The Amazon book categories you choose will have a direct effect on whether or not you become an Amazon bestselling author.
Choose the wrong one, and no matter how many books you sell, you won’t become an Amazon bestseller. Choose the right one, and you could become a daily bestseller with minimal marketing or effort – yeah, it can be that easy…but only if you know what you're looking for.
In truth, there is a lot more to choosing Amazon book categories. There are secret kindle categories that Amazon doesn’t tell you about when publishing, and the simple fact that you can actually be listed for 7 extra categories legitimately.
That’s right, not just two or three categories like 99% of authors think. More importantly, Amazon has made some changes to the way they do Categories.
And in this article, I will show you all of that, plus more.
In this article, you will learn:
- Exactly what categories can do for your book
- How to find the best categories to make you a bestseller
- Secret Kindle Categories and how to get them
- How to show up in 10 categories, and not just 3
- How to see all the categories a book ranks for
Table of Contents
- What Do You Need to Do to Become a #1 Bestselling Amazon Author?
- How to Find the Amazon Book Categories
- Step 1: Research Potential Book Categories
- Step 2: Check the #1 Best Seller in that Category
- Step 3: Request Amazon Add the Categories to Your Book
- Extra Tips and Tricks to Book Category Selection:
- Secret #1: The Categories Shown in KDP Are Not Amazon Categories – They're BISACS
- Secret #2: How to See All of the Categories a Book Ranks For (because they're hidden now)
- Now Go Get Listed For Your Ideal Categories and Become a Bestseller
Being a number #1 bestseller on Amazon isn’t just about the cool points, it also helps you sell more books as well.
However, how does an author not only ensure they make that rank, but keep it too? Well, let’s dive into how Amazon chooses which book is the #1 bestseller of a category. It all starts with your book’s Amazon Best Seller Rank (ABSR).
Amazon assigns the ABSR of a book based on how many sales or downloads it has had over a certain period of time as compared to all other books on the Amazon market. With this, if you have an ABSR of 1000, then it means that at that point in time, there are 999 books on Amazon selling better than you. If you have an ABSR of 1,000,000, then it means there are 999,999 books selling better than you.
So, if your book has the LOWEST ABSR of all books that are attached to an Amazon category, then you are the #1 best seller in that category. It is that simple.
So, choosing your kindle categories or book categories will have a direct effect on whether or not you become a bestseller.
Here’s an example:
If you choose a category where the #1 book in that category has an ABSR of 2,000, then you’d need to have an ABSR or 1,999 or less in order to be the new #1. Using my kindle calculator, you’d find out that you’d need to sell over 90 books per day to reach that.
However, if you choose a category where the #1 book has an ABSR of 70,000, then all you need is an ABSR of 69,999 or less. Again, using my calculator, that’s only 3 books a day.
Big difference, right? 90 books vs 3 books?
So, the category you choose has a DIRECT effect on whether you’ll become an Amazon Best Seller and get that attractive bestseller tag. Now, let's look at how to find the best Amazon categories for your book or ebook.
There are two steps to finding out how to choose a good kindle category or Amazon book category. Follow the steps below or listen to our podcast episode for finding the most worthwhile book categories.
For this, I will be using an example. In this example, I will be trying to find a good category for a language book:
Step 1: Research Potential Book Categories
Did you know there are over 16,000+ Amazon Categories? But sadly, Amazon doesn’t just list them all in one spot somewhere (except that this program does, incase you want to see all 16,000+)- if they did, I’d be a super happy camper.
Instead, we need to ‘find’ pertinent but niche categories.
So, to start this, we’ll begin by typing into the Amazon search box any words to describe our book. Our goal is to get a list of books that are similar to our book.
I will then systematically go through each book and check their category string links like below:
Doing the above, I checked out other books and found the following categories:
- Language Experience Approach (Kindle Store)
- Education Reference Books
- Language Instruction – Miscellaneous (Kindle Store)
- Foreign Language Study & Reference (Kindle Store)
- Linguistics Books
- Test Preparation Books
- Pedagogy (I actually had to look up what this word meant..haha)
- Study & Teaching (Kindle Store)
- Words, Language & Grammar Books
- Memory Improvement (Kindle Store)
Step 2: Check the #1 Best Seller in that Category
Now that we have a list of potential categories, it’s time to see which one has the best chance of making me a consistent bestseller. To do this, just click category link on a book's sales page. This will take you to the list of Bestsellers for that Category.
Next, click on the #1 best selling book in that Amazon book category. Now, go down to its ABSR and record that number next to the category name in your notes. This is the ABSR number you’d need to beat in order to be the #1 bestseller.
Once you have a list of all the categories and their #1 best seller ABSR, place them into the Kindle Calculator below or here and it will tell you how many books you’d need to sell today in order to be the #1 best selling author in that category.
Once you’ve done that, look over your list and choose the ones that best represents your book and have the highest ABSR.
Using my example above, I got the following results:
Amazon Book Categories
|Category||ABSR||Book Sales To Be #1|
|Language Experience Approach||10,567||15|
|Language Instruction - Misc.||19.761||13|
|Foreign Language Study & Reference||268||386|
|Study & Teaching||15,304||14|
|Words, Language & Grammar||1,810||94|
Looking at this list, my best kindle categories for becoming a #1 bestseller are:
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Reference > Foreign Language Study & Reference > Language Instruction > Miscellaneous
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Reference > Words, Language & Grammar > Study & Teaching
Now, if my book was categorized for these two, all I’d need to do is sell about 13 books and I’d be #1 🙂
*Don’t forget there are different Category strings for ‘books' and ‘Kindle books' on Amazon. They look like this:
And sometimes they have a Kindle version of a category, but not a book version (or vice versa).
