Inside the writer’s mind #322

cartoon about writing



Dude, there’s my book!

Yesterday, I blogged about the mysterious invisibility of one of my Kindle Direct Publishing ebooks on Amazon – Legend of King Arthur – which wasn’t in the right place on their website. That blog is here.

Available somewhere!

Today I contacted Amazon and received a prompt explanation for why I couldn’t find my book where I expected. They told me my book was listed under the following categories:

Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Arthurian
Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Adventure
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Adventure

You can see that it was listed under “Arthurian” as a book – but not in the Kindle Store, where it mattered. It was also not listed under humorous fantasy, either, which is a category only for books. Since nobody looks for Kindle ebooks in the physical book section, it meant my ebook didn’t show up in relevant search results. For some reason my ebook wasn’t listed in the Arthurian section of the Kindle Store. Amazon asked me to send them the categories I wanted my book in so they could change it, which I did this morning. They were very helpful. My book should soon appear in the categories:

Kindle store > kindle ebooks > science fiction & fantasy > fantasy > humor > arthurian


Kindle store > kindle ebook > science fiction & fantasy > fantasy > humor > myths & legends

which are smaller sub-categories where it possible for customers to find it. Hurray!

Choosing Amazon Categories and Keywords

If you have some books published on Amazon via KDP, I’d say it’s worth checking to see your keywords and categories are correctly listed on your book’s Amazon page, because the categories on your KDP bookshelf don’t exactly match the browse categories. (It has something to do with BISAC – the way books are categorised.) Be wary. Your keywords could be doing nothing to help readers find your ebook – so check after publication that you can find it on Amazon in the Kindle Store like a customer would.

For Amazon’s advice on how to select categories, click here.

For more info on selecting browse categories, the KDP help page is here.

Well, I’m glad I emailed Amazon and learnt what had gone wrong. It wasn’t obvious!

(I just checked on Amazon. My book’s now added to Kindle store > kindle ebooks > science fiction & fantasy > fantasy > arthurian, where it belongs.)

Now that my book is visible again, I’ll have to trick some people into buying it. I’ve been reading about hypnotic suggestion and mind control – so look into my eyes.

You are feeling sleepy. Very sleepy.

You want to buy a humorous novel about King Arthur …



Inside the writer’s mind #285: One Book, No Choice

cartoon strip

Imagine a bookshop where only one book is sold. In Japan that is a reality. Yoshiyuki Moriaka sells only one title per week. (See Article here.) I assume he has more than one copy of that book to sell – but even so that seems an extreme business model, like a ice cream shop selling only vanilla. He gives his customers no choice. It seems like a crazy idea until you think about what happens when you go into a normal bookshop.

I often browse for an hour or more trying to select a few new books from the thousands on display – but the sheer amount of choice gives me a headache. I can’t choose. I like so many genres that I struggle to pick anything.

I normally end up picking something on sale by a writer I already trust, which defeats the whole purpose of having a good browse. Browsing wastes a lot of time when all I really want is one really good book at a time.

It would save so much time and effort if the bookshop owner had done the hard work of choosing one great book for all customers. Then the only choice for the customer would be to accept his recommendation or reject it. It would require the owner to have chosen wisely – if he wanted to have repeat customers. Just one bad book would ruin his reputation and harm his business.

I hope Yoshiyuki Moriaka has luck making his idea work.

But I wouldn’t pitch it on Dragons’ Den.

Customers Enter At Their Own Risk – a bookshop experience

I saw this sign in the window of a small bookshop last week:

Customers enter at their own risk.

I thought it was a joke – until I looked inside. The shop was filled from floor to ceiling with towers of books. It looked like a hoarder’s paradise – so jam-packed with books that there was no space for the owner to sit inside. (I am not kidding. He was sitting across the street with a bemused look on his face as he watched potential customers go inside his shop, which I did because I always enjoy browsing.) There was already one customer inside – shuffling between two towers of fiction so cautiously that you’d think the ground was mined. I wanted to go in – but there was no space for more than one customer in the aisle. I waited for the first customer to come out before venturing inside. He didn’t buy anything. He just looked happy to come out, shaking his head.

Undaunted, I stepped inside. Almost immediately, I felt claustrophobic. On my left were stacks of crime fiction ranging from popular bestsellers to obscure cult titles. To look at them, I had to squeeze into a narrow aisle less than a foot wide. It was impossible to see the books at the bottom because there was no room for bending my legs. Since the books were not on shelves, each tower had hundreds of books in it up to the ceiling. They looked precarious, like massive Jenga towers. I was afraid of touching them. What kind of person thought that was a reasonable way of displaying his stock?

There were a few books that I had not read by John D McDonald – one of my favourite crime writers – but they were near the middle of a teetering stack. Though I was interested in buying them, I wasn’t going to destabilise the tower by trying to remove them. It already looked dangerous. I left the books to continue deeper into the shop, where I hoped things would become more sensible. I could not turn around to check out the books behind me until I reached a small space at the end. There I looked down the second aisle – which was even narrower than the first. There were books all over the floor, making it impassable. It made me wonder how the man had got so many books into one place. There must have been a point when he thought he had enough stock – but he had turned the shop into a lethal library.

By then I had the desperate urge to get outside as quickly as possible – so I twisted my body around so I could head back where I had come in, facing the other way. The science fiction section was on that side – actually on shelves. That was slightly safer than the towers – but the books were crammed onto the shelves three titles deep. It was impossible to see what was behind the first layer without lifting dozens of books out of the way – but there wasn’t the elbow room to lift my arms. I saw tantalising glimpses of long out of print titles – but no way of reaching them. I started to understand why the owner stayed outside. He had known what it would feel like to enter his shop. It was a hellish experience.

Angry and frustrated, I shuffled my way back out into the daylight, glad to make it out alive.