Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Author Plays with Google Play

As one who years ago settled on Google as my go-to site for searching the web, I was pleased to learn that I could sell my ebooks via Google Play. I already sell on Amazon (where you can see my author page), BN, Smashwords, iTunes, Kobo, and other sites. An additional sales channel is a very good thing.

I became a Google partner and loaded the seven books of the Jolie Gentil Cozy Mystery Series to Google Play. To start the process, you need a Google Account. The same one gets you into email, Google+, Google Books, and all other Google sites. Once you have an account, go to play.google.com/books/publish and create your publishing account.

I chose to permit Google to load samples of the books. This is a common practice. It gives readers a chance to learn more about the book. The goal is to let them see how much they like what they read so they will buy a book.

Unfortunately, the samples that Google loads have the beginning of the books...and (often) the end. If you are writing a book about gardening, an author's last few pages may not spoil the reading experience. In most mysteries, knowing the ending is a literal spoiler. A reader will likely learn who the bad guy or gal is. Why bother to read the book?

Through its support system, I asked Google if there is a way to not have the end of the book visible.
There is not. The polite reply is attached. Apparently it depends on where the prospective purchaser chooses to start sampling. However, for many books I've looked at, the sample starts at the beginning and leaves out the middle and jumps to the end. I'm clueless, but those who know me will not be surprised.

Unfortunately, this kind of sampling can diminish sales on all sites. Why not read the end on Google Books?  Then you don't have to buy the book.

One other thing to watch for has to do with price. Google Play sharply discounted my books. I agreed (as do all authors) to give Google this authority when I signed the partner agreement. At some other sites, your agreement stipulates that you may not sell books for less on another site than you sell on theirs. Amazon enforces this policy and you could lose your privilege to sell there. You may want to play with your list price so that you don't lose your markets elsewhere.

I would love to hear from readers and other authors. Have you found books on Google Books or Play where the sample doesn't give away the ending? I have found some, and hope someday Google will figure out how not to spoil a good mystery.  In the meantime, I'm leaving my books on Google Play. If sales approach those on Amazon, they'll stay, if not (and I'll give it a year), then I'll have to rethink whether it's worth spoiling the endings.

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