Why Does Metadata Matter?

January 11, 2016
Ingram Staff
Why Does Metadata Matter?

Updated October 24, 2018

Most publishers understand the essentials of what metadata is, but do not truly understand just how useful it is to boosting your sales. If you're not using metadata to its fullest extent, you're missing out on a huge opportunity.

What is Metadata?

Prior to e-readers, e-books, and digital publishing, the main way to discover a book was to walk into a bookstore and look around. If you wanted to learn about new authors in a specific genre, you would walk over to the respective section or get recommendations from a knowledgeable sales person. All that has changed. While bookstores are still a primary way to shop for and learn about new books, metadata has become the vessel through which that information is delivered.

Metadata can be likened to "embedded" information that comes with your book. There are two types of metadata:

  • Core metadata is basic information like ISBN, title, author, genre, publisher, and price.
  • Enhanced metadata is more detailed information like the cover, author's biography, blurbs about the book, teaser chapters, reviews, and quotes.

Combined, these two categories of metadata create a foundation for marketing and selling your book. They're important both in the physical and digital worlds.

Why Metadata is Important to Booksellers

Metadata is crucial information booksellers use to categorize and price books. Retailers use core metadata to figure out how much to charge for a book and where it will live on the shelf. Readers use enhanced metadata to find out if the book suits their tastes. When you are searching for a new book, you don't usually do so by the ISBN, right? You look for a book based on its genre, then read the back to see if the story appeals to you.

The accuracy of metadata matters just as much as the metadata itself. Improper metadata leads to improper shelving and pricing, which can dramatically affect the sales of a book.

Why Metadata is Important for Marketing Your Book

Technological advancements have made metadata more important than ever before. Aside from letting readers discover books in a physical bookstore and through a digital bookseller, metadata has given books the power to market themselves. Almost everyone knows what the term SEO means these days. When you think of search engine optimization you think of how businesses market their products and services. They use keywords and essential data to attract online searchers to their websites.

The same thing goes for books. If you've ever done an online search for "magical realism in contemporary literature," the results were returned because of metadata. Metadata is a key component to marketing a book in the digital world. Furthermore, it's a one-and-done marketing trick. Enter the information once, and the book is SEO-ready forever, although, you do have the ability to make changes if they’re needed.

Detailed Metadata is Imperative

Just as with SEO, the efficacy of metadata is heavily dependent on relevancy and accuracy. The key is to be as detailed as possible. For example, labeling a book as general fiction doesn't cut it anymore; your book will likely be buried by millions of other general fiction titles. By using detailed information and specific language, you can narrow your keywords to fit into a smaller niche. If your book is mythopoeic fiction, then label it as such. You're marketing efforts will be much more targeted, and potential readers will have an easier time finding your book.

Metadata will also make managing your sales and distribution much more fluid. If you're using a digital publishing platform to publish and distribute your book, chances are you have it in both digital and print formats. When a retailer or customer purchases a print-on-demand copy of your book, the metadata is automatically converted to the print version. When you want to look at the sales trends in a certain genre, metadata helps categorize this information. In addition, metadata can be used to improve global visibility and marketability.

Why Does Metadata Matter?
Ingram Staff

Ingram Staff

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