Adding and Changing Information for Your Book to Improve Searches by Book Buyers - Metadata

Can I change the title of my book? Can I add more information for a book? How do I make a change to the information for a book?

Quick Access Links:

7 Facts About Book Metadata

How to Create Good Book Metadata

How Long Does It Take for New Information to Appear on Websites?

Instructions for Adding or Updating Information for a Book


What Book Information Can Be Changed?

Some parts of metadata can be changed or added such as keywords, subject categories, the book description, and pricing, while other parts of metadata cannot or should not be changed, such as the ISBN or the title of a book. Changing the title of a book without changing the ISBN can result in confusion among book buyers and in the marketplace, which we all want to avoid. Lightning Source recommends that you do not change the title of your book after it’s been shared with book buyers through enabling distribution. If the title of a book needs to be changed for any reason, it is best practice to set up a new title with a new ISBN/EAN and a new cover file that displays the new title of the book.  

Book metadata is important to your book's categorization, discovery, and overall book sales. Metadata and keywords are what make your book appear when a reader goes looking for a specific thing, whether that thing is a book or not. It should be part of any author's overall book marketing strategy, and successful self-publishers know how to incorporate as much quality metadata as possible into their sales plans. If the title is changed or good metadata isn't in place, finding a certain book can often be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Search engines use metadata as an information retrieval system to connect searchers with content and products more efficiently than ever before. To search engines, all words have value, and keywords and phrases have even more value. Strategically select keywords that best describe your book and place them in the right spots around the internet, described further below. If your book is about the best hiking spots in Colorado and someone types that into their browser, they may not have known they were looking for a book specifically. Still, if you’re using the right keywords and your book is displayed as a resource to that user, you could potentially make a sale for being in the right place at the right time.

How to Create Good Book Metadata

Creating good book metadata takes an initial time investment but once it’s done, you’ll have a great marketing tool that helps you sell books. You can set it and forget it until it’s time to update. Creating a list of relevant and targeted keywords and phrases enables you to write a keyword-rich author bio and book description to give the search engines a reason to bring attention to your book when users search for those words or phrases in particular.

For this reason, the most vital book metadata you’ll need to craft are:

- Keywords and keyphrases
- Book description using those keywords
- Author bio, also using keywords

Once you create a master document with this data you can use it to disseminate your book information in all kinds of places:

- Your ISBN record
- Your Lightning Source metadata for the book which is distributed to online retailers
- Any online retailer where you’re selling direct
- Your website, author page, and book pages
- Your Amazon Central author page
- Your Goodreads profile
- Social media profile pages
- Online interviews, guest blog posts, and other promotional appearances

Creating a master document for your book metadata is a huge time saver when you realize how many places this data will be placed. Keep this document handy and refine it over time. Revisit it every few months, to make sure it remains relevant.

How to Create Good Keywords and Key Phrases

Lightning Source will accept up to 500 characters for keywords and spaces.

Many retail websites only look at the first 350 characters (including spaces).

Record words and short phrases you think your readers might enter into a search engine or website to find you and your book. The more specific the keywords and phrases are, the more likely the person searching for those specific words will be happy to find your book among the search results. Enter your keywords and phrases to find books like yours on Amazon, and if those terms do not return books that are like yours, try again. Then use the Google Keyword Search tool to help you think of other keywords for your book. Google Keyword Search will show you how popular those keywords are (volume data) and help you find keywords with lower competition. Try to keep the number of repeated keywords to a maximum of three. Work on this task until you have a final list of no more than 10 to 20 words.

Enter the most important keywords and phrases first. Select 7-11 keywords or phrases and list them in descending importance. Return to Google Keyword Search every few months to evaluate new trends, check popularity and volume, and improve your keyword list. These same top keywords and phrases should appear in all of your book descriptions wherever possible.

Your Book Description and Author Bio

Make the description informative to users first and search engines second, and remember, it’s better to go narrow than wide, and more specific than general. When buyers come to your book sales page they should be compelled to buy—not click off because they were lured in falsely. Your book descriptions should be attention-grabbing, keyword-rich copy that sells your books. Similarly, your author bio, like your book description, should be succinct and keyword-rich. The initial search of your potential reader is your first opportunity to make an impression, so make sure you’re using the right book metadata and keywords to do it.

7 Facts About Book Metadata

1. Book Metadata Describes Your Book

Title metadata can be used to describe what a book is about. Descriptive metadata should include elements such as what genre the book fits into, who is telling the story, and keywords or information that will appeal to the intended audience. Specific descriptive information that includes terms like "beach read" or "authoritative biography" will help put the book title on the radar of readers who are looking for a certain kind of book.

