Self-Published Authors, Audiobooks, and Metadata

Us self-published authors rely heavily on information handed down from other self-published authors.  Big publishers have the luxury of knowing the ropes, and having the industry contacts. I want to share some information about audiobooks, cds, and metadata for those self-published authors that are a bit in the dark.

What is Metadata?

First, what is metadata? Metadata is all the information that you want to share with the public about your audio file, your audiobook. For example, your title, the author, readers, producers, mixers, composers, cd art, and album art are some of the metadata you may want to add to your album.

Before the internet databases, there was a time where you could buy a car CD player, put in the CD, and it would tell you the name of the song, album, and artist right on the face of the car cd player! This is written on the CD in the CD text.

But if you were to put that CD with the metadata in the CD text, your computer may not recognize the metadata and it may say, “Unknown Artist”.  That leads us to the digital metadata world.

Submitting Your Metadata

When you put a store bought CD into your computer, a big nice clear picture of the album art pops up, as well as all the song titles. This metadata isn’t written on the CD itself, but is submitted into a database, most likely a couple databases.

If you produce your album through CDbaby, or other aggregators, most likely they will submit the metadata for you, but if you are a self-published author making an audiobook for your book, you may need to submit it yourself.

Of course you could, pay some money to CDbaby and publish it as an album, order a CD and copy that.  For me, I’m living in Taiwan and find it a cheaper option to print CDs on the fly and burn them privately or with a company. But no matter if you have a polished audiobook CD ,  a self-burned version written in marker, or just a digital file. You can submit your metadata. I would focus on two main databases, Gracenote, and AllMusicGuide.


Many places like Amazon, or Itunes pull metadata from Gracenotes. Submitting to them is a painless process.  Check it out below.

after you submit to Gracenote, everybody that has that exact CD copy and put it into their Itunes library, the metadata will show up just like you put it in. Could someone update that data? I doubt it would be that easy, but I guess it’s possible. I believe most people would leave it alone if the info were there.


The second largest database is AllMusicGuide. Adding the metadata to their database is a bit more difficult as you’ll need to send them a physical copy of the CD. I believe they used to manage the database, but now I believe AllMusicGuide created a sister company called TivO which maintains the database presently.  You need to send your finished CD to them by mail:

Product Submissions
TiVo Corporation
100 Phoenix Drive, Suite 201
Ann Arbor, MI 48108-2202

By Email:

For music

For movies and television

For video games

For books

More info here

Other Databases?

There are a couple other larger databases to consider – MusicBrainz, and FreedB (for Linux)

What about Digital File Metadata Such as MP3?

If you have a digital file you are letting people download and want to add metadata to the digital copy, there are numerous ways to go about it.

Aggregators like CDbaby

I believe you can do a free version but the file is only sold on Cdbaby.  If you want to sell your file on Itunes or elsewhere, you need to pay.


Audible may be the only place at the moment to get your audiobook on Amazon.  Ii haven’t tried to do Cdbaby for an audiobook, but I suppose it would still get on Amazon, but not as an audiobook.

One cool reason to do Audible would be they plan to have audiobooks sync with Kindle Ebooks. That was a big bonus for me. However, my audiobook has yet to be synced.

Free Online Tag Editors

If you want to just edit the metadata, and distribute the mp3 yourself or on your site, going to free online tag editors may do the trick.

I’ve used but for some reason seems to be down.

I’ve just tried out  with some success.  It’s pretty simple. Just add your metadata and export again.  I noticed with them, the image doesn’t show up on my Desktop, but when I play it through VLC it does show the image.  I’ve had a better file outcome with  Just do a Google search of “Online Free Mp3 Tag Editor” to see if there are more options. For me, having the image there is a must.

Free Metadata Tag Editing Software

I haven’t tried  but it’s free, and the programmer seems genuine. They list some awards from their software and you can contact them, too. I may go that route in the future if isn’t working.

Purchase Metadata Software

If you are going to be doing this a lot, sure go a head, but if you are tossing out an ebook every year, why???? I haven’t purchased any and don’t plan on it right now.

The Conclusion

There are numerous ways to get your metadata online in databases or inside your mp3 file.  For my audiobook, I’m planning on going with Gracenotes, and AllMusicGuide. I have already added tags with an online editor for my mp3 file that I give away free for those who purchase my picture book.  The CD, I plan to have as an add on to the shopping cart and just want some metadata there.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to ask. Good luck with your endeavors.

-Anders Roseberg

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