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Google Archives - In 30 Minutes Guides

Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes Named 2018 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist

By | News

Newton, Mass. — Today, publisher i30 Media Corporation is pleased to announce Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes (2nd Edition) has been recognized as a finalist in the 21st annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards.

As part of its mission to discover, review, and share the best books from university and independent publishers, Foreword Magazine, Inc. hosts an annual awards program each year. Finalists represent the best books published in 2018. After more than 2,000 individual titles spread across 56 genres were submitted for consideration, the list of finalists was determined by Foreword’s editorial team. Winners will be decided by an expert team of booksellers and librarians—representing Foreword’s readership—from across the country.

“Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes is our most popular title, and it’s wonderful to get this type of professional recognition,” said author Ian Lamont, who founded i30 Media and the IN 30 MINUTES series of guidebooks in 2013. “The reference category has many strong contenders, and it’s an honor to be listed among them.”

Publisher i30 Media Corporation is pleased to announce Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes (2nd Edition) has been recognized as a finalist in the 21st annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards.Winners in each genre—along with Editor’s Choice Prize winners and Foreword’s INDIE Publisher of the Year—will be announced June 14, 2019.

Founded in 1998, Foreword Magazine, Inc. is the only media company completely devoted to independent publishing. Publishers of a Folio: award-winning bimonthly print review journal, special interest products, and daily online content feeds, Foreword exclusively covers university and independent (non “Big 5”) publishers, the books they publish, and their authors. Foreword is based in Traverse City, Michigan, with staff based worldwide.

New product line: In 30 Minutes video classes

By | Blog, News, Video

Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes video classes

Publisher i30 Media is pleased to announce a new product line: In 30 Minutes video classes. We’re starting with the Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes video course (For a limited time, available at a 25% discount on Gumroad or available as a video class on Udemy), but will expand to other topics soon. You can learn more about the Google Drive and Docs video here, and we will also distribute the class to other online educational platforms.

The idea for In 30 Minutes video classes has been around almost as long as the book series. Around the same time the ebook and paperback versions of Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes were launched, i30 Media posted a series of short video screencasts on YouTube. They were very popular — one video that shows how to convert a PDF to Microsoft Word or Google Docs has garnered tens of thousands of views. Would people be interested in watching a longer video course about Google’s free online office suite? The popularity of the YouTube videos indicated that the answer was probably “yes” … but it would require a lot of work, ranging from writing a script to setting up a studio to shoot the on-screen narrations and screencast demonstrations.

What’s inside the Google Drive & Google Docs video class?

Here’s an excerpt from the description of Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes (video class):

This 30-minute class is narrated by the author of the top-selling guide, Google Drive & Google Docs In 30 Minutes. The course includes lectures on registration, finding and organizing files, creating documents and formatting them, working with Microsoft Word documents in Google Docs, and a complete review of the interfaces for Google Drive and Google Docs on the Web and mobile devices. The tone of this guide is friendly and easy to understand, with lots of step-by-step instructions and examples that show exactly what to do.

In addition to serving as a solid introduction to new users, it’s great for people making the transition from Microsoft Office, not to mention teachers using Google Drive for education and Google Docs in the classroom.

Here is the lecture list:

  • Introduction
  • The Google Drive user interface
  • The Google Docs user interface
  • Using the Google Drive and Google Docs mobile apps
  • Formatting in Google Docs
  • Formatting Microsoft Word files in Google Docs
  • The Google Drive desktop application for syncing and storage
  • Collaboration

You can start the lesson on Gumroad for 25% off or watch it on Udemy.

We hope the Google Drive video classes prove as popular as the ebook/paperback versions of the guide. In addition, we will be paying close attention to how people use the course in order to improve the video tutorials and create new instructional videos based on popular topics.

Google Play Books: So much promise, so few results

By | Blog, Industry

I’ve lamented the state of competition in the ebook platform wars in the past.

Take Apple, which had so much going for it 3 or 4 years ago compared to Amazon, with a vastly superior e-reader (the iPad using iBooks) and sales that regularly topped $200 per month for my In 30 Minutes series of how-to guides. Apple’s hardware/software advantage did not last. Amazon eventually closed the hardware gap with the Kindle Fire, and continued to make improvements to the Kindle software and ordering processes. Meanwhile, Apple’s bloated iTunes/iBookstore has continued to frustrate users attempting to buy or review books, contributing to a stagnant sales picture. So where did Apple place its platform improvement efforts while Amazon was catching up, you ask? Creating a superb closed-garden authoring tool (see my iBooks Author review here) which has done little for sales in the iBookstore and makes it impossible to export the efforts to any other channel.

