Making Digital Books: Formatting Your Novel for the Google ebookstore

Making Digital Books: Add your ebook to the top of the stack!

Why should you use the Google ebookstore to sell your ebooks?

Google ebooks are stored in “the cloud,” instead of being downloaded onto your ereader, phone, or computer. They claim to be available on any device, and the ebook will synch up on all your devices. So you can start reading on your computer at work, read a bit on your phone during lunch, and catch up on your Kindle or Nook or other ereader that night, without losing your place.

Many independent bookstores have already integrated the Google ebookstore into their store website. Even my old-school, local independent bookstore here in Raleigh, Quail Ridge Books, has signed on with Google eBooks.

Google ebooks even has their own “fully integrated” ereader, the iriver Story HD.  (I know, I haven’t really heard much about it, either.)

Look. This is Google, and Google is huge so I’m paying attention. So let’s see how it all works.

First, a Few Words

I have to admit a little trepidation about the whole Google ebooks program. I think they’re integrating a couple different systems here, and the transition has been rocky. The interface is a bit hard to navigate, and they have it broken up into two main areas:

  • The Preview Program, which digitizes your book and makes it searchable
  • Google eBooks, which enables you to sell your book in the Google ebookstore

Adding to the confusion is the Google Books site, which lets you view your library of books and browse other books.

I’ve only uploaded a few novels to the Google ebookstore, and eight of the nine issues of our digital comic (the ninth issue is still in the Processing state). It takes a couple weeks to get into the system, another drawback. You have to keep coming back to check the status, which is a bit tiring.

Also, I’ve found that the ebookstore’s search feature — ironically for Google — leaves a bit to be desired. It’s hard to find ebooks in their store. Which is kind of crazy.

But I’m an optimist, and I think they’ll get their ebook act together. It never hurts to be an early adopter, even if the road’s a bit bumpy.

Signing Up with the Google Books Partner Program

You need a Google Account to join the Google Books Partner Program, and once you’re in the Partner Program, you can start setting up your books for the Google ebookstore.

You’ll also want to set up your account information on the My Account tab of the Google Books Partner Program page.

An then you’re ready to upload some ebooks!

Steps for Formatting for the Google eBookstore

You’ll need a quality PDF of your book, along with a hi-res .jpg, .pdf, or .tif file of your cover. If you have an ePub version of your book, you can also upload that in addition to the PDF.

Name your files in the following format:

  • ISBN_content.pdf
  • ISBN_frontcover.jpg (or .pdf or .tif)
  • ISBN.epub (optional)

Note: In place of “ISBN,” above, use the same ISBN you got with Smashwords.

I recommend including the cover as the first page of your PDF. To do this, copy and rename the Word document you used for the PoD process, replace the blank page you had with an image of the cover, and save the Word document as a PDF.

That’s it! That’s all the formatting you need to do. You’re ready to upload.

Uploading to the Google eBookstore

  1. On the Preview Program tab, click Manage Books.
  2. Click Add/Update Books.
  3. In the Add Books form, specify your ISBN, Title, Author name, Territorial rights (I set this to all), and add a link to the page on your website where you can buy the book or get more info about the book.
  4. Add another book if needed.
  5. Click Save & Continue.
  6. Unless your book files are huge, just use the web form in step 2 to upload your files. For large files, you’ll need to use the Google Uploader.
  7. After you get a notice that “We successfully received the following files,” all you have to do is… wait.
  8. And then wait some more. This can take days, and most likely weeks.
  9. While you’re waiting, you can monitor the Manage Books page and check the status (New, Processing, and then finally Live) for your various books:
  10. You can track the progress of your ebook as it moves through the Preview Program and (a bit later) the Google eBooks program by checking the links at the top of each  tab.
  11. Keep an eye on the Needs Action page on the Manage Books portion of the Preview Program tab in case any problems crop up.
  12. Click the Manage Books link on the Google eBooks tab and check the status of your ebook there.
  13. You can also add an ePub version of you book from the Manage Books page on the Google eBooks tab.
  14. After everything has been uploaded, you just have to wait for your book to move through the system. Google won’t notify you when your book’s status changes, so you’ll need to check the site every few days.
  15. When the book is finally live in the Google eBooks system, your book’s ISBN will have a hyperlink instead of plain text on the Manage Books page on the Google eBooks tab. Click the hyperlink to see your book’s for-sale page in Google Books and the Google ebookstore.

If you have any tips or questions, feel free to share in the comments or via Facebook or Twitter! And thanks for reading.

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