Self-Publishing Tip: Careful with Categories

There’s definitely a learning curve to this self-publishing business, even if you’ve done your research beforehand! I’ll post some tips as I figure stuff out. Something I ran into (publishing as I currently am on Amazon) is to be careful with what categories your book gets placed into. This is undoubtedly a rookie error on my part, but I will learn more about this process and get better at it. 🙂

For this, I’m especially referencing the categories that Amazon chooses to put your book into based on keywords that you select during the uploading process. They have a chart in the Help section on KDP that helps you pick these. For example, I wanted The Wizard of Suomen to appear in the Fantasy>Sword & Sorcery category, so not surprisingly I had to have the words “sword” and “sorcery” appear in my keywords. So far, so good.

My mistake was in not paying enough attention to the other keywords I was using, and whether or not Amazon used them to determine any other categories. Because of this, TWoS ended up in Fantasy>Myths & Legends>Norse & Vikings.

The first problem with being in the wrong category is obvious: I don’t want to give potential readers a false impression of what my book is about. Although it is inspired by Finland to a certain extent, TWoS is definitely not a Vikings kind of story, so this was not a good category for it from that perspective.

The other problem was one that I had not considered, though, which had to do with the sales rankings, and how I viewed them. “Norse & Vikings” is a fairly small category on Amazon, with not too many books in it. Because of this, even my few early sales were enough to boost me into the top 100 bestsellers in this category, which in turn pulled up my ranking in “Sword & Sorcery,” etc. For this reason, it was tempting to leave TWoS in the smaller category, in the hopes of that trend continuing! But having the categories be accurate is more important, so I changed my keywords so Amazon would remove it from the “Norse & Vikings” category, which they duly noted and did. And then my sales ranking took a BIG hit, which was very disheartening to watch!

So, if you’re getting your first book up on Amazon, be careful of the keywords and categories. That way you’ll not only show up to the right potential readers, but also you won’t have to go through the disappointment of seeing your sales rank improve, only to have to undo it all!

~Ethelinda

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3 thoughts on “Self-Publishing Tip: Careful with Categories

  1. Always good to know! Thanks for this! I’m a self-published author too via Amazon (although I wouldn’t ask you to look me up, my books are under construction). I agree that absolutely ANYTHING you can do to promote yourself in the right way should be done.

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