Metadata is a way to connect that’s exclusive to the Information Age. It may “sound like a word that only techies would use but actually it’s something that all publishers use now on the web,” asserts Emily Taylor Gregory. “Published books are full of metadata or descriptors such as title, author, pages count, copyright information, publication date, and identification codes [like the ISBN number].” (“Publishing: It’s all about the Metadata.”).
In conversation, authors often use “metadata” to refer not only to the information listed above but also to the descriptive words the public might use to search online for you or your book, using Google, Bing, or another search engine. Google, Zagat, Frommer’s, and other “information publishers” make money on the metadata by selling advertising around the search results. “Categories” and “Keywords” or “Tags,” are some of the terms given to this hierarchy of search terms, or what Gregory calls a “taxonomy” of terms. “Categories” generally refers to familiar large groups of terms that share meaning: objects, concepts, etc. “Keywords”or “Tags” refer to refinements, smaller groups of descriptive terms inside the large categories.
Typical examples of Categories: Action/Adventure, Memoir, Writing Conference, Flying.
Typical examples of Keywords/Tags: Horses, Babies, Family Love, Caving, Characterization.
Here are key search terms posted next to an editorial, “Make Your Own Luck,” by Phil Sexton on the Writer’s Digest website:
Categories: Back to Basics, Conferences/Events, Getting Published, There Are No Rules Blog by the Editors of Writer’s Digest
Tags: finishing your manuscript, getting published, query letter, writers conference, writing basics
Here are search terms attached to my blog post, “Point of View: Vision of Writer & Character,” at http://www.LouellaNelson.com. I entered these terms on my Dashboard (where I create the pages for my website), and they all appear on the public page: Categories: Creative Nonfiction Writing, Fiction Writing, Memoir Writing, Point of View, Viewpoint, Writing How-to, Writing Instruction, Writing Tips. Tags: BestSeller Tips, character, character development, creative nonfiction, fiction, point of view, writer help, writing, writing techniques. Often, as here, the search terms seem to fit into either list.
Sometimes the keywords or categories you enter on a given dashboard are hidden from the public or appear different on the public site.
Here are the categories that appear next to my novel Mail-Order Mate on Amazon:
Show results for
- Any Category
- Kindle Store
- Contemporary Romance(1)
- Women’s Fiction(1)
- Contemporary Romance Fiction(1)
- Contemporary Women’s Fiction(1)
- Women’s Romance Fiction(1)
- Historical Romance(1)
- Fantasy & Futuristic Romance(1)
- Kindle eBooks(2)
Inside the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Amazon site where I launched the novel, here are the (hidden) sub-categories I selected, which people will search, landing on my book at Amazon and hopefully clicking through to a purchase: Mail Order Bride, Family, Marriage, Second Chance, Snowbound.
If you are self-publishing, consider researching the terms you select for comparative effectiveness when you’re going to associate the terms with a given project. My sources are The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing by the authors’ consortium The Indie Voice, Kindle Publishing Revolution by Ryan Deiss, and Kindle Bestseller Secrets by Derek Doepker.
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