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How to Self-Publish on Google


So, you’ve written a book, and now you want to self-publish it on Google, congratulations! Deciding how and where to publish your book can be a little daunting, so if you’re not sure hw you want to proceed, check out our post on distribution services.

Now, without further ado, let’s look at the world of self-publishing through Google!

Google Books vs. Google Play

Before we get started with our blog post, we wanted to break down one very important differentiation in the world of Google. Google provides consumers with two major ways to access books – on Google Books and also on Google Play. The platform that this blog post will be focused on is Google Play, as it is the website that authors use to upload manuscripts, manage and sell books, and monitor their sales. Google Play, versus Google Books, offers consumers more than just books; movies, apps, music, and more are available with Google Play. Google Books is more of a search tool, compared to the storefront of various entertainment that is Google Play. As of October 2015, Google Books held more than 25 million scanned copies of books within its library. While Google Books is a great way to peruse titles, whenever you want to actually purchase books you will be led back to Google Play.

How To Publish an eBook on Google Play Books?

As we just mentioned, there’s a unique platform offered by Google called Google Play – and this is the tool that writers use to self-publish their books. The Google Play store is a one-stop-shop and digital store where people access, buy, and download apps, games, books, movies, and more. Similar to how Barnes and Noble owns Nook, or how Apple owns Apple Books, Google Play is simply the child of the parent company Google.

While many authors have mentioned their successes using Google Play, there’s currently a bit of a roadblock…  Google Play is only accepting new authors on an invitation basis:

“Google Play Books welcomes publishers to request an invitation to the Partner Program”. If you don’t already have an account, be prepared to await your invite from Google!

Yep, if you’re hoping to get your book on Google Play’s storefront then you’re going to face some hurdles. After a waiting period, the Written Word Media team did receive an invitation to the Google Play Books Partner Program. While there is no predetermined wait time for receiving your invitation, it did take us just over three weeks to hear back.

So why is Google Play currently invitation-only? After facing massive eBook piracy issues in 2015, the publisher portal was closed so the site could “improve our content management capabilities and our user experience”. Since then, Google Play has never fully reopened its publisher portal to new signups. (However, existing users do have continued access!) For now, at least, it appears that Google Play is only accepting indie authors on a case-by-case basis in order to vet legitimacy.

Until Google Play lifts its current invitation-only stipulation for new authors, we’ve found that the easiest way to get through the door is by using an eBook distribution service. Websites that currently offer this service include:

These services have an established relationship with Google Play and thereby have the ability to upload your book onto the Play website – without having to surpass the invitation-only roadblock. Later on in this article, we’ll mention the royalty rates that these sites charge authors. If you’d like to get your book sold on Google Play sooner rather than later (as we don’t know how long this invite-only setup will continue), you should use a distributor.

Since we were able to experience Google Play’s services firsthand, we wanted to pass along some tips and tricks to you. Before we move on, we want to encourage you not to let Google’s invitation waiting period keep you from self-publishing your eBook with them – we’ve got a long list of reasons why you should be publishing here!

Reasons to Publish with Google Play

  1. Google reaches one billion Android users (that’s around 81% of smartphone users) in 70 countries.
  2. Google Play offers the “Play Books Partner Center” – this is where authors and users can upload their content, set their book prices, and more.
  3. Authors can earn royalties of up to 52%.
  4. The “discover” feature on the website offers users the opportunity to discover new books, which gives authors a greater chance of getting their book to readers.
  5. Google Play doesn’t require an ISBN to publish on their site. They are able to generate a unique number for your title entirely on their own.
  6. Google Play enables authors to create an Author Page, complete with all books from an author, a biography, and a photo.
  7. Your Google Play titles can be featured on Google Books through a partnership program. This can be an effective way to drive sales, as it gets your book out to even more potential readers.

When researching the primary reasons that authors like to use Google Play, the major reason that stands out is the site’s discoverability factor. With many features that enable your book to go out to more diverse groups of readers (like the partnership with Google Books or the “discover” portion of the site), Google Play has the potential to get your book out to new audiences.

Google Play Books Royalties

Compared to other platforms like Nook, Kobo, Apple, or Amazon, Google offers one of the lowest royalty rates to authors: 52%. While we’re on the topic of finances, something important to note is that Google Play subscribes to Wholesale pricing. So, what is wholesale pricing? How does wholesale pricing affect authors?

  • Wholesale pricing: Authors set the price of their book. Retailers have the ability to choose the price at which the book is actually sold.
  • Agency pricing: Authors set the price of their book and this is the price at which it is sold. Retailers cannot change the price.

Compared to websites like Apple Books or Nook Press (both of which use the Agency pricing model), Google Play can choose the price at which your book is sold. They do this in order to offer consumers discounts on books – however, this will not affect your sales. The royalty that you receive is based on your listed book price.

For example: Sarah lists her book at a sales price of $4.99. Google decides to discount her book to $2.99. Sarah will still receive royalties based off of her $4.99 price point, regardless of the discount that Google offers consumers. For every $4.99 book sold, Sarah will earn 52% in royalties – this means that she makes $2.59 per book, and Google will keep $2.39.

