Episode Summary

Megan from our D2D Promotions Team joins Jim to talk about the tools and resources our authors can use to find more visibility with their books with D2D.

Episode Notes

Draft2Digital is known for its innovative publishing and distribution tools for indie authors. But do you know about all the cool things we’re doing to promote your books to retailers and libraries? Or the free tools we offer to help you get more visibility for your titles? We’re guessing you may not. Tune in so we can fix that! 

//Draft2Digital is where you start your Indie Author Career// 

Looking for your path to self-publishing success? Draft2Digital is the leading ebook publisher and distributor worldwide. We’ll convert your manuscript, distribute it online, and support you the whole way—and we won’t charge you a dime. 

We take a small percentage of the royalties for each sale you make through us, so we only make money when you make money. That’s the best kind of business plan. 

• Get started now: https://draft2digital.com/

• Learn the ins, the outs, and the all-arounds of indie publishing from the industry experts on the D2D Blog: https://Draft2Digital.com/blog

• Promote your books with our Universal Book Links from Books2Read: https://books2read.com

Make sure you bookmark https://D2DLive.com for links to live events, and to catch back episodes of the Self Publishing Insiders Podcast.


Kevin Tumlinson [00:00:01]:
You just tuned into the hippest way to start and grow your indie author career. Learn the ins, the outs, and all the all arounds of self publishing with the team from D2D and their industry influencing guests. You’re listening to self publishing insiders with Draft2Digital.

Jim Azevedo [00:00:27]:
We’re live, Megan. Yay. Yay. Hi, everybody. Welcome to Self Publishing Insiders. This week, it’s a special week because we’re going to introduce you well, we’ve introduced you to the promotions team before, but it’s always a pleasure when I get to introduce my friend and colleague, Megan S- I almost said Megan Stan. Megan Spann back to the show. Hi, Megan Spann.

Megan Spann [00:00:51]:
Hi. How are you doing?

Jim Azevedo [00:00:53]:
I’m good. Little seasonality, but other than that, we’re good. Okay. How are you doing?

Megan Spann [00:00:59]:
I’m doing good. I have my my fur babies are locked up, and they like to sing the song of their people. So if they start barking, everybody just just relax. I’ll probably disappear in a panic to get them quiet, but I do have 2 small dogs who bark at everything. So just an FYI.

Jim Azevedo [00:01:15]:
And that is the fun of doing these things live. Is it not?

Megan Spann [00:01:18]:
Yes. Right.

Jim Azevedo [00:01:20]:
So for those of you who don’t know, Megan is our promotions coordinator, our promotions queen who handles all things promotions and merchandising and all of that. So today, speaking of fur babies, mine’s having a caption over there in the corner, but we’ll just block her out. So my my goal for this conversation here is to kinda talk about the promotions team, especially for those who don’t know what DraftDigital is doing for them beyond ebook publishing or just, you know, book publishing and and book distribution.

Megan Spann [00:01:54]:

Jim Azevedo [00:01:54]:
There’s a lot that’s going on behind the scenes to get your books into the hands of more readers and in front of the merchandising managers at our retail partners and library partners globally.

Megan Spann [00:02:04]:

Jim Azevedo [00:02:05]:
So we wanna talk about that, you know, what you do. And then, the second goal I have is to inform our viewers of some of the Draft2Digital tools, some of the awesome tools that we have that they may not even be aware of, Megan, because there are so many times, as you know too, we go to conferences. They’re like, what? Authors are like, I didn’t know you had that tool.

Megan Spann [00:02:25]:
They’re blown away. We have a lot of tools.

Jim Azevedo [00:02:28]:
Totally. So we’re just kinda kinda refresh everybody out there about some of that stuff. And, of course, the goal of this conversation is just to make y’all aware of some of the things that we’re doing for you behind the scenes and how you can get involved in some of these promotional opportunities that we have and to make sure that you’re aware of all of the different tools. And the ultimate ultimate goal, of course, is to help you all sell more books.

Megan Spann [00:02:54]:

Jim Azevedo [00:02:55]:
Alright. So with that, Megan, tell me about the promotions team. Why does Draft2Digital have a promotions team in the first place? And why did, you know, why do we bring you on?

Megan Spann [00:03:10]:
Okay. Well, you kinda touched on some of it. Our job is to help authors promote their books. And so that is that is what I do. My job is to maintain the opportunities and relationships that we already have as well as foster new ones so that we can look for more opportunities. And we have a lot of them, not just ones, that are consistent. We’re also brainstorming and creating new ones. So the whole point and purpose of my job is to promote books and on a smaller level or a smaller or a larger level, not just not just the books that are already at the top.

Megan Spann [00:03:46]:
Personally, I made it part of my goal when I was hired and interviewed to ask about how we, promote diverse books. Is there a step focus on that? So that’s a large part of my platform as well is not just getting books at the top, but also saying, okay, who’s a mid list author who may not have an opportunity and making sure that we can give opportunities, to more people.

Jim Azevedo [00:04:10]:
Yeah. You bubble up those emerging authors.

Megan Spann [00:04:13]:

Jim Azevedo [00:04:14]:
I love that. Okay. That’s good. So when you talk about some of these promotions that you’re looking for, in what channels are you seeking in these promotions? How does it work exactly for the uninitiated? Like, who are you talking to? Who are you trying to get these promotions with?

Megan Spann [00:04:31]:
Well, it depends. And Okay. And I hate that answer, but everything that I do, the answer is kinda, well, it depends. All of our partners in some capacity have something. Now it may not always be as easily accessible or they’re working on things, but we do a lot of promotions with Apple. Apple, I I think is our our leading retailer right now as far as what they offer in terms of the available promotions. I know last year, we had 43, promotions with Apple alone.

Jim Azevedo [00:05:08]:
Just Apple alone.

Megan Spann [00:05:09]:
With just Apple alone on top of with that came from 88 promotions. 44 of them 43 of them were Apple. So almost Apple.

Jim Azevedo [00:05:19]:
Wow. Wow. And we do a lot of

Megan Spann [00:05:22]:
libraries too. We’re trying to do more with libraries.

Jim Azevedo [00:05:25]:

Megan Spann [00:05:25]:
But Apple is kinda leading the charge right now.

Jim Azevedo [00:05:29]:
Alright. Well, let’s talk about Apple a little bit more then. So here they are. They’re of course, they’re welcoming indie authors, indie books into their bookstore, but they’re also welcoming indie authors into these promotions that are some of these promotions, indie authors are landing on these virtual store shelves right alongside traditional authors. Mhmm. Are they not?

Megan Spann [00:05:47]:
Yep. They are. And that’s intentional. A person like me, a person like a merchandising representative at Apple, we work together. We’re not in competition with our partners. We we’re looking for ways to work together because a win for them is a win for us, especially if it’s 1 of our authors. And sometimes we have conversations. It’s not 1 of our authors, but we’re trying to help authors collectively come up with ideas and promotions that we can use to help them out.

Megan Spann [00:06:15]:
Like I said, Apple is a large 1. Now there are some different caveats with Apple. As many as that we get as far as promotional opportunities, they they’re very selective. They are very selective, but it’s not hard to get an Apple promotion if you kinda check all of the boxes, and you should do this with all of the promotions.

Jim Azevedo [00:06:36]:
Let’s talk about that a little bit. Okay. Yeah. That selectivity and and kind of, you know, what does it take for an author to convince a merchandising manager at a store like Apple? Let’s say, especially Apple because they’re a bit more picky. Right?

Megan Spann [00:06:52]:
Yeah. Yeah.

Jim Azevedo [00:06:52]:
Okay. So how can authors set themselves up for success?

Megan Spann [00:06:57]:
There are 3 things that I tell authors, whether it’s Apple, whether it’s the Smashwords store, whether it’s 1 of our other partners, there are 3 top things that you need to do no matter what. That’s your research. Do your research. Yes. I am a resource, but there are just so many things that are out there for our authors right there at their fingertips that they don’t have to wait on an answer from. So anytime you see

Jim Azevedo [00:07:20]:
on that string a little bit. So what do you mean by this by this research?

Megan Spann [00:07:23]:
By research, what I mean is if you go look right now on, on BooksRead, whatever you are seeing at on the front page, and you can go on Apple, you can go on Barnes and Noble’s, you can go on Kobo, whatever you are seeing, like, on that front page, most of the time that is curated either by an a, an algorithm or a person. Mhmm. So look at those books because they’re on the front front page or at the top of the shelves for a reason. So some of those are specialty shelves where it’s it may just be romance. If you are a romance author, look at your cover, look at your blurb, your metadata, your blurb, look at everything else that’s on the front page and how does your book compare? That’s the easiest way I feel to research research things. What’s already on the front? That’s what I want to be. How am I aligned? So you don’t have to spend money on a bunch of programs trying to analyze. Just look at

Jim Azevedo [00:08:17]:
it and see

Megan Spann [00:08:18]:
how your book compares.

Jim Azevedo [00:08:20]:
Yeah. I love that. 1 of the examples I give when I give presentations, I have this, this this 1 particular slide where I’m talking about book covers. And and my advice to authors is always the same. It kind of exactly aligns with what you’re saying is that, you know, check out, like, the best seller list in your genre.

Megan Spann [00:08:37]:

Jim Azevedo [00:08:37]:
And check check out those cover images and then, you know, blow it up on on your desktop. And then get your cover image, shrink it down, like, shrink down just the image of your ebook cover, let’s say. And then drag it onto that screen, and then see if it compares head to head with the cover images of the best sellers in your genre. And then especially if it’s if it’s your draft cover art.

Megan Spann [00:08:59]:

Jim Azevedo [00:08:59]:
And be be honest with yourself. If it doesn’t compare, then go back to the drawing board or go back to your artist and just iterate until you get it to that level because those readers out there, they’re gonna make a decision in a split second and same thing with the merchandising managers.

Megan Spann [00:09:14]:
Absolutely. Absolutely. So on top of your research, the other tip I have is be prepared. There’s I have promos that come out in the office. Like, oh, I just pushed the button. I and I wasn’t ready yet. You you can do that, but do you really wanna start start off something like this, a phone split? They get so excited when they see the emails, like I’m just gonna push the button. And she’s like, well

Jim Azevedo [00:09:39]:
What’s the worst that can happen?

Megan Spann [00:09:42]:
You definitely wanna make sure that you’re prepared and that you have your, all their ducks in a row to make sure you’re ready to jump on these opportunities when they come around. And please don’t think, like, it’s the the sinking ship you have to jump on. Like, no. They come back around. So if you’re not ready this time, just make sure you’re prepared for the next time, for sure.

Jim Azevedo [00:10:02]:

Megan Spann [00:10:03]:
And then 1 more tip. 1 more tip before jumping up. We can definitely move on to something else. The last tip is check your emails. I have partners reaching out to me all the time. Hey, Megan. We see that so and so author publishes, uses your services. Can you reach out to them for this amazing opportunity? And and then I do and then it’s crickets.

Megan Spann [00:10:27]:
And then I’m like, hey, what happened to this author we wanna put on the front page? And I’m like, well, they didn’t check their email. We end up with spam. So make sure you’re checking your emails frequently because you could be missing an opportunity that’s out there.

Jim Azevedo [00:10:42]:
Wow. Okay. I was gonna ask you about, like, what are some of the biggest mistakes you see from authors? That’s good. The promotions. Yeah. That is definitely a big 1 out there for sure.

Megan Spann [00:10:53]:
That’s a big 1. And simply, like I said, being overzealous with those promotional opportunities. I get a lot of button pressers where they just see that it’s a promo, I’m gonna push the button. Again, nothing’s gonna happen to you. I’m not gonna push you on a naughty list but it does make it a lot more difficult when I’m kind of sourcing through things that don’t align. So I would say anytime you see a promotion, first look at it. Can I make my book available for these dates? Is my book right for this promotion? And by right, does it fit the genre? Sometimes I get emails of people saying my book wasn’t even eligible. Why not? It’s for adult romance and you have young adult.

Megan Spann [00:11:39]:
So it could be something as simple as that or sometimes people do forget who who and how they publish. So if you publish direct with Apple, with Kobo, I don’t have that information and so your book would not show up as being eligible. So some of it is just small things to where I feel like if people kind of slow down the information is there and they’ll be able to see all of the information that they need to know if this is the best opportunity for them.

Jim Azevedo [00:12:06]:
Perfect. And when in doubt, they can email you.

Megan Spann [00:12:09]:
Right? Absolutely. They can email me. Boom. Right there. And I’m the 1 responding. So please know that I’m a real person.

Jim Azevedo [00:12:18]:
No. You’re not. You’re like I can tell, like, fans are kinda okay.

Megan Spann [00:12:21]:
Yeah. It’s it’s it’s really me, and I’m the 1 who is personally responding. So it doesn’t go to a team unless it’s something that’s outside my scope. It’s me answering. So a little bit of grace and a lot of polite goes a long way. Yes. Please be bold. As much information as possible so that I can help you that right then, and we don’t have to have a lot of back and forth.

Megan Spann [00:12:43]:
So if there’s an issue, definitely give me as much information and I’m going to give you an answer.

Jim Azevedo [00:12:48]:
Okay. And so before, Lexi or Alyssa virtually kicked me in the shin, I’m going to read this email out loud so that our Okay.

Megan Spann [00:13:00]:

Jim Azevedo [00:13:00]:
And that and that is promotions at draft2digital.com. That is the email link that will go to Megan, and she reads all of them.

Megan Spann [00:13:11]:
I do.

Jim Azevedo [00:13:12]:
So, yeah, again, if you have any questions or you’re kind of on the fence of, like, this is this promotion right for my books? She will answer your questions about that. Are you working on any promotions right now, Megan? Or do you have any upcoming that folks should know about?

Megan Spann [00:13:28]:
I do, actually. I have quite a few. I know well, I can’t go into detail with all of them because not all

Jim Azevedo [00:13:35]:
of our

Megan Spann [00:13:36]:
Come on. Not all of our retailers like that. That’s why you need to be on the email list because I can’t post or talk about everything. But if you’re on our email list, you will definitely get everything.

Jim Azevedo [00:13:48]:
So let’s talk about the email list for a second. So the email that she’s talking about, you you can sign up for it right here.

Megan Spann [00:13:57]:

Jim Azevedo [00:13:58]:
So this is extremely important. Yes. So it is D2D.tips, that’s tips, /d2dpromoform. Go there. And you can what can you do at that promo form, Megan?

Megan Spann [00:14:16]:
Okay. So this form. Again, I’m the person that’s handling this form. So when you fill it out, I’m the 1 that’s going through and making sure everything is where it needs to be. There’s 2 different things that need to occur on this form. You can, 1, use it as many times as you want to to tell me about anything that’s bookish. I have a new release. This release is on sale.

Megan Spann [00:14:41]:
I just bundled these for the very first time ever in life. This book just won an award. And then I will tell you at the end what I do with those that information.

Jim Azevedo [00:14:49]:

Megan Spann [00:14:50]:
The second thing is you use that form to notify me that you want to participate in the promotions, and you only have to do that portion once. So 1 full submission, for that puts you on the list, and then you can use it as many times after that to tell me about any book news. Now I use that information when you tell me your bookish news to tell our partners. Sometimes they don’t always have a sale or promo going on. Like I said, Apple is our our leading partner. I do have several promos coming up with Apple, the details of which you’ll have to be on the list to find out.

Jim Azevedo [00:15:32]:
Yeah, that’s

Megan Spann [00:15:33]:
Yeah, get on our list. And then Kobo, I have some things for Kobo coming up. So to know more details about the when, the where, what’s it for, please be on the list so that you don’t miss those details because the opportunities are there and these are free opportunities might I add. So we don’t charge anything to do this. This is simply part of my job to facilitate all of this for everybody.

Jim Azevedo [00:15:56]:
Part of our job here the part of Draft2Digital earning its 10%. It’s not just about book publication and book distribution. We have, like, what, 2 full time employees who are dedicated to getting your books into the hands of more readers, into the hands, the merchandising managers at our retail and library partners. So earn that 10%. And once again, there is the link for that form.

Megan Spann [00:16:24]:

Jim Azevedo [00:16:24]:
1 thing I will say, with this form, I’ve noticed, at least for myself, maybe it’s just because I’m weird, but I’ve noticed that sometimes when I’m logged in to my Draft2Digital account and then I, I, like, I click on the that link or I add it in another tab, I have to log in again. And maybe that’s just me. So if that happens to you, then just log in again, and you’ll have access

Megan Spann [00:16:44]:

Jim Azevedo [00:16:44]:
To the form. Keep the form up there for a second.

Megan Spann [00:16:48]:

Jim Azevedo [00:16:50]:
Okay. So you’ve got more coming up. Mhmm. What about can you recall I remember last year, we had a talk like this, and Mark Leslie was on with us. And we talked about, a success a success story that 1 of our authors had at Hoopla, you know, 1 of our library partners. Are there any success success why can’t I talk today? Are there any success stories that you can share, that you recall with an author who submitted a book for a promo either at a retail or 1 of our library partners?

Megan Spann [00:17:27]:
Absolutely. 1 a couple that are more recent, Apple. Apple does a lot of features that aren’t, like, just strictly promo related. So they have series starters, they have the editorial pitch, they have a few evergreen type of promos. And when I say evergreen, I mean, they they have them on a rolling basis. So you you don’t have to wait to receive an invitation for those. And we have a lot of authors who are who their series gets featured on that that front page of Apple. We have some partnerships in the works and working on more with our library partners, Overdrive being 1.

Megan Spann [00:18:05]:
We did have a, I believe it was a book. Mhmm. They have a book club thing going and so sometimes they reach out and say, hey, this author has been selected for this book club. These are the terms. Does that sound good? So there are like I said, there’s opportunities out there and then I’m crafting some of my own with the Smashwords store. So that is a little feather in the cap moment, that I think is really fun that I have personal control over with

Jim Azevedo [00:18:32]:
the Smashwords. About this stuff. I’m the marketing guy. Come on.

Megan Spann [00:18:35]:
Yeah. Okay. If you go to Smashwords, prior to our prior to the face lift moment,

Kevin Tumlinson [00:18:42]:

Megan Spann [00:18:43]:
if you look on that front page, right now, if you look on the front page, there’s different shelves, different carousel. Those are created by the algorithm. Meaning a book has to meet certain thresholds to be on that front page. But Yeah. I have access to be able to put special things on the front page as well. And I do that sometimes just on a whim just because I want to. Sometimes we have a coordinated effort of, different sales coming up. We do we have 1 coming up that we’ll talk about in more detail.

Megan Spann [00:19:13]:
But I can I can do fun things with that front page that it’s it’s just me? So sometimes, like I said, I don’t have to wait on an opportunity. I can create 1.

Jim Azevedo [00:19:23]:
I love it. So, 1 thing I want to mention too, in case because you you you talked about it, but I just wanna, like, underscore it, and that has to do with the promotions form. And, like, I wanna ensure that our authors know that you don’t have to wait for us to contact you to say that, hey. Apple’s got this promotion coming up next month or Barnes and Noble or Kobo. Tell us if you have something that’s special or unique that’s coming up that either you’re doing for yourself, maybe it’s, you know, book 5, 6, or whatever it is in your series. If you if you have a if you have a series that’s performing really well. Mhmm. Maybe you have a book that’s upcoming on preorder.

Jim Azevedo [00:20:06]:
Maybe you’re doing an anthology or a box set with a bunch of author friends that you think we should know about. You can tell us all of this stuff. And Meaghan told me before, she said, you know, don’t worry about not giving me enough information. On the side of providing too much information because the more information she has, the more that that just makes it easier for her to talk to the merchant vacuum managers at the retailers, and there goes my crazy dog.

Megan Spann [00:20:33]:
Absolutely. Absolutely. I I get pitches all the time, but you can cut down on a lot of back and forth and confusion when you provide me the the information, the details, the pertinent ones. If you tell me, well, I have a book and it’s about cats. Okay, what else about that? Like what am I supposed to do with that? It’s about cats who go on adventures and me and 5 other authors, we also have books and we wanna make a collection and what can you do? That’s a little bit more that I can then take and say, hey Apple, I already have these authors who are doing this on their own. How can we support them?

Jim Azevedo [00:21:13]:
You could even do like a special cat show if I got the Smashwords. Yeah.

Megan Spann [00:21:17]:
I could.

Jim Azevedo [00:21:18]:
If you wanted to. That’s power, Megan.

Megan Spann [00:21:20]:
It is. And there’s so

Jim Azevedo [00:21:21]:
much of fun. That. I want I want some of that. Alright. Guillaume asks, do you promote erotica? My main genre is erotic comedy. That is funny erotica, which is only on sale for Smashwords. So anybody else out there, you know, dabbling in the, that mainstream erotica and having promotions geared toward mainstream erotica?

Megan Spann [00:21:47]:
Not not so much with our partners, but again, that’s why I have access to push buttons on the Smashwords store. Yeah. But I do wanna emphasize mainstream. So there are just different rules in places, not just because we we’re mean and we don’t like erotica. There are rules and there are guidelines that we have to follow. So you won’t people who will see erotica are people who have opted in to see it, that it’s not blocked from their platform. So if you go to the front page and you have not selected that you do want to see erotica, you may not see said shelf, but there’s we have no rules against, promoting the mainstream erotica on Smashwords.

Jim Azevedo [00:22:27]:
Yeah. Yeah. And if you’re an erotica author, make sure that you click all the boxes. If we’re asking you questions about your genre or what your book contains, make sure you click all those boxes. Those boxes are there to help you Yes. Get your books distributed beyond Smashwords into some of the other retailers as well. Alright. And oh, there it is.

Jim Azevedo [00:22:49]:
Okay. I wanna make sure I didn’t miss, I think that there was a follow-up question, but I alright. I missed it. They talked about some upcoming retail opportunities. Any upcoming library opportunities? Maybe you mentioned it, but

Megan Spann [00:23:06]:
none on the the docket, like, a specific thing. But, again, that doesn’t mean very much because I pitch to them all the time. So, there will be some coming out probably within the next 2 weeks, and this is just for informational purposes for me because again some of our partners, libraries included, have evergreen promos. So they’re always looking for books that promote diversity, stuff about the environment or whatever. So some of those more wide options are are out there and I do, solicit for those sometimes too.

Jim Azevedo [00:23:42]:
Okay. Do they tend to follow some of the, like, the holiday ish or theme ish, promos for, like, month to month, like, a 10 year old.

Megan Spann [00:23:51]:
They’re huge on themes. And, again, still same thing. You don’t have to wait for me to email a theme. You can email me. A group of us got together, like I said, and and pitch this to a library. You can do whatever you wanna do as long as you have all of the the information available so that I have something to pitch. But you again, even with libraries, you don’t have to wait on an opportunity.

Jim Azevedo [00:24:21]:
I love it. Okay. That’s like a theme. I want everybody to understand that you do not have to wait for us to contact you if there’s something you wanna participate in. Even if there even if you know if, oops, Lexi. It really feels like every year we have more promotions, and they keep getting more successful. Yes. Lexi says, I clicked on that on accident, but it’s true.

Jim Azevedo [00:24:43]:
I did not.

Megan Spann [00:24:44]:
True and important. And we’re we’re growing and doing more, not just with our partners on this, like I said, the Smashwords store as as well. And even though we have our own store, we’re still not in competition with anybody. And that’s I think that’s what I really love about working at Drive for Digital. It does not feel like we’re in a a rat race to get anything specific. The whole thing about Draft2Digital is to help authors genuinely. And I’m an author. I used Draft2Digital before I started working here.

Megan Spann [00:25:13]:
I’ve only been working here like the last 2 years. I made 2 years last month. So I love DraftDigital and Smashwords. I’ve used Smashwords for the the last 10 years or so. So, the the the things that we do and the foundation of the company, I feel like all kind of feed into each other and that is helping the author.

Jim Azevedo [00:25:33]:
100%. 100%. With that, let’s segue into some of the tools that we haven’t talked about. So we talked about the promotions form, but let’s talk about some of the specific tools that some of our authors may not be aware of when we’ve got coupon manager. It’s, coupon manager at both Smashwords and Draft2Digital preorders, Smashwords presales. There’s a DraftDigital promotional pricing tool. Mhmm. Which 1? Do you wanna talk about any of those?

Megan Spann [00:26:02]:
How much is it?

Jim Azevedo [00:26:03]:
Of them, I’ll jump in.

Megan Spann [00:26:04]:
Have a whole other live just talking about tools.

Jim Azevedo [00:26:08]:
I know. I was keeping my eye on the clock. I’m like, alright. A little late, Jim, but.

Megan Spann [00:26:12]:
Yeah. I can I can touch on all of them briefly and explain like what what they are, what they do, and why they are important? And extra emphasis on the fact that these are free. These are free tools and, for some of them you don’t even have to be distributing through Draft2Digital to use said tool. BooksRead Read that’s our our UBL Universal Book Link tool. On that same tool page, you will also find author pages. And so while author pages should not replace your author website, if you are just starting out and you just want something quick, it’s quick. It’s easy. You can put your picture of a cute little bio, all of your books linked.

Megan Spann [00:26:56]:
And again, you don’t have to use DraftDigital to use that. It’s a free service. Same thing with Books2Read. We are trying to give all of these things a little bit more extra love, and let authors know that they can use them. So oftentimes, we you may get a, an email back from a retailer, let’s say, that says this has been, denied distribution because of a competitor link. And what what competitor link? I don’t know what you’re talking about. Competitor links is anything that’s that’s not their link. So Amazon does not want to see links that belong to Apple.

Megan Spann [00:27:30]:
Apple does not want to see links that belong to Barnes and Noble. Same across the board. To avoid that, you wanna use a universal book link, so like a shortened link. And we have a tool, you just plug in your your your book and it can be from any of the platforms it searches for your BooksRead listing everywhere else and it creates a landing page. So that if you use this 1 link, people can use that link to go and see their favorite retailer and make their own selection. So you’re kinda bypassing that rule and also being able to list your BooksRead that your readers can, can get to them. And

Jim Azevedo [00:28:06]:
just 1 link that they need that that goes everywhere where the books have been

Megan Spann [00:28:09]:
written down. Mhmm. And it shortens it for you. You can use the link that it generates or if you’re signed in, you can customize it. So you have options.

Jim Azevedo [00:28:18]:
And it geolocates too. Correct? Correct. Nice. Okay.

Megan Spann [00:28:23]:
And then some of the other tools, that that you mentioned, the coupon manager, the price manager, those are so, so fun because as an author, we’re putting the power back into your hands. So with the coupon, again, don’t have to wait on me to run a promo or have a sale. You can make your own coupon. You can send it out to your newsletter, your Facebook group and say, hey, I have a special sale going on. I want to tell you guys about use this special code to discount. The fun thing about a coupon is you don’t have to discount your book anywhere else. And you’re not violating any rules of the different distributors. The other thing would be the pricing tool.

Megan Spann [00:29:05]:
I love the pricing tool, especially when it comes to these promotions because it takes the thought process out of it. You put you set everything up with the dates, what it’s for. The system does it automatically. The our system. So if you are direct with Amazon, if you’re direct with Apple, you will have to go on there and manually make changes. But, otherwise, you set it up. We push the price out when it’s supposed to be whatever sale price it is, and then we set it back to its original hands off. You can set it and forget it.

Megan Spann [00:29:38]:
And you can do this months in advance if you wanted to.

Jim Azevedo [00:29:43]:
Love it. Love it. Love it. Oh, preorders. We also do preorders.

Megan Spann [00:29:48]:
Yes. The preorders and presales. And I people hear those Smashwords and think they’re the same. Totally. They’re not. They’re not. Preorders, you’re setting it up. Future date, there may or may not be a final file.

Megan Spann [00:30:01]:
The people will get it on that future date. Presales are really, really fun because somebody gets it. They’re getting the order right then. So you wanna make sure that you have a

Jim Azevedo [00:30:13]:
Before the book is available for Book publishing.

Megan Spann [00:30:15]:
Before it’s available. Correct. So if I have my book set up, on a presale and let’s say it technically is not coming out till November and I have it set up on presale, I could send out something to my newsletter and say, hey. This is on pre sale. This is how you get it. Send them the link. They are actually able to read that book right then instead of waiting until November. And that can be good if you’re trying to, like, you know, build up for reviews.

Megan Spann [00:30:42]:
Some of our partners, if the earlier you’re ready, the more we can do. Some of our partners, I know Apple for sure does it, that they have the editorial picks. They want your book to be ready, you know, 2 months or so before where they’re reading it early so that they then can support you. And we we’re doing the the same thing. So the sooner you can be available and ready, the more we can do to help you in presales is a great way to do that. Okay.

Jim Azevedo [00:31:08]:
Okay. I wanna kind of step back a little bit in terms of preorders, because once isn’t Apple the only bookstore that counts any book preorder as a full sale?

Megan Spann [00:31:20]:
I don’t think so. But but again I know they

Jim Azevedo [00:31:24]:
used to. I know

Megan Spann [00:31:25]:
I’m not a I’m not a rocket scientist on all of those those things, so don’t take my word. Right?

Jim Azevedo [00:31:30]:
No worries. But but pre I want everybody to understand why preorders are so important. And let me just say this, Meaghan. Yes. The preorders are 1 of the most effective book launch marketing tools that I’ve seen since we started allowing them to to happen back in 2013 Mhmm. At the Smashwords. Share. They’re 1 of the most effective book launch reading tools, book launch marketing tools, but they’re also 1 of the most highly underutilized.

Jim Azevedo [00:31:56]:
Yes. So check this out. So at Smashwords at the Smashwords store, we’re looking at some data from BooksRead that from last year, from January of 2023 through June of 2023. Out of all the books that were released during that 6 month period, only 16% of those were released as ebook preorders. And when we looked at the entire year of sales

Megan Spann [00:32:29]:

Jim Azevedo [00:32:29]:
Of that 60% of books that were listed as ebook preorders, they sold 5 they earned I’m sorry. They earned 5 times more than all the other books that were listed, that were released that were simply uploaded on release day. So the ebook preorders significantly outperformed the books that were uploaded on release day. So if you’re thinking about if you have a book that’s coming up in a few weeks and if you want, get it up as a preorder.

Megan Spann [00:32:59]:
Absolutely. And 1 more thing about preorders is I run a lot of reports. That’s another part of my job. I’m looking for trends. I’m looking at numbers. I’m looking at titles and things become familiar. I have a preorder list. I run several pre order reports, but I have 1 that goes out, every Monday to a partner.

Megan Spann [00:33:21]:
I have a a retail, partner that we send out on every Friday. And we’re we’re growing with this, not just on sales, but like I said, preorders as well. The monthly 1

Jim Azevedo [00:33:33]:

Megan Spann [00:33:33]:
I think I sent out a couple weeks ago, and I send this to all of our partners. So they they are aware of what our top sellers are and what preorders are coming so that we can all be prepared on supporting these authors. So definitely utilize, preorders because it you could hit certain lists, as well. And that can help you in future to make your marketing plans as well.

Jim Azevedo [00:33:58]:
Right. Because these preorders accumulate over time. When a when a reader puts sound in their credit card, they’re what they’re doing is they’re reserving a copy of that BooksRead could be a matter and they can’t they can’t read that book for a matter of days, weeks, or even months. But when that book releases, it’s like you had this accumulation of up to months worth of sales all hitting on day 1, and that is what can cause a spike in your sales rankings and you get you up up on 1 of those lists.

Megan Spann [00:34:24]:

Jim Azevedo [00:34:26]:
Alright. Shall we talk about, let’s shift gears once again and talk about some of the things that are going on at the Smashwords store.

Megan Spann [00:34:36]:

Jim Azevedo [00:34:37]:
Megan, did you know that the Smashwords store is on track for its 8th consecutive year of year over year sales growth?

Megan Spann [00:34:48]:

Jim Azevedo [00:34:49]:
I know. It’s, it’s bucking an over a larger overall industry trend in terms of ebook sales. It just keeps growing and growing and growing. And every time we have a sale, it surpasses the record set by the previous sale. So we’re really excited about, how things have been going over there at the Smashwords store. And on top of that, we have a big sale coming up. Right?

Megan Spann [00:35:16]:
We do. We do. A huge sale that we’re also doing a lot of fun promo things for. So wanna make sure you’re staying in contact with me and using that form and making sure you’re on the list so you don’t miss those details.

Jim Azevedo [00:35:30]:
Right. And speaking of emails, keep your eye on your email box too because the next sale that’s coming up is the massive month long July summer winter sale. We call it the summer winter sale because we’re celebrating summer in the northern hemisphere, and we’re celebrating winter in the southern hemisphere. And it this is a month long sale, so we’re going to be kinda switching around some of the promotions as Megan alluded to. We’re going to have a lot of fun with it. It’s it’s always our most success well, I wanna I don’t wanna say it’s it’s always the most successful sale of the year because it seems like every time we have a new sale, that sale becomes the most successful, then it just keeps growing and growing. We have to

Megan Spann [00:36:11]:
keep topping topping ourselves. Each sale has to be better than the last 1.

Jim Azevedo [00:36:15]:
We do. And that’s thanks to the authors because you guys, are doing such a phenomenal job of not just promoting your own books, but promoting the books of your of your author friends and working together. And all of us are just kinda making this a celebration of indie books and indie reading culture. It’s just a lot of fun. It’s becoming even more fun.

Megan Spann [00:36:37]:
Yeah. And just to kinda add to that, I know people when you think of being an author, you think of this as kind of a lonely process. It’s just you writing. Yeah. But I like to think of, like, your marketing efforts of being collaborative. I do see the people who are the most successful, at these that at these sales are the ones who work together. So you can’t just sign up for these sales and just hope for the best. You have to actually put effort into

Jim Azevedo [00:37:04]:

Megan Spann [00:37:05]:
Sending it out, being in that and and we’re looking at those things. I’m looking to see what authors are putting in the effort

Jim Azevedo [00:37:14]:
because Great point. Great

Megan Spann [00:37:16]:
point. And I think that’s important because this is this is this is your business. People people are making their livelihood from this and it says a lot to me and it says a lot to readers when you’re taking an active role and not just saying buy my book, buy my book, but you’re collaborating with other authors. Again, yes, we’re trying to reach certain rank and we’re all trying to make money, but the competition is doing better than the last sale, making sure that more people can read your book and have access. So that’s why I do love when we when we have these opportunities. Again, you don’t have to wait on said opportunity. Let me know. We are going to have special themes during this sale and some more opportunities so that we can help the marketing efforts.

Megan Spann [00:38:03]:
But, the most successful thing that you can do is to work and advocate for yourself with others within your genre. So don’t miss out on on that piece of opportunity, especially with this sale coming up. Get together with other authors and and see how you all can make this the biggest thing it could be.

Jim Azevedo [00:38:23]:
Yeah. Have fun with it. Experiment. Yeah. That’s what we see. If you guys wanna do, like, a box set or some kind of an anthology or anything that’s just a little bit outside the norm, then you’re not alone. It’s not just you out there trying to promote your book. And Yes.

Megan Spann [00:38:36]:
It’s hard. It it is. Yeah.

Jim Azevedo [00:38:39]:
It’s really hard. Okay. I wonder if we should talk about some of the other things that we have going on. Like, you know, the Smashwords store, every week, we are listing a bestseller list. And this is 1 of the most comprehensive bestseller lists in the industry in terms of indie author books. And every week, our own Mark Leslie Lafave puts together this list, Let’s help for Megan in the background. Puts together this list, the top 25 best selling books. And 1 thing that Mark does too is he goes the extra mile.

Jim Azevedo [00:39:19]:
So he lists fiction by, not only by unit sales, but also by revenue because so that you could see it’s, you know, it’s the whole bank before rank sort of, methodology. So you could see how the price impacts unit sales as well. So that’s fiction and nonfiction too. So that’s listed that’s via sales at the Smashwords store, but it also takes a snapshot of sales from our global retail partner network as well. That’s all added in there. Speaking of best seller lists, we gather the sales data, and we also report it to places like The New York Times, USA Today. For those of you who write science fiction and fantasy, every month, as a matter of fact, it’s almost I’m able to do to submit my science fiction and fantasy bestseller list to Locust Magazine. Who am I forgetting about? Oh, Publishers Weekly.

Jim Azevedo [00:40:18]:
Yeah. But they’re kind of they’re shifting a little bit. I think they’re revamping their bestseller lists. So we’re gonna reach out to them and, you know, see if they still want these lists or if they’re going to, you know, refresh that lists. 1 thing that’s really cool, Megan, and everybody out there, our new partner, Fable, the huge, you know, book club reading app and BooksRead, Fable, they are now listing they have a whole shelf dedicated to best selling indie titles from draft to digital authors. So authors, if you are a best seller but you’re not yet distributing your books, if you haven’t opted in to having your books distributed to Fable, make sure that you do that. Because Fable is just going they’re growing really, really quickly.

Megan Spann [00:41:04]:

Jim Azevedo [00:41:06]:
And, yes, as a matter of fact, we’re even gonna have a new cool affiliate partner that we can’t talk about today, but stay tuned for next week. They’ll be on self publishing insights to talk about their cool program and how it can help you expand your reach as well.

Megan Spann [00:41:23]:
I have 1 more thing about the the the reports before we move on.

Jim Azevedo [00:41:28]:

Megan Spann [00:41:29]:
If I may. We do get a lot of inquiries from authors who are like, how do I get on this list? Or what how do we how do I do this? I do want to say the main thing that you can do to be on these lists, because again, we send those out to all of our partners. We also have 1 that goes to Fresh Fiction. They make a post, think what every Tuesday?

Jim Azevedo [00:41:48]:
That’s the 1 I forgot. Yeah. Fresh Fiction on Friday Fridays, they announce our top 20 best selling titles.

Megan Spann [00:41:56]:
Best sellers.

Jim Azevedo [00:41:56]:
And then on Mondays, it’s the most highly anticipated pre orders.

Megan Spann [00:42:01]:
Okay. Yeah. There we go. So we send these lists out to everywhere we can. The way to get the most from these lists to even be on these lists is to be consistent. Same thing with the promotions and the opportunities. You can run your business however you want to. But what we are looking for and what happens when we run these lists, we’re looking for consistency.

Megan Spann [00:42:26]:
So some authors, they like to, go wide for, like, a month and then they stick it in KU. That messes up your eligibility for these lists. Because if I send this out to 1 of our partners and they come looking for it, now all of a sudden it’s not available everywhere. And and so that kinda kinda throws you out the running. It’s not the end of the world, but the when authors kinda run their business that way, it kind of makes partners look at it like, well, I don’t know how long we will have to be able to make this opportunity worth it. So keep those things in mind when you are making those decisions. If you wanna go wide or you wanna go to KU, it does have an impact. And so for some people, it’s it’s minuscule.

Megan Spann [00:43:09]:
They don’t care, and that’s fine. But just be aware that it can.

Jim Azevedo [00:43:13]:
Yeah. That does happen sometimes. I’m putting together a list and then go to the page. I’m like, oh, this BooksRead been unpublished. Okay. I got that percentage to be removed from this list before I send it along. Our buddy, Mark, is asking a question here. Mark Leslie asks, speaking of top sellers, can you explain how the weekly top selling indie authors report works and how Fable is also reporting on it? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Jim Azevedo [00:43:39]:
You wanna take that 1?

Megan Spann [00:43:40]:
Well, I think you did a good a great job when you explained that Fable Fable is is definitely growing. Mark puts a lot of work into that weekly thing. It does. Most of my, reports aren’t on a weekly basis outside of first fiction, And, I do 1 for romance daily news. Those are weekly. And then the rest of my reports I typically run are monthly, but Mark does this 1 every week. And like you said, it is on the units and it is on, based on gross sales. So he, he got he gets the nitty gritty of it.

Jim Azevedo [00:44:11]:
You guys get the nitty gritty.

Megan Spann [00:44:12]:
Yeah. And we have pictures and everything else. So again, you can also use these reports as a research tool. Who is in the top 25? What’s their genre? What does their cover look like? All of those things help you, the author, when you’re trying to figure out, okay. I’m not on this list, but let me look at these authors who are and how I align with them.

Jim Azevedo [00:44:33]:
And then also look at, like, where is this book ranking on unit on the unit list, best selling units versus where that book is ranking on best selling revenue, on the list that’s based on best selling revenue. That’s a key piece of research.

Megan Spann [00:44:45]:

Jim Azevedo [00:44:46]:
My favorite thing about the list that Mark puts together is that if there is an author who’s on the list, who’s got enough sales to appear on the list several times, he only takes that author’s best selling book, which enables authors who are emerging to bubble up and have an opportunity to hit the best seller list as well. What we’re trying to do is expose our readers to as many authors, especially those who are up and coming Yes. As possible.

Megan Spann [00:45:14]:

Jim Azevedo [00:45:16]:
So thank you for that, Mark. I wanna make sure I’m not missing any questions. I’m circling down through the comments. Boy, you guys are, like, super engaged this week. I love it.

Megan Spann [00:45:25]:
Love it.

Jim Azevedo [00:45:25]:
So appreciate you all being here. Okay. I think I think we’ve got to most of them here. I well, we’re out of time. So how about that? So, Megan, thanks again for your help. I’m sorry I’m a little out of it with my whole, like, allergy thing going on here and coughing and sneezing and just it’s kinda icky over here.

Megan Spann [00:45:49]:
I won’t

Jim Azevedo [00:45:49]:
go into too many details. But for those of you who joined us today, if you could do us a favor, If you got something out of this episode, if you can like or share it with your author friends and subscribe to the podcast. Subscribing is awesome. We love it because that helps us just get the word out even more and attract industry experts. Finally, also bookmarkddlive.com because then you can see what the topic and and who the guest is gonna be for next week. And if you are an aspiring author out there who hasn’t yet kind of fully waded into the industry publishing world, why not sign up for your free account simply by going to draft 2digital.com? Megan, thanks again for your time today. Hang out with me in the green room backstage for a bit so we can recap this conversation. For everybody else, thanks once again for hanging out with us this week.

Jim Azevedo [00:46:51]:
We so appreciate you being a part of our community. We hope that you’ll join us again next week. But until then, we will see you. Have a great week and weekend, everybody.

Megan Spann [00:47:02]:
Bye, everybody. Your books are

Kevin Tumlinson [00:47:03]:
great, but there’s just something about having your words in print, something you can hold in your hands, put on a shelf signed for a reader. That’s why we created D2D Print, a print on demand service that was built for you. We have free beautiful templates to give your book a pro look, and we can even convert your ebook cover into a full wraparound cover for print. So many options for you and your books and you can get started right now at draft2digital.com. That’s it for this week’s self publishing insiders with Draft2Digital. Be sure to subscribe to us wherever you listen to podcasts and share the show with your will be author friends, and start, build, and grow your own self publishing career right now at draft2digital.com.