We’ve covered keywords, now it’s time to tackle Amazon KDP categories.
Amazon used to use BISAC categories like every other publishing platform, bookstore, library, etc. out there. BISAC stands for Book Industry Standards and Communications. It is the internationally accepted system for categorizing books.
The problem new self-publishers often run into is that these categories didn’t look the same on the front end of Amazon as they do during the publishing process, so things can got confusing.
This is still the case to an extent, but categories just got a much needed makeover that will make them make much more sense!
KDP recently completed an overhaul of their entire category system and interface.
If they had asked me, “Hey Dale, what’s the one area of the self-publishing process that needs a serious re-do to make it simpler and easier to understand?”
I would have answered categories, hands down!
Categories on the back end now resemble more closely what we see on the front of Amazon when we search.
I’m going to show you the more time-consuming free way to find categories for your books and the easy way, just as I did with keywords. This is the exact process I personally use and teach.
Table of Contents
Amazon KDP Categories – The Time-Consuming Free Way
There is nothing wrong with doing your categories using this method and honestly, I do it this way in addition to using the quick way I describe below.
It’s always good to know how to use Amazon Search to check the competition, and get proof of concept for your book before publishing. There’s no shame in testing your niche and keywords prior to jumping into a book project with both feet.
So, you’ve searched up and sized up your competition on Amazon and they are absolutely crushing it. You need to know what categories they’re using!
So you scroll down and you just see a measly one to three categories. What’s that you say? You only need two for KDP? Oh no, my friend, you can have up to 10 categories for your eBook and 10 more for your print version.
With the new category interface in KDP, you can now see what categories your competition is using listed in right on their book page without having to use specialized software UNLESS they have no sales.
In this case, you can still see the categories a book is listed in with this free tool or with the paid one mentioned below.
Amazon KDP Categories – The Publisher Rocket Way
I know I sound like a broken record, but I firmly stand behind this software and the guy who created it. You might know him. It’s Dave Chesson, the Kindlepreneur!
I use it myself and I endorse and promote it because it does what it says it’s supposed to do and once you purchase; you get free updates for life.
So, as the software evolves to include other platforms and tools, you get all of that at no extra charge ever.
It’s 97 bucks, and I realize that is quite an investment, so just keep in mind that you can use the free method and/or there are providers on Fiverr who offer Publisher Rocket tasks as a service at an affordable price.
Using Publisher Rocket is pretty straightforward and intuitive. As you can see, the Competition Analyzer and Category Search are front and center.
You simply use keywords, or the ASIN to get started. Don’t forget to specify whether you are searching for eBook, print, or audiobook categories at the top.
You can build quite a list of categories with Publisher Rocket. We used to get up to 10! Now, you can create a large list and really drill down to the 3 categories that best fit your book.
Now, you get 3 solid categories that are uber relevant to your book instead of 10 where most of them were just kind of relevant.
*Case study regarding too many categories not helping with discoverability
Contacting KDP to Add Your Categories
This is no longer an option.
Now you can choose your own categories and you can choose the maximum number allowed by Amazon KDP which is three. There’s no longer a need or reason to contact KDP to add additional categories.
This is great because it gives self-publishers more control over how and where their books appear on Amazon’s website. However, we also relinquish control over our categories on other marketplaces.
We used to be able to ask Amazon to place our book in categories on all 13 marketplaces. Now, we can only place in categories for our main marketplace and Amazon does the rest as they see fit.
As long as you heed the guidelines for keeping your book in relevant categories, you should have no problems.
This is so much simpler than the old category system! My OG indies know what I’m talking about!
Choosing Amazon KDP Categories During the Publishing Process
I mentioned the new interface, so what does that look like? I’ll take you through the steps below.
After you log in to Amazon KDP. Navigate to the Details tab of whatever book where you want to update the categories.
You have to answer the Primary Audience question first. You should know whether or not you book is considered adult content. If you’re unsure, contact KDP.
Choose your Primary marketplace. Since I’m in the U.S., this is Amazon.com.
Now you’re ready to to work on your new categories!
Make sure your book doesn’t classify as low content or large print.
Then click the Choose categories button.
Choose a category from the drop-down menu.
You’ll then be presented with the option to add subcategories. The number of subcategories will vary depending on your genre.
If, when you select a subcategory, the presented placements apply to your book, you may select one by checking the box. If the placement does not apply, choose an additional subcategory.
Once you’re done, click the Add another category button to add up to 2 addtional categories. When you’re done, click Save categories.
Upon clicking Save categories, your old categories will be removed. If you wish to keep track, you’ll need to use a 3rd party method like a spreadsheet to do so.
That’s it, you’ve selected the categories for your book!
For additional information, guidelines, and other details, refer to Amazon’s help page on this topic.
What Do You Think?
This article used to outline how you’d have to contact Amazon KDP via email to add your book to additional categories.
Personally, I think this system is much better and provides more control to us as authors.
I’m sure it will disappoint some people that we’re no longer allowed to add our book to up to 10 categories, but the reality is most books don’t fit into 10 categories.
It’s better to have 3 solid, super relevant categories than it is to have 10 that your book “sort of” fits in. Overall, this is step toward better discoverability and optimization of your book pages on the Amazon platform.
All that being said, what are your thoughts on the changes?
Get the conversation started in the comments below.