Most savvy indie authors know that adding “The End” to a manuscript is only the beginning to a new chapter in the process of getting books into the hands of actual readers. There are still the daunting tasks of formatting, publishing, marketing, and distribution to deal with—skills that may not be in a writer’s wheelhouse.
But Draft2Digital (D2D) is here to help. Celebrating its 10th anniversary as the leading e-book distribution platform online, D2D offers a robust suite of tools that can handle each of those challenges and more. And all these features are free to use.
It all starts with the words, of course. As Kris Austin, the CEO of D2D, says, “What we’ve built is a robust and intuitive system that allows authors to easily upload their Word document or RTF file and use our automated layout and free templates to make it attractive and professional looking.” It’s a guided, step-by-step process that prompts and educates authors as they go and includes the ability to easily add ISBN categories and searchable keywords.
“One of our more celebrated features is automated endmatter,” Austin says. That “back of the book” material includes an author bio, publisher bio, table of contents, and even an “Also By” page that Draft2Digital can update on the author’s behalf across their entire catalog. “If an author uses D2D to distribute their books,” Austin says, “we can automatically update all the books in their catalog each time a new book is published through our system.”
But what really sets Draft2Digital apart is D2D Print, a unique tool that allows easy conversion from an e-book into a print version, without all the pesky formatting changes that process usually entails. “Authors can either use D2D to distribute that print book worldwide or download the print-ready PDF to use however they wish,” Austin says, “even taking it to other POD services.”
Next up is distribution and sales. D2D makes that simple, too—setting the sale price and picking distribution channels is just point-and-click. Draft2Digital currently offers authors a choice of dozens of retailers worldwide to sell their books, including Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Tolino, as well as subscription and library services like Scribd and Overdrive. “Through some of these services, we also reach hundreds of sub-channels around the world,” says Austin, adding that D2D provides a sales tracking dashboard as well.
Then there’s marketing, no easy task for any independent, small, or even large publisher. But D2D has come up with an inventive marketing solution: a sister site called Books2Read, which features Universal Book Links (UBLs). It’s a single, evergreen link that takes customers to a page listing outlets where titles are sold. “UBLs started as strictly pointing to e-book sellers,” Austin says. “But we’ve updated them over the past couple of years to now include paperbacks, hardcovers, large print, and audiobooks.”
Draft2Digital also offers creative promotional tools, such as author pages. These free home pages can include a writer’s headshot and bio, social media and newsletter links, a “hero” book they may want to promote, and customizable carousels of all the books in their catalog.
Instead of charging up-front for these features, D2D receives about 10% in royalties for each sale. Austin says this gives the company a powerful incentive. “It means that everything we do is focused on helping authors get their books to more readers worldwide,” he says, “and on helping them promote themselves and their books as widely as possible.”
To that end, Draft2Digital has recently acquired the e-book distribution platform Smashwords. “That means authors are going to start seeing some innovations and upgrades to the services they’re used to,” Austin says, noting that those include the popular Smashwords Store and coupon system, along with the patent-pending Smashwords Presales tool, which allows readers to buy and access new books before they’re released to the public, and empowers authors to capture reader emails at checkout for future fan promotions. “On the whole, both groups will see their books in more stores and more regions worldwide, and will have access to tools to help them sell more.”
One thing that won’t change is D2D’s commitment to customer service, which includes an in-house staff of highly trained support representatives. “When an author emails or phones support, their concerns are answered by a real live human,” Austin says, “trained to understand the specific needs of publishing.”