Basics of Metadata

Book metadata is all of the information and pieces of data that describe a book. It is important to your book's categorization, discovery, and overall book sales. 

Metadata consists of information such as the title, contributors, author bio, book description, publication date, etc. 

Search engines use metadata as an information retrieval system to connect searchers with content and products more efficiently than ever before. Having the most accurate and complete metadata for your title will help customers find your books.

Below is an alphabetical list of different pieces of metadata that can be provided when setting up your book with Lightning Source. 


Affiliations: This refers to contributors and any organizations, agencies, schools, etc. they may be affiliated with. (i.e. Harvard University). This information can be provided in the contributor section of the title set-up.   

Audience: This refers to the target audience of your book. (i.e. Young adult, Juvenile, Adult). If your book is not marketed to a particular age range, we recommend selecting adult/general during title set-up. 

Biography: This is a brief summary of each contributor's identity.

BISAC Subject Codes: BISAC subject codes are codes used by retailers, distributors, search engines, and buyers to describe the genre and subject matter of a book. These codes inform booksellers and librarians on how to categorize your title. Lightning Source requires at least one BISAC code to be entered during title set-up but three BISACs is the industry standard to ensure the topic, genre, and subject matter of a book are fully represented. For more info on BISACs, please see here.  

Contributor: Contributors are anyone associated with the content or creation of the book. Up to three contributors can be provided for each book. During title set-up, names should be entered Last, First M.  (i.e. Smith, John P)

Contributor Role: This is the role of each contributor. Examples of contributor roles may include author, editor, photographer, etc. 

Description: This refers to the description of the book and describes the content of the book. This is used by distribution partners to describe and market the book in stores and with online retailers. A book description is required when setting up your title with Lightning Source and must be at least 200 characters. No HTML tagging, bullets, or any other special formatting should be embedded when providing this during title setup. 

Edition Description:  If multiple versions of the same title exist (set up with different ISBNs) an edition description can be used to differentiate them. Examples of edition descriptions include Large Print20th AnniversaryRevised, etc. 

Illustrations/Photographs: This refers to whether or not your book contains photographs or illustrations. You can indicate this by clicking a check box during the title setup. You can also provide information on whether they are in color and how many are included in the book.

Imprint: This is the publishing company name that will appear for your book in the marketplace. Many larger publishing houses that also have separate publishing companies for different genres of books, will list those publishing companies, also known as imprints, instead of the larger publishing house name. By default, your imprint will be listed by Lightning Source as the business name you used when setting up your Lightning Source account. Please see here for more information on how to add additional imprints to your account. 

Keywords: They are words or short phrases that describe the content of your book and help books appear in online searches. During the title setup, we recommended entering 7-11 keywords (memoir, paranormal, Renaissance, etc). For more information on how to create good keywords, please see here

Language: The language in which your book is written.

List Price: The list price is the suggested retail price of a title. It is important to offer your book with a list price that is considered a fair and reasonable price for each market the book is being sold into, taking into account the nature and type of content of the book. While you provide a list price, please note that pricing on retailers' websites is at their discretion so it can vary from the publisher's suggested retail price.
Industry best practice suggests setting your prices so that they end with .00, .95, or .99.
Titles submitted with a list price greater than 250.00 (USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD), will be reviewed by the Customer Support team to determine availability through our distribution channels.
If you believe your book is appropriately priced and exceeds 250.00 (USD, GBP, AUD) please contact Customer Support for assistance.
Please note: Lightning Source reserves the right to immediately remove a title(s) from availability from any market(s) or all market(s) for any violation of this pricing rule.

Location: This is the location of the contributor. This can attract readers who are searching for authors in a specific geographic region.

Page Count: This is the number of pages of your book. It should include all pages including any table of contents, acknowledgments, copyright page, photo inserts, appendices, etc. For more information about page count, please see here.  

Prior Work: This refers to other titles from one of the contributors. Providing this can help consumers discover other books written by the same author.

Publication Date: The publication date is the official release date of your book out into the world. This should ideally be set far enough in the future that you will have time to order a printed copy or proof, apply any revisions that arise from the proofing process, and have your first print run produced at least a month before your publication date. In the traditional publishing world, new books are typically released on Tuesdays.

Regional Subject: This is a subject based on a specific geographical location. When setting your title up you can search for that locality by clicking the “Find Regions” button. If your book is set in a specific location, regional subjects can help when buyers are looking for books from that region. 

Review Quotes: Use this field to enter quotations from people who have favorably reviewed your book (and given you permission to publicize their words). For recommendations longer than a couple of sentences, it’s best to provide a brief excerpt rather than the full text.

Series Name and Number: If your book is part of a series, you can provide the name of the series and the series number of the book. 

Short Description: Similar to the description, this is a very brief summary of what your book is about. Usually only a couple of sentences long. 

Subtitle: This is a continuation of the title of the book and often contains additional information not provided in the main title. If your book does not have a subtitle, this field can be left blank during setup.  

Table of Contents: During title setup, there is a field to provide the table of contents of the book. This is not needed for fiction titles, but for nonfiction, it can be very helpful for readers to see a list of the chapters and see exactly what kind of information they can acquire by reading your book.

Title: This is the title of your book, and it is one of the first things customers, retailers, and libraries will see. Do not provide a subtitle in this field during title set-up. There is a separate field for that information. 

Trim Size: This refers to the physical dimensions of the book. 


For more information regarding metadata and how it affects the discoverability of your book, please see here



Have more questions? Submit a request


Please sign in to leave a comment.