Monday, October 6, 2014

Expanding my Horizons to Google Play

Good Morning. With all the news of impending doom surrounding publishing, specifically e-publishing, I've taken a hard look at where I'm downloading these days.

If you don't follow these boys from Britain, you probably should. They have an ear to the ground and expound on their findings so you/we have a better understanding of what's happening behind the scenes.

Their latest entry, the debacle that is now Amazon, reports that Amazon is steadily losing ground, money, and interest in their ebook revolution. I can attest to that. My sales have slipped noticeably since May. To say I'm disappointed is putting it mildly. They used to pay my mortgage.

However, being a smart entrepreneur, I diversified a long time ago through Smashwords. Yes, their meatgrinder is a bitch, but it's well worth it to publish with them because they aggregate books to other book sellers -- Kobo, Nook, B&N, OverDrive, Flipkart, Oyster, Amazon, and a couple of others. You might think it's not worth it to go through all the trouble, but it is.

Yet, the only problem with that, is it's a hit-or-miss proposition. I've been published with them for nearly three years. Only now have I seen any noticeable movement through their channels. But that's okay, it's all about the long tail.

However, I've been thinking that since Amazon had been my breadwinner, and now they're not, I needed to find another source of income that would take their place. Not easy in this world of five billion books. And so I decided to research the market a little bit and with the recommend from the ebook boys, I decided on Google Play.

I only uploaded yesterday, and not my whole repertoire, (I'm waiting to see what happens), but I'm happy that I did. Yes, it's a pain to set everything up, yes, another pain to make sure the epub files are clean, yes, it's kind of daunting (but they have straightened out a lot of the mystery surrounding how to upload) but I think it was a good decision for me.

I don't expect overnight success with this venture, but at least now I'm there. With over something like 65 countries they publish in, I'm sure I will be able to sell one or two of my little books. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Where do you publish? Just Amazon? B&N? Kobo? Smashwords? Have you gotten to Google Play yet?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2014


Yvonne Osborne said...

So Google Play is a publisher? Shows you what I know. I knew you weren't playing video games!:)

The whole thing is daunting to me. If I ever get on the stick I will come to you for help! If you're paying your mortgage with your writing you are a success! That would be all I'd ask for.

Anne Gallagher said...

Yvonne -- GP is not a publisher but a seller. Like Amazon or B&N. It's daunting to me too. After I uploaded everything I checked back to see if it went okay, and it said nothing was uploaded because my epubs needed to be "sanitized" whatever that means. And I know they're not talking about salty language because I don't have any.

If ever you need any help, just shoot me an email.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Huh. I didn't know Google Play dabbled in ebooks.

I'm sad to hear that your sells have dropped, but i'm happy to hear that Amazon is losing some of its power over authors and publishers. I'm not a big fan of monopolies (and i stopped buying books from them a few months ago)

I hope Google Play works out well for you and you're back to making buttloads of cash ;)

Linda G. said...

I've downloaded books from Google Play before, but I didn't realize until now that they sell mine, too. Huh. Who knew? Anyway, I'll keep an eye out for yours there now! :)

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I'm not sure the problem is because Amazon's market is shrinking but more a matter of competition. When the Kindle was first coming out and ebooks were selling like crazy, there weren't as many to choose from not even a million. Now it's like 3 million and growing daily. That's a great deal of competition. In addition, ebooks are no longer a novelty, where at first they were. IN the beginning, everyone was buying Kindles and downloading anything they could find. I'm not sure what the answer is. I think it's the dip that comes after any high, and those who hang in there will once again have success.

Donna Hosie said...

It's always worth keeping up to date with new avenues. Right now I still use Amazon exclusively for my indie novels, but I plan to revise my channels in the New Year, once the insanity of my traditional release has subsided a little.

dolorah said...

I thought google play was just games and music. I hope you sell lots.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

I hate getting old, with no memory.

At one point I had started to go Google+ and something stopped me...something in the contract. But heck if I remember what it was. It had something to do with payment and or control of my work. I wonder if I made any notes somewhere.


Hope you the best with google+

Anne Gallagher said...

Sarah -- Yeah, I guess it was a big secret until about 5 minutes ago. lol. No seriously, I think they've been dabbling for quite a while now, but they've only been letting New York people in the game. They had a nasty interface which was incredibly hard to decipher and it's only been in the last 4 months or so since they've straightened it out.

Thanks. Hope you have a great NaNo.

Linda -- LOL. Thanks. Good to see you around again.

Karen -- I totally agree with you. Amazon had the monopoly with the Kindle, and I think they grew too fast. Trying to keep up with new innovation is what killed them. I read somewhere they were selling the Fire phone for .99 cents a few weeks ago, and they couldn't even get rid of them that way.

I'm glad they're not so big anymore. At least now the playing field is leveling off. And with more options to sell, that means more readers. And with 65 countries in their corral, that's pretty impressive.

Donna -- Yeah, if you've got a thing going with Amazon, by all means keep it going. I don't blame you, but for those of us who've exhausted it, I think finding other avenues is the only way to go.

Dolorah -- Thanks so much for stopping by.

Mac -- Payment is only 52% of the list price, and they can discount however much they want to remain competitive, however, you still retain list price. I'd still like to know what a "sanitized" epub is.

The Spooky Whisk said...

Much luck to you Anne. Hope the new area helps pay the bills and then some.

