Categorizing Your Books on Amazon

I just finished a set of revisions on a new short story, and I've still got a couple of days left before my big Kindle Countdown promotion, so I guess it's time for a blog post.

Today I'd like to talk a little about how I categorize my novels and short stories on Amazon.

For many, I imagine it's a simple process of choosing the most appropriate categories and sub-categories for your work, and that's fine. But a self-published author like myself needs to explore as many avenues of making one's self as visible as possible to potential readers, and that means making it on to Top 100 Bestseller lists. And if you're a nobody like me, you may need to think outside the box to compete. Amazon allows you to choose two categories to place your books in, and I place mine according to short-term and long-term goals.

Short-Term Goal

My short-term goal is to have as many of my titles as possible on a relatively obscure sub-category list, just so I can be on any list at all. If only a dozen people a day look at that list, hey, that's a dozen more than would see my books otherwise. That seems easy enough. Just look for the most obscure sub-category in your genre that kinda works with your book, and slap that category on it, right?

How do you know if one sub-category is more obscure than another? Go to the lists you have in mind, find the book currently ranked at number 100, and take a look at its overall ranking.

For example, my currently poorest-selling book right now is Cooper's Christmas Carol, which is a shame, because it's both seasonal and awesome. It's overall ranking is 150,532, which isn't very good. But it's good enough to grab the #83 spot on Amazon's Comedy list.

Compare that to the current #100 spot in what might be a more appropriate category for my story, Sword and Sorcery.

That book's overall ranking is up in the four digits, but it's about to fall off the ass end of this list. Cooper's Christmas Carol doesn't stand a chance there.


Now, you might be thinking "But Bob, your books are so funny!"

Thank you. Did you have a question?

"Why would you think Comedy is an inappropriate sub-category for you to list them under?"

From a customer's point of view, it would seem appropriate. Here are the chain of categories that lead to Comedy...

That looks just fine. If I was a customer looking for a book to make me laugh, I just might have a stroll down this path.

But here's the tricky part. This is what that category looks like from the point of view of an author looking to place his book there...

You see... this list isn't meant to be a list of comedy books. It's meant to be a list of books about comedians.

My point is, if you think outside the box, you might find a nice obscure list you can have a good chance of having your books showing up on. This increases visibility, and gives you something to post on Facebook or whatever.

Long-Term Goal

I'm not talking about retiring to my own personal Hooker Island. That can wait until the kids are in college. I'm thinking smaller for now.

Some day, I might compile all of these dubious advice-giving blog posts together and release an e-book about how to market your e-books, because I'm just arrogant and delusional enough to charge suckers money for questionable advice which is available for free. Should that day ever come, you can bet your ass that one of the categories I choose to put it under will be in the Fantasy genre.

Why would I do that?

It's great to see your books up on some Bestseller lists, however obscure they are. But it's much harder to get your name on an Author list. For one thing, there are far fewer lists. None of this sub-category nonsense for authors. You've got the big genres and that's it.

Since Amazon doesn't recognize Humor as an author genre (yet?), my goal is to break into the Fantasy list. And I'm close.

How can a nobody like me even hope to be a Top 100 Bestselling Fantasy Author?

Big ol' titles.

You misread that.

You misread that.

Okay, so I fudged the wording a bit for the sake of a tit joke. The size of your titles doesn't make a whole lot of difference. It's the amount of them you have out there that's important. A similar case could probably be made for titties as well though.

Not all people will agree with the way I market my books, but I think one thing we can all agree on is that More Titles = Higher Chance for Success.

It stands to reason that, all other variables being equal, the author with two published titles is going to sell more books than the author with only one. And hopefully you'll build a little fan base as you go.

A small, but ever-growing group of fans will jump to buy a new title of yours the day you release it. That title shoots up to the top of whatever obscure sub-category you've got it listed under. People who have never heard of you are intrigued by the new book on the list. They enjoy it, and go back to buy all of your previous books. Etc, etc...

If all of those books have a larger genre in common, they'll collectively push your author rank  in that genre higher.

I've made it onto the Top 100 Fantasy Authors list once, during a promotion. For a few days I was rubbing virtual elbows with Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. Right now I'm hovering around the 200 area, but that's a lot higher than I was hovering before said promotion. But this coming Thursday I'm doing another Kindle Countdown promotion, and I fully expect to make that list again. And, while I also expect to drop right off again as soon as the promotion is over, I'll hopefully find a slightly higher resting place than where I'm at now.

A few more promotions and a few more fantasy titles down the road, and who knows? I might find a more permanent spot in the top 100. And that, of course, means more visibility.