Many people may think that data could not be further removed from the written word. As a publishing novice I was one of these people. However, metadata could not be more important to author and publisher alike. Metadata is the everything of a book.

What is metadata?

Metadata includes a range of bibliographic information about a book or e-book; its author, title, ISBN, format, price, publication date and much more. It also links a book to other related editions, such as an e-book or first edition. Metadata consolidates the details of a book, making the information accessible to publishers, distributors and retailers across the UK and the world.

How is it used?

The standard system for recording this data is the Onix system (Online Information Exchange). For example, Wordcatcher Publishing uses Booksonix to record the information. Every week, the data is updated and disseminated to Nielsen, the UK ISBN Agency. From here retailers, both on the high street and online, can access information regarding all published titles. Titles are broken down into a main subject, followed by a range of additional subjects and keywords, that relate to the books content and synopsis. Increasing use of the globally recognised THEMA categorisations ensures that discoverability is only set to increase. Wordcatcher ensures the all metadata is made relevant to each specific title. This way your book finds its way to the most relevant audience and to those who are most likely to buy.

Why is it important?

When used effectively, metadata can increase your books discoverability and, with this, its sales. Which author wouldn’t want that? Metadata can help a retailer to understand your book and subsequently connect it with the right audience in store. Furthermore, effective metadata can boost online sales. The more relevant keywords are included, the more likely your book is to appear in online searches. It will also ensure your book is suggested to regular readers of a specific genre. For example, if your book’s metadata includes Cardiff, Wales in its regional information, online retailers will suggest your book to those who regularly read about the capital. Backlist titles can find a new lease of life with a refresh of their metadata, opening them up to a whole new audience.

Therefore, the importance of having extensive, high-quality metadata is evident. So, to any authors reading, effective communication with your publisher concerning any changes to your book are vital. This way the metadata can be updated accordingly and your book will continue to reach the readers it was intended for.

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