Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
As we near the holiday shopping season, it becomes more important to get customers to want to buy your book. A catchy title and good cover design are quick ways to capture a consumer’s attention, but they require planning from very early on. And while you can never go wrong with word-of-mouth advertising, relying on the off-chance that your book is a hit and gets talked about wildly is not a safe bet.
One of the simplest ways online to get more hits for your book is to have good descriptive metadata, and this is something that you as the publisher have 100-percent control over at any point in your book’s life.
Descriptive metadata is self-defining—it’s metadata that describes (and praises) the book and its creators: book summaries, contributor bios, reviews and keywords are all examples. In this series, I’ll cover how to create and select good metadata, and what you should be doing as best practices.
But first, let’s ask why.
What can good descriptive metadata do? The most obvious answer is that if the metadata accurately describes the book, then when the customer reads a description matching exactly what they want, you’ve made a sale.
On the backend, having good keywords and subject codes makes it so the book can be found both more easily and where it’s supposed to be located.
Utilizing SEO for keywords will aid a book in coming up higher in search results on websites like Amazon and Google. Customers don’t often look beyond the first page or two of search results, so it pays to play this up as much as possible.
The question then becomes: Why not pump up metadata with terms like “Harry Potter” or “Game of Thrones”—something related to another publisher’s bestselling book to get more pageviews? You could also describe the book in more vague ways to create mystery surrounding it.
Ultimately, these are bad strategies because books can then be miscategorized, leading to inaccurate results. Even worse, customers can be left feeling misled, buying a book they never wanted, getting a story they didn’t enjoy, and leaving negative reviews for your book.
So let’s get to the meat of it: What makes good descriptive metadata?
For one, having fleshed-out book descriptions and contributor bios is key. A good description not only gives a very quick overview of the book, but it also sings the book’s praises and tells the customer why they should read it.
Making a big deal of the contributors is a strategy to show off their credentials—why they are qualified to write a cookbook, how many other praiseworthy children’s books they’ve illustrated, or how popular their blog is. These are areas to show off the work and its creators in your or their own words.
Having accurate subject codes will get the book categorized into the right places not just in physical bookstores, but also in online stores like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the Apple iBookstore and the Google Play Store.
Customers may not know that they’re looking for your book, but having it in the right place can lead them to it.
If a customer already has an idea about the book they want to buy, or knows specifically about the book without knowing the title, keywords are there to help. They can direct a person shopping for “gluten-free bread” cookbooks to yours, or maybe you have a book about a “crime-solving girl.”
The field can further be narrowed down if the target audience is not just the general public. Textbooks and professional reference books should be categorized as such to distinguish them from a general beginners guide. Children’s books can be divided and subdivided into teen, young adult, preschool, and other age groups with specific age ranges. Doing this helps teachers and parents make decisions about purchasing.
All of these metadata elements work in concert to represent your book in the best way possible. In the next part, I’ll be talking about writing good marketing copy. After all, you can’t rely on a book to sell itself.
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