When I first started self-publishing, the conventional wisdom said to publish direct to Amazon and use Smashwords to distribute to other online stores, such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. But, shortly after I did that, I started hearing about another player in the field, Draft2Digital. Everyone who used D2D described it as wonderful, but I was still hesitant to try something new, so I didn’t.
However, after it took 23 days for Smashwords to implement a price change at one retailer, I was ready to try something new. With my most recent novel, I decided to give D2D a try. And now, I AM IN LOVE.
Not “lust.” Not “infatuation.” Not “really hot for.” But truly, deeply in love.
So, how did that happen? Well, my experience with D2D was pure ease. Previously, I had to get my file ready for the MeatGrinder, which meant poring over the Smashwords Style Guide to make sure everything was perfectly formatted. This is not an impossible process, but it is time consuming when my time is limited. In the past, I’d format my document for Smashwords first (because it had the most stringent requirements), then use that to make my Amazon document. With my most recent novel, I formatted it for Amazon and used that as the base document. When I uploaded it to D2D, it said thanks and showed me what my document would look like. If I wasn’t happy with the formatting, I could change it. Did I mention that Smashwords doesn’t do that? Sure, you can download the final version of your document and make changes if you don’t like it, but “Review your document” isn’t a step in the process. It just publishes what it thinks is okay.
When I reviewed my D2D document, it was perfect. I picked retailers and a price, then hit publish. I was done with my part; now all I had to do was wait for the book to show up at the various retailers. With Smashwords, the only way you find out if your book made it to a site is by checking. So, I assumed it was the same with D2D and checked Barnes & Noble the next morning (I’d uploaded my document around 8 pm). It wasn’t there. I figured I’d check again later. About 1 pm, I got an email saying my book was live on Apple’s site, and giving me the link. Oh, my heart leapt with joy. Seriously, it sang. That was soooo easy. Emails from D2D telling me my book had been uploaded to the other retailers trickled in through the day. I clicked the link, looked at my book, and smiled. That was so easy.
So, I am a 100 percent D2D convert, now. I’m not to the point where I’ll knock on people’s doors and ask if they have a moment to discuss the best options for distributing their eBook. However, do not mention distribution to me at a cocktail party unless you’ve got a friend willing to come tap you on the shoulder in the three minutes to rescue you from my proselytizing.
Now, on the downside, D2D does not offer the same reach as Smashwords. As far as I know, Smashwords is the only way for indies to be available to OverDrive, which is the eBook system most libraries use. The Smashwords catalog is also available to users of Oyster, a subscription eBook service similar to Kindle Unlimited. Finally, Smashwords has a storefront that actually sells books. This storefront also allows you to create coupon codes to give your books free to reviewers, fans, or whomever you choose. (If you’re unfamiliar with these, you can see how to make a Smashwords coupon here.)
So, the truth of it is, I’m a convert in terms of distributing to retailers. However, I’m not opposed to using Smashwords if you want to be available for Overdrive or Oyster, or want to give your book away with or offer discounts by coupons (as far as I know, Smashwords is the only site that lets you give your readers coupon codes). If you’re looking for a system that’s easy to use and communicates with you, definitely go with D2D.
24 thoughts on “Thoughts from a Newly Converted Draft2Digital User”
So, if I read right it’s possible, maybe even recommended to use both D2D and Smashwords? It’s not an “either/or?”
No, Yvonne, it’s not either or, because D2D doesn’t have the same reach. I think if they were completely equal, it would be an either or. But, if you want to be available on OverDrive or give out a coupon code so a reviewer can get your book free, then Smashwords is the place to do that. I think Google Play lets you give out review copies, too, but it’s not a coupon code (I found the description of the process confusing, so I’ve never used it).
Another advantage of Smashwords is that if you use their storefront, you can get your purchased book in multiple formats. A non-issue for most, but advantageous to some.
I’ve talked to a handful of people who have used D2D in addition to (or in some instances instead of because they didn’t perceived the lost distribution as significant, which is a reasonable opinion). I have yet to hear a complaint.
You can use coupons also with Createspace (printed editions)
Thanks for mentioning that. I was referring to ebooks when I was mentioning the coupons, so I didn’t mention CreateSpace. But, people can do coupons for CreateSpace. With ebooks, you don’t lose any real money if you want to give away a free book. However, with CreateSpace, I think there’s a minimum price you have to sell the book at, and if you were to create a coupon that exceeded that, you’d end up with a negative balance. I think I’ve heard of people having a negative balance because they sell a book at too low a price. I’m not sure if you can do a coupon code that exceeds the break even price of the book.
