by special guest contributor Tom Corson-Knowles

Distribution is everything in the publishing business. If you want more sales, you need more than just distribution—you need better placement. In this week’s post, guest poster Tom Corson-Knowles—international bestselling author and founder of—shares his secret to ranking your book with Category Selection on Amazon and other eBook retailers.


Just like in a physical book store or retail store where product owners and publishers fight for the best shelf space, this same fight for space happens at online retailers like Amazon every day. Finding the right categories for your book on Amazon or other retailers—and getting those retailers to list your book in the right categories to get you the most exposure and sales—is a big deal.

We’ve all imagined what it would be like to publish the next big book. We’ve all wondered what it would feel like to see our name at the top of the bestsellers list, and we’ve all asked ourselves this question:

What category does my book belong in?

There’s a lot of marketing information out there when it comes to ranking, so much so that it can lead to information overload and paralysis by analysis. I found that when you focus on The 4 Rs of Category Selection, getting retailers to promote your book to your ideal readers becomes a much easier, simpler and more profitable process.

The 4 Rs of Category Selection are Relevance, Rank, Readers and Results.


The first thing you want to consider when deciding on a category is relevance. You want to put your book in a category where readers are looking for the type of book you wrote.

Sometimes it’s easy. For instance, if you write a book about developing positive habits, you probably wouldn’t place it in the Comics and Graphic Novel category. Your book is much more likely to be found by your target audience in one of the Self Help categories.

Sometimes subcategories overlap and it’s not as easy to decide which one to put your book in. Suppose you have a novel that takes place in a far distant future. There has been some post-apocalyptic event that people allude to and the Earth is dominated by tribes of survivalists. All the main character wants to do is escape on a colony ship bound for another planet.

Does that book belong in the Post-Apocalyptic subcategory, the Dystopian subcategory, or the  Space Exploration subcategory?

More importantly, which category is going to give you the best chance to make the most money in the shortest time by putting your book in front of as many of your ideal readers as possible?

To answer that question you have to look at Bestseller Rank.


When deciding which bestseller category to target it’s important to pick a category with enough readers to be worth your time, and that’s fairly easy to break into for an indie author.

As a General Rule of Thumb:

  • Book 1 should rank less than 2500. This means there is demand in the market.
  • Book 20 should rank around 6000. This means it’s fairly easy for a new indie author to break into the top 20 of this category using the right marketing strategies.
  • Book 100 should rank above 25,000. This means it’s easy for a new indie author to break into this market.

If you follow these guidelines you will find a category that is fairly easy for an indie author to break into with enough readers to be worth your time to pursue. Once you’ve narrowed down potential markets by looking at Rank the next thing you have to look at is:


The best way to make sure that your book is in the right category is to write the type of book you like to read. The secret to success as an indie publisher is to identify the type of book a target reader wants and then give them that type of book. The easiest way to do that is to be your own target reader.

No one knows better than you the types of books you like to read and why you like to read them.

Another important source of information are the book reviews of the best-selling books in your market. When you read these reviews you quickly get a sense of what readers loved and hated about the types of stories selling in your market. You can use this information to craft a story that meets your readers’ expectations and isn’t just like every other book out there in your market.

After you’ve considered all these factors, it’s time to choose a category and track your results.


 “…a thousand reasoned opinions are never equal to one case of diving in and finding out. Galileo proved that and it may be the only certainty we have.” —Robert A. Heinlein

The most important thing you can do after you choose a category and publish your book is to track your results.

  • How many sales per day do you have?
  • What’s your Kindle sales rank?
  • What are your reviews saying?
  • Based on your results so far, would putting your book in another category be better?

It’s important to remember that even if you choose the “wrong” category at first, you can always change that category later.

Choosing the best category for your book can be a daunting task. But if you remember to consider Relevance, Rank, Readers you’ll be far more likely to choose the right category from the beginning. Track your Results and you’ll be certain to find the right category in the long run.

Check out our D2D Live Episode with Tara, our Director of Operations, for some more information on best practices for categorizing BISACs.

About The Author

Tom Corson-Knowles is the international bestselling author of 27 books including The Kindle Publishing Bible, founder of TCK Publishing, an independent publishing company specializing in digital marketing, and host of The Publishing Profits Podcast Show.

Tom has taught more than 40,000 authors how to write, publish and market their books like professionals through his online training courses, including Ebook Publishing School, a free training program that shows authors how to publish and market their books professionally.