Better Metadata

Publishers! What’s one of the easiest, cost-efficient ways to give your business a fighting edge? …It’s equipping your DATA WARRIORS!

Why is it important to list illustrators in your book data? It’s about DISCOVERABILITY.

* Your illustrator wins a big award; people look up their books to buy them. You want your book with that illustrator to be one of the first things they find.

* A reviewer or bookseller wants to do a feature on illustrated books. If they can’t see your book’s illustrated, or who it’s illustrated by, it’s already out of the running. You want them to have this information to help them pick your books.

* Illustrator loyalty: if your illustrator constantly finds people aren’t able to look up their books, they’re going to consider going to another publisher.

This tweet sparked this conversation on Twitter (read here).

Basic rule of thumb: if the book’s illustrated by the writer, fill in both fields in the metadata. If the book is illustrated by someone else, fill in both fields in the metadata. Here’s some background reading in a blog post I wrote about data systems and how they work.

We can’t blame this problem on Amazon:

Many publishers are using Biblio. Are you having problems? These could be due to a drop-down menu issue. Here’s a quick tutorial from my visit to see Commercial Manager Helen Graham and Editorial Operations Manager Kellie Barnfield at Little, Brown. Kellie stressed that it’s ‘all about getting it right the first time’ because once they’ve filled in the book data and sent it (via a system called ONIX), that data goes out to all the major systems, including Amazon, Gardners, Bertram, Waterstones, WH Smith and media channels. Once the data’s out there, it can be hard to retrieve and fix. It’s gone to lots of different places with their own retrieval methods.

Let’s begin the tutorial:
Publishers, if you use Biblio, I’ve worked out where things are going wrong. It’s down to a single drop-down menu. ‘It’s an extra step. People don’t like extra clicks,’ said Kellie. If someone’s entering a thousand books into Biblio, they may be tempted to skip this step. But publishers, it’s worth it to you in discoverability to make those extra clicks.

The easiest thing is just to fill in the writer’s name in the Author Role. But Data Warrior, don’t stop there! See that ‘Click here to add a new role’ box? THIS IS THE ALL-IMPORTANT CLICK.

For this New Role, fill in the name of your illustrator (here it’s Jane Doe):

Now choose ‘Illustrator’ from the drop-down menu. (Or ‘Translator’ if Jane’s a translator.)

When you’ve entered this, you’ll see Jane Doe has come up automatically as ‘Illustrator on Cover’. Important note: If you try to go the other way, and only fill in Jane Doe here, it WON’T feed back to her Role as Illustrator. So use the New Role drop-down menu, don’t fill in her name here.

That’s it! You’ve done it!

So let’s look at Kellie’s screenshots of a working example of how this looks. She’s entered Gillian Johnson in the Role of the Illustrator of The Teenager Who Came to Tea.

Gillian’s name has automatically appeared in the Illustrator on Cover field.

This Biblio data has gone to Amazon… ta-dah! Gillian is listed as the Illustrator.

And here’s Gillian again, in Nielsen Book Data. All because Kellie or Candy entered the correct data.

So there you go! Publishers, this is critical information for you in improving your book data and discoverability. Don’t leave this job to chance, be sure your Data Warriors are fully equipped for sales battle. And in doing so, you’ll be nurturing illustrators’ long-term careers with you. Find out more at and #PicturesMeanBusiness on Twitter.

Note: These screenshots don’t show the drop-down-menu field for Translator, but it’s in there, too! (Don’t forget to #NameTheTranslator!)

Not everyone uses Biblio, here’s some further reading!

To clarify: Biblio and Bibliocloud are totally different systems

Whatever means you submit data to ONIX, here are their fields that you should ideally be able to populate: