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What Metadata Says About Your Book…Literally

authoreBooks2go  on  Thursday |clock-iconAugust,14, 2014| 10:36 AM

The digital and physical worlds don’t necessarily exude the same parallels as let’s say a crocodile and an alligator would, but with advancements in technology, the gap in their differences is beginning to close rapidly. Purveyors of digital superiority, including enthusiasts within the field of electronic publishing, have made great efforts to not just duplicate the mediums of the physical world, but exceed them.

Regardless of your affiliation, one thing remains constant: whether you’re a salesman, an insurance agent, a volunteer for a non-profit, or a writer, data plays an integral role in your day-to-day activities. And even more specifically metadata, which acts as a catalyst for discovery. For authors, metadata plays a deciding factor in whether their book is found and, subsequently, sold.

Metadata…Sounds Pretty Technical. So what is it?

Metadata, at its most basic level, is data about data. However, the term is slightly vague in the sense that it is used for two profoundly dissimilar concepts.

  1. Structural metadata revolves around the scheme and arrangement of data assemblies. This type of metadata is referred to as “data about the containers of data”.
  2. Descriptive metadata focuses more on the singular examples of application data, or more notably, the “data content”.

The primary purpose of metadata is to enable the unearthing of relevant information, known also as resource discovery. Metadata also assists in the organization of electronic resources, aids in the production of digital identification, and fosters support in the archiving and safeguarding of a resource. Metadata allows an asset to be established through relevant criteria, identifying resources, conveying analogous resources together, differentiating disparate resources, and supplying location information.

In Author Terms

In the book world, especially in the realm of electronic publishing, metadata is the information that describes your book: the cover image, the name of the book, the price, the number of pages, the word count, your ISBN, your name, the format, the back cover copy, and any other relative aspect of your book that would help describe the title to readers.

The Basics of Metadata

As stated above, metadata consists of all the information surrounding a book that isn’t the content. When publishing, authors must disclose information relative to their book so it will be properly displayed on a retailer’s website or a shelf in a bookstore. Essentially, a writer must fill out a form based on their work. If you are uploading work yourself, common practice dictates to fill out every field that applies to your text. If you are working with a publisher, supply them with all the pertinent information they’d need and then track what the output looks like.

Authors may mistake some areas of information as irrelevant during the publishing process, but these details are crucial to the detection of your book once it enters the market. There are many key pieces of intel that authors don’t think to include in the information on their books. Features like: a comprehensive author biography, keywords, the publication date, and territorial rights all encompass metadata and should be considered when publishing your book in eBook format. Most of these facets are indispensable in driving search traffic to a book.

Subject categories, known as BISAC codes (US) or BIC codes (UK), also play a pivotal role in the collection of metadata. Googling the subject of your text will allow you to swiftly find the accurate codes for your books.

Metadata can be rather cumbersome, specifically pertaining to the jargon, so examining particulars like different author roles and identifiers can grow weary on those who lack experience, but for the most part, metadata sticks to the information bookworms would find pertinent about a certain publication.

Authors Need Metadata. But why?

For the most part, an individual can pick up a physical book in a bookstore, inspect its cover, and take a glimpse at the summary to get a sense of what the book is about. This is not the case with an eBook. It’s much harder to “judge a book by its cover” (pardon the pun) when it is in electronic format. The information an author needs to supply related to an eBook becomes somewhat complicated in regard to providing sufficient details for prospective consumers. A potential reader needs to get enough of a sense of what the book is about to want to see more. The only way to deliver these details in a fashion that grants maximum reach is via metadata.

Metadata is what will ultimately help your book sell. It is what retailers (Apple, Amazon, Google, Barnes & Noble and the like), social networks, and search engines utilize to find your book, offer recommendations on additional authors’ pages, and endorse it to readers. Due to the growth of e-commerce, online shopping and the Internet in general have become fixtures in the way people buy goods and make purchasing decisions. Metadata is more important now for reaching the consumer than ever before.

Get it Right or Suffer the Consequences

It is apparent that metadata is a valuable tool. Even more valuable is an author’s ability to harness its capabilities effectively. For authors hoping to sell their books through vendors online, this is especially critical. Without the proper application of metadata, a book will become lost, even camouflaged in the jungle that is the Internet. Metadata plays a fundamental role in how we, as vendors, present books on our respective online stores. The channels you’ll be bartering through, along with the search engines where people might find your book, require and hinge on metadata.

Most authors who understand the importance of marketing and delicate nature of this beast already comprehend the benefits of establishing precise and exhaustive metadata. For those who have yet to experience metadata, when it’s done correctly and attentively, the effects can be miraculous.

Metadata Done Right

  • A book will appear in the appropriate places (i.e. online stores)
  • Your title will command attention from targeted readers
  • Can lead to manuscript appearing as a recommendation for similar books
  • Search engine/Website results will improve
  • Marketing efforts (intended or not) will be generated by retailers and readers

Those who choose to go about this process without the meticulous exertion necessary will not help their books stand out as much as possible, nor be afforded the same remunerations as authors who take the time to exhort every germane element of their book.

Metadata Gone Wrong

  • An author’s work will be undetectable to their readers
  • Uninspiring sales results will transpire due to limited exposure
  • Bare minimum input will produce nominal outcomes
  • Compact issues with an industry that already struggles with metrics

Collectively, the publishing industry possesses a delayed understanding of basic metadata principles (SEO, data collection, and analysis). Authors must be cognizant of the conventional execution of this practice in order to circumvent the industry’s inadequacies.

Use Metadata to Your Advantage

  1. Do a “Weekend Update” on Your Information – Much like the infamous SNL skit, being up to date with changes is a decisive practice of metadata. Incorrect metadata confuses the system, thusly baffling your culminating sales. One of the complications with metadata is that retailers have different metadata requirements. With this being said, whoever is uploading metadata (you/your publisher) must input the correct metadata to ensure it heads to the desired retailer.
  1. Quality over Quantity – Yes, this age-old adage applies, even to something as complex as metadata. Complete and concise metadata is great, but congestion might cause readers to stray away. Well drafted content is much more vital than including an attribute like regional pricing.
  1. Learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Acquainting yourself with the rudimentary foundations of SEO might seem time consuming, but gaining a general knowledge of this concept will improve your understanding of how it acts as a sales function.

No debate about it, metadata helps sell your book. This practice stimulates search results, and impacts territoriality as well as categorization. When it’s done correctly, metadata will garner reviews, rankings, awards, and all the other adulation coveted by authors. When it’s done hastily, you might as well look for spare change between the couch cushions, because odds are readers won’t be able to find your book to purchase even if they wanted to.

eBooks2go, Inc is an end-to-end provider of services to the international publishing industry. With the revolutionary change in the publishing industry from a print led to an electronic media led industry in a very short space of time, it became obvious to us at Gantec Publishing Solutions that in order to continue providing the services the publishing industry needed, we had to re-think our business strategy. Thus eBooks2go was formed.

About eBooks2go

eBooks2go, Inc is an end-to-end provider of services to the international publishing industry. With the revolutionary change in the publishing industry from a print led to an electronic media led industry in a very short space of time, it became obvious to us at Gantec Publishing Solutions that in order to continue providing the services the publishing industry needed, we had to re-think our business strategy. Thus eBooks2go was formed.

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