Happy Halloween Season & Boogie Boogie :-)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I"ll be so interested to hear how your experiment went. I don't self publish so I don't know much about them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention, Anne.

A few points, if we may.

It’s depressing. But not so surprising, that so few realize Google Play even sell ebooks. But that is changing, and fast.

The thing to bear in mind is that Google Play has very little traction in the US. They came too late, and anyway the focus for ebooks is elsewhere – on the fast-growing global market which Amazon largely ignores.

Amazon has twelve Kindle stores and reaches about twenty countries. In all the rest Amazon either surcharges or blocks downloads.

Your $4.99 ebook will cost a buyer in Norway or Poland $6.99. Amazon pockets the extra $2. You as author will get just 35% of the $4.99 as Amazon only pay 70% in a handful of countries. Over half the world is completely barred from downloading from Amazon. You want readers in the Middle East, or Singapore, or the Philippines? Forget it. Amazon blocks downloads completely unless you have a pre-existing US or EU account.

Google Play has 65 global ebook stores, including the Philippines, Singapore, etc. Apple has 51 global ebook stores. And by the way Apple pay you 70% regardless of what country, and regardless of your list price.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, had to split this as Blogger said it was too long.

Smashwords don’t upload to Google Play, but they do cover several key stress. For those who can’t stomach the Meatgrinder Draft 2 Digital have an easy-upload interface that will get you into Apple, B&N and Scribd among others.

Germany is one of the biggest English-language markets around right now. But Amazon has seen its market share plummet to just 40% thanks to the Tolino Alliance of rival ebook stores. You can get into the Tolino Alliance stores free (pay as you sell like Smashwords) through Xin-Xii.

For those who want ad easy life and are happy to relinquish day-today control over pricing, etc, try Ebook Partnership. They charge up front ($40 per title per year) but get you into all the key retailers and also Google Play, and into the OverDrive libraries and retailers like Waterstone’s, as well as the Russian subscription service Bookmate, the global magazine seller Magzter, and a host of other outlets.

Re: sanitized epubs. This is a technical issue, not about literary content. All epubs need to be of a high standard to get into stores like Apple and Google Play. This is so they will work on devices all over the world, not just on Kindles and iPads.

Epubs need to IDPF-validated, which is the industry standard. The Meatgrinder does this for you but it can be a real pain to get there. For the record we at EBUK can format your ebooks to IDPF standard for just £10 GBP (about $15) a time for a standard novel (no fancy graphics or tables in amongst the text).

Karen, it’s a mixture of both. The competition is hurting (which is why Amazon wants you exclusive with Select) and market share is shrinking.

Amazon market share in the US is down to just 65%. That means 3,500 out of every 10,000 ebooks sold are happening on retailers other than Amazon.

KindleFire market share is drastically down. Just 3% of the global market. In the US cheap tablets from overseas are out selling the KindleFire by a factor of 13-1.

Add to this Amazon has deep financial troubles right now. It’s about to post a half billion dollar loss for a single quarter. Three of Amazon’s top executives have resigned in the past month.

Amazon isn’t facing bankruptcy or anything like that. But the bubble is deflating fast, not helped by the complete flop that is the Fire phone. Amazon sold just 35,000 in its first month. Apple sold 4 million of its new phone on its first day.

Amazon is struggling to make profits, and is hitting the content providers to make u the loss. Hence Kindle Unlimited, where indies are taking a massive royalty cut. A $4.99 sale nets you $3.50. A borrow of the same book gets you just $2. Tad publishes get paid full whack.

Of course this meant the top sellers on Amazon were losing out big time. So Amazon brought tin the All Stars cash payments to compensate them and keep them on board. Nice for the lucky few…

R. Mac Wheeler – Google Play. Not Google +!  Google Play is a digital store selling ebooks, music and films. Google + is a social network similar to Facebook.

Anne Gallagher said...

Ivy -- Thanks so much. Happy Halloween!

Susan -- I will certainly let you know how it goes.

Anne Gallagher said...

E Book Bargain Boys -- Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
My readers will appreciate the info.

Part of my reason for getting in to Google Play is the global market. I know Amazon doesn't do jack in those markets, although I have been steadily selling in Germany, (which is a very nice surprise).

However, I know there are so many more markets to hit, I want to hit them all. It doesn't make sense not to, especially when 3/4 of the world speak and read English, either as a first or second language.

It's silly not to put your books into as many places as you can. Amazon led the parade, so to speak, but they grew too big too fast (is my opinion) and now they're just floundering around trying to get out of the mess they made.

I have nothing against Amazon per se, but now that I've run my limit with them, I need to find other avenues for my titles. Which to me, Google Play is it. I don't care who buys my books, as long as they get bought.

I know 52% royalty is not 70% but it's more than 35%, and I'll take that all day long.

I wish Mark Coker could convince Google Play to let them aggregate. Life would be so much easier. Although, I suppose if he could get Alibaba or Xin Xii to come on board.

It's a whole new publishing world out there, and one I really want to get on board with.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Paid your mortgage? I'm impressed. Yes, my sales have dipped. At the same time, demands at my job have increased. So I have no time to do any new formatting.

It seems my novels will slowly dim into the cyber shadows. What with my bout with cancer, I have learned that there are worse fates!

I wish you the best in higher sales in new realms.

Maria Zannini said...

I'm looking forward to hearing about your continuing experience with Google Play. Like many others, I wasn't aware they sold books. I thought they were just another marketplace for games. Their name probably doesn't help their case much.

Keep us updated!