Metadata tells booksellers, libraries, and your potential readers everything they need to know about your book.
Updated June 2017.
Do you know how to market a book with metadata? You’re a writer, and you probably hate all those geeky computer terms that people toss around when they’re trying to point out something you haven’t done and don’t want to do. But the term metadata is important if you want your book to be searchable from far and wide.
So what is metadata, and why do you want to take advantage of it?
Metadata is data about data – and it’s crucial for your eBook. You may not know it, but your book is introduced to the world through its metadata. Think of the metadata as a yellow pages ad that lists all the information related to your book, including:
- the title and subtitle
- the genre and subgenre
- short and long book descriptions
- the ISBN
- the author and contributor names and bios
- the book subjects (its BISAC codes)
- an image of the book cover
- the countries where your book is sold
- the book’s target market
Your metadata is populated across many platforms – it’s displayed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, in library catalogs, bookstores, and everywhere online.
Where does the book metadata come from?
Your ISBN is the anchor for your book metadata. When you purchase your ISBN (BookBaby sells ISBNs for $29 each, or you can go direct to R.R. Bowker, the official agency in charge of assigning and maintaining these numbers in the US, and purchase a single ISBN for $125 or 10 for $250), you enter all this data about your book. You can and should enter everything you want bookstores, libraries, and the public to know about your book: the more information you enter, the better.
When you continually update this metadata, it’s pushed out to the world on a regular basis. Update your picture, add review quotes, and even change the categories for your book to see if that helps to spark sales. When you have good news about your book, like a 5-star review or a new endorsement, add that as well.
How do you go about creating good metadata?
Research retailers. Go to Amazon.com, Apple’s iBookstore or BN.com and look up books like yours. What categories are they in? Study the book descriptions. See what words they’ve used to describe their books. Then search for books using the keywords you found using the keyword tool.
Use google’s keyword tool. It’s a tremendous window into the world of what people are searching for through Google. Look up words you feel describe your book and you’ll quickly see whether people are searching for those words and what other words they are using.
Be consistent. Don’t put one book description on Amazon and change it around for B&N. Use similar wording for the boilerplate on your press release, book flyer, etc. Create a document or spreadsheet documenting the metadata and where you used it. This is especially important if you have several titles and a huge time saver as you expand your marketing. [Note: BookBaby requires the same description for all eBook retailers.]
It’s a constant effort to keep your book at the forefront, and when you know how to market a book with metadata, you’ve given your book a welcome boost for no cost!
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