Google’s Talk to Books: Will it Improve Ebook Sales?

I’m all for AI and chatbots – I even designed one! -, but every time I hear ‘use artificial intelligence for book discovery’, I’m sceptical. I didn’t see anything worth looking at since Oyster was closed down, and when I heard that Google has launched Talk to Books, I wasn’t sure what to think. I’m a big fan of everything Google, but most of their new features get shut down within a few months. (Remember Google Buzz?) Anyway, I have tried Google’s free to use AI features a few months back (Google Vision and Natural Language Processing), and I was hoping that Google will soon use these tools to offer better discoverability to the books in their catalogue. Maybe even increase sales?

Google Books

If you are not familiar with Google Books: it is Google’s enormous project, scanning books from all over the world and making the content searchable. The project has not always been everyone’s favourite, but they have recently overcome some copyright challenges, and are working continuously on making information freely available for everyone. It is not only public domain books and legal documents that form Google Books’ catalogue: they have access to the text of all books distributed through Google Play Books as well. Publishers and authors signing up to Google Play Books agree to their books being part of the Google Books project. It doesn’t mean that the whole book will be available on Google Books. It will, however, make the text searchable.

Why the long lead in?

Because it is exactly the gargantuan Google Books database that is used as a basis of the new project, Talk to Books. (The other new lab project is called Semantris, and it is clearly ruining the effectiveness of my workday. It is a word association game: try it, and you will no longer need Tetris. Hey, don’t blame me!)
Continue Reading…


Managing Encoded Metadata Within Your Book

At this point, you already know much more about ebook metadata than you ever intended to. Read this article to learn about encoded metadata within your book. If you missed the previous instalments of this series, please check the following articles:

While ebook vendors always ask you to enter your metadata separately and they use that information to correctly display your book in their respective stores, many ebook reader devices and apps (like Calibre) use the metadata encoded within the book to display information regarding that book on that device. Books with metadata not correctly encoded might not display author or title correctly on the reader’s device. The best additional benefit of accurately encoded metadata is that you don’t have to enter your metadata manually when uploading your book to PublishDrive. If your metadata is encoded in the book, our system will automatically be able to read it and fill in the necessary fields.

Mandatory encoded metadata

No matter which software you used to create your epub file, your epub already has some metadata: title, language and an identifier are mandatory for all ebooks. Even if your conversion software doesn’t know how to fill in your metadata correctly, you’ll see something there. Many books have “Unknown” in the title or author field: if you are a reader, this could get annoying. More importantly, the correct language settings within your metadata make the use of built-in dictionaries possible on the reading devices.

Continue Reading…


Great on Kindle for nonfiction books launches as beta

Remember Amazon’s mysterious 50% royalty rate? Apparently, it wasn’t just an error: it was foreshadowing a new Kindle program. On a book-by-book, invite-only basis, Amazon has launched Great on Kindle with a 50% royalty rate.

According to KDP help centre, Great on Kindle Ebooks offers enhanced features in nonfiction books to readers. Every nonfiction book is eligible to be selected if it is available on and meets the program’s quality standards. Books selected in the program are eligible for 50% royalties.

great on kindle

Quality standards for Great on Kindle

For nonfiction books to be featured, they have to meet the following quality standards:

1) All images have to be high resolution: at least 300 ppi.

2) Enhanced Typesetting must be enabled.

3) Consistent and accurate metadata entry. (Read more about metadata entry here.)

4) Enable X-Ray: it is a handy Kindle tool enabling authors to add descriptions of people, places and events in the book.

5) Get rid of all typos and formatting errors.

6) Set up an Author Page.

If a title meets all of these requirements, it might be selected by Kindle team to be part of this program.

Benefits of Great on Kindle

If a nonfiction book gets selected to Great on Kindle, it can have many benefits.

On the product page, a message will identify the book as “high-quality”. Also, certain promotional credit offers will be available to customers, but these promotions won’t affect royalties. And the best part: the 50% royalty plan, if the book’s list price meets the requirements described here. Interestingly, nonfiction books participating in the 50% royalty plan must be priced between 4.99 and 19.99 USD, or 5.99 and 24.99 GBP. Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader points out that this could be a great opportunity for those authors who have many high quality images: these authors have seen their royalties eaten up by delivery fees before. With the Great on Kindle program, there are no delivery fees.

We are extremely excited to see this new development and we hope that it’ll result not only in better quality nonfiction books, but also higher sales for all authors.