So, if you have a soft or hardcover book, repeat Steps 1-3 for ‘books' now that you’ve identified kindle categories. If you don’t have a print book, then you’re good to go.
Below is a podcast episode of mine, where I go into detail about those steps and more:
Podcast Episode: The Power of Book Categories
See Every Category Possible – Publisher Rocket’s Category Feature
Remember, there are over 16,000+ categories on Amazon. To do the steps above correctly, it could take you hours for clicking around and hoping you find the right category. The worse part is, Amazon doesn't show you every category in one spot.
Well, that's where Publisher Rocket can come in handy. One particular feature of this award-winning software, is that it lists every possible Amazon category for both book and ebook, and tells those valuable numbers we discussed above. You can see exactly how many books you need to sell in order to become the new #1 bestseller. This feature is a favorite amongst both publishers and self publishers alike.
You can also arrange the book categories from Easiest to Rank #1 to hardest. Check it out:
See, just like that, Publisher Rocket will immediately:
- List all the categories books show up for
- Tell you how many books you’d need to sell in a day to be #1
- Tell you how many books you’d need to sell to be in the top #25
And just like that, you can now select the best categories for your book and know exactly how many copies you’d need to sell in order to be #1 or just to make it in the categories' Top 20 – all with a simple click of a button.
Talk about a major time saver, as well as some good data!
Step 3: Request Amazon Add the Categories to Your Book
I bet that if you did the above steps, you probably found a couple of category strings that aren’t offered in your KDP dashboard when you went to publish.
Or, you've probably seen that other books are listed in more categories – like 10 Amazon categories!
Well, I've got good news for you. There is a special way in which you can contact Amazon and not only get them to include your book for whatever category you want, but you can get them to add you to 10 categories.
That's why, immediately upon publishing, you need to follow the next Secret, and immediately change your categories, and add more.
Here are the steps to discussed in the video:
- Find a category you want to rank for (copy the full string)
- Click to go to this Help/Contact Page for Author Central and sign into your KDP account
- Under “How We Can Help” select “Amazon Book Page”
- Then select “Update Amazon Categories”
- Then in the box, you'll see the following:
You can submit a single request for all category updates. Add a line per marketplace, using the example below.
Example: ASIN or ISBN, .COM, UK, DE, JP, etc., eBook or book, preferred category
Categories to be added (list each category as a separate line item for all applicable titles):
Categories to be removed (list each category as a separate line item for all applicable titles):
To fill this out, put your book's ASIN or ISBN in there that you want to change the categories, and the market. Then enter in the appropriate category string that you want to be included for or removed from.
A category string looks like this:
But here's the ticker…even though you will be added to 10 categories, your book's sales page will still only show three.
So, how do you see all of the categories you're listed for? Or better yet, see what Categories another book is listed for? Well, that leads us to Secret #2.
Extra Tips and Tricks to Book Category Selection:
- The ABSR changes every 2 hours, so what it takes to rank #1 can change as well
- New books enter the market, which can quickly change a GREAT category into a super hard one. Keep an eye on your categories and change as necessary
- Having tools like Publisher Rocket can make selecting or changing categories very fast, efficient and effective.
- Make sure you are moral about your choices…nothing grates my cheese more than seeing books that don’t belong in a category taking up the spot
- Don’t forget to do the same research discussed above but for ‘books' if you have a print version
Yup, that's right. When you go to publish, that popup box (see below) are actually called BISACs. You start by choosing from those, and then Amazon decides from that, which Amazon Category to put you in.
Here is a much more in depth discussion of what BISACs are, and how they affect your Categories.
In late 2017 Amazon made a big change. Although you can rank for 10 categories (combo between ebook and book), you'll still only see three categories on your sales page. This set many a savvy book marketers into a tizzy.
They knew their books were listed for more than what they saw, but they couldn't figure out how to see them ALL–until now. In this video, you will see exactly how to see all the categories a book is listed for:
If you don't have Publisher Rocket, there's another way you can check if Amazon has put your book in the 10 categories you've selected, though. Nerdy Book Girl has created a tool that tells you which categories your book is in. All you have to do is input your book's ASIN or ISBN-10. You can check it out here.
Now Go Get Listed For Your Ideal Categories and Become a Bestseller
So, now that you know the power of categories and what it takes to rank #1 for a specific Amazon Book Category, it’s time to take action. Of course, as bestselling author, Jeff Goins says, “before you can launch a bestseller, you need to write a bestseller.” Then you need to implement these steps to find the best book category for your book.
Now, whether you’re using a tool like Publisher Rocket or doing it by hand, it’s important to keep checking your categories so that you can always ensure you stay at #1 and gain those extra sales because of it.
Publisher Rocket can save you hours of researching for the best category. Increase your Category research efficiency and effectiveness for a one-time fee of ONLY $97. Soon, we will be making it a subscription. So lock in your lifetime access now!
And with that, you should have no problem landing in the #1 bestseller position.