Author Topic: TK's Google Play Uber-Post (Split out, now just GP)  (Read 201180 times)  

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TK's Google Play Uber-Post (Split out, now just GP)
« on: November 14, 2013, 05:48:02 PM »
My KB Friends,

My Dear Husband (DH) thinks that I am nuts for writing this post.

He thinks Im pimping out the Google Goose that is laying the Golden Google Eggs.

Perhaps I am, but (A) I think DH is still in the zero-sum mindset of publishing, and (B) I dont think DH realizes how much help I have received from KBers. This is my humble attempt to begin to repay that debt that I owe yall for your encouragement, your support, your friendship, and your generous help. I was in a bad place two years ago. My traditional publisher had gone bankrupt during the Great Recession. I had gone underground for a few years to drag The Kid out of an autism pit. I wanted to write, but I was in a dark place. You guys got me through it.

I will update this thread with new figures and ideas as I can.


I know some of you are Google-phobic; however, yall should keep an open mind. You may be leaving a significant chunk of money on the table.

Im making between 2x 5x at Google Play compared to Amazon for The Devilhouse Books. Im quite disappointed with The Devilhouses sales at Amazon, and Id be a sad puppy about now, but for Google Play. This post is an uber-post of my experiences with serializing an erotic romance novel and my experiences in Google Play.


Googles motto: Dont be evil.

My motto: If theyre being evil, be evil back.

PROBLEM 1: The main concern that everyone has with Google Play is price-gouging. They take your price and whack a percent off. If Amazon (or others) sees this price and matches it, you can set yourself up for a game of price-match whack-a-mole.

STRATEGY 1: My major strategies for dealing with Google Plays price-gouging is to (A) account for gouging in setting my price, and (B) release special Google editions that are not comparable to the Amazon, et al, editions. See THE PLAN below. (It appears at this time that Google does NOT price-match then gouge. Price reductions all seem to be ~23%. See chart below to determine initial price for your book.)

PROBLEM 2: The second problem that people tend to have with Google Play is the low royalty, which is generally ~52%. This is less of a problem than you might think for two reasons.

STRATEGY 2: Firstly, this royalty percentage is across the board, including 99c books, so for prices set <2.99 or >9.99, Google has a higher royalty than Amazon. Secondly, the royalty is paid based on your SET price, NOT the discounted price. After the Google discount, royalties for all books, especially those at $1.99 or higher (see below) are quite competitive.


This list is experimentally derived by TK and other KBers.

Set Price = Discounted Price
99c = no change (royalty = 52%)
1.49 = no change (royalty = 52%)

2.49 = 1.92 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 67%)
2.99 = 2.09 (Discount = 30%. Actual royalty = 74%)
3.49 = 2.65 (Discount = 24%. Actual royalty = 68%)
3.94 = 2.99 (Discount = 24%. Actual royalty = 68%)
3.99 = 3.03 (Discount = 24%. Actual royalty = 68%)
4.50 = 3.44 (Discount = 23.5%. Actual royalty = 68%)
4.99 = 3.82 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 68%)
5.18 = 3.99 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 68%)
5.25 = 4.04 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 68%)
5.99 = 4.61 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 67.5%)
6.48 = 4.99 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 68%)
9.99 = 7.99 (Discount = 20%. Actual royalty = 65%)
8.99 = 7.52 (Discount = 16%. Actual royalty = 62%)
15.99 = 9.99 (Discount = 37%. Actual royalty = 83%)

Other List to Get Prices to Match Amazon: Found on the Innerwebz

Amazon Price = Input this price into Google

1.99 = 2.40
2.99 = 3.93
3.99 = 4.99 (Note that this contradicts the experimentally derived data above.)
4.99 = 6.48
5.99 = 7.78
6.99 = 8.32


Worldwide distribution: Google Play is available in around 40 countries. Thats a paragraph of two-letter country codes. Im huge in Finland, Belarus, and South Africa, like multiple sales every day. Australia, Great Britain, Canada, and the US are my biggest markets by far.

Small pond. Fewer fish. About 5 sales/day for a unit will land you on the bottoms of the lesser-populated Top Charts, like Fiction & Lit > Short Stories. This leads to increased visibility and higher sales. I have 8 units on that particular chart at the current time, including #1 (my freebie), which means Im ahead of Alice Munro, Junot Diaz, and 5 people I did my MFA with. (Hey, you have to take your cold-blooded smugness where you can find it.) It takes about 15 sales per day to pop onto the bottoms of the bigger charts like Romance > General or Romance > Contemporary. Exponential sales growth beyond that is needed to move up the charts.

