As 2017 winds down, we wanted to take a minute to reflect—to take a breath, to remember what came, what went, and what it all meant, for us and for the indie author community. This was a pretty big year for indies, of course. And Draft2Digital was excited to be a part of it all—even when things got hectic.
D2D’s plan for 2017 was to cram the year with as many new features as we could think of, and that’s exactly what we did. Here are some of our big moments, and how we think they’ve made a positive impact on the indie author community:
Here’s what D2D did (just for you) in 2017
February 7th – No minimum payment for PayPal
In February we announced that there would no longer be a minimum payment threshold for PayPal or US Direct Deposits. That meant that if you were using either of those payment methods, you would recieve any funds due to you on the very next payment period, each month. No more waiting for royalties from slow sellers!
Authors taking advantage of D2D’s PayPal or US Diredct Deposit payment options would now get:
- Faster payments
- Secure and protected transactions
- Immediate access to funds, as soon as they were available
- Less hassle and wasted time dealing with banks and deposits
May 9th – Distribution to Kobo Plus
In May, Rakuten Kobo extended its global reach by creating Kobo Plus—a new revenue-sharing model for authors distributing eBooks to the Netherlands and Belgium. Authors can enroll their books in the subscription service, which offers subscribing readers the chance to download the book for free. The authors is paid a cut of Kobo’s royalties, once the book has been read to 20%.
The perk of earning money on books that would otherwise be free to the reader isn’t a new concept, but it has always come at a cost for authors, namely exclusivity. Authors wishing to participate in some other revenue-sharing programs, such as Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, could only do so if Kindle was the only platform they distributed to.
Kobo Plus chips away at this model by offering a non-exclusive deal with authors. Coupled with extended reach into a new and virtually untapped market for authors in the Dutch-speaking regions of the Netherlands and Belgium, the non-exclusive deal made for exciting news and a great opportunity for the indie community.
D2D was right there on go-live day, offering Kobo Plus distribution as an option for all of our authors from launch day forward, and making it easy to get all of an author’s books into the program with a single click.
June 9th – Paperback Layout Improvements
D2D’s core business has always been eBooks, but we’ve also supported print layout from the beginning. And while we do not currently distribute print editions, we knew that print layout has always been a challenge for authors. Either there were technical skills to learn, or there was overhead to pay.
Building on our existing print-layout tool, we took everything back to the drawing board, and worked out a way to produce an attractive, print-ready PDF that you can use any way you see fit. Download it and use it at popular print-on-demand (POD) services, such as CreateSpace or Lightning Source, or take it to any other printing service you prefer.
Our upgrade to print layout included:
- Improved PDF conversion
- Improved end matter
- The ability to select the trim size of your paperback
- And a number of cosmetic and other improvements, that simply make your books look and feel more beautiful and professional
All that, and all for free.
Over time, we intend to keep improving our print offering, and you are definitely going to want to keep watching this space, to see what we come up with next.
July 6th – Improved Email Notifications
We’ve always been very cautious about email. It’s a constant conversation around the D2D offices, particularly when it’s time to make a new announcement or to bring everyone up to speed on policy changes. We continually have to balance the need to keep our authors informed with the need to keep from blowing up their inboxes with a barrage of emails.
We’d rather you spent your time writing.
That’s one of the motives behind our decision to improve emails and notifications.
With our updates and improvements over 2017, you can now control the frequency of emails you receive from D2D, as well as the types of emails you get. Choose to get emails one by one, or in a daily digest, or in a weekly digest. You have full control.
Some emails can’t be turned off, of course—we figure you’ll always want to know about anything that may effect you financially, such as when you’ll be paid or whether there was some sort of problem with payments. These emails, along with a few key administrative emails, will be “always on.”
But we know how frustrating it is to get dozens of emails, one after another, so we were happy to offer finer control over notifications!
July 12th – Adding Payoneer for faster, easier author payments
Getting paid for your work is pretty important, so we try to go out of our way to find new and better ways to make sure you not only get paid, but get paid faster, and with lower fees, if possible. That’s why it was so exciting to add Payoneer to our payment options.
Payoneer is a globally-focused digital financial platform that serves millions of customers from over 200 countries, and in more than 150 currencies. It’s trusted by some of the most recognizable businesses on the planet, including Amazon, Getty Images, Google, and Upwork.
With Payoneer, you’re able to have Draft2Digital payments transferred directly to your bank account in 1-3 business days, and to receive your payments in local currency.
And as of December, D2D authors get to save on fees. Payoneer is reducing its normal $3 transfer fee to a flat $1 per transfer.
In fact, between December 12th and January 10th, international authors who sign up for Payoneer become eligible for a $25 bonus! You’ll need to choose Payoneer as your payment method from your account settings (https://draft2digital.com/accounts/paymentmethod), and if you earn a minimum of $200 in book royalties before March 10, 2018, a $25 bonus will be applied to your Payoneer account.
