If you are self-publishing your book via Amazon’s CreateSpace, Lulu, IngramSpark or the like, you will probably be asked during the process of listing your book for sale what BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) and/or BIC (Book Industry Communication) category it should come under. These codes are used by booksellers to group books by subject matter. Each book can have only one main code, so how do you choose?
The list of BISAC subject headings has just been updated and there is a useful tutorial and FAQs on the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) website. The entire book categories list is also available here free of charge.
The BIC subject categories are the equivalent in the UK, but you may be asked for both depending on where you will be selling your book.
Choose your subject headings carefully because these will become your main categories and keywords in your sales listings. Think about the main genre of your book and what best describes it. Don’t choose something that’s not actually the main focus of your book just because you think it will help your rankings! You can choose subheadings or keywords to reflect underlying themes, and this is particularly useful for catching keywords that might not be prominent in your book description or blurb.
One great advantage to using the industry-standard classifications rather than making up your own is that your book will be more discoverable and it should help with marketing and potential sales.