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Metadata. Ah, the less glamorous part of publishing. What exactly is metadata and why should you care?
Well, a quick Google search shows many sites and articles referring to metadata as data on data. Huh? My eyes have already glazed over. Have yours?
In effort to avoid nodding off or losing anyone, I’ll just go over the rudimentary basics as it applies to authors. Metadata is information about your book.
Author name, title, subtitle, publication date, format, ISBN – the bones. Nothing extraordinary, but crucial. Why? Because these bits of information goes into all sorts of databases. And these databases are what is picked through during web searches.
Oh, you might be thinking, that’s kind of a big deal.
Yes. Yes it is. Without metadata, you and your book would be lost in the infinite world of the Internet Twilight Zone, never to be found.
Like with any good complex character, or chocolate cake, there is more than what you see on the surface. Consider categories and descriptions. And what about those people you want to target? Now here we narrow metadata down. We are taking your book and individualizing it among the gazillion other books out there. In turn, expanding your discoverability while reaching those most interested in your book.
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Historical Romance > Pirates
Maybe you are looking for a romance with an international secret baby by an amnesiac gambling cowboy immersed in a love triangle. Yup…metadata makes it possible for you to connect with those books.
Don’t stop there. Metadata goes in conjunction with keywords and tags. This, my friend, is muy importante. Keywords are the details, another layer of goodness. That special sumthin’ sumthin’ unique to your book. Often times, these keywords are the search terms used when looking for books.
Consider for a moment my shameless plug, er, I mean my pirate books. Aside from my name and the title, I have a subtitle “A Romancing the Pirate novel”. My keywords include pirate romance, historical romance, pirates of the Caribbean, among others. This will allow people looking to cozy up with a pirate romance to easily find my books. Now say a reader wants to read an erotic story involving cat burglars. If they type in those keywords, they should find exactly what they are looking for—a Harlowe Wilde book. (See how I slipped in another shameless plug?)
Amazon lets you pick up to seven keywords, other retailers allow for more. Pick wisely and try not to be too vague. Remember, it’s about what people are searching for and discoverability.
Metadata is also pulled from your book’s description. For most of us, that’s the blurb. Right about now, a light bulb should be going off in your head. The blurb should not only reflect what the story is about in an intriguing succinct way that captures the tone and voice but also include keywords. Hey, no pressure.
Here is an example of a few words that might be used in someone’s search using my blurb for Beneath the Water’s Edge.
Publication Date: February 8, 2012
Elyssa Calhoun Montgomery had been willing to do anything to keep her father from debt, including following her new husband to the Caribbean-–dressed as a lad. But she never dreamed she’d become widowed so quickly, or that she’d come face to face with a fearsome pirate who expects her to fight like a man. Captured and her identity exposed, she doesn’t know what’s worse, being locked alone in a pirate captain’s quarters or experiencing an unsettling attraction toward him.
Captain Bran Blackthorn has grown weary of the pirating trade and seeks a King’s Pardon for his crew. Unfortunately, the man who could sign a reprieve, his half-brother Governor Flynn, would rather see him dead. When the gods—or the devil—bestows an angel to his spoils, he sees an opportunity to force a pardon with her ransom. Never mind his beautiful pawn has bewitched him, filling him with a desire to press his body against hers, capture her mouth in a searing kiss, and brand her as his own.
But when Bran’s enemies seek vengeance, Elyssa becomes entangled in their deadly game and Bran faces the gallows. Can they cheat death and save each other? Or will they be dragged…
Beneath The Water’s Edge
Another shameless example with Kitty Kitty, Bang Bang:
Publication Date: September 16, 2013
Reilly Shay has built a reputation as a highly successful cat burglar. Her current contract—to steal a one-of-a-kind diamond bracelet—puts her one step closer to freedom from her employer. But she suspects her days are numbered. She’s a target for cops and crooks, and no one has her back since her ex-partner, and ex-lover, Grant Aubrey turned on her.
Grant gladly takes the job to capture Reilly at her latest heist. He loved her and she betrayed him. Case closed. But as he waits in the shadows of a Greek villa and watches her crack the safe, old desires emerge. And, suddenly, taking her in isn’t nearly as enticing as just taking her.
Will one night of dangerous passion be the death of them both?
So, you see, in a basic nutshell metadata is not only data about data, it is a direct link to discoverability. It’s important it’s complete and reflects the information necessary that is effective in driving your target audience to you. I recently discovered mine weren’t as effectual as they could be. That called for some tweaking. Note, I said tweaking, not twerking.
No matter if you are self-published or with a publisher, verify your book’s metadata is correct. You’ve not a minute to lose. Someone may be searching for you right now.
Questions? Thoughts? Anything to add? Speak up!