Google Announces “Do Over”

It’s no secret how I feel about Google’s publishing platform for Google Play. I spoke about it in-depth on my comparison of the different e-publishing venues available to small publishing houses and independent others, Extending Your Reach. Essentially, the only “Pro” for Google Play was reaching more readers, which I found over the months wasn’t even a pro. In fact, it helped me reach a big fat zero more readers. I’ve had absolutely no sales on Google Play, so when I published my most recent work a few weeks ago I opted out of making the strenuous effort to get on Google Play. I don’t want to discount Google Play completely because there are a ton of people out there with tablets and phones that operate off of the Android network. I have a Galaxy S4 in fact, but then again I have my Kindle application on it and still purchase directly from Amazon. Maybe that’s the reason Google Play books haven’t moved off the shelves for me–those readers are just buying it in their Kindle application. I wouldn’t have an issue publishing the book on the Google publishing platform if it weren’t so heinous to work with, and because of this I doubt that my book is listed in any valid way on the Google Play website–this may be a contributing factor to the lack of sales as well. I don’t even know if my book is listed under a genre, for goodness sake. So when I got this lovely email from the Google Play Partner Newsletter I was surprised, because I didn’t think Google was listening–even when I replied to a “do not respond” email that said I couldn’t contact the person I needed to, and it was a mistake. They actually did receive my all caps yelling email, and they did apologize for the fake “do not respond” email.

Truthfully, I had all but discounted Google’s publishing platform until I received the email announcing they were working on their epic fail of a publishing system, and they wanted testers. Hey, over here! Look at me! I’ll test it for you! We’ll see if they choose me to test this system, especially seeing I’ve bad mouthed it publicly already.

A new Partner Center interface
In the upcoming months, your Google Books account interface will get a complete makeover: not only will the visual interface change, but we’ll add new features to give you more control over your book’s information. We’ve listened to your feedback and we’re designing a new interface that’s cleaner and more intuitive. Our goal is to make the process of adding your books to Google Books and enabling them for sale on Google Play as hassle-free as possible.A few partners have already tested the new Partner Center, and here’s what they have to say:

“The new interface looks great and it seems a lot easier to use. We won’t need to email [the Google Books team] each time there is an update needed to be made.”

– a mid-sized Canadian publisher

“[Employee] is singing your praises with the latest changes to the Google Books system. It seems as if Google is making it much easier for publishers to upload their titles, and to have them discovered.”

– a top Australian publisher

“Can we get this now? I can’t wait to start using it.”

– a top Brazilian publisher

If you want to see the new interface and would like to help us test it, please fill out this form. Depending on how many people express interest, we may not be able to accommodate everyone, but all partners will be able to access the new interface within the next few months.

There’s several ironies in the above statement to me. I actually found myself laughing at the interface being “cleaner and more intuitive” , really it wouldn’t take much to make it either of those things seeing it was a bloody mess before. The system was so archaic that it was damned near impossible to use, not only that it was impossible to find someone to help you. “Hassle-free” book adding? I’ll believe it when I see it, and then there was the cherry on top; the vague testimony statements, “A top Publisher” , really?? I mean, really?

To follow this there was their explanation of their copyright verification process. I found this process to be quite a pain in the butt as well. Why? They gave me no reason as to why they thought I didn’t hold the rights to MY OWN novel. The form was written in such a way that I was screaming at the screen: I’M NOT stealing my own book! I very much doubt that ANYONE doesn’t get this email from Google. It’s really a way to protect themselves.

Our copyright verification process
At Google, we take copyright very seriously. Every time someone adds a book to the Partner Program, we perform a series of automated checks to confirm that the information submitted matches the information supplied by our third-party metadata sources. In some cases, the information doesn’t match or we don’t have enough information to make a determination. When this happens, we err on the side of caution and ask the partner who’s submitting the book to verify their copyright ownership.If you receive one of these emails from us, don’t panic. Simply complete the verification form by following the link in the automated email and you’ll be all set — there’s no need to contact us directly. Please keep in mind that copyright verification is a way to protect everyone’s work, including yours.

If you find one of your titles available for preview on Google Books without your authorization, we recommend that you directly contact the author or publisher who submitted the book. Next to each book preview, we display the name of the party who made the content available. You can also file a formal copyright complaint with us. We’ll review your case and take the appropriate actions.

Overall, Google Play has a lot of work to do to make their publishing platform something, or anything, like their publishing competitors. Each of the major competitors are working on ways to make their already easy to use systems even better. Take for example, PubIt!’s conversion to the new NookPress system. It’s amazing, so easy to use and access, with fabulous at a glance features similar to those of Kobo’s Writing Life. It even has a way for you to edit your manuscript directly on the site, and is edging out a new place for itself with it’s similarities to WordPress’ PressBook system. I’ll be posting more about both NookPress and Pressbooks in the coming months for those that aren’t familiar with the two. As for Google Play, instead of playing catch-up, they should have implemented a system that was at least usable, but they chose to throw something out there in an attempt to be in competition. They just didn’t put anything out there worth using. Epic Fail. I’m prepared to eat my words, Google Play, do you hear me? Please prove me wrong. I’d be more than happy to be able to reach more readers.

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