What I learnt from publishing my first book to the Google Play Store

Michael B.Android, Case study, Publishing

Author Michael B. shares some valuable insight on how he published and then promoted his ebook, created with Book Creator for Android.

Why write a book?

A chance experience improvising stories for my son and composing music for a kids’ project led me to an idea for my first book.
This idea set in motion a chain of events that brought me to form an illustration team. Production then went on with endless story rewrites, coaching the illustrators through the exact scenes and looks for each set of book illustrations and composing two original pieces of theme music to accompany the story.

After three dozen rewrites (literally!), 17 illustrations from two very talented illustrators, and two pieces of theme music, the project is in the can.

Artwork from Stan the Treeclimbing Inchworm

How I came to use Book Creator

I looked at several of the leading ePub 3 software platforms and I was unsatisfied. I wanted a tool that was simple and efficient and financially viable – I had pretty much blown my budget on illustrations by then.

I tried a third party online publishing service and posted my project there. But after a lack of IT support and several headaches, I cancelled it out.

I then happened to stumble upon Book Creator on Google Play and thought, “for $2.49, let’s give it a shot.” It is simple to use, it can handle the larger audio files that I throw at it and I was very pleasantly surprised.

I love that I can spend the hours and money I put into my book and bring it into the world with a $2.49 app. That’s a publishing revolution right there.

Stan the Treeclimbing Inchworm

Stan the Treeclimbing Inchworm cover

My first ePub 3 ebook was Stan the Treeclimbing Inchworm. It is a reading journey focused on cultivating the desire to follow one’s own path.

The ability to present a fixed layout text for the story, add the illustrations and drop the audio files in was all that I needed. Book Creator was a good fit because of its simplicity and its fixed layout. I did not want to add dancing text or whiz-bang graphics.

The rough draft writing process of bringing forth an idea is very difficult. Taking a set of rough drafts and reworking them to the point that suits my standards and turns it into a real book is a big task.

Adding illustrations and music is another round of complexity. With a platform app like Book Creator, I have learned that the work involved in setting layouts and dropping in illustrations and audio is ridiculously easy, which is the way it should be.

Download Stan the Treeclimbing Inchworm from Google Play

Stan the Treeclimbing Inchworm in Book Creator

Publishing to the Google Play Store and beyond

Book Creator created ePub 3 compatible files for me. I took those files and published directly to Google Play.

Google Play Books does not yet support audio formats, so my book only has text and illustrations.

To be honest, I found the process a bit cryptic and hard to navigate, but I would recommend a couple of blogs that offer step-by-step instructions: thebookdesigner.com and scarletcox.com [editors note: this website has mature content].

I recommend reading those articles. Google’s system is tough to figure out on one’s own!

Stan the Treeclimbing Inchworm on Google Play

The importance of good artwork

After some marketing work, I managed to line up an ePub distributor, Vook, who is taking those same ePub 3 files and publishing across all of the major ePub and tablet formats (iBooks, Amazon KDP, Blio, Nook, Overture, etc.).

Stan the Treeclimbing Inchworm on Blurb

The key learning moment in landing the Vook deal was having an illustrator/artist (Christa Barnell) who delivered a knockout cover. That is what got their attention.

I am confident that I can put my book cover next to a book like ‘Skippy Jon Jones‘ and it will hold its own. I think the illustrations from my interior book illustrator also helped. If you are doing children’s books, picking the right illustrator is very important.

The future is collaboration

I plan on using Book Creator for all future ePub 3 books that I do. I have two that I am currently working on.

My philosophy on the future of ePub 3 and e-publishing to tablets/reading devices has changed since I started this project. At least for children’s books, I would like to see more authors who team up with musicians to use the medium of storytelling and music side-by-side, intertwining the two in new and interesting ways.

This could bring about a different mode of collaboration between authors, musicians and illustrators. The author no longer has to be this sealed-off hermit who spends too much time alone over a keyboard. The author can now be a producer.

Think about what a guy like Shel Silverstein might have done if he had lived to see ePub 3 – combining a song like ‘A Boy Named Sue’ with the wacky poetry of ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’.

There are all sorts of possibilities that can be explored with a tool like Book Creator.

4 Comments on “What I learnt from publishing my first book to the Google Play Store”

    1. Book Creator is currently only compatible with Android tablets with a screen above 7″. If we did make a version for Android phones in the future, it would have to be a different app, as the tablet interface would be too difficult to use on smaller screens.

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