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by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Those who’ve been reading my blog for a while know that I’ve had something of a bee in my bonnet lately over metadata.   When I first heard about metadata, it sounded like the most boring (and confusing) thing I’d ever heard of.  I became curious as I continued hearing more and more about it.  I attended a couple of talks on metadata at a couple of different conferences.  I read slideshows on it from conferences I hadn’t attended.

And then I decided that the topic of metadata was actually pretty interesting and useful after all.  To me, it’s a way of making my books visible to readers.  In that way, it’s useful in the way that a card catalog used to be useful at the public library.  Carla King wrote a great article for BookWorks called “Mastering Metadata: the Key to Marketing Your Books,” if you want a more detailed explanation of its helpfulness.

Then I realized at some point in the process that my own metadata, or the way I label the bits and pieces of my books, was wildly inconsistent.  I might be Elizabeth Craig, I might be Elizabeth Spann Craig, I might be Elizabeth S. Craig.  That doesn’t help my visibility on a search engine….surely I’d bring in better results if I listed myself one way all the time.

Similarly, it’s also a problem when we’re inconsistent with series details.  Looking at my KDP dashboard, I saw that one of my series was occasionally listed as The Myrtle Clover mysteries and sometimes listed as A Myrtle Clover Mystery and sometimes as A Myrtle Clover Cozy Mystery.  Not good.  Again, consistency is key.

After a while, I tried tracking various metadata.  I’d keep a list of keywords and a list of the series names, etc.

Then I realized that it would be more useful if I could keep it all in one place in a spreadsheet.  Except I’m horrible at spreadsheets.

I stumbled on Airtable about a week ago.  It’s a spreadsheet maker for people who are horrible at spreadsheets.  This is what I came up with.  I think you can click on it and copy it yourself (try clicking ‘view larger version’ at the bottom of the image).  And no doubt you could make one better, yourself!  Airtable is free (at least, the version I’m using is free).

If you’d rather not mess with spreadsheets, Carla King has a downloadable metadata cheat sheet in the article I referenced above (at the bottom of the post).  Or, if you’re not really sure if you need to work on your own metadata, David Wogahn recommends auditing our own search engine listings in his blog post, ” A Simple Author Metadata Audit in Less Than 30 Minutes.”

Hope this gives you some ideas for keeping track of metadata and keeping it consistent.  Is recording metadata something that you do to save time or for consistency?


Tools to help writers manage metadata:
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