Did You Forget the Subject Headings?

September is Read-A-New-Book Month. To celebrate, not only will I read a new book this month (I do that every month), I will also share with you about a new book I recently read.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) has over 125 member publishers. These publishers produce materials for the Christian marketplace and CSPA offers information and services to help our members market their books to this unique market.

One of the services we offer is representation at the International Christian Retail Show (ICRS), making it affordable for smaller publishers to utilize this resource for marketing their books. This year, we represented over 50 titles at the show. One of these books was Found Missing: A True Story of Domestic Violence, Murder, and Eternity by Linda Slavin and published by Inspired Authors Press.

The book was an easy read and I found it interesting. However, since my blog deals with tips on publishing and marketing books, I am not going to give you a full review of this book.

If you pick up a physical book in your house that has been published by a large publishing house, you will find subject headings on the back cover. These headings tell you what kind of book the book you are holding is. They also provide a guide for retailers as to where to shelve the book in their stores.

These subject headings are usually found on one of the four corners of the back cover of the book. They may say “Juvenile Fiction/General”, “Religion/Christian Life/Family”, “Education/Homeschooling”, or “Self-Help/Depression”.

Many independently published books don’t list subject headings. I think this is a mistake. Subject headings make your book look professional and retail ready. However, don’t get too zealous with your subject headings and list too many. Listing too many can be confusing for the reader and retailer. In my opinion, Found Missing listed too many subject headings on the back cover. The book listed “Mystery/Murder/DomesticViolence/Non-Fiction/Christian.”

As a retailer do I file this book under the “Christian” section of the store, or do I file it under the “Family/Relationships” section? Maybe it needs to go under “True Crimes”?

Here is my advice. When picking subject headings to put on your next book, stick with the ones that BISG has established as industry standards with their BISAC Subject Heading List. Choose one, just one off that list. The BISAC Subject Heading List can be found for free on BISG’s website.

In the case of Found Missing, I would have chosen one of the following subject headings to use:

  • FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Abuse / Domestic Partner Abuse
  • RELIGION / Christian Life / Relationships
  • BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Religious

Since the BISAC Subject Heading list is offered free, you have no excuse to not include a subject heading on your next book. Just heed my advice and don’t use too many.

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