However, in most cases, authors gloss over one of the most important parts to the whole Kindle marketing process, choosing their Kindle categories.
You may think that the kindle category is useless and only serves as a guide, but there is so much more to it.
Choosing the right Kindle categories can, and in most cases, will have a dramatic effect on your kindle sales.
Choose the right category and you could become a bestseller. Choose the wrong category and your book could be confined to the depths of Davey Jones’ locker right next to Jimmy Hoffa.
So how does one choose the ‘right’ category for their ebook?
To answer this, you need to first understand why your selection of a particular category can have such a major effect on your book’s sales. Then from there, we can move into what I call the “secret sauce to category selection.” Pretty creative huh?
In this article, you will learn:
- The benefits to selecting the right amazon categories
- Step-by-step process to finding kindle categories that sell
- A sneaky, more effective and efficient way to find categories
What Can a Good Category Do for You?
There are lots of benefits that come about by selecting a good category. But for the purposes of this article, we’re only going to focus on three major effects.
Gain access to these three benefits, and you can and will see dramatic effects on your sales. Don’t believe, check it out:
1. Gaining Major Street Credit
I bet you’ve heard of the New York Time’s Bestseller List. But did you know that there are multiple categories within the NYT’s list.
So whether a book makes it on the NYT list for Mystery or for Art, a publisher can still claim that it is a New York Times Best Seller.
However, unlike the NYT, Amazon has over 13,402 different categories spread out between books, eBooks, and Audiobooks. Which means that you have a lot of opportunities to be able to call yourself and Amazon Best-Selling Author.
Now, this little ‘tip of the hat’ is not as powerful as the NYT icon, but when someone is shopping for a book on Amazon, just knowing that that particular book is a “Bestseller,” regardless of the category, instantaneously brings about more credibility for that particular book.
Furthermore, it just helps to make that book stick out more.
Don’t believe me, then let’s check out the above example.
Out of the three books in the picture above, which one would you choose? Which one immediately draws your eyes to it? Would you choose the one that states “bestseller” over the one that is above it on the results page? Probably, right? So, why is the one above it not a bestseller even though it has a better sales rank (which means it is currently selling more books)? How did they get that “bestseller” doodad even though they are #2 n the search results?
By selecting a category that they could rank #1 for…but we will get into that process a little later.
Looks like its author of the book at the top didn’t select the right category or a category they could rank #1 for…hmmm. He or she should have probably read this post before selecting their categories, otherwise, they too would have a bestseller mark on their page and would, therefore, sell more books.
More Exposure on Amazon Pages
By ranking in the top 10 of a particular category, your book will show up more on different Amazon pages. It won’t just be confined to specific search results or your ebook’s particular sales page, but will be on that category’s page and others. It will also have a tendency to show up in the recommend buy list too.
So, what does this mean? By choosing the right category, you will give your ebook more publicity and exposure to your potential customers. And just about every marketer knows that there is a direct correlation between more exposure and more sales.
TACTIC ALERT: The particular book listed above is about General Language Learning. However, this particular author chose a category of “Slavic Language Instruction.” This was very effective in getting a “Best Seller” mark and thus more exposure, however, one could question this choice a little for it being a little misleading. I would say this was a little ‘gray.’
Let Amazon Spend Money to Advertise Your Book
Have you ever received an email from Amazon, listing books that you should buy based on your previous searches? Ever seen an Amazon ad on your Facebook page that was about a book that you previously looked at or another one on the same subject? Guess what those are…paid advertisements by Amazon promoting someone’s book? Unbeknownst to the author, Amazon has chosen to spend money so as to drive more sales to that author’s book!
Want to know how you get your book on that advertisement? You guessed it…ranking top in a specific category!
Amazon keeps track of a person’s shopping habit by placing a cookie on their computer and by other means. They will notice if a person was interested in the “software design” section of kindle ebooks. Then, later on, Amazon will send an email promoting books in that category…and do you know which one pops up first –most of the time – the number 1 selling book in that category.
Makes sense right?
Amazon wants to promote those books that have the highest chance of selling. So, if the customer was interested in a “Software Design” book, then why not show them the #1 selling book in that category? After all, they might have missed it!
They sure wouldn’t waste their advertisement money on a #8 or #12. So, get Amazon to promote and advertise your book by earning that #1 ranking.
The Secret Sauce of Category Selection
So, you are probably saying “Okay, okay, I get it. Kindle Categories are important. But how do I find the right ones?”
But before we get into the ‘Secret Sauce,’ please see my disclaimer below:
For the purposes of explaining my “secret sauce” steps, I will be going through an example. In this particular case, I will be looking for the perfect category for a non-fiction book on Language Learning.
This book does not exist and nor do I intend to write a book on this – heck I can’t even speak English properly – but for the sake of the example, let me give you a made-up purpose of the book so that you can see all the different potential categories this subject could fit in:
This a Language Learning book that will not focus on any particular language like French or Chinese, but will instead focus on how someone could or should learn a language or prepare themselves for learning a language.
As you can see, it isn’t very niche but probably has a lot that could spawn off of it.
So, with that example set in place, let’s begin.
Let’s not recreate the wheel. I like to begin my category search by conducting research on all of my potential competitors.
You would be surprised how much you can learn by looking at their particular data. Most of the time, authors do not put much thought into this process, but in many competitive areas, you may find a savvy author or two. Take notes!
I will begin by systematically going through each competitor’s book and check their category string links like below:
Doing the above examples, I checked out my competitor’s books and found the following categories:
- Language Experience Approach
- Education Reference
- Language Instruction – Miscellaneous
- Foreign Language Study & Reference
- Test Preparation
- Pedagogy (I actually had to look up what this word meant..haha)
- Study & Teaching
- Words, Language & Grammar
- Memory Improvement
Niching down — okay niche can’t be a verb but humor me — can be a really good thing for your potential rankings. Your competitor might have stopped at a very broad category and by looking for further categories, you can niche down your selection and thus have less competition.
After clicking on a category, look to the left side and see if you can click down any further?
Check out my boy Akash Karia’s book ranking #1. Talk about great category selection!
In the example above, I checked out “Words, Language & Grammar,” and sure enough, there are some niche categories to choose from.
Hmmm….out of these, I can select Linguistics, Study & Teaching, and potentially Vocabulary.
Again we are just checking our list for more potential places to select.
So step 1 and 2 have been to help build your list of potential categories. Now we are going to work on selecting the right one!
As your final step, you need to check your list to figure out which category has the least amount of competition. You don’t want to choose a category or subcategory that has thousands and thousands of competing books because to be #1 in that category, you will need to outsell them all.
Sadly, Amazon no longer tells you how many books rank for a certain category (they did away with this public data over two years ago ☹). But there is a specific way around this.
So, if your potential category is “Linguistics,” then type that into your Amazon Search box. Once the results show up, take a gander at the left side of the page. Can you see those numbers?
You betcha…those are the number of books that rank for that Kindle keywords – not category – of linguistics. But knowing how many books show up for Linguistics gives you a better understanding of how much competition might exist for the category as well.
Sometimes the amount of competition is only half the story.
I would much rather face off against 100 books that have little to no sales, than 50 books that have a sales rank of 20,000 or less. Sort of hard to beat them for #1 right?
The sales ranking gives you a rough idea of how that particular ebook is doing. Any ebook with a sales ranking of 100,000 or less is doing pretty good.
However, if in this category we’ll be competing with lots of books with a 30,000 or less, then this will be a little hard to beat out. So, you need to find a category that has books selling between 30,000 and 100,000.
So, go through your list and check the first couple of books that rank fro that category. Are they beatable?
“But Dave, other books are ranking for a specific category that doesn’t show up when I go to upload my book. How do I get those categories?”
Now THAT is a good question!
These are usually the lowest hanging fruit and typically prove to be the best to go after. Many categories will not show up initially when you go to publish your book.
Luckily, we have you covered. If you are one of those poor souls who can’t find their ideal category in the initial publishing list, then check this article out to discover how you can unlock those categories and gain access. Follow the steps in that article and hopefully in no time, your ebook will be placed within that particular category.
Although it hasn’t happened to me, I will remind you that sometimes Amazon can be stubborn and even with these steps, some have not reached the success of being included in their target category.
Want a Faster Way to Do All This?
Seems like a LOT of work, right?
Having to compile all that information by clicking and checking each page as you go through…wouldn’t it be nice if someone just did this for you?
Turns out, that is exactly what Wesley Atkins was thinking when he created Kindle Spy.
Now, the links for Kindle Spy are affiliate links. However, I absolutely believe in this tool and use it regularly in my self-publishing arsenal. As you are about to see soon, it is really impressive…especially for the low price of $47.
You won’t find that anywhere else!
This little time-saving monster is really easy to use and fits right in your Chrome and Firefox web browser.
Simply find a category, click the icon in the top right of your browser and access all the information for those books that rank on the first page of that category.
Understand their traffic, earnings, and even their competitive strength all with a click of a button.
Check it out in action:
Secret Sauce Recap
So, let’s recap the rules to the Secret Sauce:
- Check your competitors and make a list of categories
- Can Your Niche down any further?
- How many books are competing for that category?
- Are those that exist in the category beatable?
- Choose the best category in the list
- Convince Amazon that your book belongs in your selected category.
Sometimes you won’t find the golden ticket. But, if you follow my above steps, you will have a MUCH better chance of success.
Remember, in the words of Uncle Ben to Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” So go forth and improve your sales number and may the odds ever be in your favor.