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Back in 2016, I had written a post with information on How to Use Amazon Categories to Increase your Rankings. It included an estimate of how many copies a book needs to sell to reach a certain rank on Amazon US. This has now been updated as follows:

Amazon sales to reach #1 | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Image found on KBoards

The rest of the information on my post, however, is still very much applicable–and all-important–today. I’m copying it here so you don’t have to go back-and-forth. As a reminder, the original post was based on a great post on the subject by Jen Bresnick.

What is my Category?

When you look up a listing for a book on Amazon, scroll down past the reviews to the section titled “Look for similar items by category”.  If you visit the page for Jen’s The Last Death of Tev Chrisini, for example, you’ll see this:

Amazon categories | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Image: Jen Bresnick

The book is listed under an increasingly specific series of categories, including epic fantasy and sword & sorcery.  But anyone who has gone through the KDP publishing process knows that sword & sorcery isn’t a BISAC category, and you can’t select it from the list that looks like this:

Amazon categories | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Image: Jen Bresnick

So, what do you do in this case?

Chris Naish’s Tip

Chris Naish | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookChris Naish recently came up with another tip concerning Amazon categories; one that bears repeating. Chris turns on its head the conventional wisdom that you need to select the best, most relevant categories for your book. Instead, he suggests you select EVERY relevant category for your book!

It’s a little-known secret that you can actually add your Kindle book to up to ten categories. Identify them in advance of your launch day and, as soon as the book is live, message KDP from the dashboard (the contact link is in tiny text at the bottom) and tell them to place you into the other eight categories you have identified. Use the exact category path in your request, like so:

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Money > Management & Leadership > Total Quality Management

Be sure to go to the deepest level possible as this will result in more eyes on your book, and a greater chance to rank highly in these deeper categories. This article will help with deep category selection.

This corroborates what author Sarah Potter pointed out, that you can email them at KDP and ask them to add some additional browsing categories. These won’t show up where the rankings are, but if you scroll down the page to “Look for similar items by category”, you’ll see them there. Sarah originally had three browsing categories at the bottom of her product page, but now has 8 on the UK site and 7 on the US one.

However, Chris also notes that it might be hit and miss with getting a rep who knows about it. You can also do it on Amazon UK, Germany etc. If, at first, you have no luck, just try them again until you get through to the right person. He actually had to tell the rep he was on with that it was possible and point out examples to him.

Dave Chesson’s Tips

KDP Rocket review | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksThe ultimate guide to Amazon categories, however, has been written by Dave Chesson, aka Kindlepreneur. You may remember Dave from my review of his Free AMS Tutorial and KDP Rocket. In his remarkably detailed, step-by-step guide, Secret Method to Choosing Amazon Book Categories in KDP, Dave explains:

  • 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 7 categories, not just 3

Dave has also updated KDP Rocket. Its new features include a way that will not only help you find good categories for your book, it will also tell you how many sales you’d need to be #1:

You can check out KDP Rocket here (affiliate link) or here (non-affiliate link).

A helpful guide

Finally, and to help you with categories, I’m including an MS Excel spreadsheet with all of Amazon’s book categories/subcategories, listed according to competitivenesscategories at the top are the easiest to break into. I apologize if some information is out-of-date; this is the most recent list I have. Also, and although the spreadsheet only includes data on Fiction categories, the information in this post also applies to Non-Fiction ones.

[tweetthis]How to Use Amazon Categories to Increase your Rankings (Update)[/tweetthis]