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Watchdog: Review of Draft2Digital

 

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

  • Cost
  • Ease of upload
  • Conversion quality
  • Conversion costs
  • Sales reporting
  • Payments
  • Channels
  • Royalties
  • Change costs
  • Speed of changes
  • Pre-Orders
  • Customer Service
  • ISBNs

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.

Cost

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

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

Payments are monthly and authors can opt for paypal ($10 minimum), check ($25 minimum, or direct deposit for both domestic and international.)

Channels

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

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%.

Change Costs

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.

Pre-Orders

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

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.

ISBNs

Draft2Digital offers free ISBNs, although I still recommend authors get their own ISBNs.

Bottom Line

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.

Twitter bird outlineEASY TWEET

“Watchdog review of @Draft2Digital service for #authors by @nickyfusco for @IndieAuthorALLi: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/draft2digital/”

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32 Responses to Watchdog: Review of Draft2Digital

  1. Nataliya M. September 17, 2018 at 2:09 am #

    Is it possible to upload pdf to D2D? It has a lot of images and illustrations inside and I need to make sure they are not bounced once uploaded.
    Thank you

  2. JACQUELINE STIGMAN September 15, 2018 at 7:54 am #

    Hello Giacomo,
    I was/am thinking of using D2D for my conversion. Wanted to ask you, in what way was their conversion not as good as Scriveners? P.S. While I am not a customer yet with them I find them very patient with my questions. And I love any site I do biz with that has phone customer service.
    Thanks!
    Jacqueline

  3. Marie August 23, 2018 at 8:25 pm #

    ‘You can use these files for distribution through CreateSpace or any other print-on-demand service you choose.’
    I commented earlier but forgot to ask why CreateSpace as seen above is still on the Draft2Digital web page? Thought it was gone. Just wondering if this is an error? I have contacted them since with a query about my book and they were back within approximately 2 hours. Good going.

    ‘We make a percentage of each of your books’ sales, so we don’t get paid unless you get paid. Our fee at most digital stores is approximately 10% of the retail price (it’s technically 15% of the net royalties).’ This appears to be the pricing. Is that the total fee or do the other distributors also take a %? Thanks for the help. As Im in Europe buying my own ISBN is the best way to go – covers all.

  4. Marie August 23, 2018 at 8:10 pm #

    It appears to be run from a home address by the contact address I put into Google Map.
    I will check it further. Sounds like a possible but I like to check. Thanks for the info.

  5. Hamish February 13, 2018 at 3:57 am #

    Hi. I’ve only recently discovered Draft2Digital but I found it to be a real breakthrough. To have a single account whereby you can publish a book on numerous platforms is an incredible thing.

    Prior to using Draft2Digital, my books were only available on Amazon and its subsidiary Createspace. I’d previously looked at other platforms but the process of getting my books published through them was complicated. In some instances, because I don’t live in the US, it was not possible at all.

    I’d heard of Smashwords of course but, for better or worse, I never tried it.

    However, I have tried Draft2Digital and I found the experience quite straightforward. One caveat I’ll mention however is that while D2D allows you to upload ePub files, I got better results uploading Word documents. When I uploaded ePub files, some of the links within my books didn’t function properly but everything was fine when I upload doc files.

    When you do upload doc files though, make sure you leave two spaces between any sections so that D2D’s conversion software will recognize all section breaks. Otherwise, you may be surprised by what your final ePubs look like.

    Once you have uploaded a book and checked it, you simply select the online stores that you want and D2D will automatically submit your book to those stores. The process can take a few days but it is easy and user friendly.

    I’m glad I discovered Draft2Digital and I would be glad to use this service again for future publications.

    • N. Lang February 19, 2018 at 2:04 am #

      I am very happy with them. They got my book into bn.com ituens, ect…and they added Amazon to the list. And you can format the book with them and upload it to createspace or where ever you want. They are a company that just helps get authors publish, although I wish they had an editing division, but maybe that will come in due time now that Createspace closed their doors. I will be using them for my next project.

  6. Helen Claire Gould January 1, 2018 at 8:53 am #

    I note you recommend that authors get their own ISBNs above. There’s a very good reason for doing so if you don’t live in the US, as I recently found out from Nielsens, the UK ISBN supplier. ISBNs are geographically-based, so if you use an ISBN supplied by a company based in America, it’s actually invalid. If you’re a UK author like myself you need to use your own ISBN, bought through Nielsens. If you live in the States, your ISBNs will come from the US supplier, Bowker. And for books to be sold in shops, you need an ISBN. Part of the number is an indicator of your base country – that’s why your number needs to come from your country’s official supplier. Hope this helpful.

  7. janis hutchinson November 5, 2017 at 1:00 am #

    I’m confused. First, you said it was Free, Then, under payments, you said: “Payments are monthly and authors can opt for paypal ($10 minimum), check ($25 minimum, or direct deposit for both domestic and international.)”

    So, what is free and what is not?
    Thanks

    • Orna November 28, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

      Hi Janis, they pay you, after deducting 30% of payments to them from booksales.

  8. JD October 19, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    Draft2Digital was not a good experience for me. When I searched the internet for information about them, most of what I found was posted by them, lot’s and lot’s of marketing. When I uploaded my book, the conversion was very bad, the few photos I put in the book were bouncing all over the place, the end result was not something I would have been able to publish. Then I was bombarded with non-stop marketing emails from them, I was being spammed. When I asked for support to correct the automated formatting results of my book, the first email request for support was ignored, then on a second attempt, I got a reply after 3 or 4 days. The reply was useless, after all this time the support person is asking if I want him to look at my book. After requesting help several times and more than a week, the response was weak at best. I would say that Draft2Digital is not a serious business. When I got fed-up I started searching the internet and the D2D website for information on how to close my account, and I found nothing. When I emailed them to request information on how to close my account, I got an email response several days later informing me that they could not close my account because they did not have my email address. But wait, they sent me an email to tell me they didn’t have my email address. These guys are amateurs. Most of the information about them on the internet is marketing information posted by them.

