Time to Choose Categories for Read Tuesday

Genre Pic


It’s hard to believe that Read Tuesday (a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers) is only two months away. Read Tuesday 2014 falls on December 9.

Before we open submissions (listing your book is free and easy), we need to decide on the best way to help readers find the books.

Now we run into some of challenges of sorting through a long list of books:

  • Customers don’t want to click on such a narrow subcategory that there are hardly any books on the page.
  • Customers don’t want such a broad category that the list seems endless.
  • Many authors feel that their book spans multiple categories, but if their books get into multiple categories, the books at the bottom get buried even further down.
  • How do you organize the books on any given list in order to best help readers?
  • There are many more issues like these. You can appreciate some of the challenges that Amazon faces in this regard.

We wish to address a few particular issues that customers raised in Read Tuesday 2013:

  • There was some confusion regarding Children, Teen, Adult, and Mature sorting last year. Exactly what constitutes mature? There are different levels. Does adult mean not suitable for teens? Perhaps we’ll go with General rather than Adult. Now is a good time to share your ideas on how to clarify what is or isn’t mature, and whether we need to split mature up into two groups.
  • It would be useful to see a brief description. There isn’t room for the full blurb. What you want is a short strapline. Just enough to make the customer want to go to the product page to learn more. We need to set a reasonable character count. How about 100 characters? (Too long and books further down the list will get buried too far.)
  • We will sort books by Kindle, Smashwords, and the nature of the promotion. (There will be print book promotions, too.)
  • We will add an age range for children’s, tween, and teen books. Parents shop with a specific age group in mind. Authors want to say that their books are for Ages 6 to 18, but parents often pass up books that don’t specify a much narrower target. We might do something like 5 & under, 6-8, 9-12, and teen.

To prevent other books from getting buried too far on any list, we’re leaning toward the “pick one” philosophy:

  • If your book fits in multiple categories, pick one that you think is closest. Any exposure is better than no exposure, right? And today is your chance to suggest category ideas.
  • If your book fits into multiple age groups, pick one to target.

For popular categories like romance, we can introduce subcategories, like historical romance, if we have enough books.

But for some subcategories, if there aren’t enough books, we really need to lump these into a larger category. We had this issue with nonfiction in 2013. There are many nonfiction books, but most of them were in a variety of dissimilar categories.

It would be easiest to organize the books if we could put a great list of categories together in a drop-down menu before we open submissions.

One possibility is to choose a category from the drop-down menu and write-in a specific subcategory. We’ll only sort by category, but the write-in option lets you clarify to help readers judge the book.

Then we have the issue of the dreaded Other. Maybe we can think of some cool alternatives. I bet Amazon would sell a ton of books that ordinarily are hard to find if they came up with some cool alternatives to Other. Just make a category called Bizarre and that would attract attention.

Ideas, please. 🙂

We’re at the stage where changes are easy to implement. We can’t implement every suggestion, but we’ll certainly listen and consider.

Once we open submissions, change is far less likely until 2015.


Give the gift of reading this holiday season.

Chris McMullen, founder of Read Tuesday

Follow Read Tuesday (@ReadTuesday) on Twitter

Like the Read Tuesday page at Facebook

23 responses to “Time to Choose Categories for Read Tuesday

    • Pinterest looked nice, but it didn’t seem as functional (plus, it required a lot of work). We’ll try to get everything organized on Read Tuesday pages this year.

  1. Suggestions, huh? I would go with 140 characters, which is the size of a tweet. 100 seems too small to me. Also, I do have a question to add to the pile. If a concern is books being shoved down the list, what does one do with an author that is including multiple books? Should there be a series category or maybe a way to post books in a horizontal fashion instead of vertical? Kind of like every author gets a line of books in the catalog. Though I don’t think you can do that on WordPress.

  2. I’m trying to figure out how to participate – my books are already only $.99 and I don’t want to do free for that day. I’m not very Amazon savvy, could I offer a free Kindle version with the purchase of the paper book? Any suggestions?

  3. Would it be possible to make multi-level categories? I am thinking a handful of main categories, say, Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, General Fiction, and then break each main category down as needed.

  4. As a Fantasy writer, I’m always aware of the category problem. One thing I would like to see is a definite demarkation between Romance with fantasy elements and traditional Fantasy. I would suggest some breakdown to say, General Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Fantasy Roamnce to make it clear.
    I do like the pick one philosophy. It will save a lot of duplication and authors would benefit by having to think out what category their potential readers are actually going to be looking in.
    I also agree that General is better than Adult or Mature, which gets confused with Erotica or ‘mature’ themes. My books would happily fit in general; directed at adults but suitable for older children and teens.
    I think we would all benefit by herding the Romance writers back into the Roamnce category. They appear all over the place, which dillutes categories like Fantasy and Historical Fiction and makes it more difficult for Romance readers to find what they want. Maybe Romance – Historical, Romance – Fantasy, etc under their heading, Romance.

  5. I think that going with broad general categories with sub categories underneath is the way to go. For example, fiction vs. nonfiction, adult vs. children then becoming more specific. My books would fall under nonfiction, children….and then could be broken down further into history. I think the suggestion of having a series category is a good one for authors with multiple entries.

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