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Metadata Basics

Metadata. Ah, the less glamorous part of publishing. What exactly is metadata and why should you care?

A quick Google search shows many sites and articles referring to metadata as, well, 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.

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, fruity adult beverage, or chocolate-on-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 filter 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.

EX:

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.

keyword key words seo or metadata concept showing internet data search

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 a romantic suspense 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 Bring Me The Horizon. (It’s free online, by the way.)

Book Description

Publication Date: March 15, 2014

Graciela DuBois is desperate to find the vile pirate who took her sister. What better way to hunt a pirate than with another pirate? When she strikes a reckless bargain with the infamous Captain Banning, she soon realizes a ship full of rogues isn’t as dangerous as her growing desires for the captain. 

Captain Cutler Banning is hardly impressed by the lass’s quest—especially when the man she seeks is a member of his pirate brethren. That is, until she offers to pay handsomely with a legendary gold nugget and her body. The beautiful temptation is too great and, despite the curse the gold is said to bring, he agrees to help. Doing so invites trouble both on board his ship and in his wounded heart. And Gracie has a secret that just may destroy the brethren.

How about this one with Mutiny of the Heart.

Book Description

Publication Date: June 23, 2014

Sloan Ricker will bow before no man—not ever again. That it’s a redheaded, female captain who buys him off the auction block makes no difference; he’ll do whatever he must to steal away. But when she offers him his freedom in exchange for decoding an old map, it’s an opportunity to begin again. No matter how intensely he despises his luscious new keeper.

Navigating the high seas means always being on your guard—especially when one takes a temptingly handsome captive on board. Captain Joelle Quint believes Ricker when he claims to be a cartographer and, perhaps foolishly, hopes he’ll be the key to unlocking her dark family secrets. She’s spent years on that infernal map.

To get the answers, independence and love that they both long for, Joelle and Ricker must relinquish control to each other…or die trying. Amid a battle with the Royal Navy and a first mate’s seething jealousy, Joelle also fights her growing lust. For Ricker, what begins as a chance at freedom becomes a struggle to make the beautiful, intriguing Captain Joelle Quint his mistress in more ways than one.

One more shameless example with Kitty Kitty, Bang Bang:

Book Description

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 is 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!

Modified from an original post at MuseTracks.

 

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