Exactly. We had an article on Createspace Coupons here: https://indiesunlimited.com/2013/10/08/generating-a-discount-coupon-on-createspace/
Thanks for this, RJ. I’ve been hearing more and more about D2D lately; maybe it’s time for me to make a switch.
I like D2D. It’s always tough to switch when you’re used to something. But, it’s worth trying for any new project. I’d be reluctant to actually switch over, as you can lose reviews if you move from one distributor to another when the first distributor unpublishes your book.
Thanks for the recommendation, RJ. I’ve been thinking about using D2D; now I’m sold on it. 🙂
Definitely go for it. It’s such a refreshing experience. It really is author-centered, with a view that the author is a busy person and they want to make our lives easier.
Interesting. I might have to check this out.
Yes. Definitely check them out. Even if you don’t hit publish, I’d recommend going through the setup steps just to see how easy it is, and how easy it is to convert your document to epub or mobi. I tried a couple of my current book files about six months ago, just to see how it worked. And knowing it was easy, I was very comfortable doing it with my next multi-platform look.
I have been using d2d for a few months now. Being able to use the same file for Amazon and other sites it’s a godsend and the d2d books look amazing compared to smashwords.
I still use smashwords for coupons and the reach we don’t have with d2d. They also pay monthly based on vendor payouts instead off the six months of smashwords.
I hadn’t even thought about the monthly thing, but that is a big advantage over Smashwords. I also like that they pay direct to your bank account, unlike Smashwords, which only pays to PayPal.
I am in Select with everything at the moment, but when I am not, I have found D2D wonderful and easy to work with as well, RJ. There are not many steps in the self publishing biz that I would describe that way!
By the way, I have a bone to pick with you. Thanks to your wonderful articles last week about how to marry images and words, I am now spending way too much time doing that instead of writing. 🙂
Yes, I may be away from D2D for my next couple of books, as I’m going to be doing Select so I can take advantage of the Kindle Unlimited. But anything I choose not to put in Select, I’ll definitely be using D2D for.
As to your time spent making image quotes, I’m sorry for getting you hooked. Hopefully, the fun with pay off with some shares.
If I understand Jon Jefferson right, you can initially submit your book to D2D, get it just how you want it, then use that corrected file and also submit to say Amazon. My first book will be finished soon, alreday back from the editor, websites nearly done. Can Jon, or RJ or anyone confirm that you can also use the corrected file elsewhere?
I’ve always uploaded an MS Word file to Amazon, so I use basically the same Word file for D2D as I do for Amazon. Because you can download the various file formats (epub, mobi) from D2D, you could conceivably use their mobi file for Amazon (I’ve never uploaded mobi direct but I assume they take it). However, as Amazon is a direct retailer, I find it useful to tailor the Amazon file and insert the html links to my other books sold on Amazon. You can’t do that with files through a distributor because they are going to several different retailers.
If you plan to email the files to reviewers, D2D gives lovely files in epub and mobi format to send around.
Tall, dark and digital? -grin-
Thanks so much for this RJ. Two years down the track and I still haven’t found the intestinal fortitude for the Meat Grinder. And to be honest, the one time I did try to buy a book from the Smashwords ‘storefront’ something went wrong and the book wouldn’t download. I sent off an email to support and basically received a shrug in return. So I’m not a fan of Smashwords.
After your glowing descriptions of Draft2Digital I’m going to finally give some other retailers a try. Thanks. 😀
Good for you. D2D is absolutely lovely to work with. I even got an email today telling me they were going to be closed Thanksgiving Friday/weekend and they wouldn’t be sending out files/things might be delayed at certain retailers. So, now I know I’ve got to get my stuff together before hand if I want a Black Friday release. I love the communication. There’s nothing worse than being blindsided, and these folks seem to have courtesy that allows you to do business effectively.
You mention the trigger was how long it takes to update prices via Smashwords (something that bugs me too). Do you know how fast D2D handles that?
I don’t know how long it normally takes. The initial upload to the sites was very quick, within 24 hours for most. I’ve heard some authors say their price changes take effect same day. But I have yet to do a price change for the one book I have at D2D.
They sent an email this morning saying they were going to be shutting down for parts of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and it may take a couple of days for price changes to take effect, so I can only assume that is an abnormal amount of time for them, if they’re sending an email to alert authors that it will take that long.
Thanks. I’m very tempted. I might switch one book and see how it goes.
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