This morning I decided to take Google Ebooks for a test drive and submit my latest title (Booked Up! How to Write, Publish and Promote a Book to Grow Your Business). Following are the steps involved.
1. Sign up for a free Google Partner account: https://books.google.com/partner/.
2. Add book details including ISBN (if you don’t have one, a unique identifier will be assigned for you, though it will delay the publishing process), book title, author name, territory rights (countries where you have the right to distribute the title), and an optional link to purchase the book (must be on your own site since Google doesn’t accept affiliate links to other vendors).
3. Upload books in PDF format using Google’s Uploader tool or via browser upload. There is also an option to mail the book directly to Google.
Google Uploader: I chose to use the Google Uploader since it doesn’t require renaming files. The installation took several minutes and then gave me an error: “The application’s digital signature has an error. Do you want to run this application?” I clicked “Run” and then got an “incorrect name or password” error. I entered my login information and the error came back—repeatedly. Moving on…
Browser Upload: In order to use the browser upload, I had to rename my files using Google’s naming conventions: <ISBN>_content.pdf (interior file), <ISBN>_frontcover.jpg and <ISBN>_backcover.jpg. Google provides details for file naming here.
6. After the upload was successful, a notice indicated that it may take several hours for my book to appear in my account.
How to Add Google Ebook Rights
7. After uploading book data, return to your Google Partner Account and click on the Google Editions tab. You will need to review and approve another Addendum (indicating that you have the right to distribute the ebook).
8. You will be taken to Default Settings for Google Editions. Click on the small “Edit” link next to your account name. These settings require some important decisions:
Pricing: You can choose to sell your book at 80% of the lowest available list price for the print edition (this is the default setting) or you can set an individual price for each title you upload to Google. Since ebook pricing parameters don’t yet have an industry standard, and demand will vary based on the nature of each ebook, pricing is something authors and publishers should test and monitor. I chose to set the price for my nonfiction book at $7.99.
Default Pricing Bundle: According to Google’s instructions here, other retailers may choose to bundle your ebook with the print edition. The default setting allows the ebook to be sold at 20% of the Google Editions price. So if your ebook is priced to sell for $7.99 via Google Ebooks, another retailer can bundle the ebook when selling your trade paperback version and pay $1.60 for the ebook (20% of $7.99). I went ahead and agreed to this since bundles may increase sales for paperbacks (though that remains to be seen!), and anything that increases sales is usually a good thing.
Allow Buyers to Download an Unrestricted, DRM-free Copy: Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a hot topic in the ebook publishing community. DRM is meant to protect ebooks from being copied or shared. However, I have mixed feelings about this. Some companies require special software to view their DRM-protected ebooks, which is a hassle for the reader.
Of course I’d prefer that readers didn’t share ebooks, but the reality is that it happens—and it’s not much different than borrowing a book from a library or a friend. As an author, I figure I’ve just landed a new fan. If the reader liked the borrowed ebook, odds are pretty good that they will want to check out what other books I’ve written. With this in mind, I personally chose NOT to turn on DRM for my books.
Allow Buyers to Copy/Paste and Print Without Restriction: Here is where I draw the line. I don’t want to increase the risk of copyright violation. I chose NOT to allow copying or printing of my ebooks.
9. After all of this, I returned to my book’s page in the Google Partner Account and in the “Needs Action/Issues” field I was instructed to “Send ePub.” After reading more about this, I learned that Google provides both PDF and ePub versions of ebooks since ePub provides improved text flow adjustment for different readers (such as iPhone screens). Apparently this isn’t a hard requirement, but it seems worthwhile to make it available so I’m having my designer set that up.
10. Be sure to go through your Google Partner account and fine tune additional settings, such as Payment Information, which is under your Account Settings. You need to have this set up in order to receive compensation for ebook sales.
Bottom Line on Google Ebooks: I’ve previously set up books on Kindle and the steps were extremely simple (provided the book has already been formatted for the Kindle). I had hoped that Google Ebooks would be just as simple, but it seemed a bit more tedious. I spent well over an hour setting this up, though I’m sure it will go faster next time now that I’ve read through all the materials and understand the process better.
Given that Google is boasting the largest ebook library available, making your books available there seems to make sense. Of course it’s hard to tell how many sales will actually be generated as a result, but this is true for all of the ebook publishing platforms. As the ebook market continues to shift and grow and change, time will tell who the leaders will be.