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Amazon’s New SciFi, Fantasy, and Romance Subcategories

28 May 2013

From author India Drummond on The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing:

Funny thing happened when I went to Amazon last week to browse for something new to read. I noticed that there is a whole new mess of categories, subcategories, and what they’re calling “character categories” and even “theme categories”.

How exciting! It’s always good to have more specific and better categories. The question was how to get in them.These categories are not available via KDP. A fellow fantasy author told me she wrote to Amazon to ask them to put her books into the one of the new categories. They rather inexplicably told her that they couldn’t, that the books in the categories must be non-KDP books, because they didn’t show those choices in their control panel.

After some experimentation, I think I may have found the secret.

Here are the new categories for fantasy:

. . . .

One thing you may notice if you’re a fantasy author is that they’ve now dumped “contemporary” and “paranormal” together into one category called “Paranormal and Urban”. So if you used Contemporary Fantasy as a category before as well as Paranormal Fantasy, you’ll want to choose another.

. . . .

Here are the genre / character /theme categories:




Now, how do indie authors get into these categories if those choices aren’t shown in KDP?

. . . .

I did some experimenting with my keywords inside the KDP for Ordinary Angels. (They used to show up as ‘tags’, but as you’ve probably noticed, Amazon has stopped readers from being able to view and use tags on its main website.)

Here’s where I mean:

(The categories I chose for this book are Romance > Paranormal and Fantasy > Paranormal, which is why it shows up as Paranormal / Paranormal above.) I chose the first four tags aiming at those character lists, the next one as a generic search term, and the last two aiming at theMystery genre category.

A few days later, this shows up on the book’s page:



Link to a lot more at The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Amazon, Fantasy/SciFi, Romance, Self-Publishing

33 Comments to “Amazon’s New SciFi, Fantasy, and Romance Subcategories”

  1. Of course, erotica continues to get left out in the cold on this score…


  2. But still NO Historical Fiction subcategories. HF is a very large category that desperately needs them.

    • Isn’t it tucked in under fantasy?

      • It shouldn’t be (in only fantasy, that is). The Other Boleyn Girl was firmly in our world, right? I only saw the movie, but I’m pretty sure the movie was faithful to the book. I’d imagine subcategories would be time periods (Greco-Roman or the Wars of Spring and Autumn), dynasties (Tudor or Ming), historical phases (Industrial or Gilded Age), etc. Aren’t a lot of romances set in the Regency era? Then there’s prehistoric–would you put Clan of the Cave Bear alongside the Epic of Gilgamesh? One thing that annoys me about my Kindle is that it doesn’t assume I want to organize collections. Maybe historical fiction is next on the list of breakdowns? One hopes.

    • Agreed. Strangely, if you list under children’s historical fiction you do get sub-categories. I have a book there listen under prehistoric fiction – a small category where I get some sales. The book’s crossover, intended for YA and adults, but in the adult section, it has to sit with all the millions of historical fiction, and no one ever sees it.
      Of course, there ought to be a YA section of its own, as well as children and adults. A book written for 15-year-olds shouldn’t be sitting next to one written for 6-year-olds.

  3. Crafty… I like it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Oooooh! Cool! Thanks for the tips.

  5. Good, but no zombies. Pirates but no zombies. Hm. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

    Something I kvetched about with this is Amazon’s lack of communication. I’m grateful to India for pointing to this change, but did I miss a memo or a meeting? This could substantially affect marketing and ranking, but I didn’t hear it from Amazon first. Isn’t that odd? Like waking up one day and discovering tags are gone. They will do as they wish, but a little more communication would make me feel less like a pawn. I want to at least be rook or a knight. Readers are the customers but we are…we are…s***, I’m a pawn.

  6. Thanks for this! Now I understand why I suddenly appeared in the paranormal fantasy category. But I don’t have that as a tag. Interesting.

    • A few weeks ago I was selected, at random, for a phone interview with a KDP rep. I spent over an hour on the phone with “Brian” from Amazon.

      Among other things we discussed was why my books (KDP categories: juvenile fiction > animals > horses; juvenile fiction > sports > equestrian) also wind up in the non-fiction categories for animals/horses and equestrian sports, per the bestseller rankings on my books’ product pages.

      Brian said these ‘extra’ rankings occur due to algorithms that track a customer’s browsing path. In other words, if a customer was looking at “non-fiction > animals > horses” and then scooted over to look at my book (in fiction), that customer’s browsing behavior prompted the algorithm to add “non-fiction > animals > horses” to the ranking list.

      So, in light of this, those ‘extra’ categories you’re seeing might not have much to do with the keywords you enter.

  7. I would be surprised if these options aren’t eventually rolled out to KDP in an official capacity. Customers won’t like not everything being in the various categories.

