I’ve heard Draft2Digital mentioned a couple of times, including on The Creative Penn podcast. I’ve three books published with Kindle Direct Publishing and had made the decision to remove the two lesser sellers from KDP Select and see whether wider distribution would make up for the loss of revenue from not being able to run Countdown deals on them.
A couple of months ago, I uploaded my book on programming the Raspberry Pi to Smashwords but I found the process clunky and, having made precisely zero sales (whilst still selling reasonably well on Amazon), I decided I had nothing to lose by giving Draft2Digital a go.
So, what is it? Put simply, Draft2Digital (and Smashwords) make it simple to submit your book to a wide range of online marketplaces in one go. If you take Apple’s book store as an example, they (and this would be bizarre if it wasn’t so “Apple”) only allow you, as an individual, to self publish with them if you use their app and, therefore, own a Mac. I don’t and am not prepared to spend a fortune buying one merely to have the privilege of selling on their store. By using Draft2Digital, my book is submitted to the Apple store on my behalf without me needing to soil my hands with OSX.
Even with the more straightforward stores, such as Kobo, the sheer number makes submitting to them individually a pain in the backside. At the moment, Draft2Digital supports iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Scribd along with some smaller names. It would be great to see Google Play added at some point but the ball is in Google’s court with that, I suspect.
Amazon is missing, although Draft2Digital say they’re working on adding them. Personally, I’ll continue to use the KDP control panel to handle Amazon sales as it’s easy to use and Amazon is likely to make up the bulk of my sales for the foreseeable future.
Draft2Digital will convert a Word or RTF document into epub and mobi formats. In my case, I already had a properly formatted epub so I can’t comment on the converter. It looks as though, if you upload an epub, you lose the option to have them generate a paperback.
Once uploaded and accepted, you can choose to add “End Matter”. This is clever – it allows you to create pages for, example, your author biography, within Draft2Digital and then have it automatically added to each book as it’s published. You can add an “Also By” page which will automatically include all books published through Draft2Digital, something that could save a lot of hassle. You can even add an “Email Signup” page although this will result in emails being collected by Draft2Digital rather than you so I recommend sticking with your own email page here.
Once this is done, you can set prices for your book. It’s essential to click the Manage Territorial Prices button so you can set a different price for each main country. If you don’t do this, your price will be converted from US Dollars into the local currency, resulting in some odd numbers. Go through each territory and set the price to end in 99 or 49 and adjust the price down for countries such as India where high priced ebooks simply won’t sell.
You can now finish the process and Draft2Digital will start submitting your book to the various stores – I found that Kobo was the quickest of the major stores to list it and it’s lovely to get an email as each one comes online.
Overall, I found the experience of using Draft2Digital much simpler, slicker and enjoyable than via Smashwords. My only gripe is not something they have control over, really, it’s the withholding of 30% of sales to comply with US tax laws, even where the book sales happened via UK sites and by UK citizens. This is an advantage of using KDP because, as the subsidiary of Amazon you use in the UK is registered for tax over here, it only withholds the 30% on US sales. The only way Draft2Digital could get around this would be to open subsidiaries in their major markets. The problem, as an author, is that you end up with the prospect of being taxed twice.
You can get around this by filling in an IRS form but the time it would take me to understand it, fill it in, get a tax number from the IRS etc etc is only going to be worth it if I see significant sales.
Aside from that, Draft2Digital makes it as easy as it could be to convert and upload a book – next time I’m writing a new ebook, I’ll create the copy in Word and see what sort of a job the service makes of the conversion. It’ll certainly save a lot of toil if the results are good enough that I don’t need to edit the epub manually.