How to Choose the (BISAC) Category Code for Your Self-Published Book to Attract a Ready-to-Buy Audience

BISAC codes (which stands for Book Industry Standards and Communications) are created by the Book Study Industry Group. Your BISAC code is the category subject heading for your book that gives consumers, distributors, and booksellers a clear definition of your book’s content.

You need to select the proper BISAC subject code for your book to allow customers, who are searching for specific content, to easily find and purchase it. Publishers, booksellers, retailers, distributors, and even reviewers categorize titles using BISAC. Your book’s BISAC is often incorporated into the barcode, and the text version printed on the back cover.

Here's how to search the list of BISAC subject codes:

Step 1: Visit the Book Industry Study Group website at bisg.org. Select the “Complete BISAC Subject Heading List” in the dropdown menu under the “BISAC Codes” tab in the main navigation menu. (Note: There is no fee to obtain your BISAC Code. You can view the entire list online for free. You do not need to pay to download the list.)

Step 2: Select the major heading which best describes the content of your book (such as “Business and Economics”). Click on the heading for more specific headings within the category.

Step 3: Determine the specific term which describes your book. The alpha-numeric code listed next to the selected term is the BISAC subject code.

To ensure the broadest reach for your book, select three BISAC subject codes to reflect your book’s categories.

(Authors and publishers in the UK can acquire an equivalent category code from the BIC Subject Categories and Qualifiers Scheme at bic.org.uk.)