5 Tips for Strengthening Your Metadata for Successful Self-Publishing
When you publish your book with Outskirts Press, you get the full independent publishing experience—and that includes you staying in the driver’s seat about metadata. Metadata is any text that describes your book and that may be used by readers to find your book. Outskirts Press’s experts stay by your side for guidance, but ultimately, it’s up to you, the author who is self-publishing, to set yourself up for great sales. Being smart about your book’s metadata is one great way to accomplish this.
Here are Outskirts Press’s 5 Tips for Strengthening Your Metadata for Successful Self-Publishing:
Use Keywords to Unlock Doors to Sales
Keywords are what they sound like: the specific words most potential readers (and reading influencers like reviewers, librarians and booksellers) use to search for books like yours. You should include as many of these as is reasonable in your book description (more on that in tip #2), book title, author website and everything else you write about your book.
We say “as is reasonable” and not “as is possible” because you don’t want to misuse keywords. We’ll speak figuratively for a moment here: casting a wide net, no matter how well-crafted it is, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll catch the fish you want; there’s a lot more to a successful fishing day than that.
Here’s how to be smart about keywords:
- Brainstorm a list of possible keywords. Write down terms for your genre and related to your book’s subject, setting, themes and characters. Don’t forget synonyms (e.g., Second World War, World War II, and WWII are three separate, and equally useful, keywords).
- Test them on Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Bing, and others. Do the search results show books like yours? What other keywords do you see connected to those books that you might also use? What if you just start to type a keyword phrase into the search engine—how does it start to auto populate your phrase before you finish typing it? If you don’t have that phrase in your list, add it.
- When you’re ready to add keywords to an online list, don’t put quotation marks around your words and do separate your keywords with semicolons.
Pop quiz for fun: This tip sheet’s keywords or keyword phrases are “self-publishing,” “Outskirts Press,” “publishing your book,” and “independent publishing.” Does that list make sense to you? Are those terms that you may have searched for to find this tip sheet, and were they included in a natural, unforced, way here?
Summarize Your Book Like Its Biggest Fan Would
Hey, that’s you! Writing your book’s description will be fun because you know the story backward and forward, and you love it. This is your “elevator speech,” or “peek around the bookstore shelf speech,” how you’d catch a would-be reader’s attention in just a few seconds. Don’t forget to include some of your keywords.
Help Librarians & Booksellers Help You
BISAC codes are kind of like technical keywords for book buyers. Each added code puts your book in a unique category—which librarians and booksellers can interpret to know if they have an audience for the book and know the best place to shelve it. Adding BISAC codes to your book’s metadata requires you to walk a fine line:
- Do add as many as your self-publishing platforms allows you to. If you wrote a romantic mystery, it would probably make sense to categorize your book as both “romance” and “mystery” because readers of each might enjoy the combination of both.
- But don’t try to make your book something it is not. If you wrote a memoir about your grandmother, you probably will lose readers if you add the “cookbook” category to your metadata, even though Grandma made the best cookies ever and that memory weaves throughout your book. You didn’t include a large collection of cookie recipes.
Your name should be the same everywhere you write it. That means, if you include your middle name on your book cover, write it that way in every other piece of metadata too.
If you hyphenate a keyword in one place, hyphenate it everywhere else (better yet, if closing that word up or writing it as two words is just as common as hyphenating it, include all the versions in your metadata).
Proofread, proofread, proofread—make sure that, in your excitement, you haven’t mistyped your title or anything else anywhere in your metadata.
Remember Readers on the Go
When it comes to metadata, this means, aim to keep your title short. Titles of 80 characters (that includes spaces and punctuation) or fewer are easier to see on tablet and phone screens than longer titles.
We hope this article has helped to ground you in the self-publishing process and inspire you to take the next step on this exciting journey. You’ve written a great book; now is your moment to shine! Let the world read what you have to say.
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