Part 5: Get Meta

The Definitive Guide To Self Publishing

Your Own Metaverse

If you’ve been on the internet in the last decade, you’ve no doubt heard the term Meta. Sometimes it takes on the form of a meme’s self-awareness, sometimes it becomes the parent company of the worst social media platform. Either way, that word is very hot right now.

But what does it mean to you as an author?

Details, Details, Details

My own personal definition of meta is, “everything someone needs to know about your work that isn’t the work itself”. That “everything” I refer to is as follows:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Genre
  • Subgenre
  • Author’s name (or pseudonym)
  • Author’s bio
  • Short synopsis
  • Long synopsis
  • Back cover synopsis (if different than previous)
  • ISBN information (Part 6)
  • Copyright Information (Part 4 & 6)
  • Table of Contents
  • Note from the author
  • Acknowledgements
  • Social Media profiles and URLs (Part 11)
  • Print formats (Part 8)
  • MSRP (i.e. price you would like to sell at)
  • And so on and so forth

Compiling all of your book’s meta data in one place will be extremely valuable to you because it will save you hours upon hours of time. My suggestion is to create a single Meta Data Doc that has all of this meta information with clearly labeled headings so you can just leave it open while you copy/paste to what feels like a hundred outlets.

Who Wants To Know?

Now before you get too confident in your ability to “remember” the multiple files that your meta data may or may not be in, below are just some of the outlets that will ask for parts or all of the items listed above. Trust me, the Meta Data Doc system works.

  • Your book itself
  • Your print distributor (Ingram, Amazon, B&N, etc…)
  • Not only your eBook distributor, but embedded in your eBook file
  • Goodreads
  • Amazon Author profile
  • Bowker ISBN registration
  • Copyright registration
  • Media Outlets (i.e. Interviews, Podcasts, Book Reviewers)
  • And anywhere else you or your book may be listed

What’s Important and What Isn’t?

To you, everything should be important. To most everyone else, below is what I think should be given the greatest care.

Title & Subtitle

Is your title eye catching or thought inducing? Is it poetic or straight forward? Will it force me to pick up or click on your book and think, “Hm, I wonder what this is about?” For a bland example, “The Train” hardly evokes any emotion, but, “Off The Rails” could.

The same goes for your subtitle, which I believe is extremely important for self-published authors. Here are three examples:

  • For nonfiction, it could be something like, “The Rise And Fall of The Tugboat Dynasty”.
  • For a series, it could be something like, “Part X of the X Trilogy”.
  • For fiction that is not part of a series, you can simply put they type of book it is. You’ll be surprised at how just setting expectations will entice a reader. I also prefer this method for my own books because it helps with keyword targeting and search engine optimization. Examples:
    • Man, Kind: A Climate Fiction Adventure
    • Destination Earth: Twenty Short Stories

Author Name & Bio

Your name is your name and you should be proud of it. However, there are reasons to go with a pseudonym, initials, or a hybrid. For myself, I chose to use C.C. Berke instead of Chris Berke because I do not want to be immediately recognizable as a straight, white, male. Not because I am ashamed, but because I know the market is not trending towards authors like me. I would like my work to be judged before my background (as everyone rightly deserves). The name you go with is entirely up to you, but be sure to stick with it for a few publications to allow it to become recognizable for returning readers.

*Side note, I am 100% ok with people like me not being so popular right now because we definitely had a 500+ years in the spotlight. 😉

As for your bio, keep it short and sweet. Who are you, what do you do, and what else have you written. I will paste the bio I like to use below as a reference.

Christopher C. Berke has spent most of his life in South Dakota, but has a deep fondness for traveling, especially to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. When he’s not reading or writing, he enjoys spending time with his supportive wife, Abby, and his two cats, Henry and Winston.

Destination Earth is out now!


As a fellow author, I understand that this is by far the hardest question to answer: What is your book about? How can such a enormous thing be diluted to three measly sentences? An entire novel is about so much more than how A gets to B! Right? Right?!

Well get over it. If it’s not your friends asking you what your book is about, it’s every website that requires your book information. Most will even ask for both a short and long synopsis of varying character allotments. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Long Synopsis: Start with this. You have more leeway and you get to look inward on why your book is compelling. Assume your potential reader has curiously clicked on your book (Because of it’s great title and cover!) and is now looking at its landing page on Goodreads or Amazon, or is reading the back cover on a physical copy. This is where you have the chance to grab them by the horns by way of a couple short paragraphs.

Examples: Head to Goodreads and look up your favorite books in the same genre as your novel. Read their long synopses. Notice what works and what doesn’t. Notice that some are surface level because they need to be. Notice how they leave a lingering question at the end.

Short Synopsis: This can be anywhere from one to a few sentences and is by far the most difficult to nail down. You literally don’t have time to describe anything. You only have enough room to offer up a small taste that will make the reader want to bite. Read my s-tier example below and try to pick out why it works so well.

Example: “Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear travels the galaxy to stop the evil Emperor Zurg.” 

  1. We learn there is someone named Buzz Lightyear
  2. Buzz is a Space Ranger, so it is likely science fiction
  3. We know Buzz travels the galaxy, which means we will get to visit interesting locations
  4. His mission is to stop Zurg
  5. Zurg is an evil emperor
  6. It’s ONE sentence.

Tip: Write a few drafts of your short synopsis and ask your friends, family, or significant other which is most enticing. You got this!

You Got The Deets

You’ve created a single Meta Data Doc with your available information thus far and are now ready to start registering your book with all the different outlets. Confidently head on over to Part 6: ISBN, Imprint, & Copyright.

*Note: This is a living guide, which means I will consistently make updates and improvements as new technology and resources become available!