Tag Archives: writing

Draft2Digital: Going Wide Made Easy

In my last entry, we talked about the pros and cons of going exclusive with Amazon’s KDP Select program. Today, we’ll take a quick look at Draft2Digital, a company that makes it easy to publish your book(s) to several marketplaces.

So, You Want to Go Wide

You’ve decided that you want to make your work available on several platforms. Maybe you feel that it’s the best route for more exposure. Maybe an exclusive distribution isn’t an idea that appeals to you. Whatever the reason, you should know your options before you jump in.

You may be wondering what the benefits of a wide release are, and you should. This is, after all, your business and you want to make the best decisions for that business. That said, there are a couple of obvious reasons to consider this approach:

  • Go To the Readers: yes, Amazon is a massive marketplace and gets a ton of traffic each day. There are, however, people whose preferences lie elsewhere. Maybe they like Barnes and Noble or perhaps they’re die-hard Apple supporters. Remember, going wide doesn’t prevent you from listing your book on Amazon, it just prevents you from enrolling it in KDP Select.
  • Hidden Benefits: a little extra food for thought
    • Barnes and Noble is a well-established bookseller and one with a large base of loyal customers. They also have their own line of e-readers, the Nook.
    • Apple has some of the most ravenous fans on the planet. Millions of readers have either an iPhone or iPad, if not both, and they all come with Apple Books, the company’s e-reader/ebook service.
    • Kobo currently has a partnership deal with Walmart, meaning your ebooks show up in searches for people looking for content like yours. Walmart, like Amazon, is a hugely popular (for better or worse) retailer, meaning more eyes can find your work.

Okay, So Why Draft2Digital?

Excellent question!

Let’s start by taking a look at some of the distribution partners that Draft2Digital works with:

  • Barnes and Noble
  • Apple
  • Kobo
  • Amazon (yes, you can also publish to Amazon via Draft2Digital if you don’t already have a KDP account)
  • Scribd

Yes, you can publish to those platforms yourself. As a matter of fact, I used to that myself. What swayed me? It’s simple: having to log in to multiple sites to check sales and royalties was a pain in the butt. Now, I just log into my Draft2Digital account and access everything from there.

They also create Universal Book Links (UBLs) that you can use for marketing. A reader clicks on the link and is then given the option to choose their retailer:

Bermuda Universal Book Link page

I like that you can edit each book’s UBL to include additional sites (I added Amazon since I publish there directly) and that you can add links to any audiobook versions. You can also label books as First in Series, Series Finale, and Latest Release.

Pretty cool.

On top of that, you can choose to make any books that you publish through Draft2Digital available to a quarter of library services (OverDrive, Bibliotheca, Baker & Taylor, and Hoopla).

Another cool feature is that once your book is uploaded and prepared, you’re given the option of downloading the formatted ebook in a trio of formats:

  • Mobi (full book or sample)
  • ePub (full book or sample)
  • PDF (4.5×6 or 5×8)

I’m a fan of the sample downloads since they make for excellent promotional material.

How Does It Work?

Another great question!

Once you set up an account, you upload your work in a similar manner to KDP or any other service. Draft2Digital currently allows you to upload manuscripts in the following formats:

  • Word (.doc or .docx)
  • Rich Text Format (RTF)
  • ePub

It’s important to note that, while you can upload an ePub, using this file type will not allow you to utilize their formatting tools. This isn’t a make-or-break rule, for me at least, but it’s worth noting.

Once everything is up to snuff (you’re given ample opportunity to preview your progress) you can publish your book to whichever outlets you choose or all available.

My only real gripe is that publishing to some outlets can take a few days, though that can’t be pinned on Draft2Digital. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a minor pain. That is, of course, assuming you plan ahead for releases that you have scheduled (you can also edit your UBL to show a book as Available For Pre-Order).

Note: Draft2Digital has a new feature called D2D Print to give you another option for creating physical copies. It’s currently in its Beta phase and, while I’ve registered for it, I have yet to use it, so I can’t offer any insight there.

The Herman Ingram Series

What’s This Going to Cost Me?

There’s no upfront cost when using Draft2Digital, so no need to stress there. Like most ebook retail outlets, they do keep a percentage of each sale (roughly 10% of the retail price).

When you consider everything that they offer, it’s a pretty good deal, at least in my estimation.

Draft2Digital: Should I Try It?

The only reason I would say not to try them out is if you’re having a ton of success running exclusively through a lone retailer (likely Amazon). After all, there’s no reason to mess with a good thing.

That said, if you are interested in having your book(s) available from many top ebook retailers, give Draft2Digital a look. I’m a fan of having a single dashboard that gives me a full sales breakdown and I absolutely love the UBLs.

Check out their website and give them a follow on Twitter.

