Step-By Step Guide: 5 Tips To Choosing A Bestselling Book Category On Amazon

Wondering why you are ranked in the top 100 in your category on Amazon but you barely make enough extra to pay for a nice lunch at McDonald’s?

Not alone, a nice restaurant where you eat with metal utensils, and glasses made of real glass.

Or you are looking to publish on Amazon and you want to make sure that you choose the right category, or genre that will yield sales.

Or your book is not performing to your expectations in it’s current category.

If so, keep reading.

Quick Fact: Did you know that 90% of books on Amazon only rank in three categories? While you can actually rank in 10?

Why is this important?

Because being able to target more categories will help you generate more visibility and book sales…

If you keep reading I’ll show you how you benefit from this little quick fact, and unlock hidden categories that your book can sell in, and how you can choose profitable book categories…

  • Tip 1: What Choosing The Right Category Can Do For Your Book
  • Tip 2: How To Find Profitable Amazon Categories
  • Tip 3: How to Unlock Amazon’s Hidden Categories
  • Tip 4: Identifying The Signs That You Need To Change Categories
  • Tip 5: How To Update Categories In Amazon KDP

According to Saba Tekle, Award Winning Best-selling Author and Huffington Post Contributor, in her article “5 Best-seller Strategies for Kindle Self-Published Authors” she says her second most important strategy for book success is choosing the the right category/genre.

Tip 1: What Choosing The Right Category Can Do For Your Book

Let me tell you a little story of a guy, an author, I just started working with.

He had a little known book that was about robots that did pretty well in the category he was selling in.

He was #54 in that category, if you don’t know how to find the category of your book, or your competitors books, just scroll to the bottom of any book listing and you should see a section that looks like this…

This is actually from my clients book.

He does well in the categories he’s selected here, however, as you can see above, his Amazon Bestsellers Rank, what’s also known as ABSR, is very low.

He’s also not moving that many books compared to some of his competitors writing on the same topic because of his category selection.

NOTE: ABSR is the only metric that’s directly correlated with book sales…

Increase ABSR and you will increase sales, it’s as simple as that.

Therefore, wouldn’t you want an Amazon category that allows you to increase your ABSR?

Yes, of course you would!

Therefore, this is the key to increasing book sales on Amazon and why I’m talking about it here.

Regardless if my client increases the rank of his book in the categories he’s selected he will never be able to reach bestseller status on Amazon with these categories.

Let me tell you why…

It’s like the small grocery store, “Thomms” in the little community where my family lives for the summer in the Vancouver, Canada area.

Thomms grocery sells produce, just like most grocery stores.

A percentage of the produce they sell, less than 10%, is organic.

We only like to eat organic produce, ourselves, and so we have to shop elsewhere to get the organic produce that we need.

Now, we’ve asked the nice lady who runs the store to bring in more organic produce but the reality is the town we are living only has about 5,000 people in it.

Even though, we known the grocer wants our business, on average, only about 10% of all the people in that community that shops at Thomms wants to spend the extra cash for organic produce…

That’s like 500 people who are going to buy organic produce.

The same applies for my clients book.

Maybe only 1,000 people from Amazon, a year, buy books from the categories he’s in.

Just like only 500 people buy organic produce in the community we live in.

If Thomms Grocery wants to sell more organic produce, the owner has to move to a city with a bigger population of people…

Just like my client, if he wants to sell more books on Amazon he needs to put his book in a category that will reach more readers who are buying books like his…

Tip 2: How To Find Profitable Amazon Categories

It’s important that we sell our book in category that is competitive enough that we can have room to increase our sales but at the same time isn’t crowded with other books like yours.”

Just like the example I used of Thomms grocery…

If another grocery store opens up in our community and starts selling organic produce then Thomms will sell even less organic produce.

How do we find a category that you can sell into that isn’t too competitive?

Let’s dive into how you can conduct the research that’s necessary to find the category that works for your book i.e; a category that’s going to ultimately be big enough to sell into but not overcrowded.

Category Research On Amazon

To get some general ideas, I like to try and think of 10 categories that my book might do well in on Amazon.

I do that by having a look at other competitor books. Here’s how…

Let’s say, for this example you’ve written this book by Martin Ford “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future.”

1. Open up Or Amazon for your particular country.

2. Start with a simple search term based on “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future” and enter it in the search bar. The term “artificial intelligence books” is a good one. These are the results that I got:

3. Scroll down until you get to a book that is similar to our example book. Here’s a book, the second one down in my results called “The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence.”

This book isn’t specifically about robots in the workforce, however, it’s relevant enough to be in similar categories to our example book.

4. To find more competitors that might be in similar categories as our example book, scroll down the listing to the “product details” section.

Here we go…some categories that are relevant to ours.

5. Let’s choose “Human Computer Interaction” as a possible category, click it and you will be sent to the top 20 bestsellers in this category.

If you scroll down, or at least in my results, I notice that 2 of the 20 bestsellers are actually books related to Artificial Intelligence, similar to our example book.

