The latest on Amazon book category changes, how it may be affecting your book sales (and future orders!), and what you can do about it
This is some critical information for authors who are yet to publish their book as well as for those who already have. In the last week or so, Amazon has made some key changes to the way their book categories appear to customers, and it may have a dramatic impact on your potential book sales, you might already have noticed a drop off in book sales if you’re stuck in one of the affected categories.
Here’s what the latest Amazon changes may mean for you as an author.
If you’ve already published your book…
You may have spent a fair amount of time pre-launch working out exactly which Amazon categories you wanted your book placed in. Spoiler alert: Amazon has recently made some behind the scenes changes which may mean your book’s categories are no longer showing up for book buyers! That means, reduced discoverability and sales as of right now. So yeh, yikes!
If you’re yet to publish your book…
This is key information for you too as you’re going to need to select the most beneficial categories for your book i.e.: ones that are being viewed by Amazon customers. You also don’t want to waste your three categories by choosing duplicates or dud categories.
What you can do about it…
Publisher Rocket, a tool I use and recommend (and yes, am also an affiliate for as it’s really, really useful for authors), alerted me to the fact that:
A whopping 27% of Amazon categories are now no longer discoverable in the Amazon store.
That’s right, more than a quarter of categories are now hidden from potential book buyers.
These disappearing Amazon categories means your book can no longer rank or get bestseller status in these categories either.
Publisher Rocket is calling these ‘ghost categories’.
This alert prompted me to log into my Amazon KDP account and also to fire up my Publisher Rocket tool to re-check the categories my books are in.
In my Amazon KDP account, I went into my Bookshelf, and clicked on ‘Edit Details’ for Look-It’s Your Book!, Small Farm Success Australia, Honey Farm Dreaming and Honeycomb Kids.
Whoah, I’m sure I used to be in more categories but now only two categories are showing for each book. That’s another reason to go in and check on and review things! So I used Publisher Rocket to check for other categories that would be a good fit (and easier to rank higher in) and that weren’t ghost or duplicate categories (duplicating categories is a total waste as it limits where you’ll appear). Surprisingly, a couple of categories I thought would have been a natural fit, WERE ghost and duplicate categories, so it really pays to check.
Amazon doesn’t make it particularly easy to just add a category though, it prompts you to wipe all your current categories to be able to add new ones. Fun. That’ll be a job for later in the week!
As you’re only able to select three Amazon book categories these days, it’s super important you’re not choosing or stuck in a ghost category.
If you already have Publisher Rocket, you should take the time now to open up the program and to check if your book is in any duplicate or ghost categories. And then make the necessary changes in your Amazon KDP tool.
If you are an author and yet to launch your book/s, I’d suggest you invest in Publisher Rocket to nail your categories and so you can also see how many books you’d need to sell in that category to get best-seller status. But not just that, Publisher Rocket is great for finding keywords you can use in your title and sub-title.
The use of the right keywords can be the difference between your book being discoverable…or not.
I think it’s still $US97 for lifetime access and can more than make up for that in the research power it gives you to make the right marketing decisions. (You can also find out what other authors might be earning from Amazon sales. This can be really interesting, but also doesn’t give you a full picture of the sales that author is making direct or through other retailers or book stores, I for one make more direct sales than via Amazon).
If you’re new to all this, here’s a link to the Kindlepreneur article that explains more about Amazon categories, how to select three key categories for your book, and what Amazon ghost categories are and how to avoid them. It may seem like a lot of info, but hopefully it will clarify why researching the best category for your book makes SO MUCH sense.
There are also some really worthwhile articles on:
Anyway, don’t let your book get ghosted! Hope this info helps you tweak your book categories and keywords.
Happy writing, publishing and book marketing, Anna 🙂
PS: If you click on my Publisher Rocket link and go on to purchase it promptly – please do! – I will receive a small fee for the referral. It doesn’t affect the price you pay but does help me keep providing free information to you outside of my paid author consulting service. Thanks for your generosity and support.