The Power of Metadata to Drive Book Discovery and Sales

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Are you using book metadata correctly to market your book and boost your sales? Ingram’s Director of Metadata, Margaret Harrison, lays out the role of metadata in book discovery and book sales and some best practices and actionable tips for getting your work into readers’ hands.

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An Important Glossary of Terms

Before diving into the world of book metadata, you need a working knowledge of some basic publishing terms: 

  • Metadata: Simply put, your book metadata is any data that describes your publication—including title, subtitle, price, and any other relevant information. Ultimately, it’s what connects your content to your prospective readers. It’s often referred to as your book’s “sales force.”
  • ISBN: Your ISBN is your book’s unique 13-digit identifier.
  • Discovery: The process by which the perfect customer finds your book. Discovery is essential to making a sale.

How Does Metadata Play a Role in Book Discovery?

Your book’s metadata is vital to your prospective customers discovering and connecting with your content. Quality metadata can make the difference between achieving a sale or missing out on an opportunity to reach a reader. Discovery has a few essential components, including:

  • Your book cover and title. “Judging a book by its cover” is a common practice. Make your title catchy and unique and your book cover appealing. 
  • Consistency. Keep your author name consistent throughout your content to maximize discovery. For example, a simple inconsistency like including a middle initial occasionally but not always may make you, as an author, harder to find.
  • Subject (or category) of your book. Think of how a customer browses in a bookstore. Usually, he or she will choose based on genre (subject), so be as specific as possible when selecting your subject/BISAC codes.
  • Price. Think beyond your home audience when setting prices. Provide as many prices as possible, from Canadian to Australian and beyond. Why limit your sales to just your home country when you could be cashing in on interest from global markets as well?

Best Practices for Book Metadata

Maximizing your book discovery and subsequent sales relies on a few best practices. Keep in mind that your prospective reader can search for books by subject, ISBN, keywords, or author. Metadata is the key to connecting with readers and putting your content into their hands. In general, getting your book into a customer’s hands is a matter of:

  • Choosing the right genre. Customers may not always know what title they’re searching for; they often stumble upon a good read by accident just browsing in a general topic they enjoy. Choosing a specific category is essential for book discovery.
  • Writing a compelling book description. A book description is the most important aspect of conversion, turning discovery into a sale. A short description should pull a reader in, while a long description includes specifics like page count, contributor bio, audience, and reviews.
  • Selecting the right keywords. Provide keywords that can be easily incorporated into your book description. The right keywords help customers find your book, while the description drives the conversion.

Metadata is essential for both the discovery of your content and the conversion of your prospective customers into readers. For more information on creating quality metadata, download the Title Metadata Best Practices guide.


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IngramSpark Staff

Hi there! It's your friendly IngramSpark staff here, happily sharing a wealth of publishing knowledge with people from all walks of the self-publishing biz.