BISAC Codes and Keywords


BISAC codes (also known as subject codes) and keywords are essential pieces of your title’s metadata because they help with categorization and discoverability in the marketplace.

BISAC subject codes are essentially codes used by retailers, distributors, search engines, and buyers to describe the genre and subject matter of a book. These codes inform booksellers and librarians how to categorize your title.

Lightning Source requires at least one BISAC code to be entered during title set-up, but three BISACs is the industry standard to ensure the topic, genre, and subject matter of a book are fully represented.

For a full list of all BISAC subject codes, please visit

Keywords and phrases are also essential for communicating to the marketplace what a title is about. Below are some helpful tips on how to create good keywords.

  • Make a list of words and short phrases (long-tail keywords) you think your readers might type into a website to find you and your book. Eliminate words like "the", "an", "a", etc.
  • The more specific the keywords, the more likely the person searching for those specific words will be able to find your book among the search results.
  • Enter your list of keywords and phrases on online retailer websites to find books like yours and if those words do not return books that are like yours, try again.
  • Use the Google Keyword Search tool to help you think of other keywords for your book. Google Keyword Search will show you how popular those keywords are (volume data) and help you find keywords with lower competition.
  • Work on this task until you have a final list of 10 to 20 words and/or phrases.
  • Return to Google Keyword Search every few months to evaluate new trends, check popularity and volume, and improve your keywords list. 
  • When submitting keywords for a title on your Lightning Source account, enter the most important keywords and phrases first, listing them in descending importance. Keep the number of repeated keywords to a maximum of three. 
  • These same top keywords and phrases should appear in your book description when possible.


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