Choosing the Right Categories for your Book

How to use Amazon categories to increase your ABSR

It is possible to get to #1 status on Amazon with very few sales. You have a great chance of success with your book if you have a strong launch and strategically choose the right categories for your book.  

What are Categories and Why are they Important?

Before publishing your book on Amazon you will be asked to select two categories to place your book in. You have to select the categories from a drop down menu that has a multitude of categories and subcategories to pick from. You may find that your book fits into many of them, but you're only able to pick two to star with. Once your book is published, Amazon will add it to other categories based on the algorithm.

Your Amazon Best Seller Rank (AMSR) is determined by calculating how well your book sells with in a given category. When you search a category on Amazon you will see the top 100 books in that category. Amazon says that a category must contain more than 100 books in order to be listed as a bestseller, so you don't want to pick a category that's too narrow or hyper specific because it won't be likely to show up in search results and because you won't qualify to become an Amazon Best Seller. 

How to Choose the Right Category for your Book

The first thing to do is to make a list of the categories you think your book fits into best. Search through those categories on Amazon to determine how competitive those categories are. Are there a lot of books like yours? Do you think your book can stand out in that category or is it so broad that your book will be drowned out?

Check the #1 book in each of the categories on your list and see how you think your book might compare. You don't want to pick a category that doesn't have any books like yours (it doesn't help to stand out if it means that no one searching that category will be interested in your book) but you want to pick a category narrow enough that you have a good chance of making it into the top 100. 

The odds of your book appearing on Amazon's list of the bestsellers, which enables Amazon to help market your book and show your book to more readers, are improved by choosing a narrow category of books.

Is this Category a Good Fit for my Book?

There are a few easy ways to answer this question and to narrow down your list of potential categories to just the two Amazon allows you to choose. 

When you're going through your list of categories, check the average page count of the top ten books in each category. Does your book's page count fit within this average?

Also look at the descriptions of those same books. Does your book have the same tone? Does it share the same target audience? 

Read the reviews for the top ten books in every category. Does your book fit what people who have purchased books in this category like and expect?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it is probably the wrong category for your book and you will likely struggle to earn a spot among the top ten. 

Ways to Find Competitive Categories

If you're at a loss for what categories to put your book in, you can also check out Amazon's Hot New Releases or the Top 100 Paid Bestsellers for ebooks. 

Search through the books in both these sections and determine what categories they are in. This is a rough way to determine what categories are popular. If any of those categories align with your book then it might be a good category to choose because it means books in that category are selling well, but beware that it also means that the category is highly competitive and if your book isn't a good fit then it may be hard to reach the top ten. 

Your ABSR After Publishing

Keeping an eye on your ABSR after you've published your book is very important. Your ABSR will tell you have well your book is selling and if it is competitive in it's categories. 

You must have a #1,868 or Better Amazon Bestseller Rank in order to earn a #1 spot in a category. 

Amazon will put your book into more categories once it's been published. You can see these categories by scrolling down on the book's product page to the Product Details section. There you will find your best sellers rank in the Kindle store, this is the top 100 best selling books. Below that, you will find your rank in specific categories. 

Your ranking for your eBook and your paper back are calculated separately, as is you rank for your audio book, so if you have multiple formats of your book available make sure to check the rank beneath each one separately. 

You can click on the categories and see the other books your book is competing with. This can give you a good idea of how well your book is selling and if you've put it into the right categories. It will also give you an idea of what categories you can put similar books into in the future. 

It might surprise you what categories you find your book doing well in. 

Your ABSR can also tell you a lot about new ways to market your book or potential target audiences you hadn't considered. It can give you comparison titles for your book, which are a great marketing tool, and it can show you what sort of books are popular in the categories you're writing in. 

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