One of the most amazing things about the self-publishing community is how authors come together, producing books as co-authors or building box sets or anthologies or collections. This is a group that likes to work together! And we’ve Draft2Digital has built a few things that help authors do that, making collaboration easier. In this episode of Self Publishing Insiders, we’re taking a deep dive into ways we can all work together.
We love helping authors come together, especially if it means crafting more books! In this episode of Self Publishing Insiders, the D2D team are offering their tips for collaborating and co-authoring, from box sets to anthologies to short story collections.
//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. 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 cut of royalties on each sale you make through us, so we only make money when you make money!
• Get started: https://Draft2Digital.com Get insider info on indie author success from our blog.
• Visit: https://Draft2Digital.com/blog Tune in to our monthly livestreams and ask us anything!
• D2D Live: https://D2DLive.com Promote your books with our Universal Book Links!
• Books2Read: https://books2read.com
//Get ahead of the Self-Publishing game with our Amazing Partners//
Findaway Voices || Find a narrator, produce your audiobook, and distribute it to retailers worldwide, including Audible.com and Apple Books.
Reedsy || Assemble your team of publishing professionals! Find editors, cover designers, marketing experts, ghostwriters and more.
BookBrush || Build graphics and video that help you market and promote your books.
//Join the D2D Community Online//
Facebook || https://facebook.com/draft2digital
Twitter || https://twitter.com/draft2digital
Mark Lefebvre, Dan Wood, Kevin Tumlinson, Nick Thacker
Kevin Tumlinson 00:02
Well, hello, everybody we are live. Now we’ve got a full crew here today. We normally only pop in like maybe two or three folks. We’re going for four here in this episode of Self-Publishing Insiders, and with good reason, because this episode is all about collaboration and working together. So what better way to exemplify that than having four blokes on the screen, bearded and glasses and all? Well, I guess you guys aren’t wearing glasses, Dan and Mark. You didn’t get the memo on the uniform?
Dan Wood 00:36
I like how the one half has glasses, the other does not.
Kevin Tumlinson 00:40
That’s right. It worked out. Nick and I are always being accused of being twins anyway. Or well, maybe not twins, we’re just starting to morph into each other, the longer the bromance goes on. Really excited about this one because this is a is a topic that I talk about a lot, when I’m doing presentations and things like that. People love to talk about collaborating on things like box sets, co-authoring together, Nick and I have co-authored together. Mark and I have technically had a collection—what would you call that, a collection, a box set, an anthology?
Mark Lefevbre 01:16
A sampler. We called it a thriller sampler.
Kevin Tumlinson 01:20
A thriller sampler. Dan and I, we’re collaborating all the time. So it’s something that’s near and dear to our hearts at Draft2Digital. We’ve got a whole gosh darn service built around it, which we’re going to talk about here in just a minute. But before we do that, one thing that we wanted to pop up, now I have to track it back down again. But we have reopened the D2D Print beta. And we really are looking forward to getting more folks in there. We have done some things behind the scenes to really amp that up. Do we want to talk a little bit, are there things we can share about what we’ve done behind the scenes, Dan?
Dan Wood 01:57
Not really. We have switched partners, and the new partner is much much quicker at getting the books out. And so that’s been wonderful, they look amazing. It’s such a good opportunity to test out, you know, we’ve made—especially for someone, if you haven’t gone out and gotten covers made by your cover designer for print, we’ve made an automated process to take your normal digital cover and stretch it around so it becomes a print cover. And it does all the calculations for you to make sure, when you change the size of the book, like if you add like a an epilogue or you add an acknowledgment, you don’t have to go back to a cover designer, because we will just readjust the size of the cover. So it’s really really cool technology. I’m excited to get it out to more people.
Kevin Tumlinson 02:50
People have asked me about that. We’ve seen people post questions about that before, asking things like, you know, how does it do that? Because my image only goes to the edge of the front cover. And what it does is take like an average of the color and basically run that around. So if the average color of your front cover image is black, then it’ll do a black wraparound. And you’ll have the spine text and the back copy on the back of the cover and everything. It’s very cool. It’s one of my favorite things about that. So—oh, yeah, Mark is showing us one. For the listeners, I can just describe in detail. So it’s a glossy cover with a light blue finish. It looks great.
Mark Lefebvre 03:35
Yeah, and I do this for smaller projects where I’m not gonna pay for the full cover design. Because they’re handy, convenient, quick, and easy. Like you said, If you change it, you’re done. And I do know, we have received feedback from our awesome beta users so far, me being one of them, where you know, they want a little bit more control over the font size and customization. And I know we have that in the future plans. But we want to get through this beta first, we want to get it live, we want to get more people be able to use it, and then we can enhance it and make it better, where you can actually then customize it to move the text around a little bit more. So that’s something I’m personally looking forward to, because I do want a little bit more control.
Kevin Tumlinson 04:18
Yeah, yeah, control is good. And, you know, it’s surprising to me though, how much you can really do with what’s already built into there. Because you can customize the text that’s on the back. It’ll either import the copy that you set up from the beginning, the book description that you wrote from the beginning. Or you can write an all new one just for your print book. And I’ve seen people do that when they’re, the copy they wrote for their description for the various retailers is a little too long. I’ve seen people actually shift that and rewrite it for the back cover. Plus, you can do things that are sometimes not allowed on the retailers, like you can drop in a web address for example. Some retailers don’t like you to include websites in your book description, so if you have one that you want people to funnel to, you could put it right on your cover.
