Self-Publishing 2021-2022: Draft2Digital

Welcome back to the Creative Life Adventure.

Draft2Digital (D2D) is a wide-distribution self-publishing platform. Before you get to D2D, you should have a completed manuscript ready to be published – some of the resources mentioned in last week’s post might help with that. While D2D claims to offer print publishing, this has been in “beta” for a long time and seems so hit-and-miss that I can’t recommend it at the time being. (* See note below for an update on D2D’s print offering.) I can currently only recommend D2D for ebook publishing. Wide-distribution is the benefit of publishing with D2D, as opposed to publishing directly with an exclusive ebook distributor like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. D2D can potentially distribute your book with a long list of international online retailers and libraries. For example, the electronic edition of my first novel, Moral Compass, is currently available for Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple Books, Rakuten Kobo, and Australia’s Angus & Robertson. My second novel, Paradise West, is available from even more retailers.

Screen shot of D2D set-up

The debate over wide-distribution distributors vs. publishing direct with individual distributors is never-ending and not one that I’ll pursue here. While selling through retailers via a third-party like Draft2Digital results in lower commissions for the author, the ease of reaching a wider audience through one platform was good enough reason for this author.

Ease of use and low cost are Draft2Digital’s most important features. Draft2Digital charges no up-front fees, it only keeps a percentage of your royalties from sales. Setting up your book on D2D is simple: after creating your account, you will upload your text and cover files and enter basic information about your book (including categories that you hopefully have already selected using the BISAC Subject Headings from my previous post). Before releasing your book, you can easily download a preview from D2D’s site; you should review this “proof” file carefully before committing to publication. If you need to make revisions, you can easily upload a revised manuscript.

Screen shot of D2D set-up

As this is an ebook, creative formatting options are limited and font type and size will be determined by the reader’s e-reader. DOC files, RTF, TXT, and other formats are acceptable with D2D’s ebook converter. I use LibreOffice and D2D converted my document with no real difficulty. You will most likely need to create styles (or use existing styles) in your word processing app, especially if you want a table of contents. Setting up styles and a TOC is probably the trickiest part of the entire process. If your book includes images, pay close attention to D2D’s instructions regarding images within documents. (For example, my novel Paradise West includes an image, and it didn’t appear in the correct place in the document until I anchored it to a character rather than anchoring it to a page or paragraph.)

Screen shot of D2D set-up

D2D weaknesses:

  • My biggest complaint with D2D is their haphazard approach to print book distribution. They have offered it in the past – some sections of their web site were written with this in mind. For quite some time now, their print service has been in a “beta” stage with the option to add your name to a waiting list. Feedback I’ve received from other writers is that the waiting period is anywhere from a few days to never. D2D should make up its mind and offer a print service to all customers or not at all.
  • A table of contents is common in non-fiction books, but the overwhelming majority of novels I read have no TOC. D2D’s document converter defaults to a forced TOC, with strange results for manuscripts like my first novel, Moral Compass, which isn’t even divided into chapters. I experimented with the formatting in the document I uploaded to D2D, but the only solution I found was e-mailing D2D’s technical support and asking them to forcibly remove the TOC.
  • Ebooks have always offered fewer formatting options than print books. Print books offer the opportunity for changing fonts, margins, line spacing, etc. For example, D2D allows drop caps at the start of every chapter, but I found the drop caps so large that they weren’t right for my taste. This is mostly not D2D’s fault, however, I do believe their handling of front and back matter – copyright page, dedication page, author bio, etc., could be improved. I prefer to include this content in my manuscript because I want complete control over content and appearance. D2D does offer a checklist of front matter options, but this doesn’t give me the degree of control I want. It’s not terrible, but I feel ebook publishing is far enough along that D2D could give us a little more control here.
  • D2D and Amazon do not always play well together. Again, this is not really D2D’s fault, because Amazon doesn’t play well with anyone. It’s just something to be aware of before you go forward. To list your D2D books on Amazon, you need to sign what amounts to the publishing industry equivalent of a loyalty oath to the great and powerful Az.
E-Reader preview downloaded from D2D

D2D Strengths:

  • As indicated, wide distribution is one of D2D’s main selling points. There’s no reason you should limit yourself to one sales channel. This is a personal decision, but for me, the convenience of easily reaching more customers through multiple vendors is worth a small trade-off in commissions.
  • D2D offers a universal book link (UBL) that conveniently links to most retailers that list your book. This is especially important when your book is listed on multiple sites, so you only need to keep track of one link. The UBL even allows user-added links to print distributors; while every major retailer is not yet included, most of the major ones are.
  • The few times I’ve needed to reach out to D2D’s customer service – via e-mail – I have found them quick to respond, friendly, and informative in their responses.
  • D2D requires no set-up or membership fees. They only get paid based on sales of your books.
  • D2D has an extensive FAQ on their web site with tips on formatting and uploading your book. In addition, their YouTube channel offers many helpful video tutorials.

Despite formatting flexibility that’s not 100% there yet, overall I’m quite happy with Draft2Digital. For me, they are the best ebook publisher currently available. Keep in mind that pricing and services change frequently, so do your own homework before proceeding.

*As I write this, in early February 2022, D2D recently issued a statement that they are “closer” to a full release print service. Still nothing definite, but this is encouraging news.

Next time, we’ll look at print book publishing with IngramSpark.

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