I know there are many different opinions about exclusive sales platforms like KDP Select, but personally, I don’t think it’s good for authors. An exclusive agreement means cutting out the competition, and while no competition will be good for the top dog, it’s not good for the little puppies at the bottom of the chain – us. It means that the exclusive publisher holds all the cards, and authors will just have to put up with whatever they decide to do and take the consequences. An example of this is Amazon reducing royalties for those people not enrolled in KDP Select for the Indian market. I think it’s incredibly worrying that exclusivity means Amazon could become a monopoly and force other publishers out of the market.
Whatever Amazon did around September 2012 had a massive effect on the book sales of many authors, with a lot of them reporting that their Amazon sales fell off a cliff. Another cliff dive occurred a couple of weeks ago when Amazon removed tags from people’s books. My sales with Amazon have taken a hefty beating from this time last year.
Personally, I think we need to have our books available to every outlet, so I was excited to hear about Draft2Digital’s new distribution service. They publish to KDP, iTunes, Kobo, B&N, and Createspace, you don’t need ISBNs, you can see almost real-time sales data, and they pay any royalties monthly. As a non-US author who can’t publish direct to B&N’s PubIt! or iTunes, this is great for me. Although they’re in Beta testing at the moment, I’ve got nothing but good things to say about them. I’ve uploaded seven of my books through them so far and this is what I’ve found:
Instead of waiting weeks (or sometimes months) for your book to be published with other distributors, my books were on sale on B&N within 1 day and iTunes within 2.
- When there was a problem with my file or with the seller, Draft2Digital emailed me straight away.
- If I had a problem or query with anything and I sent them an email, I got a reply straight away.
- I’m not restricted to a small book blurb on the description page.
- Any price updates that I made to my books were updated on the respective sellers’ websites within 1 – 2 days (great for any promos you want to run).
- I can see almost real-time sales data, which is brilliant.
- I’m not the only one who’s been impressed with them. Check out the Kindleboards thread for more info.
Author Aaron Pogue, who is a representative of Draft2Digital, explains more about them…
“A New Alternative to Smashwords
For anyone who hasn’t heard about Draft2Digital yet, it’s a new digital publishing service that provides high-quality ebook conversion, easy distribution to all the major retailers (even for international users), some very handy library management tools (like auto-generated “About the Author” and “Other Books by This Author” pages), and nearly real-time sales reporting.
I know we’re all used to getting spammed with bad deals and scams and complicated new ways to waste our time, so I wanted to take a moment to provide my credentials. If you’re not interested, you can skip on down to the invitation below (or close the thread). But some of you will want to know why you should listen to me at all.
I’m a self-published author. I started back in 2010 with a sci-fi mystery called Gods Tomorrow, and then hit the big time in the summer of 2011 with a fantasy novel called Taming Fire. In the last two years, I’ve sold 170,000 copies across both series, most of them in the Dragonprince trilogy.
When I first got started, before I’d heard of Smashwords, I learned that I needed to convert my stories into ePub format. I had some programmer friends who are way too generous, and I talked them into making a program to convert my documents into ePubs for me. That’s what I’ve been using (and improving) for the last two years.
I did try Smashwords somewhere along the way, just to get the extra distribution channels, but I hated the quality of their output. My day job until last January was as a Technical Writer, so I knew enough about MS Word to follow the Smashwords style guide perfectly, and then I knew enough about professional formatting to recognize everything terrible about the output. I stopped using Smashwords a couple months later, and started looking into ways we could turn my custom formatting tool into a public service.
The week before Christmas, we launched the beta of that service at Draft2Digital.com. Draft2Digital is a free conversion service and a sales aggregrator. You can use your account to distribute to all the most popular retailers (and they’re working hard to get agreements with the ones they don’t have yet). Some of our first beta testers (from here at Kindleboards) complained at the lack of international support, and our CEO spent Christmas week implementing it. As of this morning, Draft2Digital supports international publishers (and gives them access to our US-only sales channels, such as B&N’s PubIt!).
Draft2Digital only makes money when you sell books through their sales channels. They’re worth the price (in my very biased opinion), especially when you factor in the aggregated sales reporting and some of the currently-experimental features, like author website integration. I can’t wait until that one’s fully implemented.
