Digital Publishers & Distribution

My first foray into digital self-publishing was in 2013-2014. I’d written a lot of poems and song lyrics and a dozen novellas and short stories, so finding the Smashwords book distribution site offered me a free way of getting my work out there.

Laughably, I first published in time for Christmas, thinking to make a few quid, totally ignorant of how crucial marketing and self-promotion are. Without making potential readers aware of who I am and what my books are about, uploading a manuscript started to feel like emptying a bucket of water into an ocean.

I learnt a lot about digital publishing from Smashwords‘ founder Mark Coker, and his style and marketing guides are free and worth a look.

I self-published the same titles on Amazon, using their basic KDP option, but resisted their Select option, which gives higher royalties, as it insists on exclusivity. This would have meant me taking down all of the 44 titles Smashwords had published and distributed to other booksellers. In theory, this is easy to do, but in practice, it can take weeks. I disliked Amazon‘s bossy attitude.

I’ve spent the last four years writing five crime novels, occasionally running querying campaigns of literary agents when I felt like being ignored or rejected!

In 2019, I’m dedicating myself to selling me as an author and my books as commercially viable products. I’ve queried 88 agents, but increasingly, I’m favouring a return to self-publishing. Whether I do this or if I luck into a publishing contract with a book company, I’m still going to have blog, tweet and post on social media to let the reading world know I exist. I’ve been singing away, wondering if anyone can hear me.

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As part of making myself look good, I reformatted the ebooks on Smashwords, adding hyperlinks from the Table of Contents to chapter headings, to ease navigation for Kindle users. I also tidied my biography and a self-interview. This is easily the most mind-numbing and repetitive task I’ve done in writing books, making editing feel like a walk in the park. With Smashwords, the changes have to be made individually for each book.  

It was partly the slowness of conforming to Smashwords style requirements, that helped me find another book distribution operator called Draft2Digital while searching for competitors.

This article compares Smashwords and Draft2Digital.

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There’s nothing to prevent me from having my ebooks distributed by Smashwords and Draft2Digital, keeping them on Amazon. The main drawback will be duplication, including with ISBNs, which Smashwords and Draft2Digital offer for free…Amazon doesn’t require themas they use their own ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number).

Apparently, there’s an easy way of migrating listings on Smashwords over to Draft2Digital, but this would feel disloyal to me.

What do you think of Draft2Digital?

Have any of you used them or Smashwords?

What has been your experience with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing?

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