Helping authors publish

Author: Robin Phillips (Page 2 of 14)

Weekly News: 25th April 2022

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

  • Orna Ross has predictions about what changes the next ten years will bring for self-published authors.
  • Watch out for marketing services that look impressive but don’t deliver value.
  • Audible has changed its tax reporting policy, which has implications for how authors file their tax returns.
  • Co-writing can bring great rewards, but there is a lot to consider before embarking on a joint project.
  • How to take an idea and turn it into a book.
  • Marketing isn’t just ads and social media. Be more creative with your marketing.
  • Customise the 404 error page on your website so that errors lead to sales.
  • Until 30th April, use discount code SPMC22 to get 50% off a SelfPubCon registration.

Book a FREE consultation to find out how we can help you publish your book.

Weekly News: 18th April 2022

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

Book a FREE consultation to find out how we can help you publish your book.

Weekly News: 11th April 2022

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

Book a FREE consultation to find out how we can help you publish your book.

Metadata: what it is and why it matters

“Metadata” is a term that sounds technical, which may be why it confuses a lot of authors. Back in 2020, Jane Friedman asked her Twitter followers, “When people talk about “metadata” in book publishing, do you know what they’re referring to?“. Half of the respondents definitely knew, or were reasonably sure that they knew. Half of them did not know what the word meant.

You may have heard the definition that metadata is information about data, which is still too technical to be useful. So here is a simpler definition, focused on books: the metadata of a book is everything about the book that is not the content of the book itself.

The following are examples of a book’s metadata:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Author
  • Series name
  • Number in series
  • Genre
  • ISBN
  • Publisher
  • Trim size
  • Page count
  • Description
  • Format

Note that the book’s content is not in the list. Some items (genre and description, for instance) give some indication of the content, but the content itself is not metadata.

Metadata describes your book. It is the information a potential reader needs in order to decide whether to buy the book. If you want to sell books, it’s very important. The good news is, it’s not a complex topic, and if you have published a book, you’ve dealt with metadata, even if you didn’t realise it.

When you are uploading a new book, or updating an existing one, there will be fields for the items listed above, and more. Make sure that you fill in as much information as possible, and do so accurately.

Why metadata matters

When a user searches Amazon for “Romance books”, Amazon’s search algorithm uses the metadata of all the books in its database to work out which ones are romance books, and should therefore be shown in the search results. The title or subtitle may include words that indicate the book is a romance. Or there may be words and phrases like “happy ever after” in the keyword fields.

Accurate metadata is important, because the user searching for “Romance books” doesn’t want a book that isn’t a romance. If a military history book has a title, subtitle, and keywords that suggest it’s a romance book, it will show up in that user’s search. But the user will either ignore it, or buy it and leave a scathing review. Worse still, readers that would enjoy the book will never find it because it won’t show up in their searches.

It’s not only important for computer algorithms. If your book is stocked by a library or book shop, they’ll use the metadata to decide which shelf to put it on. You don’t want your contemporary romance book on the thriller shelf, because the romance readers won’t look there, and so they won’t find it. Any thriller readers that find it and read it will be disappointed. They might tell their friends that it’s rubbish, or leave a bad review on Goodreads.

Put simply, good metadata gets your book in front of people that will enjoy it. Bad metadata gets your book in front of people that will hate it.

Thank you, and happy holidays!

It’s been a great year for Author Help and we wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for being part of it.

At the start of the year, we officially became a limited company under the name Shilka Ltd. We got a shiny new logo, tidied up the website, and made all sorts of behind-the-scenes changes to accounting and so on.

Later in the year, Robin and Jen both successfully completed a diploma in proofreading and copy editing with distinction. Just as we were starting to use our newly polished skills, we realised we’d grown to the point where we couldn’t manage all the proofreading ourselves. We’re now working with three lovely subcontractors: Mel, Paul and Charlotte. With their help, we’ve improved turnaround time massively while still giving a great quality service.

We’ve also started working with Formatted Books, who help us with books that need something a bit special on the pages, such as children’s books or where the author wants a very particular look for their chapter headings. We’re still doing straightforward formatting in-house, and thanks to a recent software upgrade we’re expanding the range of options.

Last month, we added up the books we’ve helped to publish and realised we’d done over a hundred! This is a magnificent milestone for what started just a few years ago with Robin just doing what they love.

And of course, throughout it all our cover designer Henry and copywriter Cat have been absolute champions.

We’ll be taking some time off over Christmas, so responses to emails sent after 21st December may be slow. We will try to keep an eye on the inbox and respond to anything urgent, but otherwise things will be picked up in January.

We wish you all a peaceful and safe holiday season and a joyful new year.

Robin & Jen

International Day Of Disabled Persons

It’s the International Day Of Disabled Persons, so here’s a short list of easy ways to make your web pages and social media posts more accessible.

When writing hashtags, use BumpyCase (also known as CamelCase). It’s better for screen readers and is less ambiguous (note the difference between #CarEbook and #CareBook)

On web pages, use headings to communicate the organisation of the page, not to make the text bigger. If you want bigger text, just adjust the font size. Again, this helps screen readers and accessibility tools. It also helps with SEO.

Use clear link text on web pages. The text in the link should describe what it links to, even if read out of context. Avoid link text like “click here”, that doesn’t indicate what is being linked to.

Always set alt text (“alternative text”) for images. In the alt text field, describe the image as well as you can. If you’re not sure what would be useful, remember that any alt text is better than nothing. If you forget to add alt text when adding images to Twitter, the Alt Or Not browser extension can help.

Use a website theme that has good contrast between text and background. Light grey text on a white background is much more difficult to read than black text on a white background.

If you use self-hosted WordPress, the AWS for WordPress plugin will automatically create audio versions of your posts.

For more information, see the Content Best Practices chapter in the WordPress Accessibility Handbook, or the Web Accessibility Initiative’s web accessibility tutorials.

Weekly News: 15th November 2021

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

If you want to publish your book, email us to find out how we can help.

Weekly News: 8th November 2021

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

  • Kobo’s unlimited subscription service, Kobo Plus, is coming to Australia, New Zealand, and Italy.
  • Books2Read now supports print books, as well as ebooks and audiobooks.
  • Writing and publishing poetry can be a challenge, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile.
  • You don’t have to start at the beginning.
  • Structure can help you write your book, but it’s not the whole answer.
  • Indie authors don’t generally pitch to agents and publishers, but we still have to pitch to others.
  • The conventional advice is to write a series, not a standalone novel. But can you expand a novel into a series?

If you want to publish your book, email us to find out how we can help.

Weekly News: 1st November 2021

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

If you want to publish your book, email us to find out how we can help.

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