Major Updates to Google Books Partner Program Finally!

For years now indie authors in the know have been laughing at Google for their lame version of an ebook store. Why was it lame? Because it was surprisingly difficult to upload a book and it was basically impossible to update an existing one (without deleting it) and it was absolutely unthinkable to get any customer support whatsoever. And it still sort of is all of those things.

You see the point; these are bad signs for an ebook retailer when every action an indie author might need or want is challenging to impossible. Well, things might be changing. Emphasis on “might.” About time, we know. Lucky for Google, they had some cash to kick back and do nothing for the past few years while riding out the storm of non-activity unlike some book retailers who have sinking ships (not naming names here).

You may receive a gmail that goes a little something like this:

Dear Google Books Partner,

Improving the publishing experience is a top priority for Google Books. The Partner Program has evolved over the last few years, so we decided to build a brand new Google Play Books Partner Center–a new tool that’s faster and easier to use. Starting today, you’ll be able to use the new interface to manage your titles across Google Books and Google Play.

Highlights of the new Partner Center include:

  • Speed: Pages load more quickly, regardless of the size of your book catalog.
  • Convenience: Add and remove additional users, and convert prices into foreign currencies directly from your account.
  • Simplicity: Both preview and sales settings for your books can now be found in the same place, whether in the interface or in spreadsheets. Manage your account more easily with updated navigation and search.
  • Control: View and edit book descriptions, subjects/categories, and other bibliographic information right within the interface. Remove titles from your account with a few clicks.

These changes and many more new features are available to you immediately. We’ve prepared an overview to help you discover all of the new features in your account and help you along the way:

To get started, visit Thank you for partnering with us to make your books available on Google Books. We’re excited to provide an improved experience for you, and we hope you enjoy your new account interface.

If you have any questions or comments, contact us at


The Google Play Team

However, it still seems abnormally difficult to achieve uploads at Google Partner Program. One would think they have enough brains to create a simple upload system that is user-friendly like Amazon, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and so many others. There is no need to re-invent the wheel, Google. See what others are doing and go from there.

To fix the problem with the names of the files, I had to slightly adjust my labels. Google makes it a bit ambiguous saying “call your cover file (the ISBN number) followed by _frontcover.XYZ.” So I created (example numbers) 0123456789_frontcover.XYZ. Well, the XYZ is the jpg for example for a JPEG file so the cover file automatically calls itself 0123456789_frontcover.XYZ.jpg when all you really have to do is label it 0123456789_frontcover. The other confusion was a similar thing; Google asks you to name your pdf file (the ISBN) 0123456789_content.pdf. Again, when you send the pdf it automatically gets the suffix added to the file, so I was sending 0123456789_content.pdf.pdf. Finally it was confusing because Google is giving examples of 10 digits while ISBNs these days have 13.

What do you think, is Google now a good place to sell ebooks? Let’s hope so because it’s always nice having another distributor with long arms.

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Google Glasses–Ebook Killer? Nah, er maybe

Google GlassesGoogle Glasses–Project Glass–Internet Head–Google Goggles–maybe you’ve seen them. The space-age specks enabling you to go anywhere with the internet at your fingertips and eyeballs (assuming you want that) tend to elicit strong responses, polarizing many into camps of thought like heck yeah can’t wait to get mine to those who claim it a sure sign of the end of the world. My opinion is closer to the heck yeah camp. What are your thoughts?

Since the scope of this blog is typically for Indie authors and all things e-publishing, one of my questions was if people would eventually read this way. Seems logical enough. Think you could read an ebook with Google Glasses? Certainly someone will. If so, might theses goggles make Kindles and other devices obsolete just a short time after the majority of readers finally accept them? Probably not. By then, readers might complain that they simply prefer the old-fashioned feeling of hard plastic and e-ink in their hands.

There’s a Google Plus follow page for Project Glass, and yes, they are verified, go figure. Project Glass, really? Why can’t Google brainiacs come up with a decent name right off the bat? Remember their ebook store that came out–Google Editions, which was a dumb name too so they changed it to something really clever–Google Ebooks. Seriously, they need to get a writer on payroll. Google Goggles perhaps? Have a feeling they’re fighting that one tooth and nail.

