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Discussion Starter #1
The first thing I do when I wake up is grab my laptop and check my emails while my husband makes coffee. Then, I check social media, then I check out my book rankings. This morning, I nearly spit my coffee out on my laptop when I saw that my $3.99 bundle, my highest income product, was on the bestsellers list...in the free store.

I just sort of locked up for a moment, and then refreshed the page several times, but those stubborn zeros wouldn't go away. Went to my KDP dashboard. Sure enough, while I was sleeping I gave away hundreds of free copies.

The first thing I did was contact KDP Support, then I checked out my book on the major sales channels to make sure that it was still regularly priced. Then, I took a shower so that I could calm down and remind myself that it wasn't the end of the world. Major props to KDP, by the time I was out of the shower, they had messaged me back, informing me that Google Play, the one sales channel I'd forgotten to check, had reduced my bundle to free.

I'm a very reasonable person. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do with all the money I'm earning, so I'm not going to throw a fit over a simple mistake. Yes, about a thousand people got a free copy of my book and my algorithms have probably been [expletive]ed up, but whatever, it's not gonna put me back in the poorhouse. What was important to me was that I figure out why this happened so that I could avoid it in the future.

I'm not going to slander Google Play. Instead, I'll post the exact conversation I had with a representative, and you can decide whether you want to continue listing with them.

[Sent them a message explaining the issue and asking why it happened and that I deactivated the title in question]


Julian G
11:42 AM
Hi Viola, thanks for contacting Google Books Partner Program support! Can you please wait one moment while I review your information?

me
11:42 AM
Certainly

Julian G
11:44 AM
Thanks for your query, Viola.
I understand that the discounting on the Play Store may be affecting your business with other retailers, but as per the Terms of Service and the Addendum to which you agreed at the time of signing up, we cannot undo the discounts or promise that they won't be used in future.

me
11:46 AM
I don't recall reading that you could make my book free without my consent.
If I misread, then that's a very bizarre clause.
I'm not asking for compensation, I'm trying to understand why this happened.

Julian G
11:46 AM
If you don't mind I could tell which clause in your Addendum talks about the discounting policy.
waiting a moment**

me
11:47 AM
I don't care about the clause. I want to know, if I am publishing through your sales channel in the future, how can I prevent my books from being made free?

Julian G
11:48 AM
Unfortunately, there is no option as of now by which you can avoid the discounts on your books.
I'm sorry about that.

me
11:48 AM
Okay, that is all I need to know. Thank you for your time.

Julian G
11:49 AM
You've also mentioned that you'd like your books to be deactivated. Do you want me to process that for you?

[I didn't actually mention this, but was more than happy to accept his generous offer]


me
11:49 AM
Yes please. Thank you.

Julian G
11:50 AM
Sure, Viola. I will send you a confirmation email when that is done. Please let me know if I can help you with anything else?

me
11:50 AM
No, that will be all.

Julian G
11:51 AM
Okay. Good Day!

Google Support
11:51 AM
Thank you for contacting Google Books Partner Program chat support. Your chat session is now complete.

So, there's that. I don't think that most of the people who downloaded my book for free would have bought it at full price, but my bundle does earn around $400/day on Zon, which I'm out for today and I'll have to crawl back up from the algorithm abyss. Hopefully from all of this I've gained some new readers, but one thing's for sure, unless Google Play changes its policy, I won't be working with them again.
 

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Viola,
It may be worse than you think.  You were featured at ereaderiq this morning in the freebies.  I thought you were running a promotion.
 

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Sorry to hear it, Viola.  Hoping it doesn't have any long term impacts on your sales.

This isn't the first thread like this here.  I'm thinking Google saw an influx of uploaders after TK's awesome thread.  The problem being that they could see just as quick of an exodus if they keep playing games like this.  I doubt I'm the only one here who'll be keeping a close eye on them for the foreseeable future.
 

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I've been debating if I even want to screw with Googeplay anymore.

This month I've earned close over $3100 at Amazon, close to $500 at D2D, $50 at ARE and like $15 at GP.

My books won't sell there at all. But it's a powerful tool in helping me get permafree.
 

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Did you make anything on Google during the discounting? You'll get the full royalty on the bundle, there, even though Google was giving it away.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
cinisajoy said:
Viola,
It may be worse than you think. You were featured at ereaderiq this morning in the freebies. I thought you were running a promotion.
Yeah, I've spent all morning doing damage control. I unpublished the title right away. A few large Facebook groups picked it up as well, and I had to go awkwardly explain why the freebie was no longer available. Right now I'm in the process of republishing it and can only hope that it'll be $3.99 now that GP has deactivated the title.

Becca Mills said:
Did you make anything on Google during the discounting? You'll get the full royalty on the bundle, there, even though Google was giving it away.
Possibly. Haven't checked yet. That's good to know though.

Rick Gualtieri said:
Sorry to hear it, Viola. Hoping it doesn't have any long term impacts on your sales.