Speaking of social media…

Until we meet again…

-Jeb

KDP Select: Yay Or Nay?

Self-publishing can be a daunting endeavor, regardless of your level of experience. Amazon is a huge, trusted marketplace—and a powerful search engine—with global reach and a large footprint in publishing. Seems like a match made in heaven, right?

If you’re an author, chances are you are familiar with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s publishing platform. If not, swing by there and take a look around. Considering Amazon’s reach, it makes perfect sense for any author to want their content available to such an enormous market.

Let’s take a quick look at what KDP offers.

The Benefits of KDP

We’ve already touched on the biggest benefit of utilizing KDP: access to Amazon’s worldwide customer base. Of course this doesn’t guarantee that your book will sell but, if you present a quality product with a solid description and hook, your chances go up exponentially.

Amazon also offers a free program called Kindle Create, designed to allow authors to format and preview their work in ebook form. This includes basic design tools as well as the ability to easily export your work into KDP. This can be a timesaver as well as an additional layer of quality control.

KDP also gives you the ability to create paperback versions of your works. Believe it or not (and, if you’re an author, I have no doubt you believe it) there are tons of readers out there who prefer physical copies of books. Yes, e-readers are a fantastic bit of technology, but nothing matches the feeling of opening up a new—or used—book.

The good news? Your ebook file from Kindle Create can also be uploaded to create a paperback. No separate editing, just upload the same file, create a cover, set your pricing, and you’re good to go. Your work is now available to millions of readers!

The Herman Ingram Series

What About KDP Select?

First, let’s go over what, exactly, KDP Select is.

The standard KDP program is non-exclusive, meaning your can sell your ebook through Amazon and any other platform(s) you like (Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo).

KDP Select, however, is an exclusive agreement between you and Amazon that states your book(s) can only be sold through Amazon for as long as your book is in the program.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • The enrollment period is 90 days; you can select to auto-enroll your work at the end of each enrollment period if you like.
  • During this time, your ebook can ONLY be available for sale via Amazon; this not only includes other major retailers but your personal website as well; Amazon doesn’t play around and can remove your books from their site for non-compliance.
  • This only applies to ebooks; any paperback, hardcover, or audiobook versions can still be sold through other retailers.

The Benefits of KDP Select

So, given the restrictive nature of this agreement, is it worth it?

That, unfortunately, is a tricky question. As I said earlier, there’s no guarantee of success. However, if you spend time putting out the best book possible and spend some time (and money) on marketing, KDP Select does have its benefits:

  • Access For Kindle Unlimited Readers: Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service that gives members access to millions of books, including any of yours that are enrolled in KDP Select. No, you don’t get the direct royalty of a sale, but you can reach a wide audience which opens you up to more readers and more reviews. Plus…
  • Earning Money From Page Reads: Amazon tracks the number of pages read across all of your books. Page reads from your KDP Select books generate revenue each month, though to see noticeable gains you’ll need many readers to finish your works.
  • Access to Price Promotions: All books enrolled in KDP Select are also eligible for two distinct price promotions:
    • Kindle Countdown Deal: these promotions allow you to run discounts for a limited time. Potential readers will see the regular price as well as a countdown clock showing the time remaining for the discounted price. Currently available for US and UK markets only.
    • Free Book Promotion: just as the name implies, these promos allow you to offer a book for free for a limited time (up to 5 days per 90-day enrollment period). These can be invaluable for gaining new readers (don’t forget your back matter!) and getting reviews.
New Bermuda Merch

So, Should I Do It?

Honestly, the best advice I can give is to try it, just make sure that any books you want to enroll aren’t available anywhere else first. There are many authors who make good money via Amazon and Amazon alone. Conversely, there are those who do well selling their books through many different channels. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so give it a shot and see how you feel about it.

Another idea is to enroll one of your books and keep the others wide, though having a series available in KDP Select can prove to be lucrative. Like many things with self-publishing, it comes down to experimenting, trial and error, and tracking results.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Are you considering KDP Select? Do you already use it? How is it working for you?

Also, consider giving me a follow on the following platforms:

Writing: The Art and The Madness

I felt compelled to do something a bit different today. Namely, I’m going to provide you with a glimpse inside my writing process and—by extension—my mind.

Buckle up.

Plotting Vs. Pantsing

When it comes to writing, there are two primary camps: plotter or pantser.

Let’s address the first issue: pantser is a funny word.

Plotter is pretty self-explanatory. A plotter will come up with an idea and create an outline, laying out story beats and ideas to ensure that they include everything they have in mind for their story. Maybe they use a slideshow program; maybe they have a Pepe Silvia-level mass of photos and post-it notes.

That’s not judgment. Whatever works, works.

