I have been selling my eBooks via Amazon and Smashwords since 2011, and I thought I might branch out a little and begin selling eBooks on Google Play. I assumed that Google would have a very smooth process for getting work into their store and adding the books to their search index.
However, things haven’t been quite as smooth as I had expected.
Google Books Partner Program
Google has decided to continue using their Google Books Partner Program (which predated the Google Play Store) as the means to upload and manage eBooks for the Google Play Store. This is fine in theory, but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of functionality when an independent author wishes to publish their work.
Sure, the interface is functional, and all of the features one would expect from a distribution platform such as this are present, but things are…difficult to find.
Both Amazon and Smashwords were fairly simple to get started with, and I felt like the entire experience of formatting, uploading, and providing information for my books was well defined and help was provided in each step of the process. Of course, both of these platforms have their issues, but I was not forced to do a Google search for various issues that I encountered when I was getting setup.
When setting up my account to begin selling eBooks on Google Play, however, I’ve had to go through multiple processes of searching, finding the appropriate answer from online discussions, blog posts, etc. This is actually quite frustrating.
If you are an author who is planning on selling eBooks on Google Play, I would recommend immediately jumping to their Beginner’s Guide and keeping it open in another tab while you go through the process.
What Are You Bitching About?
Fair enough question. I signed up for the Google Books Partner Program several months ago, uploaded Psychic Skin Volume 1, went through what I thought were all of the appropriate settings, and went on my merry way, not bothering to check back to see how things progressed.
Today, I began the process to start selling Psychic Skin Volume 2 on Google Play, and when reviewing my account, I see that, though Volume 1 has been viewed plenty of times, I didn’t seem to have any sales. Not having any sales is also expected, as I haven’t really spent as much time disseminating information about this eBook as I probably should, if I were serious about sales.
It turns out that I hadn’t been notified of any issues with the book, and Google was still serving search results for it, but I didn’t have all of the proper information entered to have it be sold through Google Play.
So, I put together this list of items that I didn’t know needed updated, just in case someone else out there needs a hand with selling their eBooks on Google Play in the future.
The first thing that must be done is adding the appropriate information to your Account Profile.
Ads Payment Settings
If you have your eBook enrolled in the Preview Program, and wish to collect Ad revenue from the page views your book generates, be sure you visit the Ads Payment Settings tab of the My Account tab.
This is where you setup your payment information, so that any revenue can be given to you in the event that your book is viewed, and a customer clicks an ad.
You need to have this information filled out and verified in order to get paid for these impressions/clicks. Also, adding and verifying an EFT account here will associate a payment method with your Google Books account.
See the relevant help text here: Payments and bank account entry for books on Google Play
eBook Payment Settings
Once you have setup and verified your payment details on the previous screen, now you can associate your payment account with the various territories on the eBook Payment Settings screen.
When you first upload and setup all of the information for your eBook, you are asked to input information about the territories in which you would like to sell your book, and what options you will give your readers.
What isn’t immediately obvious, though, is how Google calculates the “Default Price” of your book. I assumed using the default price would work similar to how Amazon and Smashwords do, which allow you to set the price of your book in USD, and they automatically generate a similar price in the buyer’s territory based on current exchange rates.
Google in fact attempts to automatically set the price based on the price it finds for the physical copy of your book at online retailers. Not an inherently bad idea, except for those of us who do not have print editions of our books.
I’m not faulting Google for this setting and how it works, as I should have read deeper into the Getting Started documentation so I would have had a better understanding. I do, however, think that some changes need to be made to the startup process for first time publishers to more easily navigate the process, and get started sooner, rather than not knowing something is out of place for several months.
Randomly Truncated ISBN Numbers
The whole process for selling eBooks on Google Play revolves around having an ISBN number associated with the book you are putting out there. The problem is that Google generates automated links to several retailers using the ISBN you provide but truncates the ISBN sent to these sites by removing the first 3 characters of the ISBN.
This is pretty frustrating, and seems very strange. As far as I know, there is no method to correct those links, as they are automatically generated, but they could have an impact on sales if a user happens upon your book through a search and clicks through to find an error page at the retailer’s site.
Conclusions for Selling eBooks on Google Play
I’m not saying that Google needs to implement tons of changes in their interface in order to make the process smoother for the independent author out there, but I do think that there are a few things that could be addressed, making the process more obvious for less technically-inclined authors who may not wish to spend several days researching the process.
In the end, I’m all setup and awaiting Google’s approval of Psychic Skin Volume 2, and all eventually has become right with the world. I have learned a good deal about what is involved in selling eBooks on Google Play, and my next venture through should be quite a bit easier to undertake.
Have you published your eBooks through Google Play? Share your experience with fellow readers below in the comments.