Hi there 👋

The great thing about publishing is that you learn new things all the time, no matter how long you’ve been in the business.

Last week, I found out about the Amazon URL thing, which I shared with you in my marketing blast. Just yesterday, I learned another pretty cool thing — this time from David Gaughran — about Amazon categories. So that is what this week’s newsletter is all about!

If you’ve ever published a book through KDP, you’ll know that you get to pick two Kindle Store categories where your book will be listed. This decision that can literally make or break your book, as it will impact (among other things):

  • Where your book shows up on Amazon, and how readers will find it;

  • How Amazon will recommend it (if they do) in their automated emails;

  • Your chances of getting an orange “Bestseller” sticker.

But this doesn’t mean that your book will only show up in two categories. I’ll explain below how you can get it featured in more, but for now, let’s answer the most important question:

How do I find out which Amazon categories my book is listed in?

Go to your book’s page on Amazon and scroll down. You’ll probably see the ranking of your book in the two Kindle categories you selected. We’ll use Amor Towles’ historical fiction A Gentleman in Moscow as an example today:

Now, this book is actually featured in many more categories. To find out which ones:

  1. Take the ASIN (which you’ll find in the “Product Details”)

  2. Plug it into the Amazon search bar.

You’ll get a search result that looks something like this:

Now, if you click on “Kindle eBooks” in the left sidebar, you’ll see every category the book is listed in. For Towles’s book, there are seven subcategories in total…

I recommend you do the same for all your books right now and see all the categories they show up in.

But this begs the question: how do you get Amazon to feature your book in more subcategories when you can only pick 2 upon publishing?

The answer is simple: use the 7 keywords that Amazon lets you tag your book with.

Categories with keyword requirements

Buried deep into KDP’s FAQ is an invaluable page called “Selecting Browse Categories”. And on that page, there’s a treasure section: “Categories with keyword requirements”.

There, you can pick a top or Kindle Store category and see all the underlying subcategories... and their keyword requirements!

For example, here is Mystery, Thriller & Suspense:

If you use one of these keywords as one of your 7 selected keywords, your book has high chance of ending up in that category.

So, if you were to list your book under Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Murder and Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Kidnapping and used “noir” and “serial killer” as keywords, your ebook would probably end up in all four categories:

  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Murder

  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Kidnapping

  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Noir

  • Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Crime Fiction > Serial Killers

Now, does this work every time? No. Just like anything else Amazon-related, book categories are decided automatically by a series of factors (organized into one or several algorithms) which are unknown to us. But what we do know is that keywords play an important role. So give this a go and don’t hesitate to drop me a line if it works for you!

In some cases, there will be a discrepancy between the categories listed in the “Categories with keyword requirements” page and the actual browse categories on the store. For example, with historical fiction, keywords don’t influence the search categories — they influence the “time periods”:

From the “Categories with keyword requirements” page

Actual browse categories for Historical Fiction

In these cases, if you really want to show up in a category without a keyword requirement (e.g. “French” in Historical Fiction), you can either pick that category when you publish, or:

  1. Try guessing a keyword that will trigger inclusion in the category (for our example, I’m 99% sure it’s “French”);

  2. Try emailing KDP support and politely asking them to feature your book in that category.

Emailing support won’t work every time — and is only a last course of action if you really think your book should be in that category.

To learn more about all this, I highly recommend you read David Gaughran’s latest post and sign up to his newsletter to get a free copy of Amazon Decoded.

Till next week!


Want to change how you receive these emails?
I personally recommend you update your preferences.
That said, you can also unsubscribe.