Sunday, March 20, 2016

Is Google serious about its ebook platform?

Almost a year ago, I blogged about starting to load my books onto Google Play/Google Books.  I just got Saronna's Gift loaded yesterday. I've had very few sales on Google Books, but I figured it couldn't hurt to expand. For a while there was a major hold-up in loading new books because Google Books had no filter to stop people from pirating other people's work. I'm not sure when that was resolved, because they're not good at communicating. When the new book would not load all the way, I didn't get any message as to why; it turned out there was an epub problem, but I had never gotten a notice about it.

I have to say, Google has not made a lot of (or maybe even any!) improvements in the "Books Partner Center" in the last year. The interface is still clunky, and seems to be designed by geeks, for geeks. I guess you could call it the UNIX of book platforms; but unlike UNIX, there's no graphical interface available to make it easier.  One of the things that takes up a lot of room on the report screen is the pie chart it draws to show you the percentage of books that are live and for sale.

That's a lot of screen real estate for something that will usually be 100%. 

Features that are still clunky or problematic:

  • You have to download a new CSV file every time you want to see your sales figures. There is no way to generate a report on screen.  This is my single biggest complaint. What a pain! Even Barnes & Noble is better than this.
  • Reporting is erratic. I checked every day after I ran my last promotion, and it took a full week for the books I had given away to show up in the sales transaction report. On the other hand, I often see sales and giveaways the next day.
  • If you want to run a Google Books promotion, you have create a CSV file and upload it. For every book, you need to provide the following info:  Identifier, Title, Currency, Amount, and Countries. Except that their program doesn't actually use the title column, so you can leave it blank. And you can say WORLD for country if you want it everywhere. 
The message you see on loading a book is the reason it's still worth it.

This book is live in the Google Play store in the following regions: AR, AS, AT, AU, BE, BG, BO, BR, BY, CA, CH, CL, CO, CR, CZ, DE, DK, DO, EC, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, GT, GU, HK, HN, HR, HU, ID, IE, IL, IN, IT, JP, KG, KR, KZ, LT, LU, LV, MH, MP, MX, MY, NI, NL, NO, NZ, PA, PE, PH, PL, PR, PT, PW, PY, RO, RU, SE, SG, SI, SK, SV, TH, TR, TT, TW, UA, US, UY, UZ, VE, VI, VN, ZA. It is also listed on Google Books.

Of course, if you need all those country codes explained, you'll need to look it up elsewhere. Google is a huge company. I expected better from them, so this makes me wonder if they really care about Google Books or not. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Promotion Smackdown: The Fussy Librarian vs eReader News Today

I ran two more promotions recently, to advertise The Sixth Discipline being free. That book is always free, but the Amazon numbers for it were dropping; I wanted to get more copies out there, because it drives sales of No Safe Haven (the direct sequel, which is not free, but is reasonably priced at $2.99). I blogged about my earlier promotion efforts back in October.

The first service I used this time is called The Fussy Librarian. A friend had recommended them, and the fee for my options (science fiction for the genre, and free for the price) was only $25, so I went with it. The Fussy Librarian (TFL) sends email to their subscribers (free to readers, of course), and also maintains a searchable database of free books, which contains all the books that have been included in emails for the last 30 days. I'll be interested to see if The Sixth Discipline gets any lift from this. It's an added benefit for the same price.

Of course, it might be hard to separate, because I did do back-to-back promotions again. I had a second promo on eReader News Today (ERNT) the day after the one on TFL. Interestingly, promoting a free science fiction book was also $25 with ERNT.

Well, it as been a few days now, and ERNT won hands down. TFL did okay; I gave away 189 Kindle copies, 20 Nook (B&N), and 11 iBooks. The ERNT promo was the very next day, and that one was huge! Not BookBub huge, but almost as good as my earlier FreeBooksy promot, which cost more than twice as much. I gave away 755 Kindle copies, 23 Nook copies, and 11 on iBooks! Now, a dozen or two could well be hold overs from the TFL site/email, but I can't believe it would be more than that when the intial number topped out at 189. The virtue of those kinds of number is they jump your book up in the Amazon sales rankings.

Amazon has links for the 100 most popular free Kindle books, and also the most popular 100 by genre, e.g., 100 top free science fiction and fantasy. These appear at the bottom of the product page, where the book's ranking is, but you only see the genre links if the book ranks in the top 1,000 of a genre or subgenre. Before these promotions, The Sixth Discipline was hovering around the 25,000 mark for overall free Kindle books.

This was the ranking for T6thD on the day of the Fussy Librarian promo:

4:00 pm

10:00 pm
This was during the ERNT promo:

7:00 pm

11:00 pm
So, what that means is the giveaway numbers stay higher for several days after the promo. In the three days after my book ran on ERNT, its Kindle "sales" per day were 116, 36, and 39.

I think I will try another promotion for a book that's not free, to compare. My Freebooksey promo did much better than when I used Bargain Booksy. That might be purely because there are more people looking for free books than bargain books, which would mean no promo for a sale book is going to do anywhere near as well, not even BookBub.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Act now to win a Kindle copy of Saronna's Gift

Amazon lets anyone host a giveaway of any print book sold by Amazon. If you look on the product page of a book, you'll see the icon right below the "Create a review" button.

Interestingly, you don't have to be the author or publisher to set up a giveaway. The link appears for everyone. Once you click it, you have to commit to paying for the books you're going to give away, select the number of copies, the odds of winning (e.g. one in 100), and provide the wording for win and lose messages. You can also specify a single requirement, such as making people follow you on Twitter or watch a short video or follow the author on Amazon. You can even control whether the link can be shared or not, which controls who can see it.

If you wanted to find a way to gain more Twitter followers, for example, you could pick a popular book and host a giveaway of it.  This is more feasible now, because Amazon now allows folks to host a giveaway of a Kindle book. This is much less expensive (cheaper price and no shipping costs), so it's easier to give away more copies.

I did some print giveaways a while ago, and now I've started one for the Kindle version of Saronna's Gift. Click here to enter!

nb:  The link above will only work until the giveaway runs it course and all five copies are claimed, or March 16, 2016, whichever comes first.