Royalty statements are often posted by the 3rd day of the following month and have been very accurate.

Readers are nicer. Its the anti-Goodreads. Reviews are often very short but sweet. My favorite is Awesome. Thats it. Just Awesome.

Bestseller charts are not updated like Amazons at all. It might even be a weekly average. This means less churn, so when you get onto a chart, you tend to stick there, even if you have a bad day or two. It also means that it takes a while to move up or get on a chart.

It will cure your sales OCD. See below.


No real time sales data. Indeed, I wait 48 hours after midnight of a day to declare the numbers final, so I input sales data for November 1 on November 4. Sales continue to trickle in from around the world for that long.

Bestseller charts are not updated like Amazons at all. It might even be a weekly average. It can take 3-5 days of good sales (30+/day) to pop onto a chart. One day of great sales may do nothing. Thus,

Ads have little effect. I have found nowhere to advertise that helps Google sales or that even has Google sales links, though I do very little/no advertising. (I am building a mailing list for this. See the KB thread,169412.0.html to get in on this!)

You have to download a spreadsheet every day to see your sales. The interface isnt too bad to do this.

Sometimes, sales reporting gets stuck. Ive seen sales reporting stuck for as long as 8 days, then it took 5 days to fill in and catch up to the day + 48 hours. This does seem worse around the 1st of the month.

Daily royalty statements, while included in daily charts, are often not in USD. Do not get excited about seeing 8800 on your daily royalty statement. Its rupees.


If your books status says "Needs Action," then you need to do something to it or it will never, ever publish. Hovering the cursor over it will generally give you a pop-up window with info. Otherwise, click the title, then on the Dashboard, click "Google Play Settings" on the left. If the button on the top says "Live on Google Books" or "Needs Action," clicking on it should give you a clue what to do.

There are 3 places that have to say WORLD. Make sure there are no spaces before or after WORLD, and no quotation marks.

3 Places:
Book Catalog > Google Play Settings (top)
Book Catalog > Google Books Settings (top)
Payment Center > Sales Territories (middle of page)

REPEAT: You need to type in "WORLD" in all caps, no quotation marks, wherever it asks for "Territories." That's right at the top of the page for "Google Play Settings" and the second box under "Google Books Settings." You need to set up the "Payment Center" (far left menu) for all territories. Again, type WORLD.

Make sure you push the "Save" button at the top of each of the pages when you make changes to a book under "Google Play Settings," "Google Books Settings," or "Upload Content." Otherwise, it doesn't stick.

It takes at least overnight to upload and change stuff, like they have a 2AM "compile" or something. This has been faster lately. It used to be 5 days.


If your error message says "Price Missing or Not Applicable," this is Google Help's reply:

"I checked your account and found that you've not linked your payment profile with your sales territories due to which you are getting "Pricing information is missing or not applicable" error.

To do so, please visit the "Payment Center" in your account and find the "Sales Territories" section.

Click the "edit" button beside the sales territories, select a payment profile from the drop-down menu, and click Save Changes.

Status of the book will change to "Live on Google Play" within 24 hours of completing this step."


Make sure you have ready to upload:

- A PDF of your book, including the cover. I did mine in Word and just did Save As->PDF. Works fine. Make sure to change the meta-data (especially author and page title) in Word before you save via File->Info->Properties->Advanced Properties.

- An EPUB of your book, including the cover. I do mine at D2D using their meatgrinder because it always works. Sigil and Calibre have produced EPUBs with errors for me. I just run my google edition through D2D, naming it something like "Into the Desert GOOG" to separate it from the more generic ones going to iTunes, etc. I enter all the keywords, author name, etc. I set the release date for a year in the future, just in case. Then I download the epub and run it through epubcheck, even though D2D epubs are always clean. After I'm satisfied with the copy, I delete the GOOG edition from D2D so as not to clutter up their servers. (But I go through them for BN, Kobo, and iTunes, so I don't feel guilty.)

- A cover as a JPG. Have not found size limits. I use the same as for Amazon, 1563 on the shorter side. You CAN use 3D covers for boxed sets.


In general, darned if I know, but I think its a small pond, few fish situation.

