How to Add a Description to a Book on Google Play

First, for anyone who is trying to solve this problem, here is the solution (at least for now):

Add or edit summary of Partner Program book

The basic issue is that Google typically gets its book summaries from third-party meta-data providers.  If you’re self-publishing, those third parties probably don’t know your book exists.  If you go through the help materials, you won’t find a solution to your problem.  Only once you attempt to contact Google directly for help do they walk you through a questionnaire that eventually leads you to the precious web form that I’ve linked to above.

If you would like to appreciate the value of a good — or even moderately competent — user experience designer, attempt to publish a book on Google Play.  It’s like a parody of bad UI.  Please, Google, you gotta do something.

For those who want to know the background here, read on.  For everyone else, I hope you found this post helpful.  The rest is just my tale of woe.


In going through the painfully obtuse process of making Upload available on Google Play, I encountered a problem that had me baffled: how to add a summary/description/blurb to display alongside the book.  This concept of a brief introduction to your book is ubiquitous on bookseller websites.  Even on Google Play, most books have a short paragraph explaining the book, to entice the buyer into reading customer reviews, skimming the preview, possibly even buying the book.

Knowing this, I expected at some point during the not-at-all-straightforward process of getting a book onto Google Play to be presented with an opportunity to enter a summary for Upload.  I was not.  Nor did I come across any little note, friendly or otherwise, mentioning that Google prefers to fetch this information from someone other than the publisher.  When my book finally popped out the other end of the black-box process — an event which I feel warrants an email to the publisher, since it takes days and may result in pricing other than what the publisher intended — I discovered that it in fact did not have a summary, where other books on Google Play did.

Where had I gone wrong?  What step or piece of crucial information had I missed?  Other people are making it work — why can’t I?

So I sunk another 30 minutes or so into trying to find a solution.  Only to discover that you have to endeavor to register a complaint before they tell you how it works?  Maybe I missed something along the way, but I’ve gone back and forth over those pages and come up with nothing.  I guess the engineer-driven business model at Google has its downsides.  And that’s coming from someone who’s been coding for money for the past twenty years.

All part of the joy of self-publishing.  Of course, I imagine I’m lucky to be arriving at this game now, and not four years ago.

Now available on Kobo!

Click to see Upload on Kobo

I recently discovered Kobo via Goodreads.  I had just published Upload on Lulu and created a book page for Upload on Goodreads, and I wanted to see which booksellers are recommended/featured there.  The most obvious choice was Barnes & Noble, where Upload is still pending publication.  Looking through the other booksellers, I noticed two things: first, Lulu wasn’t in the list (uh-Kobo at the top of the list of online stores at Goodreadsoh); and second, there was this place called Kobo which was at the top of their list.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Kobo.  They’re very indie-friendly.  It’s easy to publish, they don’t play hardball in their legal agreements, they match Amazon in terms of how simple it is to release your book in many countries, and they are currently featuring 80% royalties!  What took me at least an hour on Google Books/Play took me about five minutes on Kobo.  I had to wait a few days for the eBook to actually be published, but that’s faster than most other sites I’ve been working with.  (So far, based on my experience, Lulu and Amazon are the winners in terms of making content available quickly.)

So, now when a Goodreads member gets excited about my book, they can buy it from Kobo!

I also appreciate Kobo’s great philosophy, especially their desire to provide a platform-neutral eBook market.  From their website:

Read Freely is global, with over 8 million customers in over 170 countries. Read Freely is device neutral and choice-driven, allowing readers to read any Kobo eBook on any open device (or any open eBook on any Kobo-enabled device). Read Freely is flexible and content rich, with over 2.5 million eBooks in the Kobo eBookstore. Read Freely is as big as your imagination.

I’m proud to make my DRM-free book available via Kobo, and I hope you enjoy it!  (And if you do, be sure to rate it.  Good ratings and reviews are one of the best ways for an indie author to gain readership.)

It’s Alive!

I finally released my science fiction novel into the world! The creative seeds of the story go all the way back to 1999, the year of The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Matrix. Thirteen years and countless revisions later, Upload is available for purchase on Lulu and Amazon.  Getting it out that has been a lot more exciting than I anticipated.  The response from friends and family has been a great source of joy and pride for me, and has breathed new life into the book.  I suspect it’s due largely to them that my book has reached number 5 on Lulu’s top sellers list, “Top 10 This Week in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy”.

Day 5, Number 5
Number 5 on Lulu’s “Top 10 This Week in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy”

Thanks so much to all who have already purchased my book — I hope you enjoy it!  Now I’m working on getting the book out through more channels, and on the long hard road of promoting a self-published novel.

For those of you who have read Upload and thought it was a good book, please spread the word and help a budding indie author!  Ratings and reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and Lulu (for both eBook and paperback editions) make a huge impact on prospective buyers.

I was also very excited to open the package that arrived from Lulu this afternoon and find…

My first ten copies of the paperback edition

I’m hoping to use these to stir up some interest from local bookstores.