Notes from Google Play Books Talk Today!
Some of the stuff on metadata optimization surprised me.
Before I get into a ton of juicy new tidbits about what’s coming down the pipeline at Google Play Books, I wanted to remind you that my next Kickstarter campaign called Go Wide, Grow Wide is launching on July 5th-August 13th! If you are a wide author, you need to be following this campaign. You can follow here (requires a free Kickstarter account) and get notified immediately when the project goes live:
Draft2Digital and Google Play Books Interview
Draft2Digital and Mark Leslie Lefebvre hosted an interview with Ryan Dingler, a product manager at Google Play Books. I took some notes during the talk:
Ryan had some different and interesting recommendations than what is conventional knowledge in wide circles about product page optimization. These are the latest recommendations from Google Play Books:
Aim for your description to be 200-1500 words
Do NOT use a block of keywords at the end... instead, incorporate relevant keywords into your descriptions
Use only three Subject Codes for your categories (I'm assuming per major country/system e.g. BIC versus BISAC?) When you use them, rank your most important category first.
Google appears to be focusing more heavily on what Ryan called a "series experience" (more on this later), in partial response to other platforms that have created something similar (Amazon's one-click series pages, Apple Books's "end of book experience," Kobo's series metadata). As such, make sure your series data is exactly the same, not a word differently capitalized, not an extra space at the beginning or end.
The “Series Experience”
Google has long bundled books in the same series for 5-10% discounts, and they seem to be doubling down on it after seeing strong response to bundles in their Japan store (which was also one of the first places they rolled out their rewards program called Google Points—they tend to test things here and in their Korean market).
They are soon coming out with what sounds like two separate things, only one of which Ryan elaborated on.
This will be added to the "promotions tab" in the next few months. Just like you can currently discount a single book, you will also be able to discount a bundle of books in the same series. I didn't catch whether this was a promo across the whole store, a promo code coupon across multiple books in the series (which Barnes and Noble also allows if you have the promo tab for them), or both.
There was a second thing he mentioned called Series Subscription. He did NOT elaborate on this, but the speculation is that readers would be able to subscribe to the series and automatically purchase the new books when they are released. No timeline on it. It's speculation, but also, Google often puts up documentation early, and you can read a "help" page describing the functionality here:
Sidenote: Bulk Upload
Speaking of series, he also mentioned that you can bulk upload your books if you have a huge catalog, which I personally did not know!
Ryan discussed auto-narrated books, which have been out for about six months. Here were some bullets from that:
For homographs (two words are spelled the same but have multiple pronunciations), he explains a bit how the technology works and said you can look up alternate pronunciations under "Correct-Pronunciation Tools"
Google is working on allowing authors to direct upload voice narrated books, but is still working on piracy issues. No timeline yet.
You CAN post your auto narrated audiobooks to Youtube for streaming (and ad revenue) as long as they are also free on Google Play Books
They will eventually have a nominal fee to cover costs of producing the audiobooks
When you make corrections to your book, Google's AI is learning how to auto narrate better next time
Additional Google Products
He also mentioned:
Google Book Search - their other program that you sign up for when adding your ebook to their catalog—this makes your book come up in their larger search engine with descriptions, cover, library data, and links to buy at various retailers
Google NGram Viewer - this tracks trends in words across books, and it appears that your book data contributes to this project. You can play with it here: https://books.google.com/ngrams
The Interview Link
The link to the interview is here if you'd prefer to watch it yourself! I thought it was fantastic and a great resource for independent authors. I’m glad Google Play Books is candidly sharing this type of information, and I learned a lot, despite having written a book about the platform already!
The Upcoming Kickstarter Campaign
Do you like this type of coverage of wide topics? All of this content plus my deeper thoughts on it (I have a bunch of analysis that I’m not ready to add here) will be in the upcoming deluxe expanded version of Get Your Book Selling on Google Play Books.
I’m created deluxe expanded versions of five additional books from the Book Sales Supercharged series, including the books on Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and selling directly on your website. (Books #2-7 in the series).
These deluxe expanded editions will include:
New stuff that has happened since writing
New optimizations that I’ve found that weren’t in original books
Takeaways and to-dos broken out explicitly (so you have a checklist of tasks) (#1 ask to improve the books)
Extra chapters on print, audiobook, fiction apps, and translations (where relevant)
Stories, case studies, examples of how I and others have implemented
Reorganization for greater clarity on various elements (after teaching the topic and learning people’s true questions)
Most books are now double original size
In print for the first time ever as a Kickstarter exclusive
If you want in on the new versions of these books, make sure you follow the campaign: