Metadata: a set of data the describes and gives information about other data.
There has been a lot of talk about metadata in the book industry. Good metadata is required to sell books. Bad metadata can impede sales.
Let’s be clear about what metadata is in terms of books. Metadata is any and all of the information you put out to describe a book. This includes the book’s description, the author’s bio, trade reviews, genre, and book data such as ISBN number, binding, number of pages, retail price, publisher, etc.
Having clear book descriptions is one of the most important pieces of metadata for books. Readers want to know what a book is about and what the book will do for them. Generally readers are not as interested in an author’s bio beyond knowing what qualifications the author has for writing the book. This includes degrees, experience, and other books published.
Sadly, a number of independently published authors talk too much about themselves in their author bio. Just the other week, another press release crossed my desk for a newly published Christian book. The description of the book was one paragraph long, while the author’s bio was three paragraphs in length. After reading the press release I knew more about the author than the book.
Generally, unless an author is well-established with a large following, readers are not buying the author. They are buying books. Knowing that the author has been married for 33 years and appreciates the love and support of his wife does nothing in helping a reader decide to purchase the book unless the book’s topic is on marriage. Knowing that the author is the youngest of six children and grew up on a farm does not further the reader’s desire to purchase a book unless the topic of the book is related to farming or large families.
Knowing the right things to put in an author bio is important for book sales and discoverability. Take for instance the novel Galveston written by Nic Pizzolato creator of the hit HBO TV series True Detectives. Originally published in 2010, the novel got good reviews but only sold about 1,000 copies. Since the TV series True Detectives was rising in popularity, the publisher decided to add to the author’s bio that Pizzolato was the creator of the TV series, even though the novel had nothing to do with the TV show. The following year, the book sold over 34,000 copies.
The publisher of Galveston recognized that they could use the author’s tie-in to the TV series to create more interest. By adding this important piece of information to the metadata, search engines began to bring the book up in searches for True Detectives. Sales followed.
Consider carefully the information you place in your author bio. Weed out the unnecessary information and only use that information that helps readers feel confident of the author’s abilities and qualifications for penning the book and helps to drive discoverability.