By Larry Norton
In the life cycle of a book title, much energy goes into launch. Publishing teams are intently focused on getting the details right – title and subtitle, jacket image, pub date, price, marketing copy – to give a book its best chance on retailer websites and in stores. But all too often, once the initial flurry is over and a title has been published, it is neglected in favor of new titles ramping up for launch.
One way for publishers to insure their backlist titles mature and grow is to tend backlist metadata as you would a garden. After going to the trouble of planting and fertilizing a garden, you don’t just sit back and hope for the best. To keep your garden blooming, you must tend your plants while keeping an eye on the weather! It’s the same with metadata: continually refreshing BISAC categories, marketing keywords, prices, territories, and other critical data will keep your titles flourishing as marketplace conditions evolve.
The key to tending your metadata is to develop a regular process for reviewing the titles in your catalog, timed to recurring events. For instance, toward the end of each year, the Book Industry Study Group issues new BISAC categories, with the expectation that publishers will implement them early the following year. So it’s best to analyze the impact of the new categories on your title base as soon as the guidelines are issued, and allocate resources to updating metadata in a timely way. In 2016, juvenile BISAC codes underwent a major overhaul, putting extra pressure on children’s book publishers to keep up with the changes.
Here are some other seasonal promotions to consider as you plan regular reviews of your title base:
- “New Year, New You”
- The “candy” holidays (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s, and Father’s Day)
- Back to School
It’s also wise to watch the latest trends in categories where you have a lot of backlist titles, and make sure you know the top search terms, so you can update title descriptions with critical keywords. News-driven categories like diet and health, and business and investing, may warrant more frequent review.
Each month, look at which titles are exceeding expectations, and focus energy on them. Refreshing the metadata on these titles can yield significant results.
Finally, keep tabs on current events. Set up a weekly process for a quick review of Google trends or other sources relevant to your titles base. Simon & Schuster has established this best practice and in CEO Carolyn Reidy’s keynote address at the BISG annual meeting she reveals that the effort has had a pronounced impact on backlist revenues.
Tending your garden is a year-long process involving annual, seasonal, monthly, and weekly tasks. Your process for maintaining your backlist metadata should be similar. Build a good process and watch your garden grow!
If you’re attending the PubWest Conference in Santa Fe on Saturday, February 6, please say hello to Larry Norton, INscribe’s Director of Business Development, who will be speaking on the panel “Using Metadata for All Its Worth” from 2:15pm to 3:15pm CT. Participants include:
- Mark Ouimet of Ingram (moderator)
- Larry Norton (INscribe Digital)
- Joshua Tallent (Firebrand)
- Joe Matthews (IPG)
- Leigh Grinstead (Consultant at Lyrasis, specializing in libraries)
You can also follow PubWest conference news on Twitter from February 4-6, 2016: