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Your book metadata includes your book description, categories, keywords, and your author bio. Delivering this information is where many independent authors fall short.

Here’s the truth: While publishing a best-selling book is difficult, self-publishing a best seller is even harder. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, self-publishing a best seller is achievable now more than ever.

One key, of course, is for independent authors to leverage every advantage and free tool at their disposal, including social media, which offers the chance to connect one-on-one with readers. But equally critical is tending to the minute aspects of the self-publication process, namely, the details that comprise the information you’re presenting about your book: your Amazon metadata.

Your Amazon metadata includes things like your book’s description, its categories and keywords, and your author bio. You might think this is simple stuff, but surprisingly, delivering this information is where many independent authors fall short. An author will spend months — even years — perfecting every last detail of his or her book. Then, when it comes time to input their metadata, they rush through the process. They make mistakes. They don’t position their books for success, and their sales suffer as a result.

The good news? This fate is avoidable. To borrow a cliché, you just have to sweat the small stuff.

Here are five details independent authors should focus on to realize their best-seller potential.

1. Treat your book description and author bio like they’re a key chapter in your book

You can write the best book, come up with a brilliant cover design, and invest thousands in print copies for distribution, but if your description and author bio are sloppy, your book will be dead on arrival.

Devote the same amount of time crafting your description and bio as you did on the most important chapter of your book. Write. Rewrite. Edit. Proof. Show it to others.

Along with your book cover, these paragraphs are windows to the readers you’re trying to sell your book to. If the windows are boarded up or broken, no one’s going to buy.

It’s worth having a professional editor comb through your bio and description. If you don’t have a professional looking at your material, at least run your copy through a free online tool like Grammarly or ProWritingAid, which will catch grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes while also highlighting contextual errors. Or, utilize our Book Metadata Optimization service — it’s like an insurance policy for your book listing.

2. Keep your description short and compelling

Sometimes authors lend too little credence to crafting their book descriptions. But what can be more destructive is going to the other extreme and attempting to tell your entire story in what should just be a preview. For instance, some authors pen descriptions that give away critical plot twists or other takeaways that should only be discovered by the reader once he or she is immersed in the story. Robbing readers of those moments takes the incentive away for investing time in your book. Why would someone buy a book if they already know what’s going to happen?

Your description should be well-written and carefully proofed, but it should also be short and compelling. Just one or two sentences for the short description, and one or two paragraphs for the long description. Remember, this is a preview of your story. A tease! It should not only be clean and carefully done — it should leave the potential reader thinking, “I want to see what happens next!”

3. Select a category that is appropriate for your book

Be very careful in choosing the category of your book.

We once had what eventually became a best-selling author slot his book, The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, in the “Children’s Book” genre. The problem was, his book was not meant for children. It should have been in the “Parenting” or “Self-Help” categories. It was only after he made that change that his book had a chance of being discovered by the right audience.

Another thing to keep in mind: The category of your book should be determined by the subject of the book, not the mood. Too many authors of mystery thrillers, for example, believe their book to be “dramatic,” so they put it in the “Drama” category. The problem? That section is meant for plays and scripts. Selecting an inappropriate category is a good way to ensure that the people you want to be seeing, buying, and reading your book never will.

4. Write your author bio in the third person

Writing an author bio in the first person is a mistake that many first-time independent authors make. They believe their bios should conversationally convey personal information about themselves, their book, or their writing process. But that’s not so. If your author bio includes language like, “First I did this…” or “I like to…” you’re on the wrong track. Your author bio should be written entirely in the third person.

The key here is to write a professional author bio akin to what you might see on the back flap of a book published by your favorite author. It should convey the fact that you are a serious author and that what the reader is about to purchase is a piece of serious writing. If you’ve been published previously or have won literary awards, consider including that information. If your profession is something that’s relevant to the subject or genre of your book, include that, too.

For good examples of serious and well put-together Amazon author bios, check out the profiles of Dan Brown or John Grisham.

5. Choose appropriate keywords

The keywords you choose for your book are just as important as everything in steps 1-4. Amazon allows authors to list up to seven keywords for each book. Here are some important things to remember when deciding on which keywords you’ll use:

  • Don’t designate the name or title of your book as a keyword. These elements of your metadata are already searchable, so including them as keywords doesn’t add any value.
  • Keywords should be familiar. The key here is to strike a balance between generic and obscure. Your book’s keywords should be things readers might realistically search for. For instance, if your book is a mystery novel set in London, consider using such keywords as “detective,” “Britain,” and “murder.”
  • Keywords should be relevant. In addition to being familiar, your keywords should be relevant. If your book is a horror novel, your keywords should bear some relation to that genre. The goal is to ensure your book is shown to the readers who are likely to buy your book — fans of horror novels, for instance.

Because independent authors don’t have the advantages and resources provided by traditional publishing houses, you can’t afford to rush through the smaller, seemingly less glamorous aspects of the publishing process. Taking the time to tighten and polish these details will ensure you don’t limit your book’s best-seller potential.

Join Steven and a host of great presenters, speakers, and exhibitors at BookBaby’s 2018 Independent Authors Conference, November 2-4 at The Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel in Philadelphia! The Independent Authors Conference is the only writing conference dedicated to helping independent authors publish successfully. Register now! Don’t miss this opportunity to listen and learn from some of today’s leading self-publishing experts!