Google Books and the mystery of the missing summary

On February 15, 2013, in Blog, by Laura



Anyone who has ever tried to get their books loaded onto Google Play via the Google Books Partner Program will have found the system a little cumbersome to use. It’s slow and not very intuitive, and more annoyingly, many self-publishers end up with nearly blank book listings; the book summary / description is missing and they don’t make it easy for you to add one.

There’s a reason for this – Google Books gathers book data automatically and their help pages are a little bit sketchy with regards to how to make descriptions show up properly. There is no feature to input it yourself within the Google Books Partner Program interface, though Google Books staff are able to update the records manually if asked via a special form. (If you’re going to use the form, ONLY put the description in there. Mostly they don’t read what’s in there and so if you ask a question with the provided description – simply because you were desperate and didn’t know how else to contact the support team – chances are the whole thing including your commentary will go onto your book listing.)

We at WriteHit found this a bit annoying and tried to figure out if there is an easier way. The answer is: the Bowker books database.

Response from books-support(at)google.com when asked how to make descriptions show up automatically:

” There currently isn’t any way for publishers or authors to update their metadata descriptions within their account. We pull metadata and book descriptions from a variety of third-party systems, including Bowker. These systems provide us with information related to the ISBN for each book. If you need to update your metadata in the future, you can either do it through your ISBN provider, or you can contact us and we’ll be happy to change it for you.”

So, if you buy ISBN’s for your books you may not have had that problem, or perhaps you could ask your ISBN provider to complete the listing of your book for you.

If you get your ISBN for free from Smashwords, their information states that a free record of your book will be created on Bowker, but so far I have not seen this actually happening. Not even for books where the ISBN’s were assigned 6 months ago! I have asked about the reason and will update this post as soon as I hear back from Smashwords support.

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Google Books Payment Settings Changes

On September 7, 2012, in Blog, by Laura

Those (self) publishers out there who are signed up as a Google Books partner and trying to sell their books on the Google Play store will have received an email from Google yesterday announcing changes to the payment settings for those who wish to sell on the US Google Play market.

Now most people in this business will already know about the challenges of selling on US Markets when based abroad – the US Tax laws require the likes of Amazon, Smashwords and now Google to withhold some Income Tax for every royalty you earn. But there is a way to avoid or reduce this tax deduction, depending on any double taxation agreements your country of residence has made with the US Government.  Upon successful completion of some paperwork formalities, publishers in the UK or Ireland can get full exemption from these deductions, whereas Indian publishers will halve their deducted tax; from 30% to 15%.

You basically have to register yourself as a foreign entity or foreign person with the US Tax authorities (IRS) and they will give you an identification number of some kind. We at WriteHit did this before even listing any books for sale because it just doesn’t make business sense to forgo 30% of your hard earned money due to taxes which should not be applicable to you.

For more information on the process, this blog post has been invaluable to us: http://catherineryanhoward.com/2012/02/24/non-us-self-publisher-tax-issues-dont-need-to-be-taxing/

So in short: This is nothing new at all. Most people will have done this (or plan to do this) for the likes of Amazon already and now they just need to fill out another form with the tax identifier that the IRS has provided them.

Google’s email states that publishers will be paid as normal until 31 December 2012 so you do have quite a bit of time to comply before you’re directly affected by these changes.

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Google Books Publisher program

On July 18, 2012, in News, by Laura

Google BooksAt WriteHit.com, we are always aiming to expand the platforms through which our own and our clients’ ebooks are distributed. That is why recently we decided to sign up for the Google Books Publisher program.

Google Books is basically a search engine for books. You submit your book to Google, and they make (a sample of) it available online that can be searched by the Google search engine. So if someone is searching for a topic covered within your book, they might come across it and choose to buy it on various websites where it is up for sale.

Currently Google still holds the vast majority of the search market share. Android phones have also become extremely popular by now which normally allow access to the Google Play store. Within the UK, I’ve noticed that Google Play is now selling books as well. This seems like a brilliant opportunity for WriteHit and our clients to jump into!

According to the help available online, Google Books publishers can make their ebooks available for sale through Google Play as well.

Initially there were some issues signing up, but our account is now live so expect to see excerpts of our ebooks appearing on Google Books as soon as they are published!

For anyone attempting the same thing and running into persistent error messages ; Google have advised me that sign up for Google Books as a publisher is currently working properly with a Google account that does NOT have a linked Adsense or Adwords account. So if your Google account has Adwords or Adsense already linked to it, it might be worth using a different one for Google Books or creating a new one especially for it.

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