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This time, unravelling one of the mysteries of the Amazon self-publishing algorithm…
I am embarking on publishing my third book and it has made me re-evaluate some of the processes and activities involved.
Selling books on Amazon is a conundrum. On the face of it, practically, it seems so easy.
Once you’re happy with the text of your new book and worked through the mysteries of trim size and blurb composition, there’s the sacred task of trying to ensure that your epic can actually be seen by people. Yes, I’m talking about the Dreaded Amazon Algorithm. Not right now the dark arts of “independent” reviews and how they affect sales. More about where you pigeon-hole your work in the labyrinth of department categories and sub-categories to be sniffed out by eager and thirsty readers.
Yes, those links that can put the catastrophe into categories.
On the face of it there are two categories for a book to fall into, chosen from a limited list of single words. My first novel was a mix of fantasy, humour, crime, and adventure, so was impossible to pin down in two categories for a “better consumer experience”.
I’m all for a better consumer experience, it’s what we harried authors strive for. Short-cuts don’t cut it.
Then I discovered that Amazon has a rabbit up its sleeve. A big rabbit.
Extra categories and sub-categories.
If you ask them nicely.
I asked them nicely and they confirmed that an author can place a book in a total of up to ten categories and sub-categories combined. That means that you can be a bit more granular about who might be interested in seeing your work and more likely to see it in the blizzard of zillions of offerings in the massive bucket catch-all categories. Why that is not publicised at the start and baked into the initial set-up process is beyond me, but if you’re not aware of it at the moment, then it’s worth spending time delving into the area while you get ready to publish.
Am I shooting myself in the rabbit’s foot by divulging what is to be fair a not-secret, just not universally known?
Absolutely not. What helps you helps me, as far as I can see…Greater precision gives greater confidence to all authors and readers alike.
More granular means less cross consumers who don’t want to dive into the giant Fantasy Bucket when they are after a Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > LITERATURE & FICTION > HUMOUR & SATIRE >
Check it out for your next project. In all honesty, I’m not sure what difference it really makes, but for your British Humour and Satire book, it’s better it’s visible there among the smaller thimble of titles than the giant LITERATURE & FICTION swimming pool, right?
For an e-book (the principle is similar for paperbacks):
- At https://www.amazon.com/, there’s a Search bar.
- Click on that.
- Change “All” to show the “Kindle Store” Department.
- Click on the changed Search icon.
- Click on “Kindle eBooks” under “Kindle Store.” That is on the left side of the webpage.
- Now you should be able to see a list of categories under “Kindle eBooks”
- Click on a category. It will reveal the subcategories. Figure out where your book sits and follow the categories path down the rabbit hole until you can’t choose any more sub-categories on that path – the BRITISH in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > LITERATURE & FICTION > HUMOUR & SATIRE > BRITISH If your book’s set in Minnesota and isn’t funny, now’s the time to go back up the chain…
- Make sure you pick up ten paths. (Amazon counts the two you choose in your initial set-up.)
- The format is important when you ask Amazon to update your paths. It took me a few emails of jolly back and forth to alight upon an agreed place for that better consumer experience…
- Use the following format: “Kindle Store > Kindle > eBooks > CATEGORY > SUBCATEGORY.”
- Slightly bizarrely, but presumably due to any spelling or cultural differences, the categories need to be set for each individual jurisdiction where you are selling on the Kindle Marketplace or market for paperbacks.
- Be patient, Amazon allows itself up to 72 hours to reflect your choices, but experience shows that they are thankfully much quicker.
Hope that’s helpful.