Seems like just yesterday I was playing Classic Electronic Football that had tiny red lines representing players. Got to admit, it’s hard to imagine what another 35 years of technology could bring. One thing’s for sure in the here and now; several other R & D departments are probably scrambling to put something together comparable to Project Glass and fast. Apple? How about it?

Add a comment.

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?rel=me ?rel=author ?rel=really, Google?

rel=author rel=me authorship markup?rel=me and ?rel=author has left some of us asking, rel=wtf? This should be easier as my solution in the final paragraph reveals.

For authors who write blogs, articles or just have plain old websites, understanding these tags and their association to a Google Plus profile can be confusing to say the least. In my attempt toward comprehension, it seemed every lesson had slightly different variations on the same theme, sort of like the Gospel’s account of Christ’s life but on a smaller scale. Even watching top brass, Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson, explain in a 10-minute low budget whiteboard video presentation–there seems to be something… uh, lacking. Hey Othar, I need a telescope and a degree in handwriting to read your scribbles. (And I thought my videos were lame.)

For sites and blogs with single authors, it’s extremely important to jump through the rel=author hoop for verifying webpages to your Google Plus profile page. The tag, rel=author, defines authorship. Okay, so what’s in it for me, you might ask? Answer: your photo may get listed next to the search results of your page, may being the operative word. Aha, that’s what this is all about: getting your smiling mug on page one so surfers will click your link!

This tag can feel elusive especially since Google seems to continually tweak their instructions on how to make it, but it simply means that anyone who is a contributor to a website or blog and also has a Google Plus profile can follow a few steps to make Google aware of the connection. Since they’re the king of global internet search, as soon as I learned of this feature I raced to all of my sites and added the ?rel=author code (though not correctly the first time).

How do rel=me and rel=author tags get inserted? There are actually a few ways to accomplish the connection and then one main way to check that it’s working. The first thing you’ll need to do is create a Google Plus account with a recognizable face shot as your main profile image. Sorry, no dogs, family reunions or animations for the main profile photo.

contributor to Google Plus profileOn your Google Plus profile page (click your name from the home page), you can Edit to insert information about yourself, upload photos/video, as well as add URL links for websites and other social media profiles. When Editing, notice the section that says Contributor To where you can add the URL for all of your websites and blogs. It’s most common to use the “About me” page of your sites, or you could use the Home page. For newbies, I recommend copying and pasting the URL from another browser tab to confirm the URL is spelled correctly. Once that is done, you need to go to the corresponding “About me” or Home page of your websites/blogs and input your Google Plus profile URL followed by the tag, ?rel=author. For example, my G+ profile URL is so when I add the rel=author tag, my G+ profile link could be any of the following and even a few more variations:

Notice if you click on either of the latter links they direct you to the same G+ page,

These tags can go anywhere on the site that is crawled, even invisibly to visitors like in the <head> section:

<link rel=”author”



Of course, in all of the above examples you’ll need to substitute your profile number and profile name where I have inserted mine.

This rel=author tag can be added to the <head> section, or a sidebar widget (like a G+ badge) or to signature text, or to the footer, pretty much anywhere. My form of overkill was to add some everywhere just to be on the safe side. All that really matters is the “Contributor To” links point from your Google Plus Profile page to your websites, and the rel=author tags from your sites point back to your Google Profile page. That’s how Google sees the connection and verifies that you are both the webmaster and person behind the Google Plus profile.

Next you can check your work to see if the link is being recognized by Google by visiting the Rich Snippets Testing Tool Enter the URL address and click the Preview button. If you see your profile photo and a green line that says, “Verified: Authorship markup is verified for this page,” then you’ve got it and it should appear as this image below. If not, you can redo the previous steps or try some other methods.

Now, what about this rel=me business? Fortunately, all 10 of my sites were verified (I’ll explain below) without even adding rel=me, so this tag still feels elusive and delivers some of the more varied explanations by the experts. (However, rel=me has been around for quite some time as an element of XFN, which is a solution for identity consolidation.) From the consensus, rel=me seems most important for people who contribute to websites but are not the sole contributors to the sites, or for active bloggers who post with the rel=me tag that points to their “About me” page which points to Google Profile page. Confused? Perfect, you must be paying attention.

