Making a Master File for Audiobook Metadata
Spend even a short time researching how to self-publish a book and you will eventually encounter the concept of metadata. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, we explored it in last week’s blog post regarding ebooks. Essentially, it encompasses the information that organisations need to publish, manage and promote your books to readers. Examples include your author name, book title and ISBN.
It makes sense to collect all your book metadata in one place like an Excel spreadsheet. That way, you can easily find, update and optimise it consistently across books and platforms. Plus, doing this makes applying for promotions and publishing in multiple places more efficient as the information is recorded and ready to copy.
Optimise your metadata once and it can lead to more sales and better reviews forever. Many authors know this. However, what they don’t consider is updating their metadata over time and accounting for different formats as they emerge. Audiobook metadata, for example, has subtly different metadata requirements to ebooks, and getting them right can improve the prospects of that particular format selling independently.
The idea of managing slick metadata records for multiple formats might seem confusing if you’re new to publishing – there’s a lot to learn – but don’t worry. You can optimise most fields as you grow your knowledge. Get some bits right now, though, and your audiobooks will have a significant advantage over others, which can pay dividends in this rapidly growing area. This blog post will identify some of the most important metadata features you should consider to become a better audiobook publisher.
Normally, just the author and publisher get mentioned as book contributors. Some publishers also credit illustrators, cover designers and editors for certain projects. As an audiobook publisher, however, it’s wise to include your narrator prominently in your metadata records, because some narrators build their own fan bases who download books, regardless of genre, simply because they like their style.
Take care to write their name the same way every time so that it matches all of your books and successful titles they have narrated in the past, even those from other publishers. This will improve your series read through and will also help you to gain exposure by association to bestsellers that have your narrator’s name attached.
Optimising your books’ titles and subtitles to improve where they shows up in search results, and then storing that information in a master file so you can manage it properly, is a wise move. This is particularly true for non-fiction books in all formats because they can benefit considerably from well-chosen keywords. In addition to the title and subtitle, though, you might also want to consider optimising your chapter titles for SEO.
This is because audiobook publishing portals like ACX and Findaway Voices require you to name each chapter manually as you upload them. Having a copy of your chapter titles in your metadata file can make this process easier and faster, as it allows you to copy them across rather than type them from scratch whenever you need to publish on a new platform. Retailers show no evidence of using chapter titles for recommendation purposes yet but this will inevitably happen as big data engines become more sophisticated and audiobooks rise in popularity.
A few years ago, the demand for ebooks exploded, leaving advertising companies scrambling to catch up. In many ways, the audiobook industry is following a similar pattern right now. Books2read, for instance, still doesn’t scrape websites to give you multi-retailer landing pages for audiobooks as they do with ebooks. For audiobooks that you publish on all platforms, you need to do the legwork yourself. This, however, provides an opportunity. Many authors don’t bother with some of the smaller audio retailers, so collecting a few of the links in your master file and using them in your marketing efforts can enable you to reach audiobook audiences that most authors don’t even consider.
To do this, you can trawl through the audiobook retailers manually and copy the page links for your books into your metadata master file. However, you could also use the “Retailer Links” tab on Findaway Voices’ “Marketing” page, which is far more time effective. They will give you a list of sales page links for your books associated with some huge audiobook sellers that go largely unnoticed by most indie authors. Once you have these links, you can find and use them easily when applying for promotions and running ads.
You don’t need to know an audiobook’s total runtime to publish it. When you upload your chapters, the publishing portals calculate it for you. Once they do, however, record that figure in your master file, because you can mention it when applying for promotions or pitching to reviewers. This is important because different audiences are receptive to audiobooks of different lengths.
For example, promoters often want long books because the length amplifies the perceived value of their promotions, particularly in the audio arena. Reviewers, on the other hand, sometimes look for short audiobooks when they’ve overloaded their schedule and need to ease their workload with smaller projects. In these cases, having the runtime at hand in your master file can help you to clinch an opportunity or get a rejection without wasting too much time.
When writing sales descriptions for your book, it’s useful to write a few at a variety of lengths and store them in your metadata master file so that you can easily copy them to platforms with different character limits. Doing this job before publishing gives you time to ensure every version converts browsers into readers and is SEO-friendly.
Although these descriptions should be able to sell any format of your book, consider writing alterative descriptions specifically for your audiobooks. There are elements that exist in audiobooks that don’t in other formats so remember to mention those features that will appeal particularly to audio listeners. Does your narrator run a popular YouTube channel? If they’re famous, do they appear on a TV programme with an audience that might enjoy your story? Both of these factors could close a deal in a way that isn’t possible for your other formats.
Some readers like to read award winners and books that made the shortlists. Even those who don’t religiously follow literary award circuits occasionally get swayed into buying books they were already considering when they recognise an award associated with them. To them, awards indicate quality, even if they don’t consider a lack of critical approval a deal-breaker. This is true for audio awards as well as those in the traditional book space. As a result, remember to include any awards your book has won in your metadata file and mention them whenever possible to ensure that those who are interested in certain awards don’t miss that your book or narrator was nominated.
Due to fierce competition in the ebook and print spaces, authors increasingly have to use paid advertising to reach readers. But using well-chosen keywords that have high traffic but little competition is one way to maximise organic exposure. While this helps ebooks and paperbacks, the effect is even greater for audiobooks due to there being fewer titles on offer. You should therefore consider including some audio-specific keywords in your metadata. Making the decision to do so while demand is still growing at a rapid rate could make your audiobooks big titles in their genres as early adopters, which can earn you a small fortune in this gold rush era. This decision, in turn, will keep them selling for longer.
If you publish exclusively through ACX then you can’t currently control your audiobook prices. Audible handles that for you. However, if you publish to other stores on Findaway Voices or another distributor, it’s worth forming a pricing strategy and including it in your metadata master file because price affects book rankings on bestseller charts and in individual reader search results.
Account for as many currencies as possible, because the world of publishing is expanding rapidly. Indeed, some countries that don’t use major currencies are hungry for digital audio content priced in accordance with their local market. Being proactive will improve the results you garner from promotions and ensure that your audiobooks get the attention they deserve in more territories around the globe.
Metadata can be a dry subject, even more so for audiobooks if you aren’t yet seeing spectacular results. But take the time to manage your audiobook metadata in one place because it will make optimising it faster, easier and more effective as you grow. It’s a one-time job that will make you a more organised publisher who ultimately will see more organic sales and run better promotions as a result of this early effort. Do this now while there is relatively little competition and it will help your audiobooks to stand out in a way that could massively boost your author career for years to come.
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