Thursday, October 22, 2009

Side Trip: How to Write a Non-Fiction Book Proposal – Part 6


The “category” of your book is where your book will be placed in the bookstore: which section, which shelf, and which books will be around it that may compete with it.

Go grab a book off your bookshelf. Turn it over and look at the back cover near the bar code. There you should see what category the book is in. This tells the bookstore owner where to shelve the book.

For example, the category will say something like:
  • “writing/reference”
  • “Business & Economics/General”
  • “Christian Living”

Find a book that is similar to the one you are writing, that will be next to your book on the shelf, and tell the editor or agent in your book proposal what that category is.

If you’re writing a Christian book, you can find the list of categories used in the BISAC codes. BISAC stands for “Book Industry Standards and Communications” codes. These codes help booksellers determine the primary subject or focus of a book.

Find the BISAC list here:

Or go to and click on “Category Definitions for Christian Product Sublist (a work in progress).”

I suggest you print this list out and slide it into a page protector for future reference.

Find where your book best fits, and enter that information under “Category” in your book proposal.

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