What is “metadata”? And why does it matter?
Metadata is information. Your book’s metadata is all the information you or your publisher provide when submitting the title to various distributors and retailers. It labels the content, target market, and format of your book in a standardized way that makes it easy to classify and shelf it — whether that’s digitally or in a store.
A book’s metadata includes, among other things:
- Title and subtitle
- Author name (and name of other contributors)
- Series information
- Book cover
- “About the author”
- Editorial reviews
- Categories (or BISAC Codes)
Except for the keywords, all this metadata can generally be found on a book’s product page on Amazon (or other online retailers). Some of it is designed to help the store place the book and show it to the right readers: in particular, the categories, keywords, and in some cases the blurb. The rest is there to tell the customer more about the book (and the author), and encourage them to purchase it.
In other words, metadata serves two equally important purposes: it makes your book visible to the right customers, and it gets them to buy it.
How can Reedsy professionals help me with that?
Since metadata is crucial to any book’s success, some of the book marketers on Reedsy have specialized in blurb & metadata optimization. Specifically, they will help you:
- Find your ideal categories on Amazon and other retailers;
- Select the right keywords to maximize your book’s visibility;
- Write and refine your blurb.
This kind of metadata optimization is critical ahead of a book launch, but can also be extremely effective in revitalizing a backlist! So if you have books out there that aren’t selling, consider giving them a second wind and have a professional optimize the metadata for you.
How can I write a book blurb that sells?
The blurb is probably the most important piece in your book’s metadata. It is the one thing readers almost always read before deciding whether to purchase your book. A good blurb should be succinct and start with a one- or two-sentence hook. If it’s a novel, it should also:
- Introduce your main character(s);
- Set the stage for your primary conflict;
- Establish the stakes;
- Show the reader why the book is for them.
On certain online retailers (like Amazon), the blurb has even greater importance as it also plays a similar role to categories and keywords in influencing your book’s “placement.” For example, if a blurb includes words like “espionage”, “spy,” “CIA,” “bomb,” “chase”, etc. Amazon will likely rank your book higher in searches for espionage thrillers.
It’s important to get the right balance between captivating the reader and signaling your genre to the online algorithms. That is where enlisting the help of an experienced copywriting professional can make a huge difference.
How does metadata vary from one retailer to another?
Each online retailer uses your metadata in slightly different ways — most obviously in their respective systems for categories. Amazon is known to have the widest selection of categories and sub-categories in which to list your book, while Apple Books is fairly limited on that front.
While Amazon is definitely the retailer for which you should spend the most time optimizing your metadata, you should also tweak it for the other stores once you start building a wider presence.
In some cases, stores will offer metadata opportunities that aren’t available on Amazon. For example, when linking books from the same series together on Kobo, you can use “volume number: 0” for a prequel and decimals (e.g. “volume number: 1.5”) for interquels. This is something you can’t do on Amazon.