KDSPY REVIEW: HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF KINDLE SPY [PROFITABLE CATEGORIES]
Check out my KDSpy Review!
Whether you hate it or love it, competition analysis and getting a winning edge are part of the self publishing game.
With one piece of software, you can see how well a Kindle e-book category is doing compared to another.
You can see the Amazon Best Seller Rankings for the category (top 20 books for the category), how much that category is making in sales, and much more all at one glance.
In the beginning, I only used Kindle Spy as a tool to do niche & keyword research. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for this tool.
These days I use Kindle Spy to find the best suited Kindle category for my books.
In this article, I’ll show you how to use KDSpy to your advantage and give you my honest review on the software if you don't have it already.
Why Should You Care About Categories?
Two words: more exposure.
I’m sure you’ve done some form book research in the past and come across a book that has a great sales ranking and stands out … right?
Exposure is the name of the game when it comes to Kindle Categories.
I’m going to show you two solid reasons why you should choose your categories strategically if you want to leverage the power of Amazon.
#1 An Attractive Orange Badge Next To Your Book
Okay, let me set the scene.
You’re doing some niche research in a cookbook niche and you come across some books, on the first page of results, that are doing well.
Two out of the three books above are clearly different and stand out more.
The attractive orange “Best Seller” badge.
The publisher/author who has this by their book usually has an upper hand in the rankings.
This simple orange badge leads to higher click through rates for your books and signals to Amazon that your book should be ranked higher.
You too can get a Best Seller sticker by being first in your respective category.
For example, the first book in the image above has the following Amazon Best Sellers Rank in the paid Kindle Store:
and is #1 in its category – Turkish Cookbooks.
Turkish Cookbook? I thought this was an Instant Pot Cookbook!
Is this a little mischievous? Maybe. I haven’t purchased the actual cookbook myself and perhaps there are Turkish recipes in there.
At least it’s not under a sports category or something like that.
The point is that self publishers use this gray hat tactic to get that push into a semi-competitive yet easier to rank category.
On the other hand, book 3 in the first image above didn’t do the greatest job at choosing his/her category.
He or she probably chose a category that was overly competitive or just didn’t have enough Amazon traffic coming to it.
Furthermore, they never read this article and yet to have a Best Seller badge next to their book.
Update 7.17.17: The third book is actually #1 in a paid category, but was recently published when I initially wrote this article. Goes to say, even if you get #1 in a category ... there's a sales threshold that Amazon keeps secret. Eventually, you'll get it.
#2 Let Amazon Promote Your Book For You!
Whether you were doing Kindle niche research or just browsing for a book to read – if you searched and clicked through a book in a best selling category you’ve seen Amazon promote a book before.
That’s right, Amazon rewards best sellers with their own ad spend budget.
In my opinion, they utilize two of the best forms of traffics: email marketing and Facebook Ads.
Here’s an email I received from Amazon after searching for cookbooks:
And because Amazon has Facebook pixels throughout their site, they know when you’ve landed on a best selling book's page.
Because of this, you can expect to see some form of Facebook advertisement of that book soon. Amazon usually places these in the Sponsored area (side widget).
Enough said, rank 1st in your category and you’ll have good’ol Amazon in your ring corner feeding you sales!
Profitable Category Research
How do you start?
Well first off, know that there’s a manual way to do (it takes forever and a day) this and then there’s the KDSpy way to do category research.
If you want to know the long manual way, I'll think about adding it to this post ... let me know in the comment section below.
Also, one final note before we start.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re ranked #1 for the category Psychology of Marriage and you have a cookbook, you’ll still get a Best Seller orange sticker by your book and the reader will most likely never know.
Readers have to hover over the Best Seller badge to see the actually see the category
I highly discourage you from doing this. It’s not only ethically wrong but eventually, it’ll be short lived as people will start leaving you bad reviews for such blasphemy.
If you want to stretch category analysis to its limits then I suggest choosing a category that is ballpark close to what your book is about. Just like the publisher did who chose the Turkish Cookbook category.
Let’s begin by taking the same example of the three books above.
Step 1 – What’s the Competition Doing?
The first book is #1 in the Turkish child category of the main parent category Cookbooks, Food & Wine in the paid Kindle Store.
