Metadata is a very important aspect of a book that many self publishing authors simply gloss over. Little do they know what a huge factor metadata is in a book's success.
If readers can't find a book, they can't buy it - it’s as simple as that, and metadata is the information that makes your book searchable.
What is metadata?
Metadata is the information you provide that enable librarians and retailers to catalog and sell your book. "Meta" literally means "about," so metadata is all the data about your book. Some publishers will differentiate between core metadata and enhanced metadata. Core metadata contains all of the basic information about your book such as the author name, the category, price and title. Enhanced metadata include author bios, blurbs, review quotes and more.
Where Does One Use Metadata?
Indie authors are required to fill in metadata at about every place they want to sell or market their books. Retailers such as iBooks, Nook, Kobo and Amazon will all ask for metadata information. Metadata is also connected to a book's ISBN number, so whoever buys the book's ISBN from Bowker is in charge of the book's metadata.
How Can You Optimize Metadata To Sell More Books?
Metadata is all about getting your audience to find your books, which is where some search engine optimization (SEO) techniques can be very helpful. If you want your book to show up in Google and other search engine searches, you need to provide good metadata. The trick is to create data that fits your book and is tailored for your readers. This will allow them to find your book among all the noise.
16 Effective Tips to Optimize Your Metadata
- Use as many related keywords as possible - Amazon gives you 7 keyword slots to fill in - be sure to give a keyword for each one of them.
- Give all the information you have - Don't leave anything out: include your book's title, subtitle, the names of your contributors, your own full name, the category and classification.
- Be specific within the genre - instead of just listing your book as a "horror," "thriller" or "romance" novel, use original and specific keywords. For example, list "teenage steampunk fantasy romance" instead of "romance." or instead of "thriller" say "post-apocalyptic, zombie, dystopian, Western thriller."
- Get inspiration - If you need some keyword inspiration, you can make use of SEMrush's keyword tool or type a couple of keywords in Amazon and have a look at the descriptions of other books.
- Follow Amazon's advice - Use the specific keywords they recommend for certain sub categories. Click on any of the categories on this page to see the keywords required.
- Don't get too flowery in your description - This is especially true for non-fiction books. Rather list helpful keywords that will help your readers find your book instead of trying to sound impressive.
- Focus on your target group - How old are your readers? What are their interests? How does your message apply to them - does it have a religious theme or does it contain mature/adult content? Is it great for people who love gadgets?
- Make use of themes and special occasions - Is your book a practical Christmas gift? The ultimate guide for the summer holiday? The must-read this Halloween? Perfect for Mother's Day or Father's Day? Be sure to include any special sales events in your keywords.
- Include important story elements - What is the occupation of your protagonist? The time period and place your book is set in? Is your book inspired by specific historic events?
- Make use of BISAC Subject Codes - Many companies use BISAC Subject Headings as a standard to categorize books by content. Also be sure to have a look at their best practices for keyword metadata.
- Include awards, prizes and other media mentions in your description.
- Include one or two keywords in your reviews - If you are quoting reviews in your book description, ask the endorser if it is ok to slightly change it to include a keyword. For instance, if she wrote "Best thriller I have ever read!" ask her if you could change it to "best post-apocalyptic thriller I have ever read!"
- Don't overdo it - Don't go so crazy with keywords that it makes your description unreadable. Read our article on how to create a great book blurb for more tips.
- Make excerpts from your book available.
- Provide links to your website and social media pages where allowed.
- Add your author location if you want to appeal to your local audience.
Metadata is a bit of a magic formula. There is no clear-cut guide on which keywords you should or should not use for your book. However, using the right ones will make all the difference in helping your readers to find your book.