Metadata for Self-Published Authors – Removing the Fear

eBook writing tip

Metadata for Self-Published Authors

What is metadata for self-published authors? When I mention the term ‘Metadata’ to authors, they often raise their eyebrows and give me that blank stare. The term ‘metadata’ has often been described and explained in various ways. Let’s use the following explanation in terms of how self-published authors should use metadata.

What is Metadata?
Metadata is the set of keywords that describe your eBook. Its direct translation is ‘data about data.’ When we are talking about eBooks it includes; your title, the description, tags, keywords and ‘other data’ that will make it easier for search engines to find your eBook. You want the most commonly used keywords in your meta-data.

Metadata is all about connecting with the customer. Metadata helps customers find the eBook they want. Metadata is your way of connecting with your readers. When a reader visits an online eBook store and types in the ‘keywords’ for what they want to read, the search results will aim to display those eBooks whose metadata specifically match the keywords entered.

It is an essential element to ‘eBook discoverability’ and ensuring that your eBook appears in the appropriate search results in online stores. Get it right and your eBook will be placed directly in front of your target audience! Get it wrong and your eBook will fade into obscurity!

Why You Should Not Neglect Metadata
One common mistake as to why many self-published authors fail is because no-one can find their eBooks. No-one in their target audience knows about their eBook. One box you must tick to help get your eBook noticed is to look after the metadata.

This takes some time, research and thinking about the best and most appropriate keywords for your eBook. Start by brainstorming and making note of words that directly apply to your eBook.

Once you have listed your top ten words then head over to Google’s Keyword Planner. Type in your ‘words’ and you will receive results showing how often people search for them. It is free to use, you just need to sign-up for an account.

Online eBook stores depend on authors and publishers supplying the correct and complete metadata in order for their eBooks to be found in search results. While Amazon uses very powerful algorithms (only known to Amazon) for its search function that takes into account more than just metadata for rankings, you can still do your part by providing the correct metadata to give them a helping hand.

What Can You Do Right Now?
1. Visit Online Stores and Start searching
One common technique I use is to visit Amazon and start typing in the keywords for my eBooks into the search bar. Amazon will then start listing the eBooks that it believes best matches your search enquiry.

Now you can study and learn from those eBooks that do rank well and find out how they do it.  When you have published your eBook to Amazon you should complete the same checks and see if your eBook can be found. If not, then continue to work on all recommended tips to improve your Amazon ranking.

2. Think Like Your Readers
As an author you should place a lot of value on the feedback you get from your readers. This is where social media can help you connect and interact with your fans. When you write your list of metadata keywords you must think like your readers. Ask your readers what words they typed into Amazon’s search tool. You may just be surprised by what you hear.

3. Pay Attention to Detail

1.    Your title – add the full title and subtitle of your eBook in your keywords.

2.    Author – add your full name (or pen name) as it appears on the eBook cover

3.    Category / genre – do your research to identify the most appropriate category for your eBook. The bigger the category the greater the competition!

4.    eBook description – add in the keywords, but do not ‘keyword stack’ as you may be penalised. Don’t forget to ‘sell’ your eBook by including adjectives (fear, horror) that describe the emotions that you want your readers to experience when they read your eBook.

5.    eBook Topic – match the details, storyline, plot or topic of your eBook with your keywords.

A Word of Caution
If you think you are being smart or creative by beating the system you may just find that your eBook will be blacklisted. Online stores are well aware of all the tricks authors use to get their eBooks ranked more highly.

Keyword stacking, using best-selling authors’ names in your description, copying text from best-selling eBooks, providing fake reviews, submitting reviews for your own eBooks, paying for reviews, deleting and re-publishing your eBook so it appears in the ‘new eBooks’ section and many more have already been done.

Hopefully, I have been able to shed some light on ‘metadata’ and remove the fear of making it work for you rather than ignoring it.

Take a moment to go and review all the metadata for your eBooks currently being sold online and see how you can make improvements. Remember, if what you have already is working them probably best not to make any changes.