Choosing the right categories for your book is crucial for landing a spot as an Amazon Best Seller.
To start your research, go to the Kindle Store and search for the top ebooks in several categories that you believe your ebook would fit. Check out the top titles and see what is similar, and what makes a particular book stand out. Based on both the written content and your book cover style decide on several ways that someone could find your book.
Let’s face facts – not everyone will like your book. And that’s ok.
You may think that your book is written for everyone, but it’s not. And I definitely understand the difficulty choosing a category when your book incorporates different elements.
When fiction writers apply for their titles in Riffle Select, their title may include elements of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Romance in equal amounts. A nonfiction writer with a book about getting a job recently asked if their title fit best into Business, How-To, or Nonfiction. With regard to the newsletter – let me tell you a secret – my answer is based on category size and availability. We do the best we can to get the maximum audience for your title. If we try one category and the book doesn’t perform, we try a different category next time. It’s not easy to predict what genre readers want.
But what can you do to set your book up to maximize sales?
It is difficult for an author to ‘pigeonhole’ their work into a specific category. A newsletter subscriber or someone searching for a book based on category has expectations and if you don’t ‘fit’, you will disappoint them. I’m not suggesting that you follow a set of specific rules when writing, but when you load up your book to the distributor sites you must choose which categories and tags to use – and they need to be meaningful.
There is no point having a book with a dark, moody cover in the chick-lit section of fiction. It won’t sell, no matter how good it is.
For a great breakdown on the types of colors and imagery used for book covers in different genres with LOADS of examples, check out this post by Written Word Media.
There is a common misconception that if you choose the top-ranking categories on Amazon that your book will rise up and become a Bestseller. This is simply not how categories and sales rank works. If your book does not match the readers’ expectations, even if you get a short-term bump in sales, the results will not be long-term. Your goal as an author is not to shoot for one-time sales. Your goal is to receive positive word-of-mouth and, as much as possible, find satisfied readers who will review, share, and recommend your book.
The best-case scenario is that you choose a category that fits your book AND is easier to rank in. For example, categories such as Action Adventure and Religious Fiction are easier to rank in than Thriller or Literary Fiction. You may rank occasionally in a broad category and consistently in a narrower category. By tagging your book in a broad category as well as narrow, you are optimizing your results, but it is still true that the book needs to match reader’s expectations.
Still struggling with categories? Right now take a few minutes to search for 3-5 authors who have a book similar to yours – not similar to what you want it to be like, but what it is really like. Check out how they categorize their title and follow suit.
If you would like to delve deeper into this topic, David Gaughran wrote a great book on Amazon algorithms and categories that I’d recommend. Check it out – It’s called Let’s Get Visible.
Till next time,
— Marquina (@Marquina) October 6, 2015
Also published on Medium.