Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Pick Your Pigeonhole

None of us like to be pigeonholed. It’s associated with people making judgements about us, which leads to assumptions, which can be wrong.


But when it comes to books, pigeonholes are vital.

Think of shopping in a bookstore. How do you know where to start? Well, the books aren’t just on the shelves all lumped together anyhow. All similar books are together, and the shelves are labelled. Want a thriller novel, or a book on learning French? Check the labels and go direct to the right section.
Pigeonholes for messages

What about a book you’ve written? You want to make sure it ends up on the right shelf, so that readers can find it. That’s why it’s important to determine what genre your fiction novel is in. You may want to be unique and write a novel that crosses genres or defies categorisation – but what shelf will it be on?

The same thing goes for ebooks, only here it’s so much more important, because there are no shelves for readers to browse along. If your book is in the wrong category, no one will ever find it.
Amazon allows you to pick two ‘browse categories’ for your book. Michael Alvear says in his book Make a Killing On Kindle:

1. Customers Browse The Categories Of Books They’re Interested In
2. Customers Purposefully Browse A Category They’re Familiar With

These two points are not the same. Some people look around like browsers in a bookstore, but will concentrate on the kind of topics they like. Some people go straight to the section they want and check to see what’s new.
Science Fiction categories on Amazon
Science Fiction categories on Amazon

Amazon has a bewildering array of categories, and each category has subcategories. It pays to take time to familiarise yourself with them. And Michael Alvear recommends you find out what categories your competition is in. Interestingly he recommends you put your book into a category with less sales so your book has a greater chance of rising to the top.

So, even if your book is not finished yet, it’s never too soon to find your pigeonhole!

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at

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