At the ACFW Conference this year, I took a continuing ed course taught by Hallee Bridgeman, author of a gazillion books and self-publishing guru. She had a PowerPoint presentation that included a set of screenshots that still occupy space in my mind: her earnings. There were spikes on her charts, just like there are spikes on mine. In fact, her early spikes were exactly like mine—encouraging, but not impressive.
Then, she showed last year’s spikes. Sure, the chart looked the same—ups and downs, highs and lows—but the numbers along the left side were considerably higher. Significantly higher. Wow.
According to Hallee, the key to the beautiful spikes in her chart is discoverability obtained by the use of metadata—and that’s where she lost me.
She started her course by talking about what I’m most comfortable and confident with: writing a great book. In her opinion—and mine—great books are populated with realistic characters readers can relate to.
Next on the list was something else I’m aware of and comfortable with: hiring professionals. There is no such thing as “free” in the self-publishing industry. This is like any other business, and the business owner must invest in it. So–hire professionals: cover designers, formatters, editors, etc.
Then came the discussion about metadata, and, like I said, that’s where she lost me. Metadata is comprised of keywords and phrases that are searchable through the different engines—Google, for instance. Goodreads, maybe. Amazon and other distributors, I guess. The Library of Congress uses keywords for catagorization, and I suppose catalogs would use them too.
My notes hold a direct quote from her: “create a text doc of metadata.”
I have no clue how to do that or where to use it once it’s done.
Here’s another quote—and it’s great advice: misspell your name in every possible way so that it comes up as you whenever you are searched. I looked up Linda Yezak, Linda W Yezak, and Linda Yezack on Google and found myself every time. How “Yezack” got in there, I’ll never know, nor will I ever understand how Google knew to connect that misspelling with me. I tried the most common misspelling—Wezak—and nothing came up. (I have no idea why we can spell Y E Z A K and people hear the Y as a W.)
Somehow the keywords and phrases and the misspellings of your name (and book title) fit in the category of “metadata,” and the “text file” full of your metadata is supposed to go somewhere and be used somehow. I understand that keywords and phrases are used when you upload your book into CreateSpace, Smashwords, Kindle, etc., but I’m not sure what the text file is for, or how to create one, for that matter.
See how far behind I am? I’m a baby ‘bella in the dark. I spent so much time learning how to write and edit, that this end of the business is alien to me.
But today, I’m going to run an experiment. I’m going to tag this post with my last name spelled a variety of ways. Then I’ll check periodically and see if the misspellings show up in search engines, matching my correct name to the misnomers.
I’ll get back with you on the results. If what I think is going to happen actually happens, I’ll be that much closer to understanding metadata.