If you’ve done your research on publishing through Amazon, you might be under the impression that niches are something only nonfiction writers have to worry about. Run a search on, say, “Amazon author niche,” and you’ll find yourself inundated with articles promising the secret to “finding your niche” or the “most profitable niches.” Scroll down to the meat of these posts, and you’ll get a sense of the niches their writers had in mind: “meditation,” “backpacking,” “arts & crafts,” and the like.
All of these are promising fodder for nonfiction books. But what if you’re not an aspiring how-to guru, but a fiction writer? Your goal is to immerse readers in a fictional world of your own creation. Do you still have to think about finding your niche?
The answer, of course, is yes. Targeting the perfect audience for your project can mean the difference between crickets at your book launch and a soaring crescendo of sales. And after all, your intricate plotting and pitch-perfect characterization will only wow readers if you can get your book into their hands in the first place! Follow these steps to pinpoint your Amazon niche, and start building the readership your book deserves.
1. Get familiar with Amazon categories
We’ve started by talking about finding your author niche, but let’s switch over to platform-specific parlance: if you want to succeed on Amazon, you’ve got to find your category (or categories, to be more accurate — more on that later).
Categories are Amazon’s answer to the Dewey Decimal System’s grab-bag of book subjects. You can find a list of the biggest ones right on the Kindle Store homepage: in the left-hand sidebar, click on “Kindle eBooks,” and you’ll see a list of genres and themes, starting with “Arts & Photography” and ending with “Travel.”
About half of the biggest Amazon categories available for ebooks
When it comes to your book’s success, the importance of the category can’t be overstated: choose the right ones, and you’ll find it much easier to get Amazon to do your book marketing for you. That’s because the site’s bestseller lists are organized by category, and those lists are powered by its infamous algorithms.
Bestselling titles — even within small categories — benefit from a significant on-site promotional push. That’s why it pays to slot your book into a niche category: you’ll have a much easier time achieving bestseller status, so you can get the algorithms to look your way.
Still, there is such a thing as too niche. Some categories are so hyper-specific, they get almost no traffic. You’ll want to stay away from those as well. To check the sales viability of a category, find its top-selling title — the one with the orange “Best Seller” badge — and scroll down to its “Product Details.” Here, you’ll see its Amazon Best Sellers Rank (ABSR). If that number is higher than 2000, take it as a sign that the category is rarely trafficked and unlikely to yield strong sales.
The good news is, most of these super-niche categories are in nonfiction: even seemingly obscure fiction categories, like Gaslamp Fantasy, tend to pass the ABSR test. But it’s always a good idea to double-check.
Lucia Tang is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects self-publishing authors with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. Reedsy also provides tools to help authors write and format their books, and resources on all things book marketing, from building an author platform to navigating the pros and cons of Amazon exclusivity. Lucia also covers various publishing-related topics on the Reedsy blog. In her spare time, she enjoys drinking cold brew and planning her historical fantasy novel.