2. Book Metadata Tells Librarians and Booksellers Where to Shelve Your Book (and Who'd Want to Buy It)

Including Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) codes (subject categories) in a book's metadata explains what genre the book is. These codes allow marketers, retailers, librarians, online stores, search engines, and others to know where to shelve a book or how to locate it online. More than one BISAC code can be and should be assigned to a book, to help narrow down the search and ensure it reaches the targeted potential audiences.

3. Book Metadata Sells Your Book to Consumers Online

Online consumers unwittingly access book metadata when searching for a book online. There is so much information that can be added to the metadata including title, description, contributors, categories, keywords, related titles, and the like. This makes the book easier to discover by potential readers—including those who already know the author's work and those who don't.

4. Metadata Provides Search Engines with the Perfect Answer

This is one of the most important aspects of metadata utilization. As noted above, book metadata can include all the answers readers have about a specific book—even if they don't know what book they are looking for. Including keywords, positive book reviews, and comments, authoritative recommendations, similarity to other titles, and everything else in the metadata means that search engines can find it. That's a big part of how specific books get into the hands of specific readers. It's especially important to include series information in the metadata, too. That's how readers can find the next book in a series like "Harry Potter" or "Game of Thrones".

5. Book Metadata Tells Readers Who You Are

Book metadata should include as much relevant information about the author as possible. Whether or not the author has received recognition, awards or special education can make a difference for multitudes of readers. Let's face it, there is so much competition when it comes to attracting readership—especially for new authors—that anything that puts the author "above the crowd" in any way can help sell the right books to the right people. For example, a writer who grew up in Ireland might have personal experience that lends itself to a book set during the time of—say, the Irish potato famine. American authors might write an equally well-written book about the Irish potato famine, but associations like this can help sell books.

6. Book Metadata Links You to Your Contributors 

Information about illustrators, collaborators, other contributors, and even reviewers should be part of your title metadata. Searches for positive reviews by respected critics link authors to the critics —and the "paper" or online source for whom they write critiques. Similarly, any metadata that includes information about co-authors and other contributors will increase the likelihood that a book will appear in multiple and varied searches. Collaborators want their work discovered, too, even if they only played a small part in a book; for instance, in writing a foreword or afterword.

7. Book Metadata Preserves Images and Illustrations

Many illustrators have dedicated followers who buy books solely for their artwork, some of which end up being highly collectible. Including the illustrator's information in the contributor section of the books, metadata helps books reach a wider audience and that means more sales. Furthermore, the metadata of illustration and image information ensures that pictures and artwork will not be lost in the dungeons of the World Wide Web. Authors will find that images that have been tagged with metadata are, and will always be, easy to access.

For more information please review the Title Metadata Guide at the link further below.

Instructions for Adding or updating metadata for your book:

Log into your Lightning Source account

  • If you don't see the title when you log in, click on the TITLES link in the left toolbar, which will bring up all of your titles
  • Locate the book you want to update and click on the title. This will take you to the Title Details Page.
  • On this page, you will find the BASIC INFO for the title. If you set up the print book and ebook at the same time, any changes you make to items on this page will affect both product types.
    • Title
    • Authors & Contributors
    • Categories
    • Title Description
    • Table of Contents.
  • Hover over the area you want to update and a field will appear which you can click into and make changes. Click the checkmark to save the changes.
  • Click on the PRINT INFO button or the EBOOK INFO button if you need to update the pricing.
  • Be sure to save your changes

How Long Does It Take for New Information to Appear on Websites?

Ingram sends the information for your book through their global distribution network to more than 40,000 retailers, bookstores & libraries. How quickly this information updates on websites will vary with each retailer. Changes and updates to book information (other than price, discount, and returns) can be immediate or may take several weeks to update on retailer websites.

You can submit updates to a book's list price, discount, and/or returns option, through your Lightning Source account. Changes submitted no later than 11:59 PM US Central Time each Thursday will be applied in the Lightning Source system the next day, Friday at 12:01 AM US Central Time. The updates are then sent out to all of Ingram’s global distribution networks.

To help with converting this cut-off time to your local time zone you can find a time zone conversion tool HERE

NOTE: Due to Daylight Savings time changes happening at different times throughout the world, please always check the time for Nashville, TN, to ensure you don’t miss the cut-off time of 11:59 PM US Central Time each Thursday.

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