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What is Metadata and Why Do I Need It?

What is "metadata"? In it's simplest form, metadata is "data that provides information about other data". For your book, it is the information that helps differentiate your book from all others including elements such as title, synopsis, author and bio, and keywords. It also determines how people search and find your book including the cover design and the information provided on the front and back cover.

Cover Design

The overarching theme, as well as the genre of book and target audience of the book, should be reflected in the cover design. This will provide alignment to the genre and encourage a sense of anticipation that your target readers will want to explore. Every cover should be done professionally since it could be the “five second rule of engagement” that determines if someone will purchase your book (or not).

When creating your cover design, keep it simple. You cannot attempt to tell your entire story with the cover. Give the potential reader a “taste” of the book contents with the cover and do not try and cover all aspects of your book in the cover design. If you can identify one powerful image that connects the reader to the essence of the book, that should encourage them to want to see more. Don’t get carried away with text and color – sometimes more is less effective. Use the color palette to capture the theme of the genre and target audience. One option is to solicit feedback on your book cover before going to print. Sometimes it is better to ask strangers rather than friends or family since they may be more interested in pleasing you than giving an honest opinion. You can use social media, your email lists or even develop a prize (such as a free copy of your book) for those who comment with their honest feedback.

To Pay or Not to Pay for a Cover Design? That is the question.

Determine the goal for your book. That is the first thing that will determine whether to pay for a cover design or use a tool like Amazon KDP Cover Creator to create your cover. If your goal is to self-publish your book, have it published for family and friends and do not have a desire to market or sell your book to a broader population, this is the one time that I will recommend the use of the Amazon KDP Cover Creator or a similar free tool. This tool allows you to create your own cover using stock photos and once you pick the photos, the cover will be created according to industry standards. This is perfect for the book that is for your personal use (and with family, friends and social contacts. As long as you have no intent to publish the book beyond Amazon, this should work fine.

Paying for a Cover:

You must use a professional graphic designer for your book if you use an Independent Publisher or Traditional Publisher. In fact, if you are striving for a global market or even widespread across the US, the professional graphic artist should have specific book cover creation experience. Ask to see their work. Look up some of these books they show you. Obviously, the more experienced the graphic designer, the more likely the higher the cost of services. When searching for the right graphic designer, find one that will give you what you need and not what you want. Many times, authors have a specific idea of what they want their cover to look like but they may not understand the genre or the target audience. Work with the graphic designer who has this knowledge and is willing to stand up for it. If you are working with a publisher, they should be able to refer a good graphic designer.

Four Key Components of a Strong Book Cover

· Title

· Graphic

· Book Description

· Author Bio


Your title should be unique enough so that when it is search on, only your title pops up. Stay away from one word titles as they do not give enough information about the subject and you can easily be duplicated. If your title is in a specific genre, the rule of thumb is that your title should be noticeable and not to similar to other titles. Also, be careful that your title is not too long. Adding a subtitle for clarification is fine as long as it is relevant, does not duplicate the title and is not too long. Do a title search before you settle on your title and or subtitle.


If your cover design appears like it was created by an amateur or is out of alignment with your book’s genre, readers will likely move onto the next option without a second thought. My main advice here is that authors (and publishers) are not necessarily graphic designers and should leave that role to the professionals.

Book Description

This is the short description on the back of the book that the potential reader will use to determine if this book is engaging enough to want to read (or purchase). This is what we call the “promotional copy” for the book, and the writing of this small block of text is describing the essence of the entire book. When writing your description, consider a general summary of the “plot” or theme, quote reviews or other author successes and end with the sales pitch for why they should read/buy. They key is to be brief (and thorough at the same time).

Author Bio

Let your personality shine though – not just your credentials. This is the time to share your accomplishments but also for the reader to get a feel of your personality. Also, use this as an opportunity to put your website or list other books you have published. You should specifically stay away from stating that this is your first book as that may turn some readers off.

Your publisher will assist you in determining the correct designations of metadata, where it is included and how to have your book marketed appropriately. Sometimes the publisher will use marketing tools to get social proof that your book can be found and will be appealing to your target audience. For more information about metadata, contact Enhanced DNA Publishing for your free consultation.


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