PERMA-FREE. This works really well on Google Play. Make sure that you put keywords at the end of your book description (because there is no designated keyword entry box) and add the words free and freebie if free. (Increases downloads about 25%.)

Have not found any ads geared to Google, nor any effect from any ads on Google, but I have done very little. Considering their possibly-weekly average for sales charts, a daily spike may not help at all.



Account Settings for Google Play:


CLICK  PAYMENT PROFILES Set up a payment profile. This can take a while, but you can load books and sell while the process is ongoing. You cannot be paid until this is completed. You need a bank account, not PayPal. I use Capital One, which used to be ING Direct.




CONTACT INFO: Fill out all.




To add a book, in the upper left corner of your dashboard, click ADD BOOKS, then in the drop-down box, click ADD BOOK.

Fill these boxes in, and then it will appear on your Dashboard.

Once the title appears (instantaneous or up to 24 hours, faster lately,) then click on the title and start filling in the tabs as below.

NOTE: When copy/pasting from Word, use the right-click on your mouse to paste with Paste as plain text.
CAUTION: Do NOT put spaces before or after answers, especially for WORLD in categories or ENG for English in language.

(These settings for the Free Book Rae Falling)

In the BOOK CATALOG (Dashboard) tab:

Click the name of your book, then:


ISBN or other identifier: the ISBN (though lately I've been using Google Keys, no problem)
BOOK FORMAT: eBook Only (unless you have a print book through Google Books.)
RELATED ISBNS: (none. ADD still showing) Use for print editions.
TITLE: Title filled in
SUBTITLE: fill in

CONTRIBUTORS: Author. Blair Babylon (This is kind of small and easy to miss. Find it.)
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: (Cut and pasted) You have to do this for every book. Make sure you do it.

SUBJECT: You can have up to 5 categories. Make sure to do some international ones like BIC. They sometimes change or weed your categories.
BISAC: Fiction/erotica
BISAC: Fiction/romance/suspense
BISAC: Fiction/short stories (single author)
BIC: Romance
BIC: Adult and Contemporary Romance


AGE GROUPS: 18+ years (If you have sexual situations or violence.)

PUBLICATION DATE: They do pre-releases now. Get it up there and let it pre-sale.

PAGE COUNT: I get this from Amazon or word count / 250.

DESCRIPTION: (cut and pasted) Enter your book description here. Make sure that you list keywords at the end of your book description (because there is no designated box). If you are perma-free, add the words free and freebie. If cut and pasting from Word, right-click on your mouse for paste as plain text.

SERIES NAME: Your series name, if applicable

VOLUME IN SERIES: Number of book in series, if applicable

PUBLISHER NAME: Your Publishing Company


PRICES: Make sure no spaces before or after these entries
Units: USD
Price: Free (or price in USD)
Territories: WORLD


ON SALE DATE: blank if immediate. Can now do pre-sales. BUT: Pre-sales accrue on the date ordered, NOT the date of release, which means no big bump for release day with pent-up orders. Just getting it up 1 day ahead of time to make sure it's available on release day may be your best strategy.

(for the following: __ = left blank. X = checked.)

X  DRM enabled
X  Show photos in eBook
__Only Display Flowing Text ... Provided
X Include Scanned pages

Copy/Paste Percentage = 0%

Quality Reviewers: This is where you can enter email addresses of people whom you want to give your book to for free. Works great.


Preview Type: 20% (default)


Buy Link Text: Malachite Publishing

Buy Link (not entered)

Publisher website: enter page

Publisher Logo: (not uploaded)

Preview Details:

X Show photos in Preview
__PDF download allowed

No Preview before on sale date ___


Make sure you have an EPUB, a PDF, and a JPG of your cover.

Upload these 3 files. You can upload them all at once.


Analytics and Reports Tab
Boxes as follows:
   Google Play Sales Summary Report
   Date range = the day or time period that you want. Wait at least 2 days for accurate sales numbers. Today being 11/19, I just finalized the sales numbers for 11/16 and entered them in my Excel.
   Pick countries = all.
   Export complete report <- CLICK.

You will get an Excel-like spreadsheet downloaded to your computer. It's not nearly as bad as Smashwords, and you can set the date range for whatever you want, but it is a spreadsheet.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 06:02:43 AM by TK aka BB »

Offline dkw

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One helluva post, thanks for the excellent info!
Comic Fantasy/Sci-Fi


Offline Monique

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Bookmarked. Will review tomorrow. Thanks for taking the time post it.