Nick Thacker 05:08
Nathan was asking if you can convert the paperback to the hardcover size. I think this is just paperback at this point, yeah?
Kevin Tumlinson 05:14
Yeah, right now.
Dan Wood 05:16
Yeah, we’re focusing on, the paperback is the most commonly bought. So we’ve been focused on that. We have plans to expand into some hardcover stuff, some different sizes and different trim levels. Large print is something that we’ve been interested in. Right now it is, like the author copy side of it is aimed at North American authors. But we are planning on expanding that in the future as well. But your book, once it’s in the print on demand system, is available to purchase throughout the world. And so …
Kevin Tumlinson 05:51
Even on Walmart.com.
Dan Wood 05:52
How awesome is that technology? Like, you know, it used to be booked stayed in the countries or like in the immediate area, you know. Like a book in the US probably wouldn’t make it into UK. Now, it could be available everywhere.
Nick Thacker 06:05
I remember having to load up an InDesign template and do the layout manually for every trim size, you know, just this huge, huge burden. And it was like, okay, well, I’m going to, 5.5 by 8 didn’t work quite right, let me do 5.25 by 8 and a half, you know? It was just miserable, miserable process every time, you know. You’d have to change the interior and the book cover layout.
Kevin Tumlinson 06:28
Yeah, you get those, with some of the other various services, where they yell at you for not having the trim size perfect or whatever. So if you’re listening, and not watching, we have the actual URL on the screen for everyone listening. It’s draft2digital.com/printbeta. And that will get you to a little form where you just drop in your email address and everything and sign up. And then you’ll get a verification email that says you’re in. So eventually, we will add you. We have to onboard a few folks at a time because that helps us to kind of make, you know, kind of regulate things. So if something does go wrong, then we can hold back and keep you from getting involved in that mess. So draft2digital.com/printbeta. This is not the last time you’ll hear it in this episode. So yes, so we already took one question. I’ve had some others pop up. Gil Jackson popped in really early, before we even started the show, from YouTube. He says, “Hi team. Authors’ websites. What’s the preferred option, WordPress or conventional?” And I don’t know what he means by conventional per se, unless he’s talking like old school, building it in Dreamweaver or, you know, home site or something. We got some various opinions on this around the board, I think, though. So Nick, you do a lot of website stuff.
Nick Thacker 07:56
I do. Yeah, I’m a WordPress guy. But that’s mostly because of, you know, I have a background in marketing and web design. And I switched to WordPress for all my client sites 10 years ago. So I’m just really, really familiar with it. It does everything I need it to do, and I can get some pretty custom-looking WordPress sites that still do exactly what I need to. But it’s certainly not the only option. And there’s a lot of, you know, WordPress is sort of the gold standard, but that’s only meant we’ve gotten better competition. There’s other places, like Kevin, you’re using Squarespace, and Wix. You know, there’s all these other places that do pretty much the same thing.
Kevin Tumlinson 08:32
I do like Squarespace. They kind of hacked me off a little recently, because they switched to their like Squarespace 7.0, but they won’t let me migrate my old site over. I have to literally rebuild the site pixel by pixel to start over. So if you’re starting fresh … I mean Kara, my wife Kara actually is building her website on Squarespace, and she gets all the new features right off the bat. So you’re good there, but I like those guys. I mean, they take care of you. It’s a little, to me, it’s a little more wizziwig than WordPress in some cases. So it’s probably a little easier for some people. But WordPress can be pretty tight. Mark, what do you use for your website?
Mark Lefebvre 09:19
I used to have a custom version, from the place that was hosting for my main website, and actually he ended up migrating from a Linux-based platform. It still in the back end is, but now has a WordPress-based front end. And one of the benefits there that I like is there’s so many templates, there’s so many plugins available. And what I do also like about that is, you can operate it like a website but then you can also even have your blog, because the standard WordPress features. So the flexibility there is great. There’s so many tie-ins to so many other tools and apps with a major like Squarespace or WordPress. And even when you migrate from working on one site to another, you can go, well that’s WordPress-based. So I kind of know my way around. And so I did like that, because when I was first learning my web host, with the service that they were using, it was a bit challenging. It was a little bit more clunky as opposed to the more … to me it feels a little bit more intuitive. using something like WordPress for hosting the site.
Kevin Tumlinson 10:28
Yeah. Now, I feel like I would not be doing my job as our Director of Marketing if I didn’t also mention that if you are struggling with the whole author website thing, we have a tool built just for you at books 2read.com. You can build one of our D2D author pages, which includes you know, you can include your headshot, or any image you want to represent you if you choose, or no image at all.
Dan Wood 10:57
Well, maybe not any image you want.
Kevin Tumlinson 10:58
Yeah, let’s keep things family-friendly.
Mark Lefebvre 10:59
Any image that you own the rights to, and that are family-friendly.
