If you are an author on Amazon, it’s time to give some major thought to Amazon book categories, what they are, how to choose them, and why they are helpful. Since the beginning, the promise of Amazon.com was to deliver any book to any reader anywhere.
That’s a big promise, but they’re doing well in fulfilling this promise, to put it lightly. In fact, Amazon sells more than 300 million print books each year.
Choosing the category for your book is crucial to your sale success. Think of it like this: If you add the wrong hashtags to your Instagram post, you may get views but not from the right audience.
The same is true for Amazon book categories. When you categorize your book well, you alert readers in that category that your book could help them. Ready to dive in?
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The Big Picture: Amazon Book Categories
The category or categories you associate with your book are to help your readers find exactly what they want to read. Because you know your target audience, understand their pain point, and spent the time and effort to write a book to help them, choosing the correct categories will drastically help you.
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you want your readers to find your book so you can inspire, encourage, entertain, and teach. There are several factors to consider when choosing your categories.
#1 – Choose On-Brand Categories
Like hashtagging mentioned above, choosing categories that support the message or theme of your book enables readers to know what they’re getting. Staying on-brand eradicates confusion for your reader, thus making their purchase decision easier, and more likely.
For instance, if you wrote a memoir on what you learned climbing fourteeners as a young adult, your categories should reflect it. “Nonfiction > Memoir > Outdoor” makes a lot more sense than “Fiction > World > Bears.” This may seem obvious, but you might be surprised how easy it is to second-guess your categories.
#2 – Less Is More
Readers want to know what they're getting as quickly and simply as possible. Amazon says that “Our analysis of customer activity shows that having more than a few categories decreases the relevancy of those categories and does not improve discoverability.”
Have you ever asked someone what they do, and their response confused you? If they said they work as a nutritionist, personal shopper, and creative writer, you would likely wonder what area they are most talented in. What are they actually good at? It’s difficult to be exceptional across a wide range of fields.
The same is true for your book. If you write about the history of South Africa, it’s crucial to categorize it with the terms that make the most sense.
#3 – Hurry Up And Wait
Once you decide, resist the urge to watch your sales and change your categories every day or two, trying to hit your goals. This can actually do more harm than good. Your customer activity is important, and you want it to align with your categories over the long haul. If you need to make a change, do so, but give your book some time so you can properly assess how it’s doing.
Category Sampling: Familiarize Yourself
There are so many Amazon book categories it can feel overwhelming to know where to begin. Yes, you know you wrote either a fiction or a nonfiction book, but now what? You want to categorize your book well, but how do you make sure you do so?
While there is no guarantee, and much of the publishing process is trial and error, there are ways to help you get off to a good start. The overarching mindset to keep is to familiarize yourself not just with the categories but with your book and with your audience.
Yes, you wrote the book, so of course you know what it’s about! Right? Well, it can be surprisingly difficult to write:
- Your one page synopsis
- Back cover copy
- Elevator pitch
Choosing one word to describe the entirety of your book is difficult as well, so get to know the categories offered:
- Biographies and Memoirs
- Business and Leadership
- Children’s Books
- Cookbooks, Food & Wine
- Literature and Fiction
- Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
- Science Fiction & Fantasy
- Teens and Young Adults
Amazon book categories are much more extensive than this short list, but these more general categories can help get you thinking.
Tips To Help You Choose Your Amazon Book Categories
Especially if this is your first time putting your book out on Amazon, choosing your categories can be intimidating. Instead of going it alone, take these tips with you as you choose.
#1 – Look Up Your Comparative Works
When you self-publish, you often don’t need to create a book proposal, but knowing the books that are similar to yours (otherwise known as your comps) is a tremendous help. To find your comp books, simply look up books that were published in the last five years, did well in sales, and are similar to yours. Then look at the categories they are listed under!
#2 – Research Your Favorite Authors
Most of us likely have those select authors who we aspire to be like one day. Whether it’s the bestselling authors we have followed since childhood, the ones who seem to be a master of their chosen genre, or authors who simply inspire us to write our best, research their books. Note their titles, how they categorize each, and why.
#3 – Stay True To Your Author Intuition
No matter what other writers do, it’s important to make the decision you believe is best for your project. Choosing Amazon book categories can be overwhelming, so make sure you do your due diligence, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you, the author, to make the choice.
Start Your Research With These Videos
If you’re ready to get started, begin with this short video on Amazon KDP categories and keywords. You may also want to watch this more extensive video to dive a little deeper. This second video discusses metadata, which is an influence you will definitely want to consider as you choose your categories.
But don’t forget, it’s easy to fall down the YouTube hole of research and watch video after video until you realize you used up all your writing time.
You are armed with tips on how to choose Amazon book categories, you have two videos to explain even further, and soon it will be time to actually sit down and do the work.
Remember, the first time you choose a category may not turn out as perfectly as you hoped, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change your category later. Part of publishing is educating yourself on the process. There are always ways we can improve.
However, you have resources, and if you’ve written a book, the skillset to understand what your book is about and who your audience is. We are excited to see your book land in the various Amazon book categories and can’t wait to see how it goes for you. Cheering you, your book, and your writing career on!