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An essential part of the indie author’s self-publishing process is to input the metadata on the distribution platforms of your choice. Whilst you might hire other professionals do carry out some of the tasks involved in the publishing process, uploading the metadata is more than likely left to you, the publisher. Today I am going to talk about how to upload your metadata in a professional manner.

No doubt you will have read the advice given and will have worked out which platform(s) you want to use in order to distribute your self-published book. But when you log in to the first platform, you will more than likely find yourself faced with a lot of drop down menus, text boxes, and possibly multiple pages of metadata information to enter before you can upload your files.

You may even have to go and find information, some of which you didn’t know you would need, and which is probably in a format that you have never heard of before. For example BISAC codes. Now I am sure a lot of you are screwing your foreheads and wondering what on earth I am talking about. All will be explained shortly.

Anyway having been asked for this you are not sure if you’ve got the time to do it all. You aren’t even sure if you are in the right frame of mind to draft out the text. I can imagine you pulling your hair and screaming AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

But, ‘don’t panic Mr Mannering, as Sergeant Jones’ would say, there is an easy way to help you get through the process. How? Well, all you have to do is create a metadata checklist and a template.

So what, is The Value of A Metadata Checklist

Any checklist is important so creating one for something like this is relevant. Besides, you probably have much more important things to keep in your memory than all the details needed to complete this process. To be honest anything you have to do regularly but which is done infrequently is a lot easier if its laid out in a checklist. So having one for your self-publishing process is a must. Writing down the steps and sorting them into a logical order will save you time, and, a lot of frustration. It also means you won’t worry whether or not you have forgotten something relevant or important.

Let’s look at Creating a Metadata Template

So in addition to a checklist for the process, why not create a metadata template for all the choices needed in the publishing process, with the relevant text needed, ready to copy and paste into the forms.

The first time I uploaded a file, I made a note of all the bits of information I needed to enter. What I entered into the system I also copied into my file then I used that information when uploading the book to another platform. It saved time as I had to add in additional headings and notes. Again I copied everything I actually uploaded. In other words you copy, paste, tweak and there you go… job done. The first time was the hardest but each time after that it got easier and easier. And when it came to other entries I just copied the whole file and amended accordingly.

Basically I concentrated on sorting the problem at the first stage it meant I became less frustrated as the process continued elsewhere on other distribution channels.

Once I had learnt and used the process the first time, I edited the file to make it more useful. This resulted in a template that I can copy and fill in before I log in to the various platforms I use to publish my books. Yes, I still have to make some tweaks once I’m in there, but boy is it a lot less frustrating. Another thing I did was to add a record of things like trim size and paper choice meaning I can ensure all my print books of a certain genre or style have a consistent look and feel. Makes it all look very professional.

But what is “metadata” anyway, I hear you ask?

Well! Metadata is a fancy word for all the information that search engines look at when a reader is looking for a book. There are three categories of information:

The Basics which includes:

Title, Subtitle

Series, volume in series

ISBN (and/or ASIN, which Amazon will assign but you need to record)

Imprint (if you have one)

Length, trim size, illustrations, and other physical details

Description (short & full)


The Contributors: Author(s), Illustrator(s), etc: so that is their


A Bio for each

Prior work for each

Affiliations (if any)

Subjects, Keywords, and other things that aid discoverability: these include

BISAC subjects

THEMA subjects


Table of Contents

Audience type

Review quotes (if any)

The main problem is that Different platforms have slightly different length requirements, or they may use different subject categories. However, by drafting things in advance it gives you time and something to edit. Also by brainstorming categories and keywords prior to publishing it will help you figure out what to do with the options actually available to you on any one platform. Plus, deciding a price range in advance, also gives you a place to start that you can adjust in order to get the right options and royalty you want.

Being Your Very Own Publisher’s Assistant

When using a metadata template and checklist it is like having your own publisher’s assistant hat on. You assign yourself the task of asking the Author-you for all the details before opening up the first publishing platform. And when you do you will know you are equipped with most of the information needed to get your book uploaded. Don’t forget to update your checklist as you go along, make notes of anything that went wrong and of how you fixed it. That way you will have all the information needed the next time you enter the details.

Of course, one of the most important tasks of a good publisher’s assistant is to keep good records, so make sure you keep a copy the final decisions you’ve created for that book’s metadata. It makes life a lot easier if the information shown on your website, Goodreads, and anywhere else you place the book, remains consistent with what readers will see when they buy. You could also add things such as your universal book links, or links to your book on various seller platforms. That way it will make the book easier to find and share when you promote your book.

Free Metadata Template!

If you would like a copy of the Metadate Template produced by Mentoring Writers then please email me at placing Free Metadate Template in the subject box.

Final Thoughts: Remember, creating a metadata file for each book as a record of what you’ve uploaded ensures consistency across the platforms you use. Different platforms do have slightly different requirements for different fields. Words lengths for things like short and full descriptions, author bios, and whatnot can be slightly different. And the type of subject categories used may vary.

By drafting your details out in advance it will save a tremendous amount of work. However, do expect to edit them when you go to upload your book. And of course, don’t forget to copy your final version back to your own file.

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