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Choosing Categories and Keywords when publishing with Amazon

When you publish your book on Amazon (through Kindle Direct Publishing), you are allowed to pick two categories and seven keywords. Here are some tips to make those choices work for you and help increase the number of books you sell.


When listing your book, you get to pick two categories. These categories are the sections of Amazon’s site where customers can find your book.

An easy way to find out which categories your book is currently in is to scroll down to the bottom of the sales page and check where it says ‘Look for Similar Books by Category’. This example shows all the categories my novel, Summoned, is current listed in.

Here are some tips offered by Kindle Direct Publishing.

Be specific – Don’t just say fiction > Fantasy. Go deeper. Fiction > Fantasy > Historical. Your book will still be listed under the general category. Don’t pick “General” unless your book is a general book about a broad topic. To be listed under additional subcategories, you sometimes need to list certain keywords.

Yes – this last one means you can actually be listed under more than two categories. Appearing in these extra-subcategories means your book is seen by more people and competes against fewer other titles.

To get listed in these subcategories, you cannot just select them from a drop-down menu. You must select a category AND certain keywords. And you don’t have to guess at what the “secret” keywords are. Amazon gives you a list.

To see a list of keyword choices for all major genres, click here and then click ‘categories with keyword requirements.’


When putting your book on Amazon, there is a spot to enter keywords for your book. The section is listed as optional but DO NOT skip this important step. Not only do the keywords help potential readers find your book, but Amazon may include your book in more categories based on your category selection and assigned keywords. (see above for finding those special keywords)

In addition to helping you get additional categories, these keywords are the words or phrases that potential readers might search in Amazon. Of course, figuring out what words readers might use takes some research/thought.

One way to check this out is to do a search on Amazon. Type in your genre (fantasy) or type of character (dragon) and see what other suggestions come up in the drop-down menu.

Here are some tips from KDP on selecting your keywords.

Combine keywords in the most logical order. Customers search for ‘military science fiction’ but probably not for ‘fiction science military.’ Pick useful keywords: Setting (Colonial America) Character types (single dad, veteran) Character roles (strong female lead) Plot themes (coming of age, forgiveness) Story tone (dystopian, feel-good) Keywords to Avoid: Information covered elsewhere in your book’s metadata (title, contributors, etc.) Subjective claims about quality (e.g. “best novel ever”) Time-sensitive statements (“new,” “on sale,” “available now”) Information common to most items in the category (“book”) Spelling errors Variants of spacing, punctuation, capitalization, and pluralization (“80GB” and “80 GB,” “computer” and “computers”, etc.). Exception: Words translated in more than one way (e.g. “Mao Zedong” or “Mao Tse-tung,” “Hanukkah” or “Chanukah” Anything misrepresentative like the name of an author not associated with your book. This kind of information can create a confusing customer experience. Kindle Direct Publishing has a zero tolerance policy for metadata that is meant to advertise, promote, or mislead. Quotation marks in search terms. Single words work better than phrases, and specific words work better than general ones. If you enter “complex suspenseful whodunit,” only people who type all of those words will find your book. For better results, enter this: complex suspenseful whodunit. Customers can search for any of those words and find your book. Amazon program names like as “Kindle Unlimited” or “KDP Select”

Between selecting keywords from Amazon’s chart and suggestions from the drop-down search menu, you should be able to select seven good keywords and have your ebook positioned for buyers to find. And feel free to experiment and change these words to your heart’s content as you find what works.

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