Metadata: What Is It and Why Is It So Important?

Metadata: What Is It and Why Is It So Important? 1024 576 Reader Views

by Award-Winning Author JoAnn Vega

You have before you an edited and proofed manuscript that is ready for submission. You know the manuscript inside and out, can visualize holding the book in your hands, collecting royalties, being interviewed, connecting with others. The self-publisher you chose to work with has accepted your manuscript and sent a Production Checklist that needs to be completed before production starts. As you start to review the Production Checklist you realize the Publisher needs more than a polished manuscript, wants to know your metadata.

Metadata includes: the book title, subtitle, if any, author name, book/sales summary, target markets, BISAC codes, platform, formats, price, and author bio, and number of pages.  This makes it easy to locate: A memoir is entered into a database and grouped with biographies and memoirs, where interested readers may discover it, not with scientific tracts.You provide this information to the publisher, distributor, libraries, and target markets.

The metadata, identifying information, makes finding and working with all the elements of the book publication process easier andis standard industry practice. You will use this essential data to: design the interior and exterior book design; write a book summary for distributors like Ingram and Amazon; develop a content calendar; create an author web site; decide and budget for which contests to enter; and identify options for interviews and publishing blogs. Identifying your book’s metadata makes it much easier to navigate the process successfully and achieve your goals while minimizing stress, frustration, and delays.

Here’s a suggestion: Review all the winning entries from the 2023-2024 Reader Views Reviewer Choice Awards and pay special attention to the categories your book fits into. Look carefully at the covers and titles for design ideas, research into the literary marketplace. Then read the reviews for the gold, silver, and bronze winners in the categories you are interested in. Visit author web sites. Remember this is a process that takes time and reflection.

If you haven’t already, start a notebook/file and address the following:

  • Why did you write the book?
  • How did you select the title?
  • In 5 sentences describe what the book is about.
  • How is your book the same/different from other books in its genre/category?
  • What have you done to create an author platform.

Your answers form the basis of your metadata. I’m including some of the metadata I prepared for my recent memoir to illustrate the concepts.


Title: Moments in Flight, A Memoir
Subtitle: Brings the immigrant story full circle; recovers lost history; shares hard-earned practical wisdom.
Author: Jo-Ann Vega

Sales description/summary: Set in the last half century of transformative cultural change, a memory-keeper shares personal voyages of discovery [voice-talents-self-love] beyond traditional boundaries of gender and culture.An engaging and wide-ranging coverage of how the times affected the author and the country that offers guidance today.

Part 1 is — Part 2 details —Part 3 is —

Special features: Excerpts from 40 years of writing/journaling, useful web sites, historical timelines, and a Book Club Discussion Guide.

Author bio
Jo-Ann Vega, a proud Italian American whose roots in America began in 1903, is a published author and dynamic speaker with 30 years of experience presenting to academic, business, and community groups. Jo-Ann lives with her life partner and canine companion.

BISAC subject headings:
BIO026000 Biography & Autobiography/Personal Memoirs
BIO002000 Cultural, ethnic, and regional               

Memoir, family and relationships, life stages, immigration, Ellis Island, ancestry, US history, heritage, identity, gender, sexuality, civil rights movements, Italian diaspora, Vietnam antiwar protests, assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, Kent State, Woodstock, Watergate, and gas rationing.


  1. Readers 35-60+ products of the immigrant experience and the political and cultural explosions of the 1960s
  2. Italian Americans, Italian American clubs, organizations, language programs.
  3. Book clubs/stores/libraries

Formats: e-book and 6×9 quality paperback
Words: 65,765

I made changes to the metadata over time as I gained experience and listened to feedback. I use it in interviews, on my author web site, in personal essays I write, presentations I make on immigration and ancestry, in marketing material, email messages, blogs, and poems. Mine your metadata to reap the rewards, satisfaction, of reaching your audiences, making a difference, being heard.


Jo-Ann Vega is a published author and dynamic speaker with 30 years of experience designing, presenting, and evaluating learning programs for academic, business, and community groups. She has twenty years of experience as an adjunct, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on management and leadership. She wrote a column on career management for EEO Bimonthly, a national magazine, for five years. She is the author of “Navigating the New Job Market”; and co-author of “Workforce 2000: A Challenge for Business & Education.”

She has 10 years of experience delivering ancestry and history programs as part of a University Lifelong Learning Institute and to community members. She incorporated what she learned about history and the Italian character into her memoir. She inaugurated a Celebrating Italian Americans Series program at a local library two years ago.

Recent publications include “Wolf Woman & Other Poems [2022];” “Moments in Flight: A Memoir [2021].” “Lifewriting essays, Serendipity, and Empathy in the Time of Covid [Volume 21 and Volume 22 of Story Circle Network’s Annual Real Women Write Anthology, 2021-2022].” Several poems published: “Musings,” “Then & Now,” “Awaken,” and “In Remembrance.” “Awaken,” a poem, was published September 2023 in “Wild Crone Wisdom, Poetry and Stories,” by Wild Librarian Press.

Jo-Ann Vega lives with her life partner and canine companion.

I invite readers to visit my author websites and
and send queries to

  • Carolyn Howard-Johnson

    Jo-Ann, I liked that you went beyond a list of what to include in our metadata when it’s required. You took it from “just one more thing we need to do” to “getting a better understanding of our industry.”
    Very best,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

    • Jo-Ann Vega

      Thanks, Carolyn, for the feedback. I appreciate your expertise and read your practical, useful blogs. An educator and lifelong learner, my goal, always, is to present the bigger picture, context, and share what I’m learning. Best to you with your new publication. Jo-Ann

    • Jo-Ann Vega

      Thanks, Janet. It’s not a word we use a lot, so i wanted to demystify what metadata is, link it to all the elements of the publishing process, and give an example. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Best, Jo-Ann.

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