Choose a payment option that works best for your author business, including either a Payoneer account or a Payoneer PrePaid MasterCard®, which gives you instant access to your funds.
Making sure our authors get paid, and have the lowest overhead we can manage, is a big deal for Draft2Digital. So we’re very happy to offer Payoneer as a way for authors to get paid faster with lower overhead.
July 18th – Findaway Voices
One of the biggest new opportunities for indie authors isn’t actually all that new.
For the first time, conditions have become just right for audiobooks to be a bigger and better stream of revenue for indie authors, as well as a whole new market, with increased discoverability. And these new opportunities come without the limitations of exclusivity and limited marketing reach that were the rule only a year ago.
D2D was very excited and pleased to partner with Findaway on the launch of their new service, Findaway Voices. Ultimately, Findaway Voices offers an alternative to Amazon and Audibles ACX, giving authors and publishers more control and greater reach, without the seven-year exclusivity.
The service functions an awful lot like D2D’s model, which made things very easy:
- Authors maintain 100% ownership of their audiobooks, with no royalty splitting or exclusivity
- Findaway offers global distribution, giving you access to listeners in more than 170 countries, through all major audiobook sellers across retail, libraries, and K12 channels. And yes, that includes Audible and iTunes.
- The experts at Findaway Voices review your book and create a tailored list of recommended narrators, at a range of rates. This helps you find the right voice, at the right price, for your book.
- If you already have an audiobook file (such as one that is no longer limited to ACX exclusivity), you can bring it into Findaway Voices with no out of pocket costs.
- For D2D authors, getting into the service is free! Joining Findaway Voices via Draft2Digital allows you to skip paying their standard $49 admin fee. Your only cost would be the overhead of producing your audiobook files, which you negotiate with your narrator.
Our relationship with Findaway has been fantastic, and we’ve been very pleased with how they treat authors, and how they respect the indie community. We’re looking forward to a long friendship, and we can’t wait to see how authors use audiobooks as part of their indie author strategy!
August 1st – Distribution to OverDrive
One of the most frequently asked questions that comes our way has always been “How can I get my books into libraries?”
That’s where OverDrive comes in.
Adding distribution to OverDrive opened the door for D2D authors to place their books into one of the most trusted and far-reaching library distribution services on the planet. The service currently reaches more than 38,000 libraries and schools, in 70+ countries, including public, college, and corporate libraries.
D2D authors get certain advantages that they won’t find elsewhere, including the ability to set a minimum price as low as 99 cents. They get a better royalty, at 46.75%. And there are no contracts or limitations—OverDrive is completely opt-in, and you can choose to include or exclude your books right from your Author Dashboard.
August 31st – Improved eBook Style Templates
From the start, Draft2Digital as made it a priority to make eBook conversion as easy as pushing a button. In fact, our free eBook conversion tool has been praised by industry leaders as the best there is—fast, easy, and consistently producing an attractive and lightweight eBook, free of all the “junk code” that might weigh it down.
Authors get free and attractive EPUB and MOBI files that they can count on to work with any eReader app or device on the market, because we test our format on all of them.
Our conversion was already top notch, but we really kicked it into gear by giving authors the chance to select from a growing library of beautiful, professional eBook templates. And just like everything else we offer, those templates are free to use, even if you aren’t distributing your books through D2D.
Our free templates comes with some in-demand perks:
- Drop caps, which may possibly be the most-requested feature of all time
- Header styles, including as graphics, flourishes, and text treatments that give your book some professional flair
- Scene dividers, so you can go beyond *** and on to eye-pleasing alternatives
Our eBook templates are gorgeous, and they’re also operating system agnostic. No software to download, and no price tag to pay. You can log in from any web browser, on any operating system, and choose the design you love.
The templates also carry over to our automated print layout, so even your paperbacks can look fantastic, and consistent with the style of your eBooks.
There are software packages out there that offer you this level of layout control, but cost you hundreds of dollars, and lock you into one operating system. We wanted to make these options available to any author, regardless of what operating system they prefer, and without adding to your out-of-pocket costs.
October 3rd – Refer a Friend
Since day one, D2D has focused on providing as many free and powerful resources as we can, to help make publishing easy for authors of all stripes and at all levels. Now, we can help line your pocket a little, too.
In October we launched our first referral program, Refer a Friend. The idea was to help new authors discover all the free conversion, publishing, and promotional tools that D2D has to offer, using our best marketing tool: The word of mouth of our amazing authors.
With Refer a Friend, for every author you refer, using your own specialized and customizable URL, you’ll be able to earn 10% of Draft2Digital’s share of that author’s royalties, for an entire year.
This means that the author gets their regular royalty, and you get a piece of our cut. We get a new author, they get a new source of readers and revenue, and you get a little ongoing bonus for a year. The kind of “everybody wins” scenario we love!
This is perfect for entrepreneurs, book review websites, BookTubers, bloggers and podcasters, and authors with a large author following.
Our authors have always been our best resource for spreading the word about what we do, and how well we do it, so we wanted to be able to share the wealth and give back to the community we serve. Refer a Friend is our thank you, for everything you do for us!
October 17th – End Matter Automation
End matter is one of the most overlooked tools in the author’s belt, and we wanted to do something about that. With our improvements to automated end matter, authors can stop worry about the best way to present that material, and focus on the really important stuff … like writing their next bestseller.
D2D’s automated end matter will take care of managing your also-by pages, your contributor bios, your publisher bios, and your copyright pages. And with all that on autopilot, we’ll also make sure that content is updated across all of your relevant titles, so you never have to stress over it.
For those with multiple pen names or multiple publisher profiles, no worries—updates are made only to the books associated with specific contributors. So there’s no “bleed over,” and no worries about books for one author appearing in the Also By of another author. We like to think ahead.
Automated end matter is jut one more way we’re working to make your author life that much easier. That’s kind of what we do.
November 7th – Amazon
Finally, you only need one resource to reach Amazon and beyond.
It may be the most asked question we’ve gotten, over the past six years: “When will you distribute to Amazon?” So we were more than thrilled to be able to answer, “Right now!”
Now, right alongside sales channels such as Apple iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and many more, you can distribute directly to Kindle using D2D’s amazing author dashboard. This means you only have to track your sales and royalties from one easy place, rather than juggling multiple interfaces. And you need only upload your manuscript and set up metadata once, rather than struggling with different requirements and guidelines and processes.
We knew that distribution to Amazon was going to be a big deal, but we had no idea that cosmic forces were at play …
The day prior to our Amazon announcement, one of our competitors, Pronoun, announced that it would be shutting down its services.
We swear, we had nothing (directly) to do with it.
As authors dealt with the repercussions of the Pronoun announcement and the feelings of confusion and concern that came over them, we were more than happy that we were right there, waiting to help. The twin announcements spread like wildfire around the industry, and D2D was able to welcome a still-growing volume of authors and books to our ranks.
It made for a chaotic holiday season, to be sure, but it proved out something we already suspected: Draft2Digital is stable, solid, and ready to be there for the indie author community. We’re proud of that, and honored that authors have turned to us to help them. It’s a privilege we’ll never take lightly.
2018: The Year of Discovery
Believe it or not, all the above is really just the highlights for 2017. That list doesn’t even include all the behind-the-scenes work and the improvements we’ve made. Every moment of 2017 was spent considering what problems authors face, and what we could do to solve those problems. Some of what we started in 2017 will continue on into the year to come—and trust us, things are about to get amazing.
In 2018, our plan is to focus one very important thing: Discoverability.
The number one problem that all authors and publishers share is the difficulty of getting readers to find and appreciate your work. There are countless tools, resources, and philosophies, when it comes to marketing and promotion. Some have hefty price tags. Some have steep learning curves. Some require constant maintenance and upkeep that, frankly, pulls you away from the writing. You know … the bit that produces the very books you’re trying to sell.
We don’t like that.
In fact, we see it as another problem authors face, and one that desperately needs to be solved.
We have a lot of super-secret plans on the board, to do just that. But one in particular is a favorite, and it’s something we think you’re going to come to love.
Books2Read has, to date, been in something of a larval stage. While it has always been intended as a reader-facing resource, helping readers connect with authors and books they’ll love, so far the only tools the service has offered have been aimed at authors, rather than readers.
Our Universal Book Links (UBLs) are a powerful tool—a single, customizable URL that is evergreen, and that sends readers to everywhere your book is sold online, with a single click. But they’re just a start, and they can (and will) get better.
As a start, we’re adding some new functionality to UBLs, in the form of a search filter that allows you to sift through your UBLs quickly, and find the specific link you’re looking for. It’s an oft-requested feature, and one we’re glad to offer.
But again … that’s just a start.
In 2018, we are turning our focus and energy to Books2Read, intent on adding new features and refining the service so that it makes it easier for authors to reach readers. Our goal is that by the end of 2018, we have the makings of the finest discoverability tool on the planet.
We have a pretty good track record with this kind of thing.
As we move into the new year, we want you to know that you are still the heart and soul of what we do. We are incredibly proud to be a part of the indie author community, and to serve that community with all that we do. We faced our share of challenges in 2017, and we expect we’ll face a few in 2018 as well. But our core mission is always the same: We are here to build resources that help authors publish and distribute their work, with support the whole way.
We’re building the indie author easy button. It’s kind of what we do.
As the year comes to a close, we want to express just how incredibly grateful we are for the indie author community. We know how big of a deal it is, for you to entrust us with your dreams of being an author and the work you’ve labored to produce. We take that seriously, and we always will.
Thank you for being a part of the Draft2Digital journey!
We’ll see you in 2018.