You might be asking “Shaun is this category too competitive?”

Well, let’s calculate how competitive this category is.

How can we do that?

We need to find out how much income these bestsellers are making.

1. Open up a little tool I use to calculate incomes of competitor books here, where you can enter in ABSR scores to find book income.

2. You need to enter in the ABSR number found in the “Product Details” section of “The Sentient Machine: The Coming Age of Artificial Intelligence” the ABSR is #26,496.

3. Click “calculate” and this book sells 8 a day, which is around $2,600 a month for being #17 bestseller in this category.

Not bad, I think this is a decent profitable category that isn’t too competitive based on the
monthly income here.

Now, rinse and repeat until you find 10 possible categories to choose from that are profitable.

Tip 3: How to Unlock Amazon’s Hidden Categories

The little known fact, that not a lot of authors know about, is you can actually rank in 10 categories as opposed to the default 3 categories.

“What! Are you serious Shaun?”

Yes, I am.

What’s the benefit of multiple categories? The more categories, the more visibility, and sales.

What if Thomms grocery had multiple locations in 5 different towns? They could sell to an audience of 2,500 organic produce eaters, instead of 500 with one location.

So, let’s get unlocking those hidden categories:

Unlocking Sub-Categories

These hidden categories are called sub-categories in Amazon and you can unlock them based on the keywords that you use for your book.

As an example, if you use the keyword “ancient” then you qualify for the sub-category of “Historical Fiction Time Periods/Ancient.”

1. What you need to do first is to check with Amazon by clicking below for further instructions on the keywords you need to use in order to qualify for sub-categories:

2. Scroll down and you will see a dropdown accordion menu called “categories with keyword requirements” reference for which keywords you need to include to unlock as sub-categories.

Requesting More Categories From Amazon

However, to put your book in these hidden categories you need to send Amazon an email and say “pretty please, with cherries on top.”

Here’s the step by step process to do that…

1. Find a category you want to rank for (copy the full string) here’s what the category string looks like…

2. Click to go to this Help/Contact Page for Author Central and sign into your KDP account

3. Under “Select an issue” select “My Books”

4. Under “Select details” select “Update Information About a Book”

5. In the fields that appear, select “Browse Categories”

6. Then “I want to update my book’s browse categories”

7. Select the method in which Amazon should contact you: If you’re in the United States, then select Phone and type in your number. They will call you immediately and change your category or add a category immediately.

If you select “E-mail” type in your name and email address (should autofill in) and write the below:


I’d like my book, (TITLE) with ASIN number (ASIN NUMBER) to be added to the following category: (PASTE THE FULL CATEGORY STRING HERE)”

*NOTE: You should only request one category per email for best results.

I learned this neat little fact after speaking to an Amazon staffer, as the first time I did this I wasn’t approved for sub-categories.

The staffer said “Amazon is unlikely to approve multiple category requests, so stick to one ata a time.”

See the “hidden” categories for your book

How can you see the hidden categories i.e; sub-categories for your book after Amazon approves them.

Here’s how.

1. Find your book’s ASIN number, which is in the Product details section…

2. Place the ASIN number into Amazon’s search bar and click search, as you can see I entered in “Rise Of The Robots…”

3. All the sub-categories are now listed on the left side here. Starts with “business and money…”

Tip 4: Identifying The Signs That You Need To Change Categories

This is a client that I recently worked with…the robot guy.

As you can see here, he’s ranking well in the categories that he’s currently in, however, he’s not selling that many books compared to his competitors writing on a similar topic.

This is the time to look at different categories.

In this case, if you where to reference back to “Tip 2: How To Find Profitable Amazon Categories” in this article, and research your competitor categories as I laid out…

This will help you find your profitable categories.

Tip 5: How To Update Categories In Amazon KDP

Of course, no article that I create for you would be complete without actually telling you how you implements the category strategies and tactics that I just mentioned.

1. To add new categories in Amazon KDP, head over to Amazon KDP and login.

2. Click the dropdown to the right here and select “Edit eBook details:”

3. Scroll down until you get to “Set Categories” also, if you want to update your keywords, you will notice that you can do so here as well…

4. Select your default 2 categories…


Choosing the right categories to sell into, and accessing the hidden sub-categories is key to ensuring that you can product income with your books.

*NOTE: Please do this process for both Kindle Books, and your Books on Amazon.

Remember, you can only sell as big as your market will allow.

Therefore, choosing categories that are big enough to sell into but are not saturated with other books like yours is key to success self publishing on Amazon.

If you are wondering how to choose the right categories for your book, use this article as a guide by following these 5 tips.

  • Tip 1: What Choosing The Right Category Can Do For Your Book
  • Tip 2: How To Find Profitable Amazon Categories
  • Tip 3: How to Unlock Amazon’s Hidden Categories
  • Tip 4: Identifying The Signs That You Need To Change Categories
  • Tip 5: How To Update Categories In Amazon KDP

Happy book category hunting!