Kevin Tumlinson 11:01
There you go. But you can also include links to get on your newsletter, follow you on social media, there’s a description, you can have a hero book, there’s a whole lot of really cool features. We actually have a video. If—I’ve noticed Elyssa is sharing links—if she’s feeling particularly generous, and wants to find the YouTube video that we created for how to use author pages, I’ll give her bonus Kevin points. They’re redeemable for all Kevin products. So Nathan Van Coops says hello guys.
Mark Lefebvre 11:37
So, going back to the author pages. I like to think of them as an author central for all retailers. And there are some really exciting developments coming, probably just in the next few weeks. I’m actually gonna give you guys a sneak peek since you’re awesome and you’re watching this live, and maybe hearing it months later in the podcast. But author pages, we are in the process of developing so you can actually have a custom URL. So right now, it’s books2read.com/”gobbledygook”/Mark-Leslie, is how you view my author page. Very soon, it’s gonna be books2read.com/MarkLeslie. if that’s not taken.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:15
That’s really stepping it up.
Mark Lefevbre 12:16
Yeah, a custom name URL for your book links. Yeah, so I’m really thrilled to be rolling new features like that out soon.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:23
Yeah. What was that Dan? I missed what you said.
Dan Wood 12:25
I already took Mark Leslie. [inaudible]
Kevin Tumlinson 12:30
That’s gonna be the real fun part is, it’s a little bit like being a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild or something. Like, nobody can have the same name. So Roland Denzel asks, “Do you have pictures of print books that have had this done?” I think he’s referring to the wraparound cover. He says, “People in one of my groups are trying to imagine it.” So yeah, we showed some in this video. I don’t know that we have photos …
Mark Lefebvre 12:55
I can share some in the links once the video is over. I can grab them and I’ll respond to your comment.
Kevin Tumlinson 12:59
We should do a blog post and take some photos of the covers, and just kind of show people how D2D Print stuff works So yeah, I think that’s on me. I’ll pull something together.
Mark Lefebvre 13:11
Cool, even better if it’s on you, Kevin.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:13
I’ll make you take the pictures, Mark. And I’ll just cut and paste them into …
Mark Lefebvre 13:18
The other thing Roland is if you’re in the print beta, you can go ahead and take any one of your ebooks that doesn’t have a full. And you click on Print, go in there, and you’ll see a preview of what that back cover would look like. And I don’t know if you want like physical pictures of physical copies, like if that’s what you’re interested in, or just the way it’s gonna actually look as a flat.
Nick Thacker 13:38
Well it’s Roland. So he’s probably going to prefer like Polaroids, if you can maybe just mail those to him.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:44
No, no, no slamming the guests.
Nick Thacker 13:49
I’m not, that’s not slamming, that’s a compliment. He’s old school in a beautiful way.
Kevin Tumlinson 13:55
So M.A. is asking “Kevin, what’s the make and model of your broadcast studio?” This is my, this is our van. Kara and I are doing the whole hashtag van line thing. We’re currently we’re in Zelienople, Pennsylvania right now. This is a 2020 Coachman Beyond. It’s built on a 2019 Ford chassis. The transit HD, I think is the, the 350 HD. Is that all the right numbers? Time will only tell.
Dan Wood 14:28
I want to know what river you’re by.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:31
We’re by, I don’t think we’re quite by a river. But there is a little creek near here. So we’re actually, is it called a crick?
Dan Wood 14:38
I thought you were being the van down by the river man.
Kevin Tumlinson 14:41
Someday I’m going to have to broadcast from a river out of the van just to get that joke out of the way. So here’s somebody volunteering. Craig Price says, “I make B2R author pages for a few people who I help publish.” So if you’re looking for someone to help you make those author pages … See, I love enterprising people. Like, we create the service, and you figure out a way to profit off of it. That’s good by me. Go ahead. Good luck, Craig. Thanks. Okay. So and Roland says, “Make it so.” I guess he’s referring to, we need to do our blog post with pictures. Fair enough. All right, we’ll get right on it. So talking, and now, that’s questions. We jumped in those right away. But we do want to get to the topic at hand. And that is collaboration. We in particular, recently, and you’ve probably heard us talk about this on past episodes, but we released our royalty share tool, we’re calling payment splitting, D2D payment splitting. And that has been interesting to see how people are using that, because this is perfect for authors who want to do a box set, you know, authors who just want to co-author together, things like that. So we’ll definitely talk about that. We should just get that out of the way. Because I also want to talk about tips that you guys think would be handy for authors in collaborating together, I don’t want us to just plug our stuff. So Mark, did you want to talk a little bit about … I’m putting you on the spot, you want to talk a little bit about payment splitting?
