The big news in self-publishing this week is that Amazon is now allowing you to put your book in three categories, not just two… and simultaneously taking away the ability to request having your book put into more (up to 10) categories. Amazon will still add your book to categories it thinks are suitable for your books, so that’s a good thing—when they get the category right. Sometimes you book ends up in a very strange and very not-right category due to some Amazon algorithm glitch. A simple email to KDP support usually fixes it.
Why is this category change important?
Part of the change is that Amazon/KDP is cracking down on authors and publishers putting their books in noncompetitive and non-relevant categories just to get bestseller status. So, they’re making it harder to game the system. I was never a fan of people who chose “Three-Toed Romanian Dancing” as one of their categories for their book on real estate investing, so, I am good with this tightening up. As always, Amazon reserves the right to change your categories at any time or add you to more categories in order to “ensure a positive customer experience.”
BISAC codes and Amazon Categories are there to help people find books that they want. Amazon is all about selling things and they want to make it as easy as possible for people to find what they want to buy. BISAC codes have been used by the publishing industry to identify genre; Amazon/KDP just kind of put them on steroids. BISAC codes have 50+ main categories and around 3,600 subcategories; Amazon/KDP has over 14,000 categories/ subcategories.
What does this mean for you as an author?
First, if you gamed the system to get a ranking and didn’t move your book out of a category you had no business being in, you probably want to put it into a proper category. Before KDP does.
Second, if you’ve been lazy like me and never sent that email to get your book into 10 categories, you can at least go in and choose a third category for your books. You actually end up having to choose all three of your categories again, so when you go into your “Edit Details” make a note of what categories you have already chosen for your book; you’ll have to re-enter them.
Third, you need to get a lot more focused about your choice of categories. Having up to ten categories allowed you to do a “scattershot” approach: “Let’s put it in this somewhat-related category and see if it gets traction.” Now you need to be more strategic about your category choices. That takes a bit of research. Shameless Plug: I offer keyword and category research (using Publisher Rocket) as well as self-publishing services. If you have a lot of books, you might think about investing in Publisher Rocket. It really helps you find the right categories and keywords for your book, as well as helps you size up the competition. (Yes, that’s an affiliate link. I said it was a shameless plug!)
New in Amazon categories…
There’s also a new section called “Placement.” Straight from KDP’s mouth: “Placement: The most granular classification in the category path where no further subcategories exist. It’s where your book is “placed” in the Amazon Store. For example, if History is the category, US History is the subcategory, and 19th Century is the last available classification in that path, then History > US History > 19th Century is the placement.”
Side Note: You will also need to click to let KDP know if your book contains adult content. (This doesn’t mean “How to Get a Mortgage.” KDP is asking about smut.) Also put in the ages that the book is recommended for. Since I write about business, “18+” did it for me.
This change is a great time to re-assess your chosen categories (and keywords) and to make sure you have the best fit for your book. Take advantage of the opportunity to add a category and improve the likelihood of selling more books.
Thinking about self-publishing your book but don’t know where to start? I can help. I wrote a fabulous(!) mini-course that walks you through the self-publishing process step-by-step, with lots of insider tips that will help your book look and be it’s best! Find out more here: Self-Publishing Mini-Course