BISAC Subject Codes for Books – How They Work


Here, I will explain why it is very important to set BISAC subject codes when uploading your book to Amazon. If you don’t follow these steps, you could be missing out on becoming a best-selling author.

First of all, what are BISAC codes?

Latest BISAC codes

In order to fully grasp how important BISAC codes are, and how they can assist your book in the Amazon Best-sellers rank, we need to understand what they are.

BISAC is an acronym for Book Industry Standards and Communications. BISAC is an industry-approved set of standards for use within the book trade. Amazon uses these codes to essentially place your book into the right categories so that people searching for your content, will ultimately find it.

Although they are very important for helping your book rank better on Amazon and other online retailers, they are also used on the shelves in high street stores such as Waterstones.

Who determines BISAC?

The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) will review the full list of BISAC codes every year, to ensure they are relevant and up-to-date. They will also add new categories and replace old ones.

What are the benefits of adding BISAC codes when I upload my book to Amazon?

In simple terms, if you correctly categories your book in a relevant BISAC category, you are telling Amazon, and other retailers, where to place your book on their website or in their store. This means your book has a better chance of ranking higher and also for becoming a best-seller. So, in a nutshell, if you decide not to add BISAC codes when uploading your book to Amazon, or if you do it incorrectly, you might very well be missing out on some sales!

How can I use BISAC codes to my advantage?

In order to get the most from your BISAC codes, follow these tips:

TIP 1: Study the codes and list up to 4 for your book

The first thing to do is to get familiar with the BISAC codes. You will see that there are LOTS of them, so you need to be careful which one(s) you choose. Some retailers will accept two, three or even more codes. Amazon will accept two main categories and also two sub-categories.

TIP 2: Choose codes that are relevant to your book

Make sure, when you choose the codes for your book they are actually relevant. In fact, the more relevant they are, the better.

TIP 3: Do not mix non-fiction with fiction codes

This is very important! I have been made aware of some authors trying to mix up codes in order to get a better ranking; it simply will not work!

TIP 4: Try to avoid adding ‘GENERAL’ BISAC codes

It is very easy to rush and add ‘GENERAL’ codes for your book, simply because you feel there isn’t one suitable for it. This could mean the difference between a best-sellers rank or not.

TIP 5: Understand the AMAZON Best-seller ranking system

AMAZOn BISAC subject codes for books

The Amazon best-sellers system means that you have to rank in the top 100 of any category to become qualified as a best-seller. So, by choosing a code that is easier to rank in, will mean you become a best seller faster. For example, from the above image you will see that one of my books ranks 94 in SOCIETY, POLITICS AND PHILOSOPHY / EDUCATION STUDIES. This is not the first category that springs to mind when I think of the book content! However, the simple fact is, this category is easier to rank in that one more general to the content: CAREERS. 


If you would like to find out more about my work, and how I can help you to get your book published and on sale through Amazon and/or Waterstones, please check out my website at: 

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