But there’s also a clause in the Terms of Service that explicitly grants you permission to use the generated files in any way you want. In other words, you can create an account with Draft2Digital, use the service to convert your Word doc into a professionally-formatted epub, and then upload that epub directly to PubIt! and keep all the royalties. You can download a mobi for KDP and keep all the money to yourself. The conversion service is free.
(You can do all the same things with Smashwords, but it’s a direct violation of their Terms of Service. Their clause is basically the opposite of Draft2Digital’s.)
Anyway! Our site is currently in a beta, and we need more test cases. We need more users, and we need more books to put through our conversion process. I’ve spoken with the development team, and they’ve agreed to open up the beta to anyone from Kindleboards who wants to sign up. Just go to the registration page, provide your email address, and you should hear back with an access code almost immediately.
Let me know how it goes. I’m their User Experience adviser, so I’d love to hear about your experience. Ask me if you have any questions or recommendations for future features. If you have any actual problems using the site, use the contact page to notify the developers, and chances are good they’ll get it fixed in a hurry. That’s what the beta is for.
Here are some of my favorite features of the Draft2Digital conversion process:
- Easy Management of Multiple Sales Channels – As of the beta launch, Draft2Digital supports
- And CreateSpace (yes, really)
They’re rushing to add more (I know of ARe, Sony, and Diesel, specifically), but even managing just these for me means I don’t have to maintain author profiles, sales descriptions, book versions, and series titles on all those different accounts. I maintain the information in one place, and Draft2Digital makes all the updates for me.
- Rapid Payment – Draft2Digital pays monthly. In my experience, they run just a few days slower than direct sales through any of the platforms. That means it’ll still take you most of two months to receive payment for your Kindle sales, but at least you don’t have to wait until the end of the fiscal quarter!
- Epub Format – This should probably go without saying, but when I claim Draft2Digital provides “professionally-formatted ePubs,” the main thing I’m talking about is structural. Our conversion system does its best to recognize the chapter titles in your book and if it works, Draft2Digital will make sure your book gets a working Table of Contents and page breaks between chapters. We can also guarantee that anything we produce will pass Epubcheck, meaning it automatically qualifies for Smashwords’s “special” distribution channels.
- Endmatter generation – Once you’ve set up the necessary account/profile information, Draft2Digital can generate some automated (but well-formatted) endmatter for you. The title page and copyright page are easy, but I’m most impressed with the About the Author, a teaser/ad for another book, and an Also By page showing all the other books available from the current book’s author. You don’t have to do any work to set that up; it’s all built out of information in the Draft2Digital database.
- CreateSpace support – After producing all this beautifully-structured content, Draft2Digital can actually generate a print-ready trade paperback PDF (5.5″x8.5″) directly from your source text. Adding a paperback is as easy as selecting one extra sales channel, then providing a larger cover image. The CreateSpace support saves me so much time as a publisher!
- Aggregate Sales Data – Draft2Digital collects all my sales data from all sales channels and compiles it into some extremely handy charts so I can track trends and compare my sales by title, by series, or by sales channel. Having all that information in one place (and in such a convenient format for analysis) is a huge improvement over the long spreadsheets everyone else provides.
As I said before, the site is still in beta, so not everything works perfectly yet. But I’m a huge fan of the service they provide, and I can’t wait to see how much better it will get. I would really appreciate your help improving it, and I think you’ll get some very handy benefits from participating.
If you’re at all interested, sign up for a beta account and see what you think. There’s no cost, no commitment, and the whole thing is really easy to use.”
Thanks, Aaron.It’s three cheers from me so far!
It’s your turn in WG2E Land – have you used Draft2Digital? Would you consider using them?
Sibel Hodge has 8 cats and one husband. In her spare time, she’s Wonder Woman! When she’s not out saving the world from dastardly demons, she writes fiction and non fiction for adults and children. Her work has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2008, Highly Commended by the Yeovil Literary Prize 2009, Runner up in the Chapter One Promotions Novel Comp 2009, and nominated Best Novel with Romantic Elements in 2010 by The Romance Reviews. Her novella Trafficked has been listed as one of the Top 40 Books About Human Rights by Accredited Online Colleges.