Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

This post is the forty-sixth in a series about writing a novel. You can check out the list of past topics at the end of this post.

When putting your e-book online, you will need to pick a genre/category and keywords to help categorize and market your novel.


Every book is categorized by its genre to help readers locate the type of book they enjoy reading. Mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, suspense and western are just a few examples of fiction genres.

And then there are subcategories of genres such as epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, dark fantasy, paranormal and more. It will help you to know your subgenre to pick the category you want your novel to appear under.


On Amazon, you can initially pick two categories for your book. You should be as specific as possible.

  1. Don’t just say fiction > Fantasy. Go deeper. Fiction > Fantasy > Historical. Your book will still be listed under the general category.
  2. Don’t pick “General” unless your book is a general book about a broad topic.
  3. 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.’


So, as you can see from above, keywords are important and are definitely a step you don’t want to skip. Not only can these keywords put your book into subcategories of your genre, they help potential readers find your book.

This means you need to figure out what words readers might use when searching for a book on Amazon. This might take you 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.

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.

Previous topics

#1 – Deciding to write a novel – Writing Myths

#2 – Three areas to develop before starting to write a novel

#3 – Finding a Story Idea and How to Know if it “good enough”

#4 – Developing Characters for your Novel

#5 – Major characters? Minor Characters? Where does everyone fit in?

#6 – Developing the Setting for your Novel

#7 – The importance of developing conflict in your novel plot

#8 – To Outline or not to outline 

#9 – The importance of a story arc

#10 – The importance of tension and pace

#11 – Prologue and opening scenes

#12 – Beginning and ending scenes in a novel

#13 – The importance of dialogue…and a few tips on how to write it

#14 – Using Internal Dialogue in your novel

#15 – More dialogue tips and help with dialogue tags

#16 – Knowing and incorporating back story into your novel

#17 – Hinting at what is to come with foreshadowing

#18 – Tips for writing different scenes in your novel

#19 – Dealing with Writer’s Block

#20 – Killing a Character in your Novel

#21 – Keeping things realistic in your novel

#22 – Establishing Writing Goals and Developing Good Writing Habits

#23 – Using the five senses and passive voice in your novel

#24 – The benefit of research in fiction writing

#25 – Novella or Novel, Trilogy or Series – decisions for writers

#26 – Avoiding Plot and Character Clichés

#27 – Novel Writing – Endings and Epilogues

#28 – Fantasy Novel Writing – World Building, Dragons, Magic and More

#29 – Finishing your First Draft

#30 – Your Second Draft and Beyond

#31 – Picking Stronger Words and Watching out for Homonyms

#32 – Omitting unnecessary words in your novel

#33 – Beta Reader, Proofreaders and Copy Editors

#34 – Knowing your grammar or at least using a grammar checking program

#35 – Using a Revision Outline during your Novel Editing

#36 – Editing Techniques: Taking a Break and Reading Aloud

#37 – Publishing Options for your book

#38 – Self-publishing an ebook decisions

#39 – Picking Your Book Title and Your Pen Name

#40 – Investing in an eye-catching book cover

#41 – Writing an awesome book blurb

#42 – Deciding on Front Matter for your novel

#43 – Deciding on Back Matter for your novel

#44 – Formatting your eBook for publication

#45 – Pricing your e-book

One thought on “Selecting Categories and Keywords to improve your Novel’s visibility

  1. Reblogged this on Cynthia Hilston – Author & Blogger and commented:
    Useful advice for writers on this site. Lots of helpful tips.

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