Monique Martin | author website | facebook | twitter

Offline ゴジラ

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Holy crap. This post is amazing. I've bookmarked it.

Do you mind if I PM you if I get into the Google Play thing and find myself confused and stumbly? I've been debating if I should hit that vendor up or not, but your results are super compelling.

Congrats on the success, btw!

Offline Cherise

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Thanks, TK. Bookmarked.

Offline K.R. Harris

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Awesome post, TK! Thank you for sharing! Congrats on your results!  :)

Offline x

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Yeah, y'all can PM me.

I think I put most of what I know in this post. Took me a week to write. I'll try to answer anything else.

TK aka BB

Offline Jerri Kay Lincoln

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Thank you so much, TK!  This post is awesome!  I appreciate you sharing all the details.

Offline x

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Thank you so much, TK!  This post is awesome!  I appreciate you sharing all the details.

Da nada.

As stated, I don't consider this a successful venture yet, but at least I'm not sharing negative data.

TK aka BB

Offline Nick Endi Webb

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You are a rockstar. Stop it! I'm supposed to be writing!
Seriously, this is an awesome post. Thanks!

Nick Webb | Website | Facebook

Offline Estelle Ryan

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Thanks for sharing, TK. This is really valuable information!

Estelle Ryan | website | blog | facebook

Offline MeiLinMiranda

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Subscribing. Thank you, TK!

Stories of Magic, Sex and Intrigue
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Offline Cleo

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Thank you so much for this, TK. I've been afraid of Google, but not anymore. I owe you a beta read or something.

First books in series free :-)
Cleo Peitsche | My blog | Twitter

Offline Ardin

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You're SO awesome for sharing this info.

Offline Wansit

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Great post, thank you for being so awesome

Offline CJArcher

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Great post! Thanks, TK. I'm bookmarking it so I can re-read again later. It's THAT good.

I uploaded a few books last week. So far only about a dozen downloads for the permafree, no sales yet. 2 of my epubs wouldn't go through which was weird since Apple accepted them and they're very picky. My other 4 went through fine and I created them in exactly the same way. Weird. Your post has given me the push to put up the rest of my books.

As a reader/browser, I find it's a lot like iTunes and Kobo - difficult to stumble across anything outside the bestseller lists. I can see how getting onto one of those lists would be gold.

« Last Edit: November 14, 2013, 09:30:41 PM by CJArcher »
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Online MirandaPCharles

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TK, thank you for sharing! Bookmarked.

Miranda P. Charles | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Offline Becca Mills

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Wow. Thank you!

Offline dalya

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Thanks! I'm a bit grrrrr about having to learn another vendor and whatnot, but the early adopters get the worms.

Offline Christa Wick

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One helluva post, thanks for the excellent info!

+1 -- I keep thinking about it, but am afraid to hurt my Amazon sales, which can frequently be significant.

Offline Leanne King

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Epic post. Also: kilowords :D

Offline woodss

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I'm new here - hello all! Fantastically useful post - thanks for the awesome share! This sort of complete walk through is really helpful :)

Offline VydorScope

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Great post, Thanks! I had my permafree there for a while - maybe I should look at going back. I like the idea of Google only editions to get around the pricing issue... hmmm.

I wonder, my books are 3.99 on Amazon, if I list them at 5.99 on Google, will that be enough you think to keep them at 3.99 or above? Too much? 4.99 work? Thanks!
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Offline x

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Great post, Thanks! I had my permafree there for a while - maybe I should look at going back. I like the idea of Google only editions to get around the pricing issue... hmmm.

I wonder, my books are 3.99 on Amazon, if I list them at 5.99 on Google, will that be enough you think to keep them at 3.99 or above? Too much? 4.99 work? Thanks!

Have not priced anything that high.

There is a theory, which I have not tempted Google with yet, that FIRST they price-match to anything they find, THEN they price-gouge. I do not know if this is true or not.

Reply with your results and I'll add them to the original post.

TK aka BB

Offline x

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Holy crap. This post is amazing. I've bookmarked it.

Do you mind if I PM you if I get into the Google Play thing and find myself confused and stumbly? I've been debating if I should hit that vendor up or not, but your results are super compelling.

Congrats on the success, btw!


Your huge uber-post is one of the reasons that I'm here. What goes around, comes around. Thank you.

TK aka BB