Updated: Jun 17
Today, we’re going to go be talking about a time suck but necessary step of self-publishing: setting your Amazon categories. This is only focusing on setting Amazon categories within Kindle Direct Publishing. If you use any other platforms, this is not the blog post to cover that, but I will get to it in a separate post.
Let’s get to it then!
The Basics of Categories
When you set up your book listing, eBook or Print, part of the setup process is to choose 2 categories. These are the two categories that you think fit your book the best. But I know what you might be thinking, “Jess, how can I just pick 2? There’s so many categories my book can fit into!”
Calm, breathe. I know. You can add them. Amazon is just sneaky, and you have to tell them to do it via email. That’s what this post is going to be about.
In short, you can add up to 8 more categories for your book…PER MARKETPLACE. That’s right, each country marketplace (Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, etc.) has their own store, and therefore their own categories.
To do this, you get the utter joy of scrolling through each amazon marketplace to see their different categories. Oh, and eBook and print categories are different, even in the same marketplace.
You can also do this category research while your book is still in preorder status. (Don’t know how to put your book up for preorder? Read this post.)
Once you decide what categories you want in each marketplace for each format, KDP requests you to format it in a specific way. We’ll get into that in just a minute. First, let’s talk about how to choose which categories would be the best fit for your book.
Choosing Your Categories
Getting your book into the correct categories on Amazon is vital to ensuring you’re getting in front of your target audience. You don’t want your smutty high fantasy novel to end up in the Christian theology textbooks category… that would not be good.
While that was a bit of an extreme example, the point stands. You want to get your book into the categories that fit. And to do that, we get to do market research! Yay!
You need to know the categories your comp titles are in. What are authors with similar books putting their book into?
There are thankfully tools that exist for you to be able to research this. The first tool is this KDP page that takes you to the Amazon Marketplaces for each country, where you can see what categories exist for Kindle and Print books.
Amazon page showing links to eBook and print categories for each marketplace.
The other tool is category analyzers. First, choose two to three books that you think are comparable to yours in terms of topic, target audience, etc. Then, you can go to sites like PublisherRocket or BkLNK to see what categories those books are in and what keywords they’re using.
PublisherRocket is $97 to purchase, but you get it for life and it covers all marketplaces. BkLNK is free, but only covers certain marketplaces, specifically only the US, UK, and Canada. Both of them are valuable tools to determine what categories you should be targeting.
A final consideration for choosing your categories: the more specific you can get, the better. If there’s a subcategory that would fit your book better, keep going until you can’t go any further. The smaller the categories, the more likely you’ll be able to rank higher in them.
Adding Your Categories
Okay, you’ve figured out what categories you want to add for each Amazon marketplace for each format of your book. Now, you get to go tell Amazon what they are and have them add it. As with anything Amazon does, your Amazon categories have to be in a certain format. To do this, you go to Help on your KDP dashboard, then to the Contact Us button at the bottom. Then you click the first option, which is Book/Proudct Details, and then Update Categories. This sets up the email for you to add categories.
Per KDP’s website, they want the format to look like this:
ASIN (or ISBN), marketplace, book format, category
For an example, I’ll use my book and one of the categories I added it to:
B0B2Q7XS2Q, .com, Kindle, Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Dragons & Mythical Creatures
Amazon’s Contact Us page showing the preferred format for submitting category additions.
Now, do that about a million more times for up to 10 total (including the 2 you selected at setup) for each marketplace in each format. That means, you get 10 total categories for US Kindle, 10 total categories for US print, 10 total categories for UK Kindle, 10 total categories for UK print, etc. etc.
You can add all of your categories for all of your marketplaces via one email, as shown in the picture above. Just list them out one after the other. This is also the same place you go to remove categories, which I’ll mention below.
Some other considerations are that if you choose any Erotica related category, you will not be able to run amazon ads. If you’re never planning to run ads, that’s fine, go for it. But if you’re ever planning to run ads, you want to make sure your book is not in any Erotica category.
That being said, if you don’t tell Amazon all 10 categories you want for your book, they will put you where they think you will fit…whether it actually fits or not. So if you accidentally get put in Erotica, or any other category you don’t want to be in, you can simply email Amazon and have them remove you from that category. You just have to be checking often enough to notice they stuck you somewhere you don’t belong.
I hope this helps! If you’re overwhelmed, I recommend starting with just the biggest stores, which are US, Canada, UK, and Australia. Once you figure these out, the others will be easier to determine.