Pssst. Hey, self-published authors. I’ve got a secret for you. Do you want to know how to get more exposure for your book on Amazon? Are you confused about why a certain novel is on some ridiculously specific Top 100 list while you’re languishing in the #100,000’s for Fiction > Fantasy? The Amazon KDP platform is generally pretty easy to navigate when you’re publishing a Kindle book, but there’s a hidden method to getting access to the more detailed category lists, which will expose you to a targeted audience and give you some ranking figures to boast about.
When you look up a listing for a book on Amazon, scroll down past the reviews to the section titled “Look for similar items by category”. If you visit the page for The Last Death of Tev Chrisini, for example, you’ll see this:
The book is listed under an increasingly specific series of categories, including epic fantasy and sword & sorcery. But anyone who has gone through the KDP publishing process knows that sword & sorcery isn’t a BISAC category, and you can’t select it from the list that looks like this:
You can select two BISAC categories, and they’re all relatively vague. BISAC codes are assigned to help publishers and libraries make sense of book subjects for the purposes of developing metadata. Amazon uses BISAC codes to some extent, but they also have their own internal ranking and categorization system that determines the all-important Top 100 lists.
So how do you further specify your genre? It’s actually pretty simple. Go back to your book listing and click on Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy. You’ll get a page that’s dominated by George R.R. Martin, unsurprisingly, since he’s the hottest name in the genre at the moment:
But look on the side, where those convenient red arrows are. Look at all those options! Broad things like epic, historical, and paranormal are there, as determined by BISAC, but check out those other ones! Arthurian! Fairy tales! Superhero! And better yet, look at the relatively small number of books in each of those categories, as compared to a broader BISAC designation. If you write an Arthurian fantasy, you’ve only got 400 other competitors for a spot on the Top 100, as compared to 12,000 epic fantasy novels. Much better odds of making it to the front page, right? That makes you much easier to find when readers who just want to hear about Camelot come looking for a new story.
Now, here’s what you do. When you’re publishing your Kindle book, and you’ve filled out your BISAC options, you’ll see an unassuming little box for seven keywords right underneath:
The Spoil of Zanuth-Karun is basically about a young man navigating a world of chaos, and learning the meaning of responsibility, courage, honor, and duty along the way. So I chose “coming of age” as one of my targeted categories. I put “coming of age” as one of my keywords for the free Kindle preview of The Spoil, and look at this:
Bam! Easy as pie. All you need to do is make sure that your keywords match a category on that extended meta-list, and you’re good to go. I only had to give away seven copies of my preview in order to make it onto this list, and anyone looking for a coming of age story will see it right there in front of them.
I hope this little walk-through helps you in your quest to find the right audience. I urge you to use some of your keywords for this very simple way to get your book in front of the right readers. After all, that’s what keywords are for! I don’t know why Amazon doesn’t explain this better during the process, but it’s fine with me that it’s still relatively under the radar. Yay for search optimization!