As our industry grows and evolves, metadata management is getting more complex, and more crucial. At Tech Forum 2016, Joshua Tallent of Firebrand Technologies gave a practical lecture on a few metadata management strategies that could make some of the nightmare scenarios he described not only manageable but seem like a breeze if you have the proper metadata management systems in place. Using Joshua's tips and tricks, we put together five metadata management tips that can help you navigate the increasing complexities of today's publishing marketplace:
1. Tailor your ONIX feed to your trading partners
Metadata is often not a one-and-done solution. While it may sound easiest to just compile all of your metadata into one master list that you send to all your trading partners, it actually makes things much more difficult. Your children's book partner isn't going to be interested in your adult trade metadata; your audiobook partner has no use for your print data; and your European trading partner isn't going to want to sift through data for titles for which you only have the North American rights.
If your partner prefers to receive all data available (like BiblioShare and Bowker do) then a full and comprehensive feed is best so your data can be fed out to appropriate channels. But for your retail partners, tailor your data feeds and only send them information that's relevant to the titles they can sell. Not only will it protect your data from accidental misuse, but it will cut down on processing time and they will probably like you better for it.
2. Think internationally
Different countries have different standards and methods, so keep those in mind when crafting your metadata. Does the country you're sending data to use BISAC or Thema? Should you tailor your descriptive copy, like book description and author bios, to include information that's culturally relevant to that region? (Yes, you should!) Do they use imperial or metric? Which currency is in use in that region? These are all things you will want to keep in mind when generating your metadata. Make sure you're also targeting the region you're selling into—something relevant to your book in Canada might make no sense to international buyers. ONIX 3.0 makes it possible to include territory-specific descriptions.
3. Keep updating your metadata
Don't underestimate the power of up-to-date metadata to bolster sales for your frontlist and your backlist. Your author's accomplishments can go a long way in generating interest for their books, whether the title's been optioned for a TV series or movie, won or been nominated for an award, or your author had a hand in creating something that has really taken off in the media like a popular YouTube series. Include that information in your metadata so that search results for those keywords are more likely to include your book.
4. Understand how different retailers handle your data
Each retailer and trading partner will process your data in a different way, which is another reason why generating one catch-all ONIX feed could generate a lot more headaches than personalizing your metadata. Does your retailer allow use of HTML inside of ONIX? Do they include reviews, and if so, how are they displayed? Some retailers pull information from different fields to populate your book's page, while others would prefer you put all the information you want to include in the description field. Make sure you understand how your data will be used by their page and generate your ONIX accordingly.
5. Automate, automate, automate
As Joshua mentions in his Tech Forum presentation, messing around with Excel to try and manage your metadata sounds pretty much like our worst nightmare. Using a professional tool will make customizing and distributing your data much less stressful.BiblioShare Webform is an easy-to-use online tool for small publishers to create clean bibliographic records and export them into functional ONIX files to send to trading partners. And it's definitely a much better option than swapping a bunch of spreadsheets around the office, which could rack up a high margin of error.
For some in-depth examples of these five tips in practice, check out Joshua Tallent's full Tech Forum presentation: