All right, you’ve got a book being released soon. Congratulations! Now you’re onto the ever-daunting marketing phase where you have to plan the book launch, create social media hype, and develop the terrifying metadata. Here on the Ooligan blog, we’ve discussed what metadata is and why it’s important for marketing your book. To briefly review, the keywords used in your metadata make it easier for people to find your book by googling the jist of what they want. As you go through this process, you might find yourself preparing to input your book’s metadata and wondering, “What on Earth am I supposed to write?”
Well, that’s easy!
Today we’ll do a thought experiment to give you ideas on what questions to ask to help come up with the terms that will bring readers to your book. While some of these may be obvious, we’ll also think of the less obvious things that will help when inputting that data. We’re going to use my favorite video game, The Last of Us, as an example since it’s well-known and has some great genres in it. If you don’t know the game, that’s all right! You’ll learn a lot about it as we go along.
First, the basics. Standout Books Publishing Services brings up a good point that may seem obvious but is easy to miss: don’t forget to use your title in the metadata. Robert Wood explains it this way:
A lot of metadata repeats information that’s visible elsewhere (like on your cover), but it’s the metadata that’s the “official” version, since this is the information you’re giving all the invisible systems that make the internet run. If your book’s cover says the title is “An Amazing Journey” but your metadata says it’s “The Amazing Journey” then your book is called “The Amazing Journey.” Why? Because search engines can’t see your cover, and any readers searching “An Amazing Journey” aren’t going to be directed to your book.
What a great point! So if we use The Last of Us, for example, we don’t want to type in something along the lines of The Last of Them. We’ll also want to input our author’s name, the ISBN, and everything else that will show up on the physical book. Since we’re not using an actual book, we’ll just use “Naughty Dog” and “Neil Druckmann” (the game company and the creative director).
Now for the more creative aspects of thinking of metadata. What’s your book about? In the case of The Last of Us, it’s about a man, Joel, who’s forced to travel with a young girl, Ellie, during the apocalypse. Easy enough, right? We’ve already got a couple words we can turn into metadata right there! Apocalypse, apocalyptic fiction, and maybe survival. But as a publisher, you know all the little details that wouldn’t be listed in that short description. What caused the apocalypse? Is it a spoiler? How does that affect the genre? If not, feel free to throw it in there. Now we can add cordyceps, science fiction, and scifi.
Now, let’s look at Joel. In the first ten minutes of the game, we learn that Joel had a daughter before the apocalypse named Sarah. However, in the chaos that ensues, Sarah’s shot and killed, and it’s a major factor in Joel’s character. Now we can add the words familial loss, grief, and trauma to our metadata. As for Ellie, we know that she’s a young teenager who’s queer and immune to the cordyceps virus. We can now add some nice metadata for that as well! Ellie is a lesbian, but we can also use the phrases queer, LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, LGBTQ fiction and queer fiction.
Another good strategy for creating metadata is to consider where the story is set. In this case, we can add a lot of really nice metadata because they travel across the country. We’ve got Boston, Boston, MA, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, Salt Lake City, and Salt Lake City, UT. We could even add more if we really wanted to!
In this short thought experiment, we’ve already thought of quite a few keywords. Our list is as follows:
That’s a lot of metadata already, and there’s so many other questions you could ask yourself to add to it. What’s the message of the story? What is Joel’s personal hardship? What’s Ellie’s personal hardship? With all of these questions and tips in mind, I know that you’ll be able to create just as much useful metadata for your own novel!