We covered a lot of aggregators in the “Choosing a Self-Publishing Service” book, released in the Spring, documenting the pros and cons of each one. Draft2Digital was mentioned, but at the time they only had a few channels of distribution. We were pressed for time, so I didn’t dig into what they offered.
During the past few months, Kris Austin, CEO of Draft2Digital, has been busy. They have added several new channels and beefed up their services. I spent about an hour on the phone with Kris and came away impressed. I also spent a couple of hours checking out his site and a few more talking to people who have used them. I’ve included results below.
Just so everyone knows—I do not use Draft2Digital as my distributor. I did, however, test their services in addition to speaking to quite a few existing customers.
Factors For Consideration
- Ease of upload
- Conversion quality
- Conversion costs
- Sales reporting
- Change costs
- Speed of changes
- Customer Service
I realize this is a lot to consider, but it’s the combination of services and costs that makes or breaks a service, and each one will mean different things to different authors. Let’s take them one at a time.
This one is easy. Draft2Digital is free. No upfront costs, which is how I like it. This tells me the company supports the authors. Their motivation is to help authors sell books. Why Because the only way Draft2Digital makes money is for you to sell books. As far as I’m concerned, this is the way it should be.
Ease of Upload
I have to admit, Draft2Digital shone in this area. The process was simple and intuitive. I tested it out and it took me less than 10 minutes to sign up for their service and upload a Word doc.
Conversion Quality and Cost
I don’t use conversion tools or software. I pay a third party to convert my books into digital and print format, so this was a first for me. I uploaded a Word doc of my latest book to see how it worked. The process was fairly straightforward. I ran into a few hiccups with chapter headings and font styles, but after a short learning curve, it converted the doc smoothly. I tested it on epub and mobi and pdf. The epub and mobi files were pretty damn good. The pdf looked good, but I haven’t tested it yet with CreateSpace to see how it looks as an actual book.
I’ll have to say that the conversions I do with Scrivener (for my beta readers) came out better than Draft2Digital’s conversion, but—and this is a big but—Draft2Digital is offering this free, and I’m not one to complain about free things. For the price, the conversion gets an ‘A’.
Sales reporting is daily, with the exception of Scribd. I am seeing this more often with many of the progressive aggregators. Smashwords recently went to daily sales reporting on the primary channels also. As the ebook market continues to grow globally and be integrated, I think we’ll see daily reporting with almost all channels.
Payments are monthly and authors can opt for paypal ($10 minimum), check ($25 minimum, or direct deposit for both domestic and international.)
Draft2Digital doesn’t have the reach of some of the bigger aggregators, but they are aggressively pursuing new channels. Currently they have B&N, Apple. Kobo, Page Foundry, and Scribd. They are close to finalizing deals with Google and Flipkart, and they are talking with Overdrive, and are in active negotiations with several other retailers.
In addition to the ebook channels, Draft2Digital offers distribution through CreateSpace for print books. Right now they are only set up to do 8.5” x 5.5” but they are working on other sizes.
Royalties are 85% of net. I always like to get specific on “net” as it can be quite different between aggregators. For Apple it is almost always standard. Apple pays everyone 70%, which means Draft2Digital pays 85% of that, or 60% of list price. B&N seems to be the one with big differences. Some of the aggregators, even the ones who claim to pay 100% of net, only pay 50% for B&N. Draft2Digital pays 60%, and that’s even at the lower prices. So if you sell your book for 1.99 or 99c, with Draft2Digital you earn 60%. If you go direct you only earn 40%.
This is one of my pet peeves. I admit, it drives me crazy that most of the aggregators charge ridiculous amounts for authors to make changes to their files, and some charge even to change prices. Draft2Digital has followed Smashwords’ lead on this and offers changes for free.
I’ll tell you why this is huge. Many indie authors, being unexperienced, make mistakes. Maybe they didn’t hire a good copy editor or proofreader. For whatever reason, they publish a book and discover later that it has mistakes. Now they are faced with fixing those mistakes and uploading it again. If they have to pay for the changes, that’s double punishment.
Indie authors also experiment with prices. If you have to pay to change prices…well, that’s ridiculous. Draft2Digital makes sure you can change what you need to without a penalty.
Speed of Changes
Draft2Digital shines in this department also. They upload changes hourly to distributors. Apple and Kobo normally show changes within hours. B&N can take up to a day or so, depending on the time of day changes are submitted. Scribd is the fastest, with changes usually taking place within the hour.
Draft2Digital offers pre-orders to Apple, B&N, and Kobo, and they offer them both with and without assets. What that means is that even if your book isn’t quite ready, you can list it for pre-order while you finish it. This is a huge benefit, and not to be taken lightly.
Customer service is supposedly good. I can only say supposedly because I have never used it, not being a customer. But the people I’ve spoken to say they’ve had good experiences.
Draft2Digital offers free ISBNs, although I still recommend authors get their own ISBNs.
Draft2Digital is author focused and friendly. They develop their programs and policies with the author in mind. This is the kind of place you want to do business with. They don’t have a lot of extra services where they are looking to you for purchases. They are only concerned about helping authors sell books. If you sell books—they make money.
Over To You: Do you have direct experience of Draft2Digital? If so, please feel free to add your views via the Comments box below.
“Watchdog review of @Draft2Digital service for #authors by @nickyfusco for @IndieAuthorALLi: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/draft2digital/”