Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Clarification on SUBJECT in Metadata

I have received a couple of inquiries about how to handle the SUBJECT option in the metdata on Jutoh.  My book left out a couple of steps and it certainly needs clarification.

The difficulty lies in the reality that most books fall under more than one subject, and the author wishes to make sure that each subject is searchable.

In the book I talk about the BISAC codes and how to set that up for your book under the SUBJECT metadata. However, my description of how to set up the subject string with words was rather circuitous. I offer an alternative here. We are going to use a book that would normally be classified as Urban Fantasy for Young Adults.  BISAC does not have a young adult category, so we begin with the categorization scheme below.

FICTION / Fantasy / Urban

The easiest way to do this is to actually type the string exactly as I did above. All capitals on the main subject category FICTION or NON-FICTION. Then a space and a backslash, a space and the subject beneath that.  Remember, you want these to follow the BISAC categorization scheme. If you add in subject names that are not part of that taxonomy, it is likely they will not be part of the search on a distributor's site.

The two screenshots below detail how I entered this recently for a friends book.

Once you've entered your subject click on the ellipses to the right.  This will bring up a second screen that allows you to additionally modify the Subject metadata item.

Note that the subject information I already entered appears under the ELEMENT Subject 1, and the Attribute "Value" is FICTION /fantasy/ urban.  Now I want to add the BISAC code.  That code relates to the same subject and I looked it up at the BISAC site.  

To add the code, click on the Add button next to the attributes box.  That will bring up a screen for you to identify an attribute. That is where you type in BISAC.  Then BISAC will be added below the Value attribute and have a blank box next to it. That is where you type in the actual BISAC code. in the example above, that is FIC009060. The FIC stands for Fiction, the header category. The number then provides the subcategorization of fantasy and urban which identifies this book as an urban fantasy book.

I hope this helps to clarify how to correctly add the Subject metadata in Jutoh for the best outcome. 

Reminder: For those who are not selling in the United States, where a different categorization scheme is used, you can do these same steps but the Attribute name would be the categorization scheme you prefer (e.g.,  IBIC, Thema).


  1. Hi Maggie, really enjoy your site (and your book). A cautionary memo, however, on your example(s). In most cases this won't make the cut during EPUB validation. Unless specifying custom metadata via a namespace, the only acceptable attributes are "id" or "xml:lang". Happy writing!

  2. Special thanks to @Jon Guenther who pointed out that using the BISAC code or the value with slashes will likely not pass EPUB validation. He is absolutely right. When I wrote this in early 2013 I was loading to BN, Amazon, and Kobo without problem. However, I did discover that Apple hiccuped (they are sticklers for EPUB validation) and I had to remove the extended information. Now, I advise only using the word Fiction or Non-fiction in the subject field. I have done that since the hiccup and run it thorugh EPUB validators without a problem.