A pantser, well, that one is pretty clear, too. A pantser writes, perhaps starting with a concrete idea or maybe only a vague one. Things can change on the fly as new ideas pop up and old ones get either discarded or elaborated on.

Now, time for an admission: I am a pantser.

Phew, I feel so much better now.

I’ve found that hammering away at the keyboard gets me rolling more than creating an outline. Part of it comes from me wanting to let things develop in a natural way; part of it comes from the thrill of chaos. It’s a rush.

The Herman Ingram series on Amazon

What’s Your Major Malfunction?

The true test with this manner of writing is discipline. It can be easy for an idea to get away from you, often once you’ve committed hundreds (if not thousands) of words expounding on it. Deciding to excise a passage that you’ve spent hours fleshing out is never easy and it can be incredibly deflating.

The flip side of that is the amount of work that’s already been put in can sway you to leave in material that may not serve the story. It’s akin to balancing on a knife’s edge and deciding which limb you’re willing to sacrifice.

When it came to Bermuda—my first full-length novel—I was inspired by a dream. There were key points in the dream that I could remember and I filled in the story around it. It flowed. It was (relatively) easy.

Then came the follow-up, The Hangman’s Soliloquy. Once again, I had the story in mind. The characters were there, the main beats were there, so it should have been easy, right?

Spoiler alert: it was not.

During the writing of that book, a very bad habit of mine took hold: over-thinking. No, I didn’t endlessly analyze every page or chapter; I did it to every sentence, sometimes getting hung up over single words. It was exhausting; it was frustrating. I had written a book where everything flowed and was now knee-deep into one where every thought required pushing a mental boulder aside.

It was such a draining experience that I’ve hardly re-visited the material since the final edits were completed. The exception is the upcoming audiobook, which sounds amazing!

So, Did You Change Your Approach?

Nope.

Fast forward to now: I am working on wrapping up my third novel and still battling the urge to overthink. It’s not as bad as it was but it’s still there, still a hurdle. Just like the last time, it’s not due to any shortage of ideas. Instead, it’s small details.

What I try to boil everything down to is two questions:

  • Is this a big deal?
  • Does it have a negative impact on the story?

If the answer is no—which it usually is—then I push it aside and press on. It can be difficult, but I know the story I want to tell and I believe in it so I have to trust myself. Yes, sometimes it takes a bribe (no further comment), but if I don’t believe in what I’m writing, why would I expect anyone else to?

Maybe for the fourth book I’ll try an outline.

I probably won’t, but I might.

Regardless of that, I’d love to hear your thoughts. While you’re at it, be sure to connect with me on social media for more inane ramblings, like this:

The Unending Joys of Setting up a New Website

Mother of God.

Not only is that a killer (if overused) Super Troopers reference, it’s an incredibly succinct way of summing up the past week or so. You see, the fun started when I realized that my domain and web hosting plan were both up for renewal.

I’m sure you can imagine the untethered jubilation that I felt.

If you can’t, think back to the last time you smashed your thumb with a hammer, it’s a close approximation.

I’m not the kind of person that handles change particularly well; it’s a flaw and I own it, but it’s who I am.

So, why change?

I was familiar with my existing host and their system, so that didn’t spur my move. Likewise, I never had any complaints with speed, support, or anything else.

For God’s sake, why?

Okay, Jeb, then why in the hell did you do it?

Like so many things, it came down to money. To be more specific, any plan would have been much more expensive this time around, and, unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of being able to throw fistfuls of cash at anyone.

With that in mind, I set off to find a host that was both reliable and reasonably priced. Thankfully, I found one quickly. The initial setup was smooth up until the time to transfer my domain.

Ugh.

Okay, I’ll be honest with you: disliking change isn’t my only flaw. Shocking, I know. Truth is, I have a tendency to be a wee bit impatient and the transfer—all things told—took seven days.

An entire week. The horror.

The impatient writer

I know, nothing out of the ordinary, but I’m amped up and ready to get started on my new site. Now I’m told I have to wait seven days before starting. Yes, writing kept me occupied, as did everything else in life, but I was itching to re-established my online presence.

Finally, the domain transfer was complete and I was able to get started.

Time for champagne?

Not quite.

See, I had used my original host for years and I knew all of the ins and outs. If I wanted something done, I could execute it in a matter of minutes. Now, I had to learn a new system, a new way of getting things done.

More change; so much happiness. Then again, the website is live and—while I’m still adding to it—I’m pleased with everything so far (speaking of which, be sure to check out the updated Novels and Novellas pages).

I know this is a minor complaint, but that’s not really the point here. Instead, it’s to get back in touch with everyone and let you all know what’s been going on with me, other than writing.

I hope that you are all doing well, maintaining your sanity, and enjoying life as best you can during this strange time.

And, if you’re setting up a new website, godspeed.

-Jeb

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