Note About This First Book
It’s a good time to point out that this publisher made a newbie mistake…
He or she only used one Kindle category for their book. You’re supposed to have two default categories for the Kindle Store so make sure to utilize them wisely. Something must've happened here...
Pro Tip #1: if you contact Kindle Direct Publishing, you’ll be able to add 8 more categories to your book (for a total of 10 Kindle categories).
Back on track…
The second book and competitor offers more insight to other potential categories:
Notice that books are childs of the main parent category: Cookbooks, Food & Wine.
So far we have three (child) categories:
- Special Appliances
At this point, let’s open anyone of these categories up – let’s choose “International”.
We can access this category page by clicking the blue hyperlink “International” at the end of the category line above. The page should now appear like this:
As you can see book 2 is sitting firmly at the top of this category's best seller’s list.
Before we go to the next step, notice that there are lots of other child categories (sub-categories) under Cookbooks, Food & Wine.
Book 2, above, chose the International child category and still ranked. The point is he/she could've dug a little deeper ... but hey the book's still a #1 in the category.
Step 2 – Analyzing Category Pages with KDSpy
KDSpy will analyze the top 20 books in any category page and give many variables that’ll help us make a decision when it comes to choosing the 2 best categories for our books.
When I click on the KDSpy Google Chrome Extension, this is what I get for the book 2 analysis:
Notice right away that this is a good category to be in if you want a best seller badge by your book. However, notice that KDSpy gives you more insight.
Things are not as black and white as the traffic system algorithm (at the bottom right) KDSpy gives us.
Sure, it’ll be easier to be #1 in this category, but the economic nature of these types of Kindle books is in high supply.
You can tell this by Average Monthly Revenue the KDSpy software displays.
Even with the majority of the books priced at $0.99 the Avg. Sales Rank for the first 1-20 results is only around 75,000.
Pro Tip #2: Just because the Kindle books are priced low, doesn’t mean you can’t make a high-quality paperback version of your cookbook. Cookbook readers usually prefer paperback books. If you do this right, the money will be in the paperback royalties.
The great thing about KDSpy is that you can do this with any category page within seconds!
Let’s compare the above results of:
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Regional & International > International
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Cookbooks, Food & Wine
And see what we get:
Upon analyzing, we can quickly notice that the Avg. Monthly Rev. and Sales Rank are much better, but the competition is strong.
This category will get you more traffic to your books, but the chance for you ranking #1 are slim to none (indicated by the red bubble).
Starting to see how KDSpy can help you?
Summary on How to Use KDSpy for Category Analysis
- Benchmark your competitor’s Kindle categories
- See if their child categories are as far as you can go in the respective category tree & run KDSpy on them too
- Run Kindle Spy on competitor’s category pages and see which ones are best
- Choose the best categories for your book
It’s important to note that not all categories are available to you when you’re uploading a book to Kindle Direct Publishing. This is by design.
That’s right, Amazon hides a lot of the available categories from publishers.
Don’t worry though. Select a temporary fitting category instead of the category you want and publish the book.
Once your book is live, contact KDP asking them to add so and so category to your book. I usually provide my book’s ASIN in the email. They’ll get back to you shortly and your category should be added shortly!
Also, if you find yourself comparing two categories and they’re both easy to rank for (the third bubble is green), choose the category with the better average sales ranking as the statistics will be on your side.
My Honest KDSpy Review
KDSpy is just one of the many tools in my Kindle Publishing tool belt. It’s not going to break or make your self publishing business – no software/tool will.
That being said, KDSpy can give you an upper hand when choosing categories wisely.
Wesley Atkins is the creator of Kindle Spy and I’ve seen some Amazon changes.
I noticed that he’s on top of any updates that Amazon comes out with which is great because the software draws data from Amazon.com.
You can’t beat the price for this lifetime access browser extension – coming in at a low $47. It’s easy to install, Mac and PC compatible and available for Chrome and Firefox browsers.
If you’re looking for a competitive edge and a much better chance of success I recommend KDSpy.
I hope you found this review article informative and valuable.
To your publishing success,
If you've never seen KDSpy in action, here's an older video of me using it for keyword research.