Google eBooks – A Partnership That Matters  by Deb Baker

 I’m an author in transition – traditionally published through Berkley Prime Crime, with my backlist available through my own efforts. I’ve been publishing independently for almost a year, reissuing out-of-print titles through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, which distributes to Sony, Kobo, Diesel, iPad, etc.  Formatting has been a royal pain. Each online book retailer wants something different. The learning curve hasn’t been short or easy.

 So in December here comes the Google ebookstore. One more place to promote my titles. Google jumped into the arena late, considering how long the other players have been out there, but also too soon (IMO). They weren’t ready. Formatting instructions are convoluted. The partners site has too many twists and turns to navigate without major frustration. And slow! It took over four weeks for my books to actually go live, and some authors are waiting much longer. Worse, no one responded to my cries for help. They had so many glitches, the support team couldn’t keep up with complaints.

 Even today, two of my titles have the wrong thumbnail covers although I downloaded them correctly. One of mine has the large print edition cover. The other has the old publisher’s cover. Apparently, Google buys thumbnails through a third party. Support is aware of the problem, but they expect the change to take time. Thank you for your patience, they say. At least someone is actually responding to questions these days.

Royalties were a big issue for me. I simply couldn’t find out how much I’d make. I’m not sure Google knows (I’ll explain why it’s muddled in a minute). According to a recent report (can we say Beta), author royalties based on my January sales were 62%. An odd number, but I’m not complaining.

 Actually, I’m excited about my relationship with Google. Here’s why:  In December, through the American Booksellers Association, 200 enthusiastic booksellers signed up to sell Google ebooks.  And the list is growing. For an up-to-date list of participating booksellers, go here.

 These bookstore owners are reinventing themselves, making smart changes to reflect the times. Thanks to Google, customers can now go into their favorite brick-and-mortars and learn all about ebooks. Booksellers can make recommendations and help customers download ebook choices on the spot. Or customers can still show their loyalty by shopping online at their bookstore’s website. Google’s catalog search is front and center at every participating online storefront, or will be soon. To see what I mean, go to my local indie bookstore, Books & Company, key in Deb Baker. My books will come up.

 Not only that, when I checked on the Goodreads book page for Murder Passes the Buck, guess what’s next to the buy button. A google ebookstore hyperlink. Check it out here.

 Another plus: The technology is cloud-based, which means my books can be accessed on every device out there - tablets, computers, smartphones, whatever.  You don’t have to have a dedicated reader. Any devise with a web browser will do.

 Everybody wins – the customer, the bookseller, Google, and me. Which leads me back to the royalty issue. If someone buys my book from the Google ebookstore, my cut will be different than if they buy it through their local bookstore. In that case, I’m sharing with the bookseller, which I don’t mind at all. But for now, that percentage isn’t exactly crystal clear to me. Feel free to enlighten me if you know.

 Now that I have most of the technical stuff behind me, it’s time to promote books!

 My next step will be to visit booksellers in my area, the ones on the list who are partnering with Google. Those stores are my partners, too. I’m going to make sure they know my backlist is available to them through Google. Maybe they will talk me up with their customers, readers looking for mystery ebook recommendations.

 So what are you waiting for? To get started with your Google partnership, go here.

 And make sure your local booksellers participate. And buy ebooks through them. They need your support!

 (NOTE: If you’re unsure whether you are automatically included in Google’s ebookstore (traditionally published? You probably are. Independent? You most likely will have to sign on), check here.)

 Deb Baker

Filed as: Industry Guests, Industry News, Marketing/Promotion