Mark Lefebvre 16:21
Yeah, so one of the things I love, absolutely adore about payment splitting as the token Canadian in this group of the four of us here, is when I collaborate with an author, the challenge for me is getting paid mostly in US dollars, having to convert it to Canadian. Every time that happens, I lose money, the exchange rate from Bank of Canada. Then most of my contributors are American or in other countries. So then I have to convert it again and lose money again to pay them. And imagine doing that for all the different sources, you know, Draft2Digital, and then there’s places where I’m direct. Pulling all that money in, calculating it, losing money, and then paying people. Never mind the time, labor, anxiety. I can’t send them tax documents or tax forms. But with Draft2Digital, I can collaborate with anyone I want anywhere in the world that can be paid through Draft2Digital, all they need is a free Draft2Digital account. I can invite them, and I can publish to the majority of the retail platforms, and to all of the major library platforms around the world. And I can set specific percentages on both the ebook and the print. So it’s fantastic. And what I love about it is every month, you know, the people who are collaborators can run reports to see what the sales are. They’re not dependent upon me having to tell them what the sales are, they can go in and see that. They get paid directly from Draft2Digital, they get a tax form, a tax receipt at the end of the fiscal year for all the sales as applicable. And I get my payment directly as well. So they’re not waiting on me, I’m not having to do extra labor. That is a huge, huge benefit. I’ve collaborated with several authors so far. So Maddie Dalrymple and I were using some sort of an early alpha version of this, even before collaborations launched, to actually launch a book about using short fiction. And that was a cool collaboration. Joanna Penn and I are publishing a book called The Relaxed Author, we’re using D2D for the print and the ebook to get that out there, for the trade paperback and the ebook version, that’s done through collaboration. I’ve got several other collaborations, I have an anthology with 16 contributors, which is just phenomenal. The tool is so easy, so convenient to use. And I’ve done a bunch of additional publishing collaborations. I actually think small press publishers would be, you know, advised to consider using a tool like this to a single source of income, getting, you know, get in there once, get your book out everywhere, and allow the contributors to get paid directly. And I’m seeing a lot of really cool publishing. I know Sasha Black, who’s got the Rebel Author Podcast, an amazing podcast, she’s doing the Rebel Anthology. And she’s using Draft2Digital exclusively to publish the book, which is really, really cool, because she’s in the UK. And you know, a lot of our contributors are gonna be in the UK, Canada, Australia, the US. She doesn’t have to worry about any of that stuff. This, to me, is a game changer in terms of the ability for collaboration in our industry.
Dan Wood 19:26
Yeah, I really can’t understate like how much the tax portion of that will save you so many headaches and so much time. We’re in our ninth year as a company. We’ve spent so much time figuring out how to properly handle taxes across the world, because we work with people in … I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say hundreds of countries. There’s so many little things. There’s things like tax treaties, where there are certain countries where you need to withhold more or less, depending on their agreement with the US or another country. Then sending out the tax forms to everybody at the end of year when it’s required is such a headache. And we had already automated all of that for our normal payments to authors. And so I think that’s really the biggest advantage that brings you, when you’re looking at doing some sort of collaboration. Because it will just save you so much effort.
Kevin Tumlinson 20:29
Yeah. Dan, you’ve seen how some of the other, like, payment splitting programs, from some of the other services—I was gonna say retailers, but not they’re not the retailers, they’re like, they’re a little bit like us, but they’re not as good as us. How do we stack up? How do we work in comparison to some of those?
Dan Wood 20:51
As far as I know, nobody really does what we do with payment splitting, to like the actual big digital retailers. There are services that will tell you like how much you should be paying people. But that doesn’t help you with all that stuff that Mark mentioned. It doesn’t help you with all the different currency conversion fees, it doesn’t help you with your taxes. I don’t really know what it helps you do, other than not write your own Excel sheet that would do all that stuff for you.
Mark Lefebvre 21:20
You don’t have to take off your shoes and socks to do all the calculations. That’s a benefit.
Dan Wood 21:25
I don’t get the reference at all, is that like a Canadian thing?
Kevin Tumlinson 21:29
That’s it, that’s Canadians.
Mark Lefebvre 21:32
Don’t you use your toes to count, when you run out of fingers?
Kevin Tumlinson 21:35
All my toes are fused together into one big toe.
Mark Lefebvre 21:38
And then as us Canadians say, when you’re finished all those calculation, Bob’s your uncle.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:43
Bob’s your uncle. I didn’t realize how Canadian I was.
Dan Wood 21:46
Texans can’t count to 10. So it doesn’t matter if they’ve got their toes.
Kevin Tumlinson 21:52
It’s one to Texas. And that’s it. That’s all the math we get. So, Nick, you have done a lot of collaborating with other authors. So I’m gonna put you on the spot here. What are some tips for doing a successful collaboration?
Nick Thacker 22:13
Man. Very quickly, you know, I really can’t emphasize enough the importance of understanding how you as an author like to work. And if you as an author can bend on that. Because if you can’t, and it’s fine if you can’t, but if you can’t, you’re gonna have a hard time. It’s not that it can’t be done. But you’re gonna have a hard time, because you’re gonna have to find another author who writes exactly the same way you do. And I don’t mean tone or stylistically. That’s helpful. But literally, you know, what software do you use to write in? Is it Microsoft Word, is it Google Docs, is it Scrivener? It’s really annoying, it’s not impossible, but it’s really annoying to switch back and forth and try to do that if you’re collaborating with someone that way. You know, Kevin and I, you and I both write in Scrivener. And so it makes it easy, we just send each other a Scrivener document to put, you know, put it in a Dropbox, folder, and it’s shared automatically. That’s the first step before you even do this. It’s, you know, hey, I want to collaborate with this guy or gal that I want to work with who’s a great writer, I think it’d be great. Cool. Make sure that you understand your own writing strategies and habits. And that goes into, you know, all the business side of things, too. You’re now working with somebody and you’re sharing your business with them, and vice versa. And so, having very clear expectations up front on deadlines on, you know, how you’re going to split the work. You know, Kevin and I, … you’re right there, I should just say you. You’re right in my screen. [inaudible] random person. We have both been able to work pretty fluidly with each other, like we’ll kind of pick up each other’s habits in some ways, I think we work really well together. I don’t think that’s normal. I think most people are a little bit more rigid with that. We’ve been able to collaborate in pretty interesting ways, like literally writing one person’s point of view, and then you know, you write the other one. And we write chapter by chapter. And then we mesh it together, and kind of smooth it out. I think our preferred method seems to be where I would come up with an outline, and then hand it off to you to do a first draft, where you can just do a treatment of it, burn at your own pace, and then hand it back to me. And then I say I’m editing it down, but I just publish it so I don’t have to do any of the work.