Using BISAC Codes to Get Into The Right Category on Amazon – Book Metadata Tricks for Better Ebook Sales

Metadata in publishing is all information about a book: it includes author, title, description, keywords and much more. Ebook metadata input is not only important to keep distributors happy, but is a powerful tool to improve sales. PublishDrive has teamed up with a publishing metadata expert, Zsofia Dedinszky who has kindly agreed to share her extensive knowledge and experience with us. This article is the third in a series: we talk about best practices for selecting the correct BISAC codes and putting the book in the right category on Amazon.

Previous articles in the series:


There are many ways of classifying a book. Most countries have their own traditionally preferred methods, many using separate systems for libraries and stores. But why is classification important at all? The classification system decides where your book will appear in the stores.

Everybody understands the importance of knowing where to look for a book in a brick-and-mortar store. You either immediately go to the cookbooks in the basement or to the language books on the third floor: a misplaced book has little chance of ever being found.

It is exactly the same for ebooks. Unless somebody knows exactly what they are looking for and is searching for your name or title, they’ll browse through a category, looking for something they might find interesting.

Most ebook stores let you place your book in three categories. So, you have three chances of finding your ideal reader and putting your book in front of them. If I were you, I would take this seriously.

Just as importantly, a badly classified book can be highly disappointing to readers. If somebody is expecting to read a paranormal shifting romance but gets a psychological thriller instead, they are understandably unhappy. They might leave a negative review on your otherwise amazing book.

In the following, we’ll write about BISAC (the most common classification system), and about the importance of selecting the correct category for your book.

bisac codes

Continue Reading…


Smart Metadata Entry for Better Ebook Sales: Title, Subtitle, Series fields

Metadata in publishing is all information about a book: it includes author, title, description, keywords and much more. Smart metadata input is not only important to keep distributors happy, but is a powerful tool to improve sales. PublishDrive has teamed up with a publishing metadata expert, Zsofia Dedinszky who has kindly agreed to share her extensive knowledge and experience with us. This article is the second in a series: we talk about best practices regarding author’s name, title, subtitle and series fields.

The first article about metadata in general and most important metadata guidelines is available here.

Key metadata fields and best practices

In the following, we’re going to go through the most important metadata fields and collect best practices.


It is best to decide your author name before you start publishing. There are no pros and cons for using a pen name, except if you are writing non-fiction in a topic you are considered an expert in. Please make sure that your pen name is not in any way misleading to readers: don’t call yourself Dr. John Smith, if you are not a doctor.

Once you have the name, Google it, and run an Amazon book search. Make sure that nobody else uses that name – or nobody in a similar genre, at least. Even little modifications will do the trick: if you’d like to write under the name of John Smith, but it is already taken, try John W. Smith. The key is in consistency: if you are called JW Smith in the metadata of one book, John W. Smith for the next and John William Smith for the third, your books won’t be grouped together by stores or under your author profile.

Continue Reading…


Book Metadata Entry for Better Ebook Sales: The Basics

Metadata – data about data – in publishing is all information about a book. It includes the author(s), title, description, keywords and much more. While every book has metadata, we only seem to be talking about it when something goes wrong. For example, when a book is validating a distributor’s metadata guidelines. However, the sheer existence of book metadata guidelines is a proof that smart metadata input is not only important to keep distributors happy. It is a powerful tool to improve sales.

PublishDrive has teamed up with a publishing metadata expert, Zsofia Dedinszky. She has kindly agreed to share her extensive knowledge and experience with us. This article is the first in our series Metadata Magic. In the series, we talk about metadata do’s and don’ts; explore some ideas on how to improve sales with better book metadata management; and explain how to enter or edit metadata within your book using Sigil.

What is metadata and why is it important?

As we have said before, metadata is information that describes a book. It includes author, title, subtitle, description, series information, language, categories, keywords, reviews and price. Derived metadata can also include sales information and rankings.

In the book industry, metadata is often stored in systems and is batch-managed. Methods of batch-management can be an Excel sheet or an Onix provider, for example). But for small and indie authors, batch management is not very important. However, entering metadata correctly when uploading your book to a platform (eg. to Amazon or to PublishDrive), and storing metadata within your epub is crucial.

book metadataContinue Reading…


Self-publishing Sci-fi and Fantasy: Interview with Joseph Malik, Author of Dragon’s Trail

Sci-fi author Joseph Malik has not only collected favourable reviews on his first release, but has been selected as an eligible author for the 2018 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction/Fantasy. He published the Dragon’s Trail independently, by setting up his own publishing business, Oxblood Books. We asked him about his experiences on self-publishing sci-fi or fantasy: it is a fascinating read. You can find his bio at the end of the interview.

When did you start writing? Did you have any rejections?

I started writing when I was a teenager. I had sent out manuscripts early-on before I realized that writing a book didn’t constitute nearly enough writing to write a good book, but I didn’t get serious about the craft of writing until my mid-twenties.

Dragon’s Trail went through several versions which would probably qualify as separate books entirely over about fifteen years. I have a folder with 47 rejection slips in it. I am sure I received many more.

The biggest piece of my writing journey, though, is that I set out to write a fantasy novel that did for knights in armor what The Hunt for Red October did for the nuclear submarine. To that end, I did all of my research firsthand. While I was developing my writing and studying the craft, I was learning swordsmanship, horsemanship, mountaineering, blacksmithing, martial arts, pacing off castles and ruins in Europe, building a functional Elvish language, and on and on. I wanted to have the mundane elements of the world correct—if not historically accurate, at least mechanically and functionally feasible—before I introduced the magical aspects of the story. I was told repeatedly by major publishers and agents that this would never work, and that there was no market for a “realistic fantasy.” I finally quit writing fantasy altogether after about fifteen years of rejection.

Continue Reading…


What Is a Beta Reader and How to Find One

Fanni SütőWhat is a beta reader and how to find one is brought to you by Fanni Sütő. Fanni writes poetry, short stories and a growing number of novels-in-progress. She publishes in English and Hungarian and finds inspiration in reading, paintings and music. She writes about everything which comes in her way or goes bump in the night. She tries to find the magical in the everyday and likes to spy on the secret life of cities and their inhabitants. Previous publications include: The Casket of Fictional Delights, Tincture Journal, Enchanted Conversation. Fundead Publications, 600 Second Saga.

Being a writer is no easy feat, especially if one chooses the path of self-publishing where, to misquote a classic, with great freedom comes great responsibility.

One has to oversee every step of the production and one has to be in control all the time. This, however, doesn’t mean that you have to be alone. Quite the contrary, you should have a team of professionals around you who can assist you whenever you need them. Today I am going to tell you about the importance of beta readers and critique partners, and give you some ideas about where to find them. Last but not least, I’ll briefly speak about blog hops, which are a great way to get feedback and encouragement from your fellow writers.

what is a beta reader

What is a beta reader and a critique partner?

You finished your novel yesterday and you’re already planning to publish it tomorrow? I would strongly advise against it. After you let it rest for a few weeks, give it another read with a fresh eye and edit it like there’s no tomorrow. You’ll probably find a few typos, unnecessary digressions and things to rewrite completely. When you are more or less happy with the result, it’s time to ask for a second opinion.Continue Reading…


Brazilian Ebook Market in 2017: Trends and Predictions

To help us understand the Brazilian ebook market, we asked newcomer Pablo Araújo (straight from Recife, Brazil) to analyse the situation. Pablo graduated in communication studies, advertising and media, and he did an amazingly thorough job creating nice infographics as well. As always, comments are very welcome.

“If you want to see a rainbow, first enjoy the rain!”, said Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. His book, The Alchemist sold more than 65 million copies worldwide, hitting #1 in 18 countries, and giving him a spot on the Guinness World Records. If we consider a market with hundreds of millions of potential readers a rainbow, and the rain is the risk you take when joining the Brazilian ebook market, the rain is very much welcome.

Brazilian book market overview

Brazil has a population of 210 million people. According to a survey conducted in 2015, 56% of people over the age of 5 – almost 89 million people – consider themselves readers. 77% of these people have declared that they would like to have read more last year.

With the increasing amount of readers, especially among the youth, it’s not a surprise that according to the Book Market Production and Sales Research, 385 million books were sold in 2016, resulting in a total revenue of BRL 5.27 billion (almost 1.65 bn USD).

Continue Reading…


Breaking news: Scribd drops monthly credit limit

Almost exactly two years after it was first announced, Scribd discontinues the monthly reading limit. In 2016, they have introduced a model which allowed subscribers to read three books and one audiobook for the monthly fee. As Scribd pays its publishers according to number of pages read, it seemed reasonable that they have decided to keep the service sustainable: neither decreasing publisher revenues, nor increasing subscription prices. But thankfully, they have now decided otherwise: Scribd Unlimited is here!

The change, so far, comes with no increase in price: for just 8.99 dollars a month, content-hungry readers can get their book fix from one single source. In their announcement, Scribd co-founder and CEO Trip Adler points out that this change will increase the company’s contributions in the publishing ecosystem.

Continue Reading…