This isn't the first thread like this here. I'm thinking Google saw an influx of uploaders after TK's awesome thread. The problem being that they could see just as quick of an exodus if they keep playing games like this. I doubt I'm the only one here who'll be keeping a close eye on them for the foreseeable future.
Yeah, I feel bad that I've been overlooking those threads now. This has been such a headache.
 

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We had a pretty recent thread along these lines. The fallout:

Pro-Amazon camp: Most of our money comes from Amazon, so whether or not we like their aggressive price-matching and the fact that our royalties are tied to the sale price, we can't afford for any of our distributors to make discount decisions without our consent and especially without warning.

Anti-Amazon camp: It's awful that Amazon matches prices without keeping your royalties up even though it makes no sense for them to do so except as a planned loss leader. They're basically forcing authors into all-or-nothing propositions because their price-matching method is unfair.

Neutral: Amazon isn't any more right or wrong in their discounting methods than Google is. An author has to pick what's best for them based on their top sales channels and decide after weighing the pros and cons if they want to deal with Amazon, Google, or both.

Google's loss leader discounts are a way of grabbing market share away from Amazon, but I think they're being myopic to the point of stupidity about how this hurts authors who make most of their money on Amazon. Amazon paying as a percent of gross and aggressively price-matching is different, but I don't see it as evil and frankly I don't see how their high royalty payments would be compatible with Google's model over the long haul. I don't think anyone's really a bad actor in this situation, but I do think it's dumb of Google to force authors into an Amazon vs. Google showdown because right now, they're mostly going to side with Amazon.

Furthermore Google is being stupid by not warning authors in advance about the planned discount, giving them time to decide what to do about that and how it will affect their sales channels. Even accepting that Google has the right to discount as they see fit, knowing that we are tied more directly to the revenue stream than a wholesaler and that we almost certainly have multiple irons in the fire means that their decisions do not happen in a vacuum. Authors deserve at least the courtesy of advance notice, even if they can't opt out of the promotions.
 

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Oh dear!

You know what's interesting? They seem to only be doing this on titles that are selling like hotcakes on Amazon. It almost seems like they're deliberately trying to sabotage the authors.

*sigh. This is not the way to become a serious Amazon competitor. It is, however, the way to lose half of your catalogue. I really hope someone at Google reads these threads and changes this absurd clause.
 

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What is the maximum price you can put on GP?

Id have pulled it from amazon then set it to 100 USD and promoted the hell out of it, if they were paying you 50 USD a copy they might not be so keen on 10,000 free downloads....
 

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Lady Vine said:
Oh dear!

You know what's interesting? They seem to only be doing this on titles that are selling like hotcakes on Amazon. It almost seems like they're deliberately trying to sabotage the authors.

*sigh. This is not the way to become an serious Amazon competitor. It is, however, the way to lose half of your catalogue. I really hope someone at Google reads these threads and changes this absurd clause.
More likely they are trying to pull traffic from amazon, their bots probably comb the big bs lists, find hotsellers and discount them to try and get people onto play. Given how intransigent googles thinking is amongst the tech heads who run the place they didnt think or care about the authors. Its all ones and zeros to the nerdhouse chocolate factory.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for surmising it, Lummox, very good points. It boggles my mind that these two entities are ignorant of each other's policies, but if I have to side with one, it'll be the one that pays my bills, not the one that buys me dinner.

Dan Wood said:
People keep asking when we are going to add Google Play as a sales channel and this policy is exactly why we don't.
Totally makes sense now!

Josef Black said:
What is the maximum price you can put on GP?

Id have pulled it from amazon then set it to 100 USD and promoted the hell out of it, if they were paying you 50 USD a copy they might not be so keen on 10,000 free downloads....
LOL! I suppose I'm not as crafty as you are.
 

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Viola if you let me know a way I will gladly send you the money for your book.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
cinisajoy said:
Viola if you let me know a way I will gladly send you the money for your book.
No, no, no. That's okay, but I appreciate the offer.
 

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Holy Crap!  Sorry about this Viola - Good to know for future.  I was planning on using Google Play but forget that now!
 

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It's like a Voltron of glorious incompetence between those two! how hard is it to let authors opt into a discount program AND let authors say 'no, this isn't a sale authorized by me, so don't price match, you ninny'.

And yet if you put something up for free on GP on purpose Amazon couldn't care less.

Really, it'd be one thing if GP did anything besides their dumb hyper-discount thing to drive sales and thus was a decent sales channel, but as they continue on, they're pretty damn mediocre on top of being a pain. I'm honestly shocked this thing is a product of the otherwise very savvy Google suite of online services (except Chrome).
 

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My gosh, that's awful, Viola. I hope you can recoup those lost sales somehow. Does any other site do this, or this is just Google Play?

And needless to say, I won't be using them either. Or buying or downloading anything from them.
 
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