Then there is Google Play Books and the partner center for authors and publishers. Google is the only other deep-pocketed company out there that could ever hope to compete with Amazon in the ebook space, but it too has dropped the ball with its marketplace. I have been selling ebooks there for 3 years, and sales have never been good. But there are a host of other problems that stymie content producers and make it difficult to consider it a serious contender to Amazon KDP.

Google Play Books review: What’s wrong with Google Play Books

Where to begin? How about the unilateral discounts that Google Play applies to pricing. It’s gotten so bad that when I create a new ebook listing in Google Play, I have to refer to this Kboards forum post that lists the amounts you need to input to Google Play books in order to display the desired price:

Set Price = Discounted Price
99c = no change (royalty = 52%)
1.49 = no change (royalty = 52%)

2.49 = 1.92 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 67%)
2.99 = 2.09 (Discount = 30%. Actual royalty = 74%)
3.49 = 2.65 (Discount = 24%. Actual royalty = 68%)
3.94 = 2.99 (Discount = 24%. Actual royalty = 68%)
3.99 = 3.03 (Discount = 24%. Actual royalty = 68%)
4.50 = 3.44 (Discount = 23.5%. Actual royalty = 68%)
4.99 = 3.82 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 68%)
5.18 = 3.99 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 68%)
5.25 = 4.04 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 68%)
5.99 = 4.61 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 67.5%)
6.48 = 4.99 (Discount = 23%. Actual royalty = 68%)
9.99 = 7.99 (Discount = 20%. Actual royalty = 65%)
8.99 = 7.52 (Discount = 16%. Actual royalty = 62%)
15.99 = 9.99 (Discount = 37%. Actual royalty = 83%)

Then there’s the lack of a sales dashboard on Google Play Books. Even Nook and Kobo understand that authors and publishers want quick insights into how their books are selling, and provide an on-screen look at monthly sales:

Nook Sales sample vs Google Play books

Google Play Books Partner Center, on the other hand, doesn’t have any sales dashboard. It’s only possible to download a .CSV file that contains raw sales data. If you’re handy with Excel or Google Sheets, you can probably set up something that handles basic currency conversion and get a USD total for monthly sales, but if not, you’re out of luck.

Google Play Book reviews include scraped and fake reviews

And then there are the reviews that appear next to my books in the Play Store, written by people who have never downloaded or read them. To be fair, this is a problem with Amazon too, but at least Amazon displays “Verified Purchase” next to the reviews so shoppers know which ones are more trustworthy. Potential customers who venture to Google Play to check out my ebooks are likely to encounter drive-by complaints about the topics covered (“you can get this information on YouTube for free!”) or issues that have nothing to do with my books (such as the person who had a problem recovering a password from some online service). Because Google can’t screen or properly identify real reviews, I’ve taken the step of removing links from my websites to the Google Play Books product pages for half of the titles published. The Google Play product pages have become a liability, and I don’t want to send customers there.

Buy hey, I suppose I should be happy that I at least have access as a publisher, and basic support questions get answered. Nine months ago, Google Play Books closed its doors to new self-published authors and small publishers:

Over the course of the last four weeks there has been a media firestorm about the sheer scope of pirated content on Google Play. This has forced the company to close their Play Books Publisher Portal. In a message in the Google Product Forums, a Google rep said “We’ve temporarily closed new publisher sign ups in the Play Books Partner Center, so we can improve our content management capabilities and our user experience. We’re working to reopen this to new publishers soon. Thanks for your patience.”

As far as I know, Google Play Books is still closed to new authors.

Do you use Google Play Books as an author, publisher, or reader? What has your experience been like? What needs to change?

How to type other languages in Google Docs

By | Blog

I received an email from India asking about support for other languages in Google Docs. He was a reader of my book Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes, and he had two questions: 1. How characters from Hindi, Chinese, or other languages can be typed into Google Docs, and 2) whether foreign text can be saved in Google Docs.