Kevin Tumlinson 24:33
So what’s interesting about that, by the way, is that I am a pantser through and through. I do not like to do outlines for my own work. But that does work really well for us in collaboration. So I think that is a consideration. Like, is one of you an outliner and the other a pantser? Are you both outliner? Like, what’s going to be the compromise you come to? Nick and I’ve done that, I’ve done that with some other folks too, and it does seem to work well. But these, handing it off and doing different points of view, like Nick and I have actually done several different ways of writing these things together over the past several years, so we’ve kind of fallen into it, we are adaptable. So I think having that adaptability is very important.
Dan Wood 25:22
I feel like it is, like I’ve heard it compared to a marriage. Like, especially for like a collaboration, where it’s two of you writing a book, you know, with the multi-author box set, not as much. But you’re going to be in it for the long term. And so making sure you think you’re going to work well with this person in the long term, and setting all the expectations up front. And generally, what I mean by that is like, having the legal contract. You know, plan the legal contract on things going as horribly as possible. How do you both get out of it in such a way that it’s the least painful for everyone? You know, with our service, we’re facilitating the payments and everything. But we do expect you to work out your contract with the people you’re collaborating with. Kind of an early version of collaboration was, we released D2D Universes a couple of years ago, when Amazon kind of very quickly pulled out and closed the … what was it called?
Kevin Tumlinson 26:26
Dan Wood 26:27
Kindle Worlds. We had a lot of authors that had invested a lot of time and money, they had a lot of people that were writing within their world, who approached us to see if we could help. And we made a very similar product to help them. And at first, we built it with the legal part. Like, we took the original contract language that Amazon had for Kindle Worlds. We had our lawyers go over it, we actually toned it down quite a bit because it was very draconian. And so we built the solution first with that. And when people saw that contract, they were like, no way, no one would ever sign this, not realizing they had already signed it with Amazon. So then what we did was, were were like, okay, well, we can kind of rework this and let you make your own agreements with these authors who are writing in your world. We learned a lot from that. But it’s also like, make sure you think ahead. Like, if things go badly, how do we each get out of this without …
Kevin Tumlinson 27:31
What’s the exit strategy?
Nick Thacker 27:33
You know, Dan, I would even argue that even if things go well, there’s going to come a time when you want to change things. And it’s not, it doesn’t have to be, you don’t have to have a contract just for the bad. I have contracts with my co-writers, because if something blows up, and then we get a movie deal out of it, we want to figure out how to split that money without, you know, having to go to court or whatever. Because we both like each other, you know, we still want to make sure, we each want the other person to be successful. You know, so it’s, there’s good in it as well. I think it’s a very smart idea to have something in there, you know? That hasn’t happened yet. So if anyone’s looking to option any of my books, you know, by all means, feel free to reach out. But that’s absolutely right. I mean, certainly plan for the bad. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy. I’m not a lawyer, obviously. But I have a boilerplate contract that I borrowed, I was given permission from a lawyer who’s also an author to use. And I just, I made that my boilerplate contract. And it’s simple enough that to be understood by normal humans. But it gets into a little bit of the details, essentially. You can put clauses in there that say things like, hey, if we get a movie deal, we have to have a meeting about it. Like, you don’t have to plan out what happens. You just say, we can’t just go forward and get a movie deal and not tell the other person, you know? Pick this up later, that kind of thing.
Mark Lefebvre 28:49
Yeah, I’ve incorporated a boilerplate kind of contract for the stuff I’m going to be doing through Draft2Digital. After having done that first anthology early on, I now have sort of a guideline that says, you still own all the rights, you’re agreeing to allow me to publish it. This is how it’s going to work. It’s going to be available this way. This is how it’s going to be published. This is how you’re going to get paid. And so now I’ve got something that I’ve been able to sort of recycle and readapt. And it’s been great. It’s been so handy. Because, you know, once someone’s willing to work, is like, yeah, that works for me. Great. Okay, you’ll now get a notification from Draft2Digital asking you to confirm that you want to be part of this collaborative project. So I just I love that systematic process where everyone knows what to expect. That’s really what the contract’s for.
Kevin Tumlinson 29:35
So Mark, you’ve been a part of a lot of anthologies and box sets, things like that. What are your tips on organizing things like that? Given that, you know, we want to protect ourselves with a good contract. What are some other tips?
