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.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Moving Forward or Picking a New Path

One of my favorite adages is perfect is the enemy of good. While attributed to Voltaire in modern times, the concept is in the writings of philosophers such as Aristotle and Confucius, and probably in every SAT-prep class high schoolers take. If you hold out for the perfect answer/paragraph/photograph/birthday gift, you will never be satisfied.  Forget satisfied, you may not finish your task.

As I near the end a book (which has taken too long to write!), I've come up with several thoughts about procrastination in book writing. They may ring true to others.

1)  Think of the least favorite job you've had and imagine yourself getting up at five AM to get there on time. Still not writing? Set the alarm clock.
2)  Imagine that the hero of your book is drowning and you aren't able to get to him/her. If you yawn, you may not be working on a book you truly want to finish. Time to think of another plot.
3)  Picture yourself at a book signing surrounded by piles of books. No one is buying. Take this as a sign that the book may not be that good. Move on.
4)  Imagine a rainy day, with your yard full of mud. If you are thinking about going out to garden, consider therapy.
5)  Remember that you've put yourself on a tight budget so you can save for something important--maybe a new car or trip to the Grand Canyon. Your car or trip depends on book income, and you still can't write. You flip paperclips at the wall.

If you can see yourself in one of these scenarios, perhaps you need a dose of self-discipline. Not to keep working on a poorly conceived draft, but to remember that writing a good book has very little to do with the initial idea. It's more about parking yourself in a chair and continuing to work.

You can edit a lousy draft.  Or so I'm told.