Metadata - Without it your book is not findable

The easiest way to find a book is if the reader knows the title, author name or ISBN. But other terms and information can also be helpful to find a book. And these are the metadata.

What is metadata?

Without metadata, your book is neither findable nor will it sell. Besides the dimensions and weight of the book - which is more interesting for wholesalers - the ISBN, the title or the genre also belong to the metadata. It's up to them whether your book is visible in online shops. Metadata helps readers search and booksellers categorize books. They feed the search engines with information that a reader can retrieve in their search. Whether your book is found and where it is placed depends on the metadata.

What is the use of metadata for books?

Often the reasons lie, why a book won't sell, on the metadata. Many customers don't go directly to search for a specific title, but type genre, subject, or other search terms into online stores and scroll through the results. To show up in those results, your book needs the appropriate metadata. If you've written a vegan baking book, it should show up directly when a reader searches for vegan baking books, and regional thrillers are often searched for using the region as a keyword.

A good book is no use if no one knows it's been published. Especially if it's categorized incorrectly or unclearly, your work may get lost in the multitude of titles. Whether you've written a romance novel or a nutrition guide, readers need to find the book. Therefore, it is important to classify the work accordingly. This is exactly where metadata hooks in. But not only certain keywords or the topic are crucial.

In order to stand out from competing books, the cover, title and blurb must fit and arouse the reader's curiosity. Someone who calls up your book in an online shop will judge within seconds whether the cover appeals to them and whether they read through the further information. If it's blurry, small-scale, or unprofessional, the reader might just keep scrolling. A vague and meaningless short description can also be a reason why the reader clicks away when browsing an online shop.

What metadata does a book have?

Not only the author name, the book title and the ISBN are factors that every book should have in order to be findable. The category or genre it falls into, the blurb and the features are also important information. To show up in the online search of your potential readers, you should also not underestimate the keywords.


Keywords are the most important metadata to make your book findable. Most of the time, potential readers don't search for specific titles, but genres or topics. For regional crime novels, for example, they enter the region in which the crime novel is to be set in the search bar. Enter several keywords that match the content of your book. Choose terms that have to do with the topic. Be as specific as possible, but don't use words that no one is looking for. Is it about love, fate or struggle? Is it a book of poetry or a biography? Think about how you would search for a book of your type. What search terms would you use?

To find out which keywords you want to use for your book, you should do keyword research on online stores in advance. To avoid that your previous search entries are preferred, you should log out of your accounts and use the browser in incognito mode. Now you can search for terms in the search bars as if you were searching for your own book. How will your search terms be completed and thus searched by multiple users? And how many books are displayed? The fewer results that show up for commonly searched terms, the better to put your book there. Keyword planners can also be helpful. Also feel free to place these keywords in the description text and if it fits, a keyword can also go in the title or subtitle.


Online stores and bookstores sort books by category and genre. If a reader looking for a new crime novel types the term into the search bar, the books to be classified under this category appear. Likewise, readers can browse category pages directly and refine their search with additional keywords. If your book is not clearly positioned, it may be misclassified and not found by your target audience. It's best if your book fits into a subgenre. If you place your title only in "fiction", the competition is enormous. But if you write a "Young Adult romance novel," you've pinpointed your target audience, increasing findability and sales opportunities. Find a niche where your book fits and where it is not exposed to countless competing titles.

Book title

When a potential reader scrolls through an online store, the first information they see about your book is the cover and the title. The first impression is crucial, will the reader be curious or will he rather click on the next book? Already the book title raises expectations about content and genre. In it, you should compress the plot in a few words and stand out from the crowd - admittedly, not an easy task. And on top of that, title protection applies. Before publishing, make sure you check Amazon or bookstore.comif your desired title is already available on the book market. If it fits, you can integrate a search term in the title, this works best for non-fiction and reference books.


Subtitles often have a descriptive function and help readers and booksellers to classify the book. The genre becomes clear here at the latest. In crime novels, the addition of "regional crime novel" or the region in which the story is set or "A new case for the protagonist" is often found here. This additional information can also serve as keywords.

Description text

A meaningful Description text is, after cover and title, the next hurdle your book has to overcome to land in your reader's shopping cart. The description text is one of the most important signposts for your book. It briefly summarizes the content of the title. However, at the same time, it is important not to give too much away, but to arouse curiosity for more. You can do this not only with a catchy summary, but also, for example, with a small excerpt from the book or positive press reviews.

Again, sprinkle in keywords that fit your book and can show up in the keywords. Contrary to your descriptions and subplots in the novel, the rule here is: Keep it short. Within 100 to 200 words, you should outline the main plot, introduce your protagonist, and clarify your genre. No matter for which Narrative perspective you have decided in your book, the description text should be formulated in the third person singular in the present tense. Nevertheless, stick to the style of your book, so that the reader can already see here whether he likes your writing style and wants to browse further.  


Along with the book title and subtitle, the author's name is also on the cover. Whether plain name or PseudonymIt is also part of the metadata of your book. A pseudonym can be useful if you want to keep your identity secret or are looking for a name that fits your genre. But again, be careful that the name isn't already being used by another author.

Readers want to know who writes their books and a sympathetic vita can influence buying decisions. Give your readers additional information about you that fits your book. For example, a narrative about how the book came to be and what experiences are related to it. Create emotions in the brevity of an author's vita through Storytelling.


A book can be as good as it is - if the cover doesn't inspire, it's unlikely to find readers. The cover of your book is one of your most important marketing-Instruments. Whether your potential readers are browsing through the bookstore or scrolling through online stores. The first thing they see of your book is the exterior design. The cover determines whether a reader will take a closer look at your book, read the blurb, or even flip to the first few pages. The cover should match the book's theme and grab attention. Many self-publishing service providers offer design aids such as a Cover Designer. Such tools can help you create an attractive cover.

Books in several parts

Don't forget to make it clear if your book is part of a series, and which part it is. This makes it possible to assign the works to each other. For a book series, the individual titles are self-contained, so the books do not have to be read in order. A series, on the other hand, builds on each other, especially here a numbering is necessary.


Bound, paperback, brochures - there are numerous ways to make a book a book. Whether as a noble hardcover or practical paperback, with flaps and highlights or kept very simple. When it comes to the design of the cover, there are many different types. Also the format, the Binding and the paper are part of the metadata. Likewise, the page number is an important property of your book that is always included.  

Product language

More and more self-publishing authors are now publishing books in English, Spanish or other languages in order to reach readers in these languages. The language in which your book is written is also part of the metadata and can be a search and purchase criterion.


Books can be clearly identified with an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). The 13 digits can be used to read out the relevant information from a book, such as in which country it was published, by which publisher it was published and what form of publication it is, i.e. paperback, hardcover or e-book. Although the use of an ISBN is not a legal obligation when publishing a book, it is a prerequisite for your book to be visible in the databases and merchandise management systems of the book trade. Therefore, check in advance whether your Self-publishing service provider provides an ISBN.


Your book's discoverability depends on the metadata. That's why you shouldn't underestimate it and include it when you publish. It takes more than a well-written book to not get lost in the crowd. Besides cover, title and blurb, keywords and the right categorization are crucial for your potential readers to find your book in their search for new reading material.


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