Why Categorizing Your Book Is Important

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In this section:

    Why you must take care over your categories

    Once you sign your contract, you must fill out the Categories section in your Book Details page.

    The purpose of classifying a book is to drive discovery and sales of your book.

    Correctly categorizing your book means your book will appear in relevant searches on Amazon and other online databases.

    If you don’t classify your book correctly, its potential buyers won’t find it. The ones that do find it will be annoyed, as it won’t be what they’re looking for.

    Your book might also miss out on Amazon and bookstore promotions. For an example of how this could happen, read The importance of Amazon also-boughts in Chapter 12.

    Categories from Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism

    Choose three categories that fit your book, using the BISAC system

    Choose three categories that best describe your book in the Categories section on your Book Details page.

    We use BISAC categories (Book Industry Standards Advisory Committee). These are the industry standard.

    The categories you choose now form your book’s metadata, the information we distribute throughout the industry.

    Make sure you take care in your choice, especially for the first category you choose, or your Top Category.

    Choose your Top Category carefully – it’s the most important category

    Your Top Category is the first one in the list of three categories.

    When you choose it, drill down and choose the most narrow, relevant-to-your-book category you can find.

    Many trade accounts will not consider books that are in a 'general' category, so be specific.

    This category will go on the back of your book, and decide where and who we can sell it to. We can only sell to one buyer. We cannot, for instance, sell one title to both the "Travel" and the "Autobiography" buyer. That is the case for all publishers.

    This will give your book the best chance of being discovered by search engines, trade buyers and readers.

    After you have chosen your Top Category, choose two more

    The second and third categories are for other areas that you feel could be relevant in marketing, e.g. the book could cover Religion or Education as well as Philosophy. You can use either general headings here or sub-categories.

    The secondary codes come into their own online – they mean your book can be merchandised in all the different areas of an online store, or marketed to customers with all these specific interests. Online retailers use this information to merchandise books across their sites.

    Case Study

    Crystal Prescriptions volume 5 - Space clearing, Feng Shui and Psychic Protection. An A-Z guide.
    Judy Hall

    Crystals is the main theme of the book, so for the Top Category, we chose:

    • BODY, MIND & SPIRIT (General)(OCC004000) -> Crystals(OCC004000)

    Space clearing, Feng Shui and Psychic Protection are well grouped under Energy work , so we also chose:

    • BODY, MIND & SPIRIT (General)(OCC011010) -> Healing (General)(OCC011010) -> Energy (Qigong, Reiki, Polarity)(OCC011010)

    The book is a self help tool, so we also chose:

    • BODY, MIND & SPIRIT (General)(OCC019000) -> Inspiration & Personal Growth(OCC019000)

    How to add a category:

    • Go to the Categories box on your Book Details page.
    • First, add your Top Category
    • Click on the blue +add category.
    • Tick on the + to show sub-category.
    • Click on the deepest, most relevant sub-category.
    • Choose two more.
    • You can change the order by clicking up and down.
    • You cannot "mix and match" main categories and sub-categories - this is a standard listing that the trade uses.
    • The categories are locked when the book goes into production, and then you can no longer change them – so choose wisely.

    Click on + add category to reveal the various categories.

    Look for the deepest, most relevant category.

    Help! When I look on Amazon my book is under a completely different category to the one I selected

    When readers start searching for your book, browsing for it in a category, landing on its page, pre-ordering and ordering, the initial BISAC categories are very unlikely to map exactly onto the categories in which your book is ranked on Amazon, Google, Apple and other retailers.

    The automated search engine algorithms kick in, tracking customers' browse paths and buying patterns and override the BISAC we supply.

    This process is highly automated, and categories vary by retailer and by region. In some categories, like History, Amazon's sub-categories will go deeper than the BISAC.

    You can recommend changes to bibliographic data, including your paperback categories, on Amazon.com via an Author Central account; you can request additional categories or removal. You cannot change Kindle categories on Amazon.com. For Amazon UK, if your browse categories are wildly wrong, please contact us through the Author Forum in Sales & Distribution/Sales Online; we can ask Amazon to change categories for your paperback but not the Kindle version of the book in the UK. However, be warned, Amazon will remove a category more easily than add one; changes can take several weeks to feed through and aren’t guaranteed.

    Further Reading

    The Book Industry Study Guide to selecting a BISAC code.

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