How to Pick Publishing Categories

Selecting categories in the publishing process is the toughest part of the indie author’s job. At least it has been for me in  My Weird Indie Publishing Project — creating a trilogy of a memoir about a spiritual awakening experience that happened long, long ago, in a land far, far away.

All the methods require research. Here’s one from Dave Chesson’s

Kindlepreneur Re’ categories

Steps 1 and 2 help you build a potential list of categories for your book.

Step 1

Type words to describe your book into the Amazon search box to get a list of books like yours. Check each book’s “category string links.”

Step 2

After clicking on a category, look to the left column and see if you can click down any further for more niches.

Step 3

Click the last part of the category chain. This takes you to the top 20 page. Click on the #1 best-selling book in that Amazon category. Now go down to its Amazon best-selling rank (ABSR) and record that number next to the category name in your notes. This is the ABSR you need to beat to be the #1 best-seller.

Once you have a list of all the categories and their #1 best-seller ABSR, place them in the Kindle Calculator, and it will tell you how many books you’d need to sell today to be #1 best-seller in that category.

Then look over your list and choose the one that best represents your book and has the highest ABSR.  Finally, use KDP Rocket!

[Note: Dave added a new feature to KDP Rocket that finds Categories for you. Even so, it’s the indie author’s responsibility to understand the manual process it’s replacing to get the best results.]

You can also use KD Spy, a keyword-finder similar to, but different from KDP Rocket. Both will give you information about reader searches — what key words have how many searches. But Dave’s Rocket is U.S. and a purchase. KD Spy is British and a subscription.

Another approach is one taught by Adam Houge, a best-selling author.

According to Houge, you need to research the lists of bestsellers because categories determine what best-seller list you’ll land on. Adam did a free webinar* titled  “Amazon Algorithms ” to introduce his publishing course. (*via Debbie Drum, the gal who created the Review Finder and Book Connect.)

[BTW: Before the webinar started, Drum stated that she didn’t have to select categories for her recent best-seller because she hired someone else to publish it, and they made the category selections. I think that’s a strong argument for paying someone else! And yes, I asked, but she refused to tell me, who she hired to publish her book.]

This freebie had a broad scope and was all about the Amazon algorithm and how to use it for more sales. But the part that applies here is the bit about how to select book categories for KDP:

Houge on How to Pick Categories:

If the bestseller lists of the categories you choose have the 100 spot at 5k sales rank and 1k sales rank, you’ll never get the visibility if you can’t rise above 5k sales rank.  And if your promotion gets you above 5k, you’ll lose all visibility as soon as your rank sinks below 5k, and you’ll fall like a rock.

The high ranked categories get a lot of customer views, however, so choose one with 5k in the 100 spot and another with maybe 50k in the 100 spot.

So I checked my categories for 2 Years, 1 Paycheck, 0 Plans and now I understand why it is futile to publish a memoir unless you happen to be either a celebrity or someone with a huge following. Notice the sales rank of the 100 spot for my two categories:

100th in Philosophy & Spiritual growth:  Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,483

100th in Spiritual Self-Help: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,409

If I understand correctly, even the top 100 spot in these categories do not include a sales rank of 5k but are far lower than 5k.

Surely, that explains, at least in part, why my book is ranked 856,000 despite having spots 32 and 62 for my chosen categories! (More on that later…)

This has been only a few of the techniques I’ve followed in selecting categories. The reader should know that everything as an indie author changes constantly. For example, when I Googled “Kindlepreneur + categories” I got ten replies on the first page of links — each one by Dave Chesson. That means you cannot simply take a course or ask an indie how to select categories or rely on a single article (like this one). The business changes constantly. If you want to be an indie author, you must keep up with all aspects of publishing as part of your writing gig.

Till next time, “Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows.” ~Tzaddi

The Burnout to Bliss Trilogy!

Book 1, BURNOUT — How a Desert Lizard Restored My Faith, is the story about a professional woman’s experience with extreme burnout coupled with spiritual confusion and how she tried everything from psychiatrists to psychics. But it was camping with Indian Shamans in Mexico that finally made a difference.

Get it on Amazon   

Or B&N, Kobo, and others here.


Book 2, CYCLING in the CITY — How I got My Confidence Back, has two parts. Part I is the author’s story of discovering the damage to her self-esteem and confidence and then taking action to heal it. This was the first break-away, the one she thought would last a year. Part II includes methods for making big changes in your life.

Get your Kindle or print copy here.

Get your eBook copy for other readers here:

Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and others


What would it be like if you believed that the universe was FOR you?

Longing to experience such support for herself, Pam journeyed for two years seeking healing from career burnout and spiritual crisis. Because she had sublet her home, she had no place to live for at least another year.In an uncharacteristic leap of faith, she plunged into the unknown.

If you like stories about personal life-changing experience, then you’ll love reading 2 years 1 paycheck 0 plans.

You can get your copy now:


Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, and others:

Thanks for stopping by! ~Pam Young


One response to “How to Pick Publishing Categories

  1. Pingback: “Why” Do My Weird Indie Project? | skatingthru2012

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