One of my chief concerns about self-publishers using a third-party to distribute their book or eBook is that they usually miss out on the marketing benefits provided by distributing direct to the stores. That’s why I advocate direct distribution rather than using a third-party aggregator or distributor*: the more (and more detailed) metadata you can include, the more you improve the discoverability of your book.
For example, a distributor’s system may limit your book to a single category even though the store they send your book to may support several categories. Likewise with keywords. A store may allow several, but your distributor may not ask you for any.
Metadata like this is what helps shoppers find books. The more you include, the more discoverable your book. You want stores and distributors that collect lots of information about your book!
IngramSpark greatly expands what they collect
Up until mid-2015 the largest book distributor collected a fairly limited amount of metadata. Title, subtitle, author, description, categories and a few other general items of information.
But that’s all changed now. This was a significant upgrade and puts IngramSpark on par with just about all the stores that enable self-publishers to add books directly to their stores.
It doesn’t eliminate the need to use CreateSpace. Using CreateSpace in addition to IngramSpark is still the best way to prevent your book from encountering customer delivery problems. But it improves your book’s chances of being found in other online stores where Ingram distributes books.
The same is true for eBooks. In fact I think IngramSpark has the best metadata support of any eBook aggregator available to self-publishers. Competitors include Bookbaby, Smashwords and Pronoun (Vook) to name three popular ones. (However a possible gotcha is sales commission so look at that closely, along with your other considerations. Also see: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Decide How to Distribute Your eBook)
New metadata fields to improve SEO
If you already have a book or eBook on IngramSpark, you should login and fill in the missing metadata for your books. If you are new to IngramSpark, I’ve listed all the fields below with the new ones in bold. An asterisk means it is a required field.
- Short Description
- Keywords (no limit, btw)
- Series Name and Number
- Edition Description
- Full Description*
- Subjects (aka Categories; room for 3, at least 1 required)
- Regional Subject
- Table of Contents
- Review Quotes
- Does your book have photographs and/or illustrations? (yes/no)
So that’s 9 new metadata fields you can fill with information about your book. Information to help your prospective reader find what they are looking for.
Other posts about IngramSpark:
* This video illustrates direct vs. distributors. It says “ebooks” but the idea applies to print books as well.