The ?rel=me tag can be used from any article and ultimately points back to the Google Plus Profile even if indirectly. If you post an article on another site and have an “author bio” on that site, your post can contain a rel=author tag that links to your “author bio” page that links with rel=me back to your Google Plus Profile (as in <a rel=”me” href=””&gt;). Hence Google sees the connection has been made. Good for bloggers who write multiple posts pointing to their own “About me” page or writers who moonlight and have an “author bio” page at someone else’s site. Still confused? It’s okay; I was too. Support for this from Google can be found here –

Google has recently added an email version to verify for those of us who still don’t quite get it:

Sign in to your Google profile.

Click Edit profile.

On the right-hand side, click the Contributor to box, and add all the sites you write for.

Next, click the Work box.

Click the New contact info box (the last in the list, and type the email address you use for the sites you write for.

In the list to the left of the email address you just added, click Email.

Click Save, and then click Done editing.

Repeat for every email address you want to add.

On your profile, click Verify next to the email address you just added.

Once you’ve finished and also Verified Authorship Markup with the Rich Snippets Testing Tool, fill out this form to complete the procedure –

In my opinion, this could be a whole lot easier because Google has long perfected the method of verifying that we are webmasters of our sites by simply giving us a unique ID to insert in the site with either meta data or html code and then click the verify button at Webmaster Central. Boom, done, it proves we’re the webmaster. Couldn’t this be how they do our “Contributor To” option? Google could simply generate a long and unique ID number for our Google Plus “Contributor To” page. Then we could simply add that unique ID (or hyperlink to it for invisibility sake) to any article, blog post or website that we contribute to and tah-dah. If our “Contributor To” ID is unique, and since we’re the only ones who can Edit that section for adding the sites that we contribute to… then anywhere we put that ID and also add the site to our “Contributor List” would solve this problem. My solution is similar to what they’re doing, just with a few less steps involved, namely eliminating the need for both rel=author and rel=me. Hopefully this solution would also eliminate a lot of rel=wtf?

What are your thoughts?

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Google Plus +, Open Sign-Ups Free For All

google plusGoogle Plus, Google Plus One, Google +, however you want to call it, is no longer an invitation only social media site. Yes, this means anyone and everyone with a valid email and internet connection can join the site that’s grown faster than Facebook and Twitter combined in their first 3 months of business with 20 million sign-ups in just the first month alone (existing social media infrastructure helped of course).

From the Google Plus team; Yes, finally the Google+ Invitations are now out and you can request your invitation immediately. Create Your Free Account.

From just a few weeks of using Google Plus, my experience is that this service is my overall favorite social media venue, better than Facebook and Twitter for networking with readers, writers and publishing people in general. The nice feature is creating individual circles for family, friends, colleagues, the softball gang, whatever you want and streaming (or viewing) those announcements from just the people in that group.

Google Plus badge Jason MatthewsThere’s a previous blog post in a bit more detail here, and this time just wanted to remind writers, readers, publishing people alike to please connect with me there; I’ll add you to my circles. Just click on the photo or this link here –

And if you think this is a nifty badge, you can make one easily for your own sites at

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Indie Authors, Google Plus +1 Me

Google Plus badge Jason MatthewsAs a reminder to Indie authors, you’ll see it referred to as Google Plus, Google + or Google +1, and it’s the latest greatest social media site on the planet. There’s a previous blog post in a bit more detail here, and this time just wanted to remind writers, readers, publishing people alike to please connect with me. Just click on this link here –
And if you think this is a nifty badge, you can make one easily for your own sites at

However, some people might say, “Great, do I really need or even want to get involved in yet another social media site? Already feeling stretched as it is, y’know.” That’s an understandable feeling. But Google Plus is different and poised for good things in my opinion. It’s sort of the best of both Facebook and Twitter, although the design is presently just for personal profiles and not for businesses. Rest assured, Google is working on that and says business profiles should be active within a few months. The ability to separate friends, family, followers and other groups (like business contacts) into individual categories (who only see what you want them to see) is what makes Google Plus a savvy social media site. Over 20 million people have joined in a short time and many more are signing up everyday.

If you haven’t received an invitation yet, just send out an email to your pals and family asking for one. Someone you know should have invites to give. Everyone gets 150 invites to distribute, and most people have plenty left over so it shouldn’t be a big deal. If that doesn’t work out contact me at jason (at) thelittleuniverse (dot) com and I’ll get you in there as long as my invites hold out.

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