Self-Publishing on Amazon: Categories & Keywords
When publishing your book on Amazon, it’s important to choose your categories and keywords carefully.
“Take into consideration not only what best describes your books but also what will maximize the chances that a reader who is browsing through the Kindle store will find your books,” says Author M. Louise Locke.
The categories and keywords that you select can have a big impact on visibility and sales. When you upload your book into KDP, they only give you the more general categories to choose from. There are secret categories are not selectable in the KDP dashboard… For this reason, they have lower competition than the available ones on the Amazon dashboard. Here’s an article that explains it well: https://kindlepreneur.com/how-to-unlock-the-secret-kindle-categories/
By carefully choosing your category, you make it much more likely that a reader will find your book. The smaller the category, the less competition and more of a chance to be found by a potential reader. When someone is browsing for a book on Amazon, each time they go one step further down the hierarchical categories, there are fewer books to browse. You want to choose one of these lower competition categories.
There are a huge number of books in Fiction (over 1,000,000). Choosing Fiction as a category is a waste because: electing a subcategory of Fiction will get you into the Fiction category as well. Even if you drill down several levels to choose something like Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Political, your book will still show in all of the top-level categories above the one you have chosen (i.e. Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense; Thrillers). In other words, when you pick something more specific like that, you are multiplying your potential visibility opportunities rather than restricting them. Also, where possible, it is advantageous to opt for two distinct categories to maximize visibility, rather than choosing two categories that are both roots of the same top-level category.
Mystery & Thrillers is one of the most competitive categories in the Kindle Store, second only to Romance. Appearing on any Mystery & Thrillers list is a serious challenge that requires impressive sales—something that might be beyond most writers until they have several titles out and have built a dedicated following. However, with a little poking around in the subcategories, you can identify some that don’t need very many sales at all. Technothriller is one, and Mystery > Series is another. Neither is selectable from the KDP interface, so there aren’t many books in either category. You might be wondering how to get into these categories if you can’t select them from the KDP dashboard. It’s pretty simple. Email KDP through the dashboard with the full path of the category you wish to appear in (e.g. Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > Series). If you get a confusing or incorrect response, you must persist. It may take multiple exchanges, but you will get it resolved eventually—and it’s worth it.
It can be helpful to switch up your category every so often – in order to reach new potential readers. Changing categories can introduce your work to a whole new group of readers. Identify a number of alternative categories for your book, so that you have options to try.