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No more tiers - How to choose Amazon subcategories for better visibility

Once you’ve got your story all ready to go you have to approach the seemingly easy task of choosing the appropriate category for your book. However, pick the wrong one and it’s buried in a pile of better performing titles, never to see the light of day, which can be upsetting. We explain how to make better use of the Amazon category system to ensure your book gets read.

Deciding in which category your book belongs is a lot like deciding which shelf your book should sit in a library. At first it may appear incredibly easy, but if you want it to perform well there are ways in which you can ensure your book gets maximum visibility by choosing the right categories.

Amazon uses industry standard BISAC subject codes to create their browse categories, a full list can be found here -

You can choose two browse categories which will be used to filter it into the most relevant customer searches and browse sections on Amazon. It’s important to get these right in order to limit the competition and make sure your book gets top billing.

Deeper is better

The more specific you are, the better visibility your book will get. So really drill down into the categories and get as deep as you can whilst still being accurate.

A book appearing in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Alien Invasion will appear in every level above, including Science Fiction and Science Fiction & Fantasy. If you only categorised your alien invasion story as Science Fiction then you’d miss out on an under subscribed category below, within which you could perform well, improving visibility in the category levels above.

Second chances

Once you’ve chosen the most appropriate, deepest category you can, you need to carefully think about which second category you will apply to your book.

A second category gives you a chance to be a bit more vague in order to double up on the number of categories your book appears in if you choose wisely.

If your book is about the legends of King Arthur then the obvious choice for your first category would be Kindle Store > Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends > Arthurian

An appropriate second category would also be Kindle Store > Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Myths & Legends > Celtic, English & Welsh but the problem with that is you are duplicating three categories and wasting your opportunity to get included in more lists.

A better second category would be Kindle Store > Books > Literature & Fiction > Action & Adventure > Men's Adventure giving you access to a broader selection of readers.

It’s important that you don’t duplicate categories. If you were to choose Alien Invasion for your sci-fi story, there’s no need to also choose Science Fiction as your book will already be categorised there as part of the hierarchy path.

Have a look at what similar books to yours are doing and get some inspired ideas for second categories.

Success breeds success

One of the current best sellers on Amazon is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Girl on the Train

You’ll see this book appear in the featured list of Crime Fiction, ahead of 54,849 other books. However, that’s not where it earned its Best Seller status. The book is currently number 1 in the following:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Literary Fiction > Psychological

The Psychological category has only 2569 results, a lot less competition!

It’s also categorised in:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Crime Fiction > British & Irish > English

The book appears as a Best Seller across all the categories and sub categories it’s listed in despite not actually being a best seller in all of those categories. This gives it more visibility which in turn drives more sales, which again promotes better visibility.

Another best seller currently on Amazon is Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee Mbe, the first part of an Autobiographical trilogy.

Cider with Rosie

It sits proudly at the number one featured spot in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > History, a very popular category with 222,181 results.

However, it earned its best seller status in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Biography & True Accounts > Memoirs competing with only 36,940 other titles.

One of the most impressive performing books, with regard to category placement is I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh.

I Let You Go

It’s currently sitting at number 2 of the featured books in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks, competing with nearly 4 million other books!

Where did it earn its Best Seller status? Women’s Detective Fiction: Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women's Fiction > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Detective where there are only 1,025 books competing with each other.

Keyword categories

There are certain categories, including country specific categories, which require specific keywords in your listing in order to appear. This gives you the chance to appear in a whole other list of sub-categories giving you even more visibility.

You'll need to add Search Keywords in addition to the two categories you’ve already chosen for your title.

For instance, in order for a title to appear in the Erotica > Erotica Characters > People in Uniform sub-category, the title's search keywords must include at least one of the keywords or phrases listed: uniform, police, military, nurse, maid, combat, doctor.

To appear in Health, Fitness & Dieting > Alternative Medicine > Energy Healing you will need to include one of ‘reiki', ‘qi gong’, or ‘therapeutic touch’ in your search keywords.

A full list is available here -

Have a play

Have a look around Amazon and see what other books are doing and where they are performing well. Have a look at where they’re getting Best Seller status and see if you can compete in the smaller categories.

If you find your book isn’t performing as well as you like, don’t be afraid to recategorise it or change the keywords to move it to a different place. It may take a bit of trial and error, but once you find a happy home you will reap the rewards.

Let us know what you think about choosing Amazon categories below, and be sure to sign up to our newsletter which includes tips and tricks, and special offers for our services, including ready-made book covers and designs, which make a big difference to Amazon sales.

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