Envision for a moment two books. Both are well-written, exceptionally valuable volumes on a subject in which the vast majority of the population has an interest. The books co-exist side-by-side on a digital bookshelf, but one of them consistently outsells the other by a significant margin. Upon closer examination, we find only one substantial difference between the two of them. The first book’s author understands the importance of employing metadata to sell ebooks. The second book’s author doesn’t and is wondering why it doesn’t sell.
Good; here’s how to be the first author rather than the second.
Put in literary terms, metadata, as applied to an ebook, is the information formerly known as the bibliography. It’s the facts you’ll provide to give search algorithms an insight into what the book is about. Metadata also helps librarians catalog your book and enables retailers to figure out where to shelve it and how to promote it. (Thus, contributing to the good sales performance of book one in the scenario above.) Ultimately, metadata, as applied here, is simply words and phrases capable of helping search engines find your book.
Core Metadata vs. Enhanced Metadata
Title, price, author’s name and category classification are among the elements of core metadata. Marketing related tidbits such as excerpts, your bio, critic’s comments, sample chapters and a description of the work are considered enhanced metadata. Both are useful tools for selling ebooks. Here’s the thing though, in most cases, shoppers won’t see your metadata on a bookselling site. Metadata is provided to help search engines and listing services properly categorize the product to show it to perspective buyers at the most appropriate time (e.g. when they ask to see books fitting the description of yours.)
How to Optimize Your Metadata
When you list your eBook for sale, always provide as much metadata as possible. Your descriptive copy should contain the primary keyword(s) someone might search for your book within the first 50 to 100 words. BTW, it never hurts to incorporate keywords in the title or subtitle of your book—if you can do it organically. Categorize your work carefully and as broadly as you can while keeping relevant to your tome. (Sites like Amazon allow you to place your book in up to five categories.) Incorporating HTML Tags in your metadata helps a lot, as does website links to your author page. BTW, your author information should follow all of the above guidelines as well.
Search vs Search Engine Optimization
When the words search, and optimization are combined in a phrase, most people think Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, AOL and the like. However, there is another equally important search function for which you should optimize—site search. Amazon’s recommendation engine for example, combines what it knows about a book with what it knows about a reader to suggest purchases. If your book is offered on this platform with complete metadata, you’ll be far more likely to get referrals. Pay attention to what sites like Amazon, Powell’s and Half.com feature in their top listings and do what you can to make your book match.
Employing metadata to sell eBooks based upon the advice above will put your book in front of a lot more people. These are engaged individuals who will choose to purchase your work—if they think it fits their needs. However, the only way they’ll ever get a chance to know is if you tell them in the way the selling platform wants you to. Which is how you get to be the first author referenced above—as opposed to the second one.