by Molly Greene
Note: Google Play has suspended new accounts, but you can work around it by using a distributor with an existing Google Play account, such as PublishDrive. They also dynamically adjust prices to deal with GP’s habit of discounting books without notice.
I recently blogged about embarking (finally!) on a serious book promotion campaign. So far so good (more about this in the coming weeks), because I’ve surpassed my goals in some areas and answered one of the questions I posed: “Is it worthwhile to sell on platforms other than Amazon?”
Viva la competition
But not because my book sales took off anywhere else. Amazon is still the king. So why bother uploading all those files to alternate platforms? I gave it some thought, and decided that it’s in our best interest to support industry competition. I love Amazon, but if other platforms grow stronger, we sell more books.
So competition among ebook sales platforms is a good thing, right? Which brings me to Google Play.
What the heck is Google Play?
Several of the book promo vendors I submitted to offered to include my Google Play (GP) book sale link. If I had one, which I did not, since I’d no idea what Google Play was (Hey, I’m honest.) A quick search turned up this great article re: the basics: Selling Ebooks on Google Play: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Basically, GP represents Google’s move into the digital content market. Ebooks. I have ebooks for sale. So the next day I signed up, uploaded my first book, and wrote down the process so you can do it, too.
The step-by-step process to sell your books on Google Play
Okay, the first thing I want to warn you about is that navigating this site will require patience. I’m not kidding, it can be tough. So take your time, don’t get frustrated, read all the tabs and tutorials and keep your eye on the goal: Another place to sell your books. Another opportunity for discoverability.
Yaay! Initial account set-up is easy!
Go through the steps below and you will be given access to a GP dashboard. Read ALL the info on your “Partner Home Page,” glance through the tabs, then set up your payment info in the “Payment Center” tab, or delay this and start adding books. Here are the initial steps:
- Go to the Google Play registration page
- Sign in with your gmail account, or create a new one
- Complete your account details by filling out the form – name, function, contact information, etc.
- Accept GP’s terms and conditions
Once you register you will receive a nice email message that will tell you you can “define your default settings by visiting your Book Catalog and clicking Manage templates to automatically configure how new books will appear on Google Books and Google Play.” (Note: I tried to set up a template but frankly, I don’t get it. If you figure it out, let me know). The email message will also say that you can use a spreadsheet to upload multiple books (Note: There’s no way I wanted to try to figure out how to do THAT, ditto the comment above.)
Important notes before you begin:
- As you navigate through the dashboard and input information, BE SURE to click the blue “save” or “ready to publish” button upper right – whichever one appears (I got both!), to save your entries before you leave the page. Even if it doesn’t make sense because you’re not ready to publish. *guess who did not save her work the first time?* (idjit!)
- NOTE: mouse over the “?” next to all GP dashboard entries for clarification. And you’ll need to. Ready? Here we go.
On the left-side menu, click on the “Book Catalog” tab > then click on “Add Books”
- Provide an ISBN if you have one. A menu will pop up asking for the book’s ISBN. This is what GP uses as a book’s ID, in lieu of the title. If your book doesn’t have an ISBN, GP “will generate a unique identifier called a GGKEY, which you can use on Google Books and Google Play.”
Note: I published one book on Google Books and the entire mss was made available to read online – acck! You want Google Play.
1. First you’ll be taken to a “General Details” page.
- Choose the book’s format (Digital for ebooks)
- Enter the book’s title, subtitle (if applicable), contributors, and your author bio. (Note re: bio – Jason’s article said formatting was an issue, so I pasted my bio into Notepad, then copied & pasted it into the form. Notepad removes Word formatting.)
- Under “Subject,” choose BISAC. BISAC is an acronym for Book Industry Standards and Communications, the North American system. Read about it here, and choose your subject codes here, or go straight to fiction codes here. GP allows you to include several. I used five. Be smart and make a note of them for your next book entry, especially if you’re uploading a series.
- Enter the book description, etc. (ditto w/slapping it into Notepad to remove formatting), series name, volume in series, pub date, etc.
2. Now move to “Google Play Settings”
- Choose Pricing. Choose USD for dollars, enter your price, then type in “world.” Per their instructions, that covers GP’s entire market. Yep, everywhere. NOTE about pricing: Google Play reserves the right to discount your books’ pricing without your permission or notification. This may potentially trigger Amazon’s price-matching function – meaning your pricing on Amazon could be lowered. So be aware! I’ve been advised that many authors increase pricing on GP by 25% or so to avoid this issue. I priced my books up a buck each. We’ll see what happens.
- Choose “Only Display Flowing Text From an ePub I Provided” … if you are NOT uploading a pdf. I chose not to offer my books in pdf format. Per GP: “ … Check this box if you would prefer to sell this book in ePub format only if you directly provided the ePub file.”
- Below that you can choose various radio buttons, pretty self-explanatory.
3. NOW move to “Google Books Settings” – Again, all requirements here are pretty self-explanatory.
4. NOW move to “Content files”
- You can upload your cover and epub (GP only accepts epub or pdf) in one upload. Per GP: “If you have a new or updated ePub, PDF, or cover image file (JPG, PDF, TIFF) upload it here. You can upload multiple files at a time and each file must be less than 2 GB in size.”
- Don’t be alarmed when your files do not appear immediately. Just wait a bit, then refresh and check the “content files” tab.
Note: Only upload once, then cool your jets
I browsed, chose the correct files and uploaded. GP indicated they were being processed, then took me to a screen that said “no files found.” So I browsed and uploaded again. *scratches head* Oh, wait, I see. A notification bar across the top was telling me, “Your files have been received and are currently being processed. Check your upload history to see if the processing has completed or has any errors.” So where’s the upload history? It’s your “content” tab. Wait a bit, refresh, and you should be good.
Note: Your self-generated epub file may be rejected
ARGHHH! I never could get GP to accept a Calibre-generated epub file. GP kept giving me the message,“Error: Unable to sanitize epub.” so I finally tried the epub I downloaded from NOOK, which GP did accept. I’ve read other articles that noted a Calibre file will work fine, so I was frustrated at that point. Be ready.
Bottom line: The Google Play platform is like driving a military tank compared to the sleek Porsche that is Amazon. It’s clunky and challenging. Even so, Google is a big player. You may choose to ignore it for now, but you may not be able to forever.
Readers, have you tried Google Play? If so, can you offer any tips or tricks about the platform and you experience with sales? If you choose not to use any platform other than Amazon, what made you decide that? Please leave a comment and share!
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Should I Sell My Books Through Google Play And Google Books?
Google Play’s tutorial link