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Metadata in Publishing: How Far to Go?

Metadata, I fear, is like talking about health insurance premiums or cable bills. People understand it is important to be informed but glaze over as the conversation deepens.

Metadata is data about data. In book and journal publishing, most organizations feel they have mastered it and allow it to motor along with little attention from leadership.

Publishers will nearly always include the basics to list and sell a book or journal, such as ISBN/ISSN, title and sub-title, author(s), DOI’s, etc.

But diving in and providing maximal metadata is really the key. Data such as author biographies, sample chapters, cover images, interior image counts, multiple BISAC codes, maximum word count descriptions, and many others can help increase sales and search rankings.

Additionally, how and where is your data housed is important. Is it kept in a home-grown spreadsheet emailed out to partners or in an optimal XML format and uploaded into major partners’ systems? Provide your data in industry-accepted formats.

Spend a little time and nurture your metadata ecosphere. Make sure this relatively simple task (once set up) is working night and day for you and your authors. When the end of the year sales figures are totaled, you will be glad you did.


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