Amazon exclusivity vs. the rest of the world. This is the choice all indie authors must make. And for anyone who doesn’t know, Amazon offers some pretty good incentives for only using them*, but we’ll get into that in a moment.
*These only apply to ebooks. If you’re interested in learning about my experience using IngramSpark for paperbacks, there’s an entry about it here.
If you do decide you want to sign up for Draft2Digital, be sure to use my referral code at the bottom of this entry. Before that, though, let’s very briefly cover the difference for anyone who doesn’t know.
Amazon’s KDP Select Program ~ You’ll have to look at Amazon’s KDP Select page for all the nitty-gritty details, but in short, Amazon offers a couple of benefits if you elect to only distribute your ebook through them. These include (but are not limited to) having your book included in the KU (Kindle Unlimited) and lending library programs, access to use Kindle Countdown Deals and free book promotions, and getting paid for the number of pages read—fractions of a cent per page, but it’s something. Contracts only last for ninety days, but they auto renew. So you have to manually turn off your re-enrollment and then wait for the contract to run out before you can upload your ebook to somewhere else. Personally, I like the KDP Select program. I used it for several years before making the switch, but I think it doesn’t suit my business. More on that later.
Draft2Digital, Smashwords, and other aggregators ~ What the heck is an aggregator? Basically, it’s a platform that, for a very small percentage of your book sales, they will do the work of distributing your book across the myriad individual self-publishing platforms. And I highly, highly recommend using one. Between the time it takes to find all the individual self-publishing platforms, the effort to remember all your logins, replicate the data entry, it’s totally worth it to use an aggregator**. Reedsy has collected and summarized the biggest players in this blog entry, as has Kindlepreneur here. Now, I’ve used Smashwords. They’re pretty good, but D2D takes a smaller cut and has a larger reach. That’s not to say D2D’s perfect, though. I’m gonna cover that in a bit too.
**To be clear, I still use Amazon’s KDP platform to manage my books sold on Amazon. Being the Goliath that it is, Amazon works faster and better when you’re in the driver’s seat rather than giving directions from elsewhere, but that’s the only exception I make.
So those are your ebook self-publishing options in the tiniest of nutshells. As an indie author, you have to be the one to decide which path to take. Like I said above, I like Amazon’s KDP Select program. From my experience, talking with other authors, and research, KDP Select seems to benefit the following groups:
Authors who produce very quickly. One new book every couple of months.
This probably means authors who write shorter books as well.
Those who don’t really plan on selling anywhere besides Amazon or those who really only focus on marketing in the US and UK.
Reedsy (you may notice they’re one of my favorite resources) also has a blog entry on the “Wide” vs. KDP Select argument here. After a lot of consideration (like, six months’ worth of thinking it over), I decided to take the wide path. Primarily because I don’t produce quickly (about one book per year), I don’t write romance, and my marketing strategy is worldwide. Plus, it’s not like I was pulling out of Amazon completely. It was a really difficult decision, though. I almost backed out a few times before taking the leap. A big marketing strategy like this is one that should be carefully considered, and it’s not something you can jump back and forth between. Not only will that hurt your rapport with your audience (they expect to be able to consistently find your stuff in the same places), but it’ll cause you a ton of extra work too.
Onto my experience using Draft2Digital. Holy cow, Dana, this entry is already sooooooo loooooong! Couldn’t you have broken it into two? Well, yes, but there’s honestly not that much to say about my experience with D2D. It’s pretty standard data entry and file uploading, so I’m only gonna go over the tricky bits.
Hidden Admin Stuffs ~ Like I said, signing up for D2D and entering your book’s information is all pretty easy. If you’ve ever done it on Goodreads or Amazon, you shouldn’t have any issues on D2D. Except with the money/tax stuff and DRM protections. When you sign up to use Kindle Direct Publishing, they’re pretty loud about ensuring you enter your payment and tax information right off the bat. D2D, not so much. Not a single banner or pop-up on the site bugged me about either of these items. I happened to stumble across the payment section one day while clicking around, which got me exploring further. You can find the former under My Account > Payment Options and the latter under under My Account > Advanced User Options. I highly recommend digging around under all the subtabs in My Account because D2D is pretty robust.
Upload Extras and Pains ~ One of the things that makes D2D really appealing is that it’s pretty dang easy to format your book for it. Smashwords had an extensive formatting guide that you had to follow, lest your ebook end up looking like a tossed word salad. A drawback to D2D’s almost foolproof system, however, is that its automatic converter can’t handle certain simple things***.
***Don’t worry. Solutions are coming.
Double Spaces ~ When you upload a Word document to D2D, your single spaces get eliminated and your double spaces turn into big honkin’ gaps. There is no in between. Now, for Skateboards, Magic, and Shamrocks and Heroes, Legends, and Villains, I just rolled with it. D2D has some kind of cool options to fill these big gaps though, again, it’s all automated. I opted for the “fantasy” graphic option they offer to go between my big gaps, as well as for the Drop Caps option, so chapter headings and scene breaks look like this:
Different Fonts ~ Your font was lovingly matched to your book. And, granted, people can still see it on the cover. But what about the rest of the book? D2D won’t convert specialty fonts over from Word docs. Everything is pretty much Times New Roman. Again, I wasn’t that fussed about Skateboards and Heroes because I don’t really have any serious formatting happening in those, but I knew I would when the time came to convert Raven’s Cry. Not only do I love my font, but I have some really lovely custom chapter headings in RC, and I was not about to lose those.
Enter the solution: epubs! Epubs are digital book files that nearly everyone uses. Epubs can be a little tricky to make until you get the hang of it. I create mine in a program called Calibre (that’s another blog entry), and I understand you can make them using Scrivener too. I’ve never done it the ol’ Scrivs, though, so I can’t speak to that. Long story short, uploading an epub file instead of a Word document allowed me to fix both the spacing and font issues.
So that’s my tale. If you’re thinking about using D2D, why not tell them I sent you by using my D2D referral link? And, as always, if you you have any questions or comments about your own experience, drop them in the comments field below 👇. Thanks for reading!
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