How to type other languages in Google Docs

There are several ways to save text from non-Latin character sets in Google Docs. The method I usually use is through the operating system. Windows and Mac PCs let users change the input language so people can use their keyboards (or trackpad) to enter Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, etc., into any program on their screen. However, if you don’t have this feature set up or are unable to activate it (for instance, because you are using someone else’s computer) you can use language support that’s built into Google Docs. Here’s how:

  1. Open Google Docs and create a new document (or open up an existing one)
  2. Go to File > Language and select the language you want to start typing in. For instance, to choose the traditional Chinese characters used in Taiwan, I would select 中文(台灣)(literally: “Chinese, Taiwan”)
  3. The input tool will appear on the right side of your toolbar (it may be hard to see, but on my browser, it was to the right of the “clear formatting” button, as in the screenshot below).
  4. Click on the tiny triangle next to the language symbol to choose your input method, which might be phonetic, romanization, or some other keyboard method.
  5. As you enter characters, Google Docs automatically saves them.
  6. Once you are finished, close out of the document or use File > Language to switch back to English.

Example of how to type other languages in Google Docs

In the example below, I used the Google Docs input tool to select pinyin, a romanization method for Chinese characters. As I type pinyin on the English keyboard, choices for the possible characters show up below the cursor with numbers to make a choice (Mandarin has many homonyms, so the numbers are used to pick the right characters). I can type the number or use my mouse to make my choice, and they are entered into the document. In the example below, I have typed “Hello I am American” above some English text. The input tool drop-down is also visible:

Google Docs Language input - Chinese example - How to type other languages in Google Docs

How to type other languages in Google Docs

Note that this method works for me because I am familiar with pinyin. However, some languages require special keyboards or keyboard labels. If you are working with a standard Western-style keyboard, or don’t know the Romanization system supported by Google Docs, you may have a tough time expressing yourself in the other language.

A new user guide for the new Google Drive and Google Docs

By | News

Google Docs for dummies

This week, our top-selling guide received a facelift and a major content update. Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes (2nd Edition) is now available for the Kindle, iPad, Nook, and Android devices, along with PDF and paperback versions (ISBN: 9781939924315). We hired a professional book designer to handle the layout for the new edition, but even more importantly, I made some critical updates to the contents of the book, which had become out of sync with new features and improvements to Google’s software interfaces. The post below describes the history of my Google Drive book, and the project to create a second edition.

The first edition of Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes was released in 2012 and sold thousands of copies. Readers loved the quick learning concept, and the fact that it covered not just Google Drive and Google Docs, but the other programs in the suite — Google Sheets (the spreadsheet program, akin to Microsoft Excel), Google Slides (a presentation tool like PowerPoint), Google Forms, and Google Drawings, as well as collaboration and other features. I have been a heavy user of Docs and Sheets for more than five years, and was happy to share my expertise with readers.

Google Drive New Button  Last summer I noticed that some of the features of Drive and Docs had changed. For instance, the Create button in Drive was replaced with a New button, the search interface within Drive changed, and the home icons in Docs, Sheets, and Slides started taking me to new index pages for each of the programs (before they had taken users back to the Drive home screen). Some of my readers also began to notice the shift. Google announced it was transitioning to a New Drive and Docs experience, and clearly the guide needed to be updated.

I immediately started rewriting the book, going through every single example and exercise to see what had changed. For the browser/Chromebook versions, the biggest changes were in Drive as well as the new Docs, Sheets, and Slides home screens. However, when I gave the mobile apps a workout, I saw that the changes had been even more pronounced. It is now possible to download and operate the apps independently. This means if users only use one app (say, the Google Docs app for iOS) that’s all they need to download. Before, the Drive app was required, even if you only used the Docs functionality.

Rewriting lasted through the fall, and then the editing and design process began. It was a tough slog, maybe tougher than any title I’ve ever done, but the result looks great. The interior features much sharper, high-resolution images (up to 300ppi) and a much improved layout. There is a new cover, as well as a slew of how-to videos I released through YouTube and will shortly be adding to the official Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes website. The Google Drive guide is now available through Amazon, iBooks, B&N/Nook, Google Play, and Gumroad, and will soon be available via Ingram’s extensive book catalog. I am also distributing it through some speciality marketplaces, including O’Reilly.

Finally, I have set up some special offers for educators who are interested in providing Google Docs for students, teachers, and staff. Since the first edition of the book was launched in 2012, I have sold hundreds of books and ebooks to individual teachers, schools, and school districts. Last year, I created an educational license for Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes which provides an unlimited number of digital copies of the guide to staff, faculty, and students for each participating school (in PDF, .epub, and .mobi formats). The license has enjoyed sales as far afield as Singapore. I also have created an educational license subscription as well as bulk orders of paperbacks with a heavy educational discount.

If you’re interested in learning more, I’ve created an About page for Google Drive and Docs in 30 Minutes (2nd Edition). It includes a summary, as well as an excerpt from the introduction.