Mark Lefebvre 29:52
So one of the things I like to do, it depends on if it’s a collaborative like bundle or some sort of larger box set. Or even when it’s, some of the books that I’ve co-authored, these were through traditional publishers, is a spreadsheet, usually a Google Sheet somewhere that’s shared, that we can both log into simultaneously, and update things. So whether it’s the division of the work, like you guys said chapter, I’m going to do this perspective, you’re gonna do the next perspective, and we’re going to build it that way. Several of the nonfiction books I’ve done has been, okay, here are the chapters we think we need. Sometimes that is approved by an editor, a developmental editor at the publisher or not. This is going to go into the pitch when it’s early on before we’ve even pitched the process. And we understand what the chapters are going to be, what the approximate—and again, it’s approximate—word length. So we have word length. Who is most likely to, like I call dibs. For example, when I was doing Haunted Places books, like I call dibs on this hospital, because it’s in my neighborhood, I’ve got access to resources, or whatever. Or it’s easier, or I’ve already done research on this, or I know the person. So that’s been a great way of tracking. Because it does … like, you know, the contract, over time, it can change. So we have the outline, we’re working on the book, we realize we’re not going to do this chapter. So it’s just a way to catch each other up on the process. So I can understand where my co-author is in their process. And because we are working together for a common deadline, whether that’s with the editor we’ve hired, whether that’s with the publisher that we’re contracted to. So for me, that online, like Google Sheets, which is free, that has been a lifesaver. Because if I ever have any questions or even comments, questions for my co-author, I don’t need to bother them, we don’t need to do an email or whatever, we just have a centralized place we can do it. Slack is another tool for quick and easy collaboration, pinging people without having to flood someone’s email box, as well. So that’s been another thing. Yeah, and most of my collaborations, the author and I maybe have met in person once or twice. But that’s the beautiful thing about this global digital community we live in is, you know, you can, it’s always nice to break bread with somebody, negotiating a deal or whatever, have a coffee or a drink with them. But just being able to stay in contact with them. It’s like, in different time zones. So Joanna Penn and I, for example, are working on this book together right now. I was working on a draft early this morning, and that was still early afternoon for her by the time I woke up. But when I wake up, her work’s done for the day, and then my work is there for me. So I can dig into it. And then when, you know, when she’s ready at it again next morning, my stuff is there for her. So that’s the other thing to consider too. And I know Kevin, you and Nick probably had that time zone difference for a while, right?
Kevin Tumlinson 32:49
Well, yeah, we never know which two time zones either one of us is going to be in, really. So yeah, we have to work around that sort of problem all the time. And we do pretty well. I think this is really early for Nick right now. And he’s convinced that I keep moving this show earlier and earlier, each time we invite him on.
Nick Thacker 33:14
Last time it was 10 a.m. my time, and now it’s 9 a.m., and now all of a sudden it’s 7 a.m. my time.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:18
[inaudible] different state, Nick.
Nick Thacker 33:19
Well, hey, I take no credit for my responsibility.
Kevin Tumlinson 33:25
Alright, so Elyssa wanted to pop in. She’s here for the Kevin points. That link, if you look in the comments, I can’t really read it off to you because it’s just gobbledygook, sorry for the folks at home. But if you go on YouTube and you search for D2D author pages, you’re sure to find it. But that’s the link to see the video on author pages. So and I think I noticed …
Nick Thacker 33:48
Elyssa, I think we’re calling them Kevin coins.
Dan Wood 33:49
How many dogecoins are Kevin coins worth? What’s the conversion?
Nick Thacker 33:54
They’re one to one. Yeah. I use doge as my universal standard.
Kevin Tumlinson 34:00
I need to come up with my own digital currency. The world is ready. So Gift Moyo, I hope I’m pronouncing it right, from YouTube asks, “Is it possible to create an affiliate link from D2D’s site and for marketers of your products?” And in a way it is. We actually have what we call a refer a friend. So if you have a Draft2Digital account, you can go under your My Account once you log in. And if you don’t have an account, you can create an account, it’s free. But on the My Account tab, scroll down to the bottom and then you’ll see a link that says Refer a Friend, and you get a unique URL. You can actually customize that URL. So like, I have one for my, I think mine’s like draft2digital.com/wordslinger. And that will allow you to share that link and anyone who signs up, you get … Gosh, I don’t remember the math. Is it 10% Dan? Maybe I shouldn’t ask.
Dan Wood 35:01
Yeah, I do not recall off the top of my head.
Mark Lefebvre 35:07
Is it 5%?
Kevin Tumlinson 35:08
It’s for two years, I think it’s 10%. Okay. Elyssa will go look this up, I’m sure, and then make fun of me in the comments. Feel free. But I believe that it is 10% of Draft2Digital’s cut of that author’s royalties for two years. So now if my math is entirely wrong on that, this is not a binding contract. You can’t hold us to it. But it is a pretty good deal, you don’t lose any money. The author that you refer doesn’t lose any money. Draft2Digital pays you out of our royalty for two years. So pretty, pretty cool.
Mark Lefebvre 35:47
The other affiliate is through Books2Read, right? If you create any Books2Read link, you can embed so many different affiliate codes, if you have Amazon affiliate, Apple affiliate, etc. So any Books2Read link you create automatically has that affiliate code in it. So that’s an additional possibility for marketers.
