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Technical Tip: Filling Out a Product Page

Last week I talked about some of the different promotional material you’ll need to develop for your book. This week I wanted to continue my “Technical Tip” feature with a little explanation of how you’ll use that material.

If you’ve already start self-publishing, you won’t find much new here. Mostly, this post is intended for the newbies.

Title Information

I’m going to use “Title Information” as shorthand for several pieces of information: book title, subtitle, series title, and series volume number. All of those except the first are optional, and these can be some of the most complicated elements to add to different vendors’ product pages.

KDP will ask you for title, series title, and volume number. They’ll add all that information to their database (and probably use it to recommend your book to readers), but the only thing they display on the product page is what you provide in the “title” field.

Most of the other direct distribution outlets (PubIt!, Kobo, and iTunes) behave the same way. That means readers who already know a series name can probably do a search and find your books, but readers browsing through lists of books will have no easy way to know that this book is part of a series.

To avoid this problem, I’ve made a habit of including series and volume information in the title field, too. So, for instance, when I used to publish direct through KDP, I would enter the book’s title not as “Taming Fire,” but “Taming Fire (The Dragonprince’s Legacy, #1).”

Now that I publish everything through Draft2Digital, they handle that for me. At Draft2Digital, I can just put “Taming Fire” in the title field (and the series information in the series boxes), and they’ll make sure it shows up at Amazon the way I showed above.

Alternatively, I can put in my own parenthetical at Draft2Digital, and they’ll use mine instead of adding their own. So either way, you’re fine.

Contributor Details

The next major block of information at any distribution channel is “Contributors.” This mostly refers to authors, but it’s also a place to give credit to the editor who curated an anthology or the illustrator of a children’s book or the translator of an international work.

Unfortunately, this is not a good place to give credit to the cover artist or the freelance copyeditor you hired (not at KDP, anyway). I learned that the hard way with Gods Tomorrow, when it showed up on the main Amazon page as “Gods Tomorrow by Aaron Pogue, Julie Velez, and Elyssa Dolinger.” If you looked closely on the product page, you could see that Julie and Elyssa were referenced as my cover artist and cover designer, but on the main listings, they looked like co-authors.

Again, Draft2Digital handles this for you. You can fill in all your Contributors (along with their roles) and Draft2Digital will embed that information in the book’s metadata, pass it along to any of the retailers that do sane things with it, and keep it hidden from places like KDP (where only “Author” Contributor types are provided).

Product Description

The product description is probably the most work you’ll have to do for any of the vendors, but it’s the least complicated part of the form to fill out. If you’re going direct to multiple distribution channels, I’d recommend developing the product description in a separate document that you can then copy and paste to each distributor. (We used Google Docs.)

The only complicated part of the product description is trying to get a little fancy formatting in. Some of the vendors (Apple and Kobo, if I recall correctly) will allow rich text or HTML like italics and bold, whereas the others only take plaintext.

KDP (always the complicated one) will only accept plaintext when you’re providing the product description, but once the book is live you can access it from your page (which is not part of KDP) and modify the description there. The Author Central editor does allow some rich text markup.

There have also been some rumors lately concerning ways to artificially inject HTML markup into the text field at KDP. I haven’t been able to recreate them, and they seem unnecessarily complicated when you can just update the description through Author Central.

Again, Draft2Digital allows you to provide rich text markup which they’ll pass along to any vendors that accept it (and reduce to plaintext for those that won’t).

That covers all the promotional material you’ll need to provide, but there’s still a lot more information the retailers will need in order to sell your book: categories and search terms, content files, MSRP, and desired sales channels.

We’ll talk about all of that over the coming weeks, but now you have enough information to get started.

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