Book Categories Can Doom Sales or Make Amazon Your Personal Publicist
by Aggie Villanueva
(The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains)
Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers
When talking about my book, "Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers: But That’s Not All They Do", I often get two responses, which is what prompted me to write the book to begin with.
Some shrug with a “So what? Categories are like Tags. Everywhere I place my book requires choosing categories. They are basically just another search engine assistant.”
For those wondering, search engines help guide people to find your book if someone types your topic into the Amazon search bar. But even if your book comes up in the search it may be buried on page 20 or 90 of the results. Categories are nothing like search engines.
The second response I usually get is from authors with a bit more experience selling books at Amazon, who know a book is tallied for category bestseller by outselling others within the same category. But unfortunately some have been taught that a smart strategy for ranking in this top-100 bestseller list is to pick the smallest category you can find, even if it’s not totally relevant to your book’s topic.
Their cry might be: “Close is good enough. Bestseller status at all costs.” This is very short-sighted, because category bestsellers are not the be-all and end-all of category purposes, and worse, this action can doom your Amazon book sales, which of course dooms chances for a bestseller.
When you understand the true function of Amazon’s categories and the core philosophy behind the system, you glimpse the enormity of their sales plan. With this glimpse you’ll see a whole new world, a world where Amazon becomes your personal book publicist. And it all starts with choosing the RIGHT category, not the smallest. I cover this in detail in my book, but let’s quickly synopsize two of the core concepts behind all of Amazon’s publicity plans for your book.
Amazon Publicity Functions are Drawn from Pool of Categories
Nearly all promotions choose which books to include from within the existing pool of categories. Amazon rankings depend on finding your book in the proper ones. Most everything throughout Amazon’s ingenious multi-layered publicity machine starts with and builds upon categories. Don’t underestimate this tool.
You need the RIGHT categories attached to your books (not the smallest) in order to find your readers. Only this tight targeting will kick start Amazon to begin publicizing your books globally on multiple levels AND in front of readers who give a damn -- which brings us to the next point.
Tight Targeting is How the Publicity Engine Rolls
Tight targeting is the fuel that controls and thrusts your book through the RIGHT layers of their many promotion opportunities. Amazon book categories are your only chance to set your book up for success in front of those who really care about your subject. Then their publicity machine pushes it through the next level of promotion, and the next, and the next…
Targeting is exactly how Amazon markets everything. From categories to Tags to Customers Who Viewed This Also Viewed, to their wildly successful direct mailings, many top-100 lists and on and on.
What Are the Consequences if I Choose the Wrong Categories?
What consequences can stem from wrong category choices? That’s the question that should be asked, not: how do I choose the smallest category with the least competition?
Certainly, we all want a bestseller. Gaining one, or more, is cause for celebration, but that is only part of the purpose of categories. Their 24/7 publicity is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to an individual author. If your category is less than specific to your subject you book may well be dead in the sales waters already.
Tight targeting of your categories is the only goal. Never choose a category based on lack of competition. If your book is not in the most tightly targeted category, Amazon cannot successfully sell the book for you. It’s as simple as that.
Though you may obtain category bestseller status for a while, your success and your sales may well stall there. Try to sucker your audience and the system, and you may pay long term with poor sales and losing out on all of Amazon’s free publicity, or even worse.
Example of Arbitrarily Choosing the Smallest Category
For example, let’s say you placed your humorous novel in the category “Comic books” because there are only 91 other books to compete with. Humorous novel, comic book, graphic novel – close enough, right? (I’m not making this stuff up. I’ve heard of books placed in categories far more removed from the truth than this example.) You have already doomed your book’s success on several levels.
In just one of many possible scenarios, imagine you are a young graphic novel lover who receives email updates about his favorite categories, and Amazon’s algorithms have deduced “Comic books” is one of them.
Your humorous novel is prominently featured in his email, an email that is supposed to inform him of the newest comic book bestsellers. When he clicks on yours he will be angry that you wasted his time, and his money if he purchased it with one click without first checking it out.
You may become a blacklisted author. Don’t scoff. Though this is a worst case scenario, it is not an exaggeration. Savvy e-readers are so demanding of and involved with their online world that, without one lost second, he may leave a scathing review on your sales page, talk about you in several discussion boards, report you to Amazon, and blacklist you in ways and places you and I have never heard of. The damage may even be irreparable.
But let’s not forget that those readers who would have loved your humorous novel will not see it because you listed it in the wrong category.
You will not even be considered for feature in millions of email promotions to those looking for precisely your genre. You will not appear in the categories your readers would search for throughout any other top-100 list. These are all Amazon promotions meant to sell your books and they do their jobs well, but only for books in their appropriate category.
So, the goal is NOT just to gain a category bestseller at all costs. Bestsellers come mostly from steady sales long after your book launch blitz.
Your tightly targeted categories will grease the way to those sales, propelling your book into a publicity campaign like you’ve never dreamed of, courtesy (and cost) of Amazon.com.
Want the full story? Purchase Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers: But That's Not All They Do
Reader Exclusive ACCB Companion Site: Exclusive to ACCB readers, contests, visiting book marketing experts, audio & video tutorials, additional articles and interviews, dozens of recommended further study sites and materials and much more. Updated regularly. http://www.amazoncategoriescreatebestsellers.com/
Personal Category Coaching. Need more individualized help? Aggie Villanueva will lead you through the process to decipher which categories are most tightly targeted to your book. http://promotionalacarte.com/shop/30-min-personal-coaching-to-choose-amazon-book-categories/
Published at Thomas Nelson before age 30, award-winning author Aggie Villanueva is now a self-published fiction & nonfiction author at Amazon/Kindle with The Rewritten Word, Rightfully Mine and Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers, all of which reached bestseller in multiple categories shortly after release. Aggie founded Promotion á la Carte, author promotional services and 6 months later was voted #2 at Preditors & Editors in the Promotion category, and then #4 in 2011. She teaches author promotion across the Web. My Book Marketing Systems is her sister company that saves authors $100s - $1,000s on author apps. She is also an award-winning critically acclaimed photographic artist represented by galleries nationwide, including Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. Contact Villanueva at firstname.lastname@example.org.