Why Categories Are Critical to Your Amazon Book Promotion

by | Oct 19, 2021 | Amazon Updates & Marketing Tips

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When it comes to Amazon book promotion, we talk a lot about keywords – but not as much about book categories. But they’re equally important because book categories are the “shelving” of your book.

Think of when you walk into a bookstore and are looking for something particular. Generally, we’re pretty specific on where we’ll go. If we want a book on healthy eating, for example, we probably have a sub-category that we’re looking for, like maybe Vegan, Vegetarian, or perhaps diet-centric books like Keto.

The issue with most categories is that they often aren’t specific enough, they don’t dig down as far as we should be going. And that’s a problem.

Why? Because your book is being “shelved” in a far-too-broad genre, making it harder to be found.

If you write romance, you’ll be competing with no fewer than 10,000-20,000 books in any particular general romance category.

So the farther you can niche down your book with categories, the more Amazon will show your book to the right readers, and the more traction you’ll get.

And while I cited a big, busy, genre in terms of categories, the same could be said for many of the science fiction sub-genres as well.

Surprisingly, these more niche categories aren’t as crowded as you might think. This is largely due to the fact that most authors (and even some publishers) don’t know how to use them.

Choosing Categories for Your Amazon Book Promotion

All right, so let’s say you’re convinced you can do better — where do you start?

Well, categories on Amazon are a funny thing. The print book categories are pretty standard. But in the eBook categories, that’s where you can get much more creative!

Head on over to Amazon and go to Kindle books. Once you’re there, click on the drop-down and start digging into different categories.

I’ve given two examples here of dropdowns and niches that authors of romance or teen & young adult could really align with. Have a look:

The same is true for any fiction genre, self-help, business, or whatever your writing passion is.

The idea here is that you want to nestle your book into as many appropriate sub-categories as you can. If you find ten categories, by all means, grab them, because Amazon will let you choose up to ten.

How to Market a Kindle Book

Changing Your Amazon Categories

The next step is to send them to Amazon, via Author Central. I’ve worked with authors to guide them in exactly how to do this, the steps, etc. but for the purposes of not going too far down the rabbit hole, you basically want to reach out to Author Central and email them your categories. You can try calling them, too, to make sure you’re doing it right.

When You’ll Start to See Results

Once your new categories are in place, you’ll want to give the Amazon machine a bit of time to recognize the changes. Amazon will email you to let you know they got your categories in place, but even then, it’ll take 7-10 days to really start seeing traction.

How Strategic Amazon Book Promotion Helps Long-Term

Categories, and being really careful about how you tell Amazon to shelve your book, are not just a great way to find more readers, but really helpful to your algorithm, too.

When you’re sitting on the right virtual shelf, more readers will click on your book, and more of those readers will convert to buyers – which is what helps spike the algorithm and tells Amazon your book is interesting to consumers – and Amazon wants to sell products!

Working Category Research Into Your Book Marketing Plan

Spend some time with categories and consider refreshing them once per quarter, because I find that new or revised sub-genres are added to Amazon a lot. Which makes sense, their goal is to make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for, and spend money.

So it’s a good idea to check for new sub-genres to add, or if you have more than 10 that are a fit for your work, test swapping a couple to see if it helps move the needle.

Resources and Free Downloads

Sell More Books on Amazon

Blog Outreach Tracker

Amazon Book Marketing: A+ Content Now Available to Self-Published Authors

The Best Book Marketing Strategies For Amazon Author Central

Your Critical First 30 Days on Amazon podcast

Browse Amazon Categories

Check out the Alliance of Independent Authors for news and resources


  1. Carey Pahel


    We have two books published and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets. I used Mascot Books for printing, marketing package, etc. who set these up for us. Is it feasible for future books to set up distribution on our own, without engaging an outside service?

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Carey, hi
      Yes, it absolutely is – you’ll just need to pitch distributors directly! Good luck!

  2. Susan

    I’m preparing to release an e-book, but KDP only allows me to choose two categories. Has it changed, or am I doing something wrong?

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Susan hi,
      You can have more categories, you just have to email them to the KDP team via Author Central! Hope that helps!


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