Picking a Category for your Book

Many times when we submit our book reviews to authors we receive replies with concerns that they might not have categorized their book correctly on the original submission form.  Because of the regularity of this concern I realized that maybe we should address this topic in an editorial. 

Categories are used by libraries and book stores to organize their shelves, but they are not the ones who decide what category a book should be, the author is the one that makes that decision. When the author decides which genre to write they are at the same time choosing their market target.  However, this target market can include many categories. Choosing a main category that applies to their book is a very important decision that requires a lot of thought as this not only will determine where the book will be placed on the shelves, but also who will review their book when submitting for reviews and literary contests.  Here are some tips when categorizing your book.

  • Never come up with your own category or label. There is a system in place and bookstores, libraries, contests, and the entire publishing and literary industry goes by that system.
  • Get familiarized with all the categories already in place, so that you can choose the one that applies best to your book. This system used comes straight from the BISAC coding.
  • When picking the category for your book, the first step is to consider your audience. For example if you write a children’s book, what is the target age group? Is it a nonfiction or fiction book? Don’t be tempted to think that your children’s book is for everyone, and categorize it for everyone. This will only hurt the marketing of your book.
  • Once you have determined your audience niche, look through the BISAC headings and pick the one most relevant to your book. You will go from general to specific when assigning the category.
  • Include the category on the back cover of your book so that librarians and book stores place the book on the right shelf where your target market will look for books. The common practice has been to place it on the top left of the back cover. For example my book shows the BISAC category I chose on the top left of the back cover and looks like this:

“JUVENILE  FICTION/Historical/Military & Wars”

When in doubt, it is always better to talk to other authors, publicists, or publishers while writing your book to help determine which category is best. This will make your book more marketable as your writing will be speaking to your target market, and the right category will place your book where your audience will find it. For information on how Reader Views can help market your book click here.