Feature Highlight - Automated End-matter

Posted by: Joshua Unruh 1 year, 1 month ago

One of the most common questions we’re asked by writers considering our service is, “What will you do to help me promote my book?” That expectation surprised us at first; we’re not a publisher, we’re a distributor, and traditionally the only promotion a publisher would expect from a distributor is availability.

We certainly take care of that. We make it easy for a self-published author to go wide, no matter how large her catalog. We let you know when your book is live, we provide direct links to your book on each of your selected stores, and we make sure every listing or delisting or metadata change propagates to all of your selected stores quickly and accurately.

That could have been our only answer, and it would have been a reasonable one. We also do some boring technical work on the back end that can do a lot to help get your book discovered. We generate impeccable ebook files and embed important metadata like series information and search keywords in the way that will most effectively help readers find your book when searching the digital stores.

That’s not a very exciting answer, either. That’s just us doing our jobs. And it’s hard for a writer to see those features, even when she’s taking full advantage of them.

Lucky for us, we didn’t stop there. We are always looking for ways to leverage our database and programming skills to the benefit of our authors, and we found one easy, powerful option that will help your books sell more copies and make your job as the publisher much, much easier.

Promotional Pages

Look in the back of any trade-published book, and chances are good you’ll find some ads. Maybe it’s an About the Author page designed to solidify the author’s personal brand, or a list of other books by this author to convert a single read into a bunch of other sales across the author’s backlist. Or maybe it’s just a one-page promo for the sequel of this book, trying to capture an interested reader while she’s still caught up in the cliffhanger.

We looked into all of those things and realized that once we’re converting an author’s book, we already have all of the information needed to make those pages! We know about your other titles, because they’re all in our system. We know the exact store links for each of them. We know which ones are live, which ones are pre-orders, and which ones are unfinished drafts that aren’t ready for advertisement yet.

So we created an optional Contributor Profiles page under My Account where you can provide some biographical information for an About the Author page…and that was it. (Click the link to see a screenshot of a sample Contributor Profiles page with all the details filled in.) That’s all we needed from you so we could prepare all of these incredibly powerful promotional pages for any book published through us.

Automating Your Process

Now, naturally we don’t add anything to your books without your permission. We’re not that kind of company. But we want to make it as easy as possible for you, so we’ve added these tools to the basic publishing process on our site.

If you want to take advantage of one of these pages in your book, go to the Draft2Digital dashboard and add a new book or edit an existing one. The first page in the process is called Acquisitions. That’s where we get all the promotional details about the book. Fill it out or modify it if necessary, then click Save & Continue.

That will bring you to the second page in our process: Layout. On the Layout page, you can confirm that we’ve interpreted your document correctly (with the chapter list on the right), but the rest of the page is dedicated to these Automated End-matter pages.

You’ll see a checkbox for each of the types of end-matter pages that we provide. “Also By” is our name for the “Other books by this author” page. If you check the box, we’ll ask you where you want that page to appear (front of the book, back of the book, or both). If you check the box next to “Dedication,” we’ll give you a textbox right there on the page where you can type or paste some dedication text.

Feel free to experiment! None of these changes will be published yet. Check the boxes for any pages you’re interested in, answer the questions associated with those pages (if there are any), and then click Save & Continue.

Reviewing Your Changes

The third page in our process is Publishing, but you’re not there yet! First we want to give you a chance to review how your ebook looks after our conversion and any end-matter pages have been added. So after Layout you’ll see the Layout Approval page.

Here you can download a copy of the ebook in one of several formats and preview it on your favorite ereader or application. Flip through it, check the formatting, and pay particular attention to the end-matter pages such as About the AuthorAlso By, Teaser, or the New Release Notification pages (which we will be talking about a lot more in the near future).

If you want to make any changes, you can go back to the Acquisitions or Layout pages and modify the book there. If you see problems in our conversion, you can reach out to our excellent customer support team through the Contact page.

It’s as easy as that! Powerful promotional pages for every book in your catalog.

Store-specific Links

There’s one more detail I should probably share. These pages are all generated and added to your ebook right there on the Layout page, but the versions you see on the Layout Approval page aren’t the absolute final version of the document.

That’s because we have learned a lot about the different quirks of all the different digital book stores, so we always start with this generic review copy of your ebook, but we actually process that file and convert it into a customized version every time we deliver it to one of our partner stores.

That means the Apple store gets an Apple-specific version of your ebook. Same for Barnes & Noble and Kobo and all the rest. Mostly we just use that to enforce the various stores’ particular quality control rules or pricing quirks, but there’s one thing we do that’s a lot more exciting for our authors even if they don’t notice it: During the delivery process, we create store-specific links to your other books.

So if you add an Automated End-matter “Teaser” page to book one in your series, advertising book two, that page will include the book cover, the product description, and a link for readers to go find book two online.

In the generic copy that you download during Layout Approval, that link will probably send you to a page on the Draft2Digital website with the promotional information about that book and (on the sidebar) links to all the stores where you’ve distributed that title.

But in the Apple version of the book—the copy that we’ll send to Apple to sell to readers through iBooks—that same book will have a slightly different link. Anyone clicking that link from an Apple version will skip straight past the Draft2Digital site, and see book two’s sales page in iBooks. Someone clicking through from a Nook version will be taken directly to the Barnes & Noble website.

We’ll do that for Teaser pages, Also By pages, and any other book links generated in our Automated End-matter pages. No need for you to build multiple copies of the book for each bookstore or maintain landing pages packed with links to all the different storefronts. You can have it all just by checking a box.

Check it out! Take a peek at the feature today, and let us know what you think of it in the comments.