Whether you’re an indie author or commercially published, if you’re book is available for sale online, you should understand the basics of metadata.
Consider how many books are available for sale online. Consider the different formats, the different retailer sites, the different paths of distribution. If you’re starting to picture a tangled ball of yarn, you may not be far off.
All books that are sold online share one thing in common: metadata. What is it? It’s a way of building the basic sales information for the book into a file format that can be transmitted to all online retailers and import into their systems.
This is how/why your book appears on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Smashwords (or whatever retailers were selected by the publisher) with the same cover art, description, word count, price and is logged into their systems in the same fiction categories.
But Digital Book World recently posted that nearly 100 of publishers have seen e-booksellers get their metadata wrong.
How can this happen? Unfortunately, it’s easy. While metadata may be considered a universal language (by computer programmers, at least), each retailer has different ways for publishers (and indie authors or aggregators) to upload this information.
What you should do: At least once per month, you should check your books’ pages on the various retailers. Scroll all the way through each. Look at they key pieces of information and make sure they’re right. Do this even if you are published with a commercial publisher. Publishers cannot possibly monitor every title, so you’ll need to spearhead monitoring for any errors that appear. If you find errors, the publisher needs to contact the retailer to make changes to the metadata.
Have you had a book with metadata errors? Share your experience!