Refining Your Book's Metadata, Part 1

Your title, subtitle, genre, classification, etc. for your new book are not enough to gain good position in an online search by a customer. Yes, customer, not reader. Until the book is read, it is not yet a book; it is a “product” of type “book.” The type of product sought is selected by the customer, so such terms as “book,” “novel,” “fiction,” “non-fiction,” etc. are a waste of their time (and yours) for keywords.

You have a limited number of keywords in any store's metadata system. Don't waste a single one. Genre terms are sometimes a waste as well. Yes, you could re-edit keywords later, but the initial (new) listing may get a push in search results not received later after re-editing metadata.

So how do you choose the best possible keywords?

Likely you have notions or assumptions. Are those the best choices based directly on your content? Have you analyzed your prose thoroughly from beginning to “the end” for something overlooked? Even long-term, veteran, independent authors can make better choices from the start. Here is an online tool currently available to assist you.

  1. Open a new blank word-processor document.
  2. Save it in the same folder as the manuscript; name the new file as "[manuscript file name]_KEYWORDS."
  3. Open your completed—fully edited and proofed—manuscript.
  4. Copy/paste one chapter at a time into the text field at the top of the form. Better yet, paste the copied section into a another blank file and remove / correct all hyphenations that were added. NOTE: A proper manuscript formatted file should NOT include any auto-hyphenation.
WARNING: Do not copy your entire manuscript into this textarea; analyze all chapters (or even scenes / sections) separately. There is a good reason for this later on.
  1. Leave all other form settings at their defaults.
  2. Click “GO>>.”

You will be taken to a new page showing the first 50 most common words found, minus the typical “the, and, but,” etc.

  1. Copy/paste the results into your “KEYWORDS” file and save it; do not close the file.
  2. Repeat steps 1 through 7 for each additional chapter, scene, section, etc. in your manuscript. Click your browser's “back ” button to return to the blank search form.

Clean-Up Your Results

Do not remove keywords repeated (duplicates) in your final results, but do remove all numbers. Select all keyword results text and remove any formatting, such as bold, underline, italics, etc; your results should be converted to plain text. If your results pasted into the document include the original HTML table, then removed that as well. You want a plain text list of single words only. Now remove all conjunctions and other non-nouns / non-verbs.

Compress Your Results

Once your clean-up is completed, you are now ready to copy/paste your complied keywords results back into the form, just as you did for each chapter, etc. Any words repeated in that list will appear (by number of occurrences) in the top of your final keywords list. These are keywords to give the most consideration for use.

Avoid names of persons, places, things, events, etc. unless highly central to your work's content and the reader's experience of it. Now, consider mixing in terms you think are critical which did not in appear the generated list.

Keywords can also be entered into a metadata field in your ebook/ePUB edition; if you do not know how to do so, then at least keep the list ready to deliver to a qualified technician who will compiled your eLayout.

Keywords—as a sales tool—take thought, consideration, and planning. This is a critical matter in both improving sales potential and distinguishing an independent author (as a potential professional) from a general self-publisher.