Choosing Your Book’s Categories

In this message, we’ll show you a step-by-step method to choose the categories for your book that will allow it to be noticed by potential buyers. (Although this example uses Amazon, the same category choices you make for Amazon can be used for publishers like Smashwords.)

Category selection is one of the least understood parts of publishing. When you select the categories for your book you’re not just identifying what type of book you’re publishing. You’re also choosing a field of books against which yours will compete for sales. One mistake authors can make is selecting a category that has too much competition, virtually guaranteeing their book will not be seen by potential buyers. Another mistake is selecting a category so small that your book cannot get adequate exposure to potential buyers. All categories are not created equal. They come in all shapes and sizes and they’re unique. The best strategy for selecting the perfect category for your book is to find one that is:

  1. Appropriate for the subject of your book
  2. Large enough to provide adequate exposure to buyers
  3. Small enough to give your book a chance to compete for top billing

Using our book Divine Healing Made Simple as our example, we began our testing of category options by going to the Kindle eBooks page as shown below.

 

Kindle page

 

The first step is to choose the most appropriate broad category for the book. Review the categories and choose one that best suits your book. “Religion & Spirituality” was the most appropriate for our book so we selected it.

Beside each category is a number that indicates how many books are in that category. The category “Religion & Spirituality” has over 264,000 books in it. This is too large a category for our book to compete in, so we must find a smaller category.

 

Main_Category

The next step is to click on the category “Religion & Spirituality,” which opens a new page with a list of sub-categories. Review the sub-categories here and select the one that is best for your book. “Christianity” was the most appropriate sub-category for our book so we selected it.

 

Sub_category

 

Once again, click on the category you selected and review the sub-categories available. Select the one that seems best for your book. For our example, the category “Christianity” has over 136,000 books, which is still too many for a first-time author to compete against, so we must select a smaller sub-category. Of the sub-categories listed,  “Protestantism” was the most appropriate so we selected it.

Smaller_Sub-Category

The category “Protestantism” has only a fraction of the number of books that “Christianity” has. But at just over 5,000 books it’s still too large for our book to have a chance to compete, so we must find an even smaller category.

The category “Protestantism” is sub-divided into sub-categories based on denominations. Although there are several categories with only a hundred or so books to compete against in some of the categories, we wanted to give the book adequate exposure to searches. Selecting the final category is the most critical part of the process. You want to find a category that is neither too large, not too small. A category that is too small can limit the number of people who will see it, so went went with the largest subcategory in Protestantism, which is “Pentecostal.”

Amazon’s default search setting displays books according to their ranking by popularity, with between 20-30 books on each page. With only 1,400 books in the category, we felt our book had a chance to compete for a spot on the first page of rankings, which would give it decent exposure to potential buyers, so we selected this as the final category.

After you’ve made your selection, note the category path displayed at the top of the page. This is the category path to use when setting up your book in your KDP dashboard.

 

Final-category

 

This author has a blog that receives about 13,000 visits a month, and he links his articles to the book’s Amazon page. His book has consistently ranked well in this category, spending a fair amount of time in the top twenty. During promotions, it also reaches the top of the larger categories “Protestantism” and “Christianity.”

If you want to know how many books you need to sell to rank in a certain level on Amazon, the list below provides a breakdown of sales compared to ranking. (The list was last updated in December, 2013)

Amazon Best Seller Rank of 1 to 5 – selling 4,000+ books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank of 5 to 20 – selling 3,000 – 4,000 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 20 to 35 – selling 2,000 – 3,000 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 35 to 200 – selling 500 – 2,000 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 200 to 350 – selling 250 – 500 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 350 to 500 – selling 175 – 250 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 500 to 750 – selling 120 – 175 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 750 to 1,500 – selling 100 – 120 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 1,500 to 3,000 – selling 70 – 100 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 3,000 to 5,500 – selling 25 – 70 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 5,500 to 10,000 – selling 15 – 25 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 10,000 to 50,000 – selling 5 – 15 books a day.
Amazon Best Seller Rank 50,000 to 100,000 – selling close to 1 book a day.