Because Google Play is accepting new authors on an invitation-only basis at the moment, distributors are currently the only surefire way of selling titles on the site. We’ve assembled the royalty rates that various eBook distributors offer authors:

Distribution company Royalty rate
Bookbaby 52%
eBookPartnership 52%
Publishdrive 42% or 52% (through a subscription to the site)
Draft2Digital 44%
Streetlib 42%

While 52% – or even 42% – may seem like a much lower royalty rate when compared to other platforms, keep in mind that the positives of uploading your book through Google Play might outweigh that rate depending on your goals as an author. For starters, there is no minimum selling price for books sold here – books can be free by offering a PDF download of the text. Additionally, sellers on Google Play have the ability to change the book price per country. As we’ve previously mentioned, with this platform reaching 70 countries, you have the chance to really maximize sales (this can make Google Play’s lower royalty rate more palatable for most authors).

What Do I Need to Know About Publishing on Google?

We’ve found that there are a few must-know tips to keep in mind before moving forward with selling your book on Google Play:

  1. If it’s your first time using this platform, check out the distribution companies that we’ve mentioned for more assured entrance. If you’re not interested in using a distribution company for entry to Google Play, be prepared to wait for a shot to get approved. As we’ve mentioned, it took our team three weeks to get a response.
  2. Google Play does not accept “assetless” pre-orders – this means that you need a full manuscript and book cover in order to upload.
  3. After you’ve finalized your manuscript, make sure that it’s ready to be uploaded in the correct formatting style. Google Play supports books in the ePub file format.
  4. Become familiar with Google Books. By signing up for your book to be sold on Google Play, you automatically enroll in Google Books and have the ability to offer readers previews of your title. Consider how much of your book you want to offer in the preview – this can be all the way up to 100% of the book.
  5. Book distributors will provide you with portals for managing your book on Google Play. If you choose to utilize distributors in order to sell on Google Play, you can take down your book from the website at any time through the distributor’s site. However, Google Play does not allow you to temporarily take your book down from their site. You only have the option to completely deactivate your book. If you are using a distribution service, you must deactivate your book through whatever portal you use. Below, see a screenshot of what this looks like on Publishdrive.

A Step by Step Guide to Publishing on Google Play

Let’s say you’ve already filled out a Google Play invitation form and the day has finally come… Google has sent your acceptance email to its Partner Program. Congratulations! Continue reading to see our walkthrough of uploading your eBook to Google Play and working towards your first sale:

Google Play’s Books Partner Center home page. This is where you’ll be able to sign in and access your dashboard.
  • Once you’re logged in, you’ll be able to access the Google Play Partner Center. This is where you can upload books, track your book sales, set promotions for your titles, and set up your payment method. To upload a new book, select “Add book”.
Follow that pink arrow to upload your book to Google Play.
  • After you’ve decided to add your book to Google Play, you’ll walk through some simple steps. Immediately, the website will need your ISBN. Don’t have an ISBN? No problem, Google will be able to provide you with a free GGKEY, which can be used on Google Books and Google Play.
  • Similarly to other retailers like Nook or Apple, you’ll need some information about your book to continue. Be prepared to enter your title, book description, series information, language, and page count to your title info. After this, you’ll need to upload your book cover and manuscript, set a price point, and update distribution settings that determine how your book will be displayed on the Google Play website.
  • Want to involve your book in the Google Books program? Google not only makes it easy for you to learn about what Google Books is, but walks you through the steps needed to take part in this.
  • Following the upload steps and hitting the “ready to publish” button, there will be a short delay as your account undergoes a preliminary policy review. This should take no more than a few hours.

There we go! It’s that easy. With five upload steps, Google Play makes the process of uploading your eBook to their site really simple. After you’ve been uploaded to their site and have made your first sale, you’ll be able to monitor analytics and reports on the Partner Center webpage.

I Made My First Sale – Now What?

Once you’ve made your first sale, you can choose to wire your funds to your bank account through an Electronic Funds Transfer or go through a wire transfer. Google will pay you on the 15th day of each month, or on the next business day. The minimum required amount for a payment schedule plan is $1.00 in sales. However, wire transfer payments require a minimum balance of $100 to initiate payment.

Access all your payment-related concerns here.

From this page, you can also access your Earnings Report to see how much money you can expect to make from sales. Remember, Google offers a 52% royalty rate, and this will be reflected in your sales reports.

Thanks for checking out our article on self-publishing with Google Play! Have any tips for how you use the site? Have you been accepted to sell your book(s) through Google Play? Let us know in the comments below!

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6 comments on “How to Self-Publish on Google
    1. Hi there! If you’re interested in self-publishing through Google Play, I recommend reading through this article. It will provide you with a full step-by-step guide to getting your book up and running. Best of luck!

  1. Hi, I want to know is it possible to upload a translated public domain books (from English to another language) and then publish it on Google Books? If so, is it the same process? Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Lanny – we aren’t seeing anything that would prevent users from uploading and publishing these types of books on Google Play. Your book will be reviewed once it is submitted for upload; if it isn’t approved, a member of Google Play will reach out to let you know.

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