I just did a search for “ebook cover design” and found 143,000 results mentioning this exact phrase. Then I searched for “ebook metadata” and Google found 11,800 results.
Clearly there is a lot more discussion about ebook covers than ebook metadata.
First let’s clarify what I mean by metadata. I like to use the simple phrase “information about information”. For books that means titles, descriptions, keywords, categories and all the other descriptive information that travels “with” the book and not necessarily “in” the book.
Why is this important? Because in a world with far fewer physical bookstores, browsing through the bookshelves usually begins with an Internet search. If your book is not discoverable—if your metadata does not reflect what someone is searching for—no one will ever see your cover, as catchy as it may be.
That certainly is not to say that covers are no longer important. Indeed I believe they are as important as ever. A great cover will make the shopper pause and click a little deeper, the equivalent of taking the book off the shelf and thumbing through its contents.
So how do you go about creating good metadata? Here are a few steps I follow.
- Use Google’s keyword tool. Look up words you feel describe your book and you’ll quickly see whether people are searching for those words and what other words they are using.
- Research retailers. Go to Amazon.com or BN.com and look up books like yours. What categories are they in? Study the book descriptions. Search for books using the keywords you found using the keyword tool.
- Be consistent. Don’t put one book description on Amazon and change it around for B&N. Use similar wording for the boilerplate on your press release, book flyer, etc.
- Document. Create a document or spreadsheet documenting the metadata and where you used it. This is especially important if you have several titles and a huge time saver as you expand your marketing.
- Don’t delegate! The author knows his or her title best. Write short and long descriptions, identify keywords and research categories. Take first crack at writing these and then ask people for feedback. Invest the time.
Here is a slide presentation by Bowker with more information about the importance and benefits of good metadata.