Using Kindle Browse Categories to Sell More Books


Whether you have published your book as an Amazon Exclusive title enrolled in Kindle Unlimited or selling your story on Amazon is only part of your strategy, using as many of the ten allowed browse categories can get your book seen by more readers. Paying attention to your browse categories is part of best practices for indie authors. 

When you upload your title through the KDP dashboard you are asked to choose two browse categories for your book.

Note: Click on excerpt images to view larger.


You are also asked to input keywords that tell Amazon more about your book and where to shelve it in their storefront, as well as when to show your title when shoppers enter certain words or phrases into the search bar.


Amazon then uses this information, along with your blurb and other metadata to shelve your ebook or paperback in up to eight more browse categories other than the two you expressly specified. More about how this works.

Over the years, Amazon has gotten a lot better about putting titles where they belong, but they rarely automatically max out the ten browse categories they allow per title. 

There is no way to input additional browse categories for your title from your KDP dashboard, so how do you get Amazon to add your book to other categories?

Well, it's a fussy, multistep process and involves contacting Amazon customer service directly, but for most authors, it's probably worth the effort.  
      

Here is how to get Amazon to add your title to up to ten browse categories.

Step One: Upload your title and let it "age" long enough that it's been assigned categories. You can tell this has happened when you see a ranking number on your book's sales page. It will look something like this:

By looking at the example above, I can tell that my title has been assigned a spot in the Two-Hour Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Short Reads, the Two-Hour Literature & Fiction Short Reads, and the Cozy Culinary Mystery category.

Note: If you're a newbie author without an established reader base and don't see a ranking appear after 48 hours or so, it could be that you haven't had any sales. A ranking will not appear if you haven't sold any copies. You are allowed to purchase a copy of your own book, so you may need to do that if you haven't been assigned a ranking after a couple of days.  

Step Two: Find out what other browse categories have already been assigned by Amazon. 

Unfortunately, just by looking at my sales page, I have no idea what other browse categories Amazon may have added my title to. The sales page shows only the top three browse categories my book is ranking highest in.

Before I can request additional categories, I need to find out all the browse categories my title has already been shelved with.

To do this, I need to get help from a third-party source. Fortunately, there is a tool that a fellow indie author/software engineer, Richard Hellewell, has designed to help us: You can find it at bklnk.com.

On the bklnk page you will find an input box that looks like this by clicking on the "find categories" button:


You can find your ASIN number on your sales page under "Product Details."



When you input your ASIN into bklink's handy tool, you will get back something that looks like this.


I can see that my title has been assigned to categories in "books" which includes physical books (this may happen even if there is no physical book available, as in the case of this title).

What I want to focus on, however, are the Kindle Store categories for the ebook version. In the case of this title, below are the browse categories already assigned to my ebook.

Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Literature & Fiction » Genre Fiction

Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Literature & Fiction » American Literature

Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Mystery, Thriller & Suspense » Mysteries » Women Sleuths

Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Mystery, Thriller & Suspense » Mysteries » Cozy Mystery » Cozy Animal Mystery

Kindle Store » Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Mystery, Thriller & Suspense » Mysteries » Cozy Mystery » Cozy Culinary Mystery

Kindle Store » Kindle eBooks » Mystery, Thriller & Suspense » Mysteries » Amateur Sleuth Mysteries,

Kindle Store » Kindle Short Reads » Two-Hour Short Reads » Two-Hour Literature & Fiction Short Reads

Kindle Store » Kindle Short Reads » Two-Hour Short Reads » Two-Hour Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Short Reads

After counting up the assigned categories (there are eight) and making sure they are all appropriate for the title (in this case, they are), I'm ready to make a decision about what additional categories I'd like to request.

Step Three: Decide on your desired changes.

Depending on the genre you write in, you can probably come up with ten appropriate categories for your title. If you can't, please don't try to make your title fit where it does not. 

A cupcake cozy mystery shouldn't be shelved with baking books in the nonfiction section, and you shouldn't shelve your suspense thriller in the romantic comedy section just because your main character has a love interest and occasionally spouts off sassy one-liners. Only request changes that will enhance the book-buying experience for your potential reader. 

You want your book only showing up in categories where readers are looking for your kind of book. Bait-and-switch doesn't work in book marketing. In the unlikely event that bait-and-switch tactics result in a sale, getting a story that doesn't meet their expectations will either anger or disappoint the reader. Both outcomes can lead to scathing reviews.   

In the case of my example title, all the assigned browse categories are appropriate, but if there were any which were not, I would request my book to be removed from those categories. I would advise doing this even if you didn't have replacement categories the book fits into.

Now, I have two potential slots to add my book to, so I need to go looking for suitable browse categories. 

My favorite way is through the Kindle Storefront by going to the sales page of my book and clicking on the "top 100" link next to my sales rank. 

I'll then start clicking through all the best-sellers lists that seem like a fit on the left sidebar.    

 


In my case, I've already added my book to all the categories I want, but for the sake of illustration, let's say I decide that since my cozy mystery is set in Arkansas, it's logical to categorize it as "southern fiction."

 





I then type out my sequence of categories and subcategories by starting with the name of the regional storefront (Amazon.com or Amazon.ca or Amazon.de, etc.). The regional storefront is followed by "Kindle Store" and goes down the category hierarchy like this:

Amazon.com » Kindle Store » Kindle ebooks » Literature & Fiction » United States » Southern United States

Note that browse categories vary across world regional storefronts, and you can request up to ten categories for each. Concentrate on whatever storefront that you get the most sales, but if you see sales in storefronts other than Amazon.com, consider optimizing those as well. Bklnk's tool allows you to select by a country storefront to see where Amazon has shelved your book in each region.

Step Four: Make your request through the Amazon "help" page.


Click the "help" icon on the upper right corner of your KDP dashboard.



Scroll down until you find the "contact us" button on the far left "help topics" sidebar of the help page.


Next, select "Amazon store and product detail page" and click on "update Amazon categories."


The form that will come up gives specific instructions on what information the Amazon representative will need in order to fulfill your request. There is an "add file" button, but you can just enter all the information in the text box. 

When I make requests I typically hear back from someone within 48 hours, and I've never had a request for additional browse categories denied. I am very conscientious about not pushing the envelope on what's an appropriate place to shelve my books, as I believe we all should be. It's in everyone's best interest.  



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