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Do you know what BISAC subjects are and why they matter?

This post is inspired by a BookNetCanada.ca blog post that we happened upon, which had a little quiz challenging you to guess the book title of best sellers based on BISAC subjects.

Do you know what BISAC subject are? And why they matter?

BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) subject codes help let potential buyers, retailers, distributors, and search engines know what your book is about – your book’s primary genre(s), topic(s), and theme(s).

Without these codes, readers, retailers, distributors, and search engines cannot identify what your book is about or if they’d like to stock or read it — on- or off-line.

Tips for selecting relevant codes:

  • Be honest and make sure you pick codes that are relevant to your book as a whole, not just parts of it.
  • Make the first code the most accurate for your book, i.e., the code that most specifically describes your book.
  • Select codes from multiple top-level BISAC categories to broaden discovery. For example, if your biography was about growth or discovery, you might consider primary subjects such as BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY and BODY, MIND & SPIRIT.
  • Keep away from GENERAL codes unless no others fit, as these don’t do a good job defining your specific book.
  • Make sure your codes are consistent across formats, e.g., print, eBooks; paperback, hard cover.
  • If your book is for children ages 0-11, make sure you include at least one subject code under: JUVENILE FICTION or JUVENILE NONFICTION.

Look at Complete BISAC Subject Headings List, 2020 Edition for BISAC codes.

Try the quiz at BookNetCanada.ca that challenges you to guess the book title of best sellers based on BISAC subjects.

And don’t forget the keywords! It’s surprising the number of books lacking keywords. There are also a number of books that use the title and author name as keywords.

Our theme this spring is children’s books, so check out #17 – #20 in the quiz linked above to see the BISAC subject codes used for best sellers. The quiz also shows the keywords so you can see what the best sellers in the list are using.

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