Book Authors: Amazon “Secrets” Revealed

Powerhouse book marketer Aggie Villanueva is a gold digger when it comes to unearthing Amazon’s “secrets” for book authors.

Her newest book – AMAZON CATEGORIES CREATE BEST SELLERS – reveals the logic (or perhaps illogic) behind those categories that you see on your book’s page on Amazon if you scroll way down to “Look for Similar Items by Category.” Those categories are the ones in which your books are listed.

The advantage of having the most specific categories possible for your books is related to how Amazon “awards” status. Your books can place well in a category even if they are not a top seller overall.

And, as Aggie explains, the secret algorithms of Amazon do reward books that place well in their categories.
For me what’s most interesting about these categories is that you cannot get the ones you want through the usual channels.

In my experience, even if you self-publish a paperback through Amazon’s CreateSpace or upload your own Kindle format via Kindle Direct Publishing, when you do this you are not given the opportunity to drill down in categories as far as you need to go to take advantage of Aggie’s advice.

In other words, you have to wait until after your book is listed on Amazon to get the very specific categories you want. And, as with everything else for authors on Amazon, this is not as easy as it sounds.

First, you have to try various combinations and note which categories have the least amount of books (the less competition the better). Often the same categories are in different drill-down paths (for example, “education”), so you must try each of these paths to find the best fit for your books.

To try the different Amazon categories, you go into “Books” or “Kindle Store” and then on the left-hand side of the screen in rather small type you will see the top-level categories. Start clicking away at the ones that appear best for you and take notes as you try out different combinations.

Here is an example of what I decided on for my new ebook CIA FALL GUY (at this writing the author can choose two category listings on Kindle although this can change):

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery & Thrillers > Thrillers >Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue

Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > War

For paperbacks (whether from CreateSpace or elsewhere) you need to go to and use the contact option to ask for the more detailed categories you chose.

For Kindle you need to go to to make the changes. And if you were not the one to upload your book via KDP and do not have access to your KDP account, you will have to ask the company that did this to make the changes.

While this may seem like a lot of work, given Amazon’s share of the book and ebook market, it is worth taking the time to give your books the best opportunity for being found via Amazon’s search algorithms.

Note: You may notice that, if you have a book in both paperback and Kindle, there are only book categories on the book’s Amazon page while there are both book and Kindle categories (which are often not the same even at the most specific category level) on the book’s Kindle page. This is due to Amazon’s logic about what book buyers are looking for.


Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter and @ZimblerMiller on Pinterest) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the WBENC certified online marketing company  She is also the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks – see her author website at

Posted by on June 12, 2012. Filed under Books,Business,Phyllis Zimbler Miller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to Book Authors: Amazon “Secrets” Revealed

  1. Becca Mills

    June 19, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I’ll check out Villanueva’s book — thanks! I admit I do find Amazon’s categories mystifying. For instance, I know there’s a fantasy > series list, but there’s no way to put your book onto it, at least not that I’ve found. There seem to be quite a few categories like that: Amazon’s system will or won’t include your book according it some secret logic of its own.

  2. joe heffern

    June 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Very interesting but does your book also offer advice for authors who use PD publishers and are therefore not able to access the Amazon account?


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