Amazon has over 16,000 categories! Categories, like Thrillers & Suspense or Crime, define what kind of book you are selling.
When you publish a book with Amazon, you can list your book in 2 categories and there’s a way to bump that up to 10 categories total (more on that later).
Why is this important?
The categories you choose can make or break the chances of becoming a bestseller. And to become a bestseller on Amazon, you have to rank in the top 100 in any category that contains at least 100 books.
Choosing categories that are not only relevant but also competitive is critical.
For example, I would not choose ‘Teen & Young Adult Detective Story’ for a category because my book is for adults and detectives aren’t involved in my story.
In terms of being competitive, it’s important to select categories that are as specific as possible. The more targeted you are, the less competitive it is so it’s easier to rank higher.
Every major category - Children’s Books, Biographies & Memoirs, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense - have tons of sub-categories. And many of those sub-categories have sub-categories of their own.
For example, I would not choose the following category because it is too broad and way too competitive:
Mysteries, Thrillers & Suspense
I would not even select:
Mysteries, Thrillers & Suspense ==> Thrillers
because it is still too broad.
But within Thrillers, there is a sub-category called ‘Suspense’ that might work.
Mysteries, Thrillers & Suspense ==> Thrillers ==> Suspense
The best way to get a feel for this is to show you how it works.
If you search for 'Golden in Death by JD Robb' and scroll down to Product Details, you'll see something like the following (ranking changes every couple hours so the numbers will be different if you try this):
Every book is assigned an Amazon Best Sellers Rank (ABSR), based on number of sales, and customer and editorial reviews.
(rank in the example-6974)
Up to 3 categories the author selected for the book are listed below this ranking with the book’s rank for that category.
(For this example, the categories seen are Mystery Romance, Serial Killer Thrillers and Women Sleuths)
When you click on one of the categories, the top 100 books for that category display.
Example below is for Mystery Romance.
When you're searching books and click a category (the page displays the categories on the left side of the screen (as seen above).
You can see the complete hierarchy of all categories on Amazon on this left side (see the list to the right...Politics & Social Sciences through Travel are not displayed).
You can click any one of these categories and drill down to see all of the sub-categories and their sub-categories until you get to the end for that category.
To find potential categories for your book, you click through the hierarchy and note all of the categories that are relevant to your book, always choosing the lowest-level sub-category you can find, because that will be the easiest to rank in.
For each of these, you click the category, to see the top 100 books listed, and note the ABSR for the #1 book and the #20 book.
One you have these numbers, you can see what the ASBR, the ranking, means in terms of daily book sales.
Remember the JD Robb book we talked about earlier? Golden in Death
JD Robb is a pen name for Nora Roberts who is a well-known author, she’s written hundreds of books. When I first saw the rank for this book (6974), I thought “What a shame! She used to write books that people loved.”
But if you enter the ASBR for that book into a sales calculator (found on kindlepreneur.com), it shows she’s selling 22 books every day. That's just for one book...she’s not doing too bad. :)
(# of books sold every day is based on 30-day sales average)
As you can see, knowing which categories you can be most competitive in is key for increasing your chances of being a best seller.
Deciding which categories to use can be time-consuming but it's worth it. And remember that once your book is published, you can always change your categories to try to improve your sales.
I'll talk about how to add up to 10 categories for your book in the next blog.