Kevin Tumlinson 36:07
Yep. Okay, so Elyssa has shared in the comments a very long link to a blog post I did forever ago called “D2D ups the ante with the refer a friend program,” so go check that out. It’s draft2digital.com slash blog slash D2D dash … No, I’m not going to do that to anybody, just go search “D2D ups the ante,” you should be able to find it. Or refer a friend program on our blog.
Nick Thacker 36:34
Mark just mentioned marketing. And I just wanted to point out that that’s one, we haven’t really talked about why we would consider collaboration as an author, you know, I was asked that by …
Kevin Tumlinson 36:44
Right, back into the topic. Go ahead.
Nick Thacker 36:48
Does that work? I mean, I know you’re running the boat, you’re running the show. I just, before I forget.
Kevin Tumlinson 36:51
No, that’s perfect. We’re out of out of questions at the moment, so answer any questions you want.
Nick Thacker 36:57
I just wanted to say, you know, to kind of answer the question of why you might consider collaboration, Mark nailed it, it’s marketing. That’s the easy answer, is you can do more with less, right? But for me, I don’t think of my writing as really precious, you know, as something only I could do. There’s some truth to that. But I’ve never really wanted to protect that. I actually want to learn from other people, I think there’s a lot of authors who do it way better than I do. And collaboration is absolutely the best way I’ve found to really excel as a writer and sort of practice, you know, while still having something marketable and publishable at the end. And so I’ve used that for that reason, to be better as a writer myself. But, you know, marketing is … well, let me say it this way, instead of marketing, that’s just kind of a broad thing with a broad brush. I can only write X amount of hours per day, probably two or three hours of actual writing. So I just can’t do, I can’t do any more than that, I just get burned, you know. And by collaborating with other authors, I can scale that a lot more, you know? Especially if I can find people like Kevin, who is happy to get an outline from me, and then sort of take that. Like, he’s got an outline, I’m about to give him a second outline for the second book in a series that we’ve just sort of said, hey, we’re gonna write this in the cracks, we’re gonna write this when we can, and it’s gonna come out when it comes out. And we’re not really going to be pressured by it. But I’m doing that with three or four other authors right now as well. And so all of a sudden, I’m gonna have, you know, four or five, three-book series, or six-book series that I could just, you know, launch. And it’s an exceptionally great way to do more with less, if you’re just one writer. Everyone’s got a limit. It’s just you, you only have 24 hours in a day, and I’ve never met anyone who can write for 24 hours straight. I guess there was that one guy who did it. But anyway, the point is, there’s the exception that proves the rule, of course. But that’s probably, the two big reasons for me to consider collaboration is, you will grow as a writer in ways that you can’t even imagine. There’s good and bad to that, of course, because it’s sometimes painful. But you’ll also be able to make a lot more money, most likely, because you’ll have just more stuff out, more books making you money. And then of course, uploading to D2D Print and have all the formats made for you and you know, just a way to scale infinitely.
Kevin Tumlinson 39:17
Yeah, I will say that one of the bonuses … You’ve mentioned marketing, but like, the collaboration happens in the marketing as well as the writing. So you’re sort of doubling your reach in a way, you know. Nick and I, we basically at this point, I think our mailing lists are virtually identical. with all the cross-promotions and, you know, people discovering one of the other. Yeah, but our efforts are not identical. Like, the things that we excel at, each of us has a unique strength when it comes to marketing. And so when we co-author something, we can fall back on those strengths and expand what we’re capable of doing. So just like making it easier to produce more work, it’s easier to produce more marketing. So was there anything on that side of things, Dan and Mark, that you wanted to add?
Mark Lefebvre 40:10
I do want to illustrate, don’t assume that a two-author collaboration means 50% of the work, because there are going to be times where it’s not. You’re going to be doing more than 50%, because of the collaborative element of getting to know your partner. And once you know your partner, and you fall into a routine, that’s different. But there may be a time where you end up, it’s not going to suddenly cut your work in half. It may cut it by 30% or 40% initially. And that was one of the things I first discovered, for example, when I did one of my first collaborations with a journalist who had only ever had to write really short form, because articles for newspapers needed to be 200, 300, 500 words. Writing 2000, 3000 word chapters. So when I initially thought, oh, this is going to be a 50/50, split, I ended up having to write 70% of it, because all of the segments that my partner was working on were significantly shorter than the proposed pitch, because we were on contract to hit a certain word count with the publisher. And so that caught me by surprise, because I was like, oh, wow, we came in a lot shorter. But again, that’s because our writing styles were different, because her writing style was very specifically journalistic, very, very tight, because you got to leave all the room for the ads, that’s really what they’re selling when they sell a newspaper. But when you’re doing a book, you can actually expand and get into details that you usually trim out of a newspaper, or even sometimes magazine articles. So again, the collaborative helped me get more produced, but in some cases, it’s not necessarily going to be half of your work.
Nick Thacker 41:51
And don’t forget, Mark, that it’s not just the writing that you’re splitting up. There could be other ways you as a collaborator can contribute, you know, 50%. For example, like for me, I love writing outlines, those are easy for me. Kevin doesn’t like doing them. But he loves to just flow, and just go with the story, where that’s a little bit, well that’s a lot trickier for me, I can’t really do that. And so I’ve come to collaborate, I’ve come to co-authors with nothing, and they reach out and say, hey, I’ve got a book, and I want to give you 50% because I know you’re a better marketer and publisher than I am. And I’m thinking to myself, that’s crazy. That’s not that much work for me. But for a lot of authors, that is a ton of work. And so it tends to feel like a 50/50 split for them. It feels like free money to me, but it’s not. There’s some work in there, you know?
