Indie author Eliza Green shares her personal experience of improving her self-published book's discoverability on Amazon by strategic choice of categories and keywords.
Selling books on Amazon isn’t easy but improving your book's discoverability will be a great help.
On Amazon, discoverability begins and ends with categories and keywords. These two things can help readers to find you more easily. I check my sales page every day and the first thing I look at is which categories my book is listed in, including bestseller lists.
Bestseller lists offer an even better chance of readers finding your work. My genre is science fiction and the categories I’m interested in include Dystopian, First Contact and Post-Apocalyptic. There are several more I can feature in, but it’s crucial that I’m in the ones that are appropriate to my level of sales.
Match Categories to Sales Levels
How competitive you are in a given category comes down to book sales numbers. Sales equals popularity, so if you’re not selling a huge amount, you should aim for a smaller, less competitive category. For example, Adventure and Science Fiction are tough categories for me to compete in. I have to be selling a lot more. That’s why I need to get into the smaller ones, such as First Contact and Post-Apocalyptic.
But Amazon doesn’t sit still, and neither should you. What happened next is proof that authors should never become complacent about checking their sales page. Last week, Amazon reported a bug in their system, which dropped my book out of all the categories I had worked hard to get into. My discoverability gone in an instant.
Keep On Top of Changing Categories
When I went on to KDP to repair the damage, I noticed a change: new categories that hadn’t been there before. Dystopian, Pre/Post Apocalyptic, not previously accessible as categories, were popping up formy selection. KDP only allows you to select two categories to feature in. I discovered, through trial and error that by adding keywords such as First Contact, I could hit a third category and get into that all-important bestseller list. Now, I’m in several categories and I’ve increased my chances of hitting several bestseller lists.
Amazon does crazy things from time to time, and it’s important to be aware of where your book is featuring. Remember, sales equals popularity, but before that comes discoverability. You’ll achieve that through the right category selection.
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[…] by Eliza Green on September 7th, 2013 that was provided by the Alliance of Independent Authors. Here is the link to the website. It goes over the same idea as the webinar, but if authors are still […]
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[…] doing their thing. I understand they get behind a title once it starts doing well on its own. I read up on this phenomenon a littleÂ and the magical Amazon algorithm, but I do not pretend to understand. Sometimes, I’m just […]
Great tips for an author. In my opinion making a plan before your Kdp select days is the best strategy. While on these days submit / promote your book for free on sites listed at http://bookpraiser.com
That would help your downloads a lot bringing you more reviews and exposure
I have seen my categories on Amazon, but don’t understand how to find out if any of my books are on a best seller list. Or is the term ‘best seller’ listed in the details, and I’m not on any lists??
Thanks Eliza! Your point about not sitting still but continuing to be observant of Amazon’s offering of categories is so important and it has given me the kick in the butt that I needed to recheck my own books’ categories.
Great, Dianne! We never know when Amazon will change their algorithms again, but for now, this is what seems to work.
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Thank you! Going on to KDP straight away.
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Thanks for the tip about keywords. It’s hard to get in good categories in children’s as many of them are not accessible from the dashboard. I’ve tried on one category for 3 months going back and forth with tech support. I’ll give this a try!
Pleasure. Hope it works for you!
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I wish someone would start a little business specialising in doing this for authors. (hint) There is so much marketing to do that when does one write??????
Agreed Fiona! It would be a great business idea, but I believe it’s always worth knowing how these things work, from an operational point of view. If we paid someone to do this and sales were still slow, how would we know if they were taking advantage of the right keywords to maximise visibility?
I imagine there might be such an organization, but they would likely charge a fee that is beyond the average author’s budget.
That’s very true, Jason. There are plenty of books that will tell you how to do it, for a fraction of the cost!
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