Metadata for Beginners
Metadata is the MOST important aspect of ebook publishing, and getting it right is important.
A buzz word around ebooks, and indeed, all online content, is ‘discoverability’, meaning, essentially, finding ways to make online content easier to find. This is especially important in the world of ebooks, where millions of titles are now available online. Good metadata makes them easier to find. Some of the jargon may sound daunting to publishers unfamiliar with ebook distribution, but fear not, it’s really quite simple.
What is metadata and how do I get it right?
The Supermarket Analogy
When one walks into a brick & mortar store, in order to find something you
- ask a sales person
- use the signposts set up in the store to direct you to what you’re looking for
In a supermarket, the aisles are usually clearly marked.
The ‘Milk, Butter, Yoghurt’ aisle in the supermarket provides a clear indicator of where you can find specific dairy products. If you need butter, you know immediately where to look.
Such signposts help to aid discovery of what you’re looking for, faster than simply browsing and hoping to find it.
The same applies online – we need signposts to help us find what we’re after. Metadata functions as a series of signposts. As a publisher, you want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to find your titles online with a quick search.
Metadata = all the descriptive information about the ebook title
What ‘data’ is considered ‘metadata’?
As a checklist, make sure you’ve included in your metadata the following:
Title, eISBN, ISBN of corresponding print editions, author name, publication date, ‘page’ extent, publisher, series name, series number/ volume, description of book, territory rights, translators, editors, illustrators, subject category, BIC/BISAC codes for classification, language, age range.
How to make the most of your metadata
In order to make the most of your metadata, be as descriptive and specific as possible.
If a signpost in a supermarket said ‘Food’ that wouldn’t be terribly helpful. It would be a correct, albeit very vague, description. It wouldn’t help you quickly locate the eggs.
The same goes for metadata on ebooks. Simply saying ‘Fiction’ or ‘History’ isn’t very helpful to a customer looking for something more specific. What kind of fiction, or non-fiction, is it? Is the book part of a series? If so, which series, and what number in the series?
The Book Industry Study Group is a useful resource to locate specific BISAC codes.
How far in advance should I send in metadata?
Online retailers recommend sending in metadata for ebooks in advance of the files, and at least 8 weeks in advance of publication. The reason for this is simple: in order for the retailers to know what titles are coming, and to plan for promotional placement, retailers need to have advanced notification. Promotional consideration will go to those titles which are already in the system – that means the retailer has received the metadata and the ebook files have been delivered in advance of publication date. For this reason it is important (and good practice) to schedule metadata and conversion of files for front list titles 3 months ahead of publication date if you want to remain competitive. Remember, your title is competing for promotional placement against all other titles, so it makes sense to be proactive about getting your metadata and files in order well in advance of publication date. At Factory, account executives are here to guide you through this process and make it as painless and simple as possible. Once you’ve had some practice, it’s a breeze!