Kevin Tumlinson 42:40
[inaudible] my Kotler books, man. I’m sorry, Nick. You too, Dan. We’ll just throw everybody in there.
Nick Thacker 42:49
I used to have long hair, by the way. So I looked a lot like Dan, as well.
Dan Wood 42:52
I did want to mention, with all of that, it lets you play to your strengths. So if you know you’re very strong at outlining the book and everything, you know, we’ve seen people like Shawn, Johnny, and Dave, who really, they work together in different pairings. But it allows them to lean on their own strengths and the strengths of the other person they’re partnering with, in ways where you can make something that’s a little bit better than the two parts that came into it. The other thing is just, there’s an algorithmic value to getting your name out there more. And so these collaborations can help you. And it’s gonna be different per retailer, but it’s especially strong at Amazon. It’s gonna just, you’re going to have more books, and that is going to drive Amazon to show more. Because if they get an individual reader to buy one of your books, they know odds are they’re going to buy more of your books. And so if you have a lot of books to sell, that’s going to look better to them than just having one or two books to sell. And so just something to consider. And the final part is the branding aspect of like, there’s a branding value to it. And the more you get your name out there, the more people are going to recognize your name. I don’t know what the most recent studies show, but people have to see your name so many times, like I think the old one was like six or seven times, before they’d even consider. I think it’s much higher now. So people are seeing your name over and over. We’ve seen a lot of different successful indie authors figure out how to how to use that to perform better in different stores. And so just consider like, getting your name out there more and more, more people seeing it is always going to help your brand, it’s going to help you in indirect ways that you can’t really quantify with data exactly.
Kevin Tumlinson 44:45
Yeah. So we’re getting close to wrapping up, but I did get an answer. Elyssa was kind enough to post it in the comments for us, the too long didn’t read version. So I’m vindicated, it is 10% of D2D’s cut from your friend’s sales. Your friend won’t lose a cent, she says, for two full years. So the D2D refer a friend program you will find on draft2digital.com. Last question, and this one I think Mark is going to be able to help us with. Nick Lang asks, “Does D2D do promos for BN.com, Barnes and Noble?”
Mark Lefebvre 45:24
We are in the process of reconnecting with ever-changing folks over at Barnes & Noble that we used to have contact with. It looks like they’re stabilizing again, and there’s some positive signs that … Because we’ve got great relationships with the folks at Apple, Overdrive, Kobo, Biblioteca, Vivlio. We’re continuing to grow Scribd as well. And hopefully, we will have that connection with B&N soon. So stay tuned. Nick, I trust you have access to some of the promotional forms that Kara’s worked out. If not, email firstname.lastname@example.org. And let us know where you’re publishing to with your books so we can let you know of promotional opportunities in your genre with your preferred retailers that you’re using us for.
Kevin Tumlinson 46:11
Yes. All right. That said, I told you this wouldn’t be the last time we bring this up. But make sure you go check out the draft2digital.com/printbeta. Go check that out, sign up to get into the D2D Print beta. Because man, I gotta tell you, I use D2D Print. I’ve been using it now ever since we created it. I love the quality of my books. You can get glossy or matte print. You can get all the stuff that you would expect from a print on demand service, but with, you know, five times the customer support if you need it. So go check that out, draft2digital.com/printbeta. And while you’re out there on the webs, make sure you are bookmarking D2Dlive.com, so that you can see when we’re gonna have another one of these little live broadcasts. We’re starting to, we’re probably going to amp up and do some more stuff coming up. We’ve talked a little bit about doing more interviews, more of these AUAs, things like that. We’re gonna look into how we get you more of this kind of stuff as quickly as possible. And make sure that you are subscribing to us, following us on YouTube and Facebook, or youtube.com/draft2digital or facebook.com/draft2digital. And like us, hit those subscribe, do all the things so that you will be alerted every time we have one of these live broadcasts. So.
Mark Lefebvre 47:34
And if you missed it live, or you came in late, it’ll be there. It’ll be on our YouTube page. It’ll be on our Facebook page. So you can go back and watch the whole wonderful thing.
Kevin Tumlinson 47:43
It will. Right now, the shortcut to find that is selfpublishinginsiders.com, which just happens to be the name of the podcast. So yeah, you can get all the back episodes on YouTube. You can get all the past interviews on the podcast, read transcripts, all kinds of fun stuff. So go check that out. And we love to have you, make sure you comment and you know, say hello, we love getting comments on the blog. So that said, guys, thanks for tuning in with us. We appreciate you being here. Thanks to everybody in the circle here. We all collaborated on this podcast and we’re all the better for it.
Dan Wood 48:23
I did want to say, in the wise words of Vanilla Ice, stop. Stop whatever you’re doing right now. Collaborate, and listen.
Kevin Tumlinson 48:33
I cannot believe we didn’t think of that joke earlier.
Dan Wood 48:35
Collaboration and listening make the world a better place.
Kevin Tumlinson 48:40
All right, everybody. Go chill, and we’ll see you all next time. Take care.