Competitor Analysis

Phase 4 – Competitor Sales Rank

Phase 5 – Secure Your Target Category

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.

Learn more –

A great guide to finding the right genre for you book

A thorough list of book genres courtesy of Good Reads