    • Orna November 28, 2017 at 5:11 pm #

      Thank you for your feedback, JD. Noted.

  9. Abigail Velez December 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    When I looked at the payment options for D2D I noticed the tax information… I am an 18 year old who doesn’t deal with taxes yet since I still live with my parents so how in the world can I get money for my books If I do not fill out the tax information? I work on my own with no company yet either please help me, because I’m very confused. My mom told me I didn’t have to worry about that.

    • Tori Minard May 18, 2017 at 12:23 am #

      Abigail, you should be able to use your social security number for tax information. That’s the same thing you’d provide to your employer so they could withhold your taxes, if you were to get a regular job.

  10. Ronald Newton May 16, 2016 at 6:01 am #

    D2D published 9 books for me I went the ePub submission route. It was quick and easy compared to Smashwords or Kindle. What I want is ownership of the email list for my books.(smile)

  11. Ray Bright April 13, 2016 at 3:44 pm #

    What’s D2D’s relationship with Amazon? Amazon is the 800lb gorilla in this market. Do they punish D2D users for not using their affiliate CreatSpace?

    • Orna November 28, 2017 at 5:13 pm #

      Draft2Digital now distributes to Amazon too … but you can opt out if you wish to publish direct to Amazon instead. Createspace is Amazon’s print wing; D2D does not distribute print, only ebooks.

  12. Jim Fontana October 19, 2015 at 1:32 am #

    Unless I missed it, there was nothing (above) about cover design and
    submission. Do you upload it as part of the m/s or separately?

    Many thanks

    Jim F

  13. thomas August 18, 2015 at 12:37 am #

    I just sign up with them, I’m looking to try to make more sales with them for my ebooks.

    I really need to sell more ebooks, any tips for doing that?

  14. Marcia February 20, 2015 at 5:45 am #

    Thanks for sharing this informative article. Very helpful…!! (smile)

  15. Aaron Johnson September 5, 2014 at 5:17 am #

    I’ve used Draft2Digital to publish my E-books, and this service is so fast, my books are published in seconds, or minutes,–depending on which vendor I’ve chosen.

    • giacomo Giammatteo September 7, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

      Aaron: It’s changing fast in the digital world isn’t it? And D2D is doing everything to stay at the top of the pack. I don’t know if you saw the talk Orna and I had with the CEO of D2D, but he was extremely pleasant and indicated a lot more was coming in the way of improvements.

  16. Diane Nelson August 9, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    I am extremely pleased with D2D. Their conversion to ePub is superior, their distribution timely, they are responsive to inquiries, and I’ve had more sales via them than I did via Smashwords. Score: A

    • giacomo Giammatteo August 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

      Diane, thanks for the updated info. I enjoyed my interaction with D2D, and I was pleasantly surprised with the conversion process. Although I have to say, I’m even more surprised that more authors don’t use programs like Scrivener to handle conversion.

  17. Julie Day August 9, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    I do use them, for distribution to Apple, because it is faster than Smashwords, and I don’t have to bother with working out chapter headings etc, as it does it for me. I also use D2D for print versions of my ebooks. Again, it saves me time on working out pages etc for Createspace, so I have more time to do what I want to do – write.

  18. Philippa Rees August 9, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    After reading David Gaughran’s evaluation of D2D I tried to use them for a book written in poetic form, with quite a lot of images ( greyscale). Their conversion did not cope with this, although I had followed the smashwords style guide and stripped out all the word.doc anomalies.

    I have to say that in all the attempts to achieve a good conversion their staff could not have been more helpful or sympathetic, replying by return of email with advice.

    In the end I went with Smashwords simply for their better conversion of the layout, but I did this with regret at the time. Happy with it now.

    • giacomo Giammatteo August 9, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Philippa: That’s good to know. The manuscript I used for conversion had no images. Although I have to say, when dealing with more complex issues such as images, I think it would be best to hire someone to make the conversion work properly. At this stage, I don’t think we should expect free software to handle smooth transitions. I hope it gets there soon, but it’s not there yet.

  19. Warren Shuman August 9, 2014 at 3:49 am #

    Thanks Giacomo:

    A fine objective survey. I have three e-novels that are in final stages of editing and tweaking. I will definitely look into D2D, along with Smashwords and several other distributors. The pre-order system is an important factor of my marketing plan.I like Amazon, but I don’t want to be tied down to a 90 day exclusive.

    Best of Success….

    Warren.

    • giacomo Giammatteo August 9, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

      Warren, I don’t think you can go wrong with either D2D or Smashwords. Both have advantages and minor issues to deal with, but they are excellent choices.

  20. Laura Taylor August 9, 2014 at 3:03 am #

    Wonderful post – very comprehensive about D2D.
    I am a recent convert, and I could not be happier with the ease of use, the immediate sales traction I achieved for 9 of my ebooks, and the ever expanding channel availability.
    Color me a satisfied D2D user!
    Laura 🙂

    • giacomo Giammatteo August 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

      Laura, glad to hear you’re happy with D2D. They are continually improving.

    • Brendon October 12, 2018 at 3:21 am #

      You seem to be more than satisfied and have published 9 books. Impressive. I am totally new . I just have a book written on 240 pages with no cover picture. Will they provide me with a cover picture I can use ? And for pricing, what is a good price for a newbee like me. T
      Thanks.
      Brendon

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