    • I wrote to KDP recently asking them to change the categories on one of my books. They did so, and in an email response added:

      “We usually prefer that publishers make changes to their own book categories to ensure they have full control and are able to make additional changes in the future. In your case, at least one of these category browse paths is not yet available to select on our KDP website, which is why I’ve added them on your behalf.

      Our technical team is working to increase the number of category options available to choose through our website in the future.”

  8. I think I’ll write Jeff Bezos a letter and tell him to start running his company the way I want it to be run. That would save me the time, effort, expense, and risk of building my own competing company.

    Oh, wait a minute. Bezos already runs his company the way I want him to run it.

    Like a great capitalist business.


  9. This is some really useful information. India, why wasn’t I following your blog until just now? A reversible oversight. 🙂

  10. Who the heck came up with those romance themes? Gambling? Seriously? And a friend who writes erotic romance finally worked out why her sales are tanking and how she dropped from something like #4 to somewhere in the hundreds: she got dropped from the “also bought” carousel. What can be found there now are only those with Amazon Createspace listed as the publisher. She created her own publisher name for her books, and is no longer showing up in that suggestion list. Took a MAJOR hit to her sales because of it. And just like this, with no notice or explanation.

    • Gambling is a big theme in some romance. (Although I think making one of the romantic heroes list “gambler” would also hit that.)

      I just wish that just ONCE what I write and one of these expanded genres list type things would match up.

      • Isn’t romance, by definition, a gamble?

        And I agree; there should be a Western Supernatural Mystery category. That’s the first thing I always look for.

  11. Very helpful – thanks for the post, India!

  12. I’ve seen similar things in Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense (or else I haven’t been paying attention for a while). The sub-category list now includes International Mystery & Crime, James Bond Series, Series (…?), and a few others.

    • I haven’t looked all the way through the mystery lists, but it is good to see more. (I don’t know if they added “traditional,” “domestic,” or “cozy” yet. These are different genres, but it would be nice to see something other than “female sleuth” to cover all three. Especially since “female sleuths” overlap into all other subgenres, including hard-bioled, thriller and police-procedural.)

      And speaking of female sleuths: I’d really like to see those “theme/character” lists too for mystery.

  13. Kathlena Contreras

    I saw the new categories a couple of weeks or so ago. A couple of them were perfect for my books. I emailed Amazon and gave them the exact category path I wanted to use. Within a day, they emailed me back to let me know they’d made the change, and that their tech division was working on adding the categories for authors to choose on their own when they publish their books. Needless to say, I’m happy with the service I received.

  14. All I know is that I’m about to take the Viking Romance subcategory BY STORM.

    • John, you’ll have to fight Sandra Hill for that category. She’s dominated it for ages.

      • In that case, I’ll take the Amnesia/Gambling/Workplace Viking Romance subcategory by storm.

        edit: Sorry, I meant to say “BY STORM!!!!!!”

        • Go for it, John. You’ll be great!

          • Although I should mention, in some of Ms. Hill’s Viking stories, the Vikings time travel to the present day and get jobs as Navy SEALS because they’re totally fit, like fighting, and are good with weapons. But I don’t think any of them have amnesia. Or a gambling problem. So you’re good to go!

            • Wait. This sounds cool. I’m looking this up. Not sure how Vikings would fit in modern society, but the dramatic possibilities…thanks for the tip.

  15. Jonathon Burgess

    Great post, thanks for the info.

    There’s a Fantasy > Pirates category? There’s a Fantasy > Pirates category!

    I’m doing some tweaking on my KDP entry as soon as I can!


  16. This has been a long time coming. I got pretty sick of browsing epic fantasy and finding so much obviously paranormal/urban stuff there.

    • It’s better, but still not as “clued-in” as it could be; I just saw A Dance with Dragons in the science fiction section, and when I selected space opera I found a novel set in the Dragon Age universe (awesome game, not science fiction). Mass Effect (another awesome game) was there, which made sense, but I’m guessing both books were in space opera because Bioware made both games and used their writers to write the books. So now the algorithm needs to learn that one writer can have different genres.

      I’ve been searching for ages for another science fiction thriller like The Eyes of Light and Darkness, where the thriller takes place in space or another planet, and uses aliens (cute, humanoid, sapient cats!) as characters alongside humans. Crossing my fingers that these refined categories can help me finally scratch that itch.

      • Yeah, I think some books have been ‘put’ in categories – like my books were – according to buyer response or some other criteria that Amazon is using.

        I have already sent them an email to try and update my categories to my own criteria (niche). We’ll see what they respond.

        Maybe Amazon is anticipating (self)publisher response to this.

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