Draft2Digital’s Mark Lefebvre and Kevin Tumlinson are joined by Tara Robinett, D2D’s Director of Operations and Author Support to discuss some frequently asked support questions, as well as answer questions from the live attendees. Tune in through video recast, and follow along with the transcript below!


Mark: Welcome everyone to the September, 2019 Draft2Digital. Ask us anything. Let’s start off with introductions. My name is Mark Leslie Lefebvre and I’m the director of business development at draft two digital. We have a special guests with us this week. Tara.
Tara: Hi everyone. I’m Tara Robinett. I am the director of operations and customer support here at drafted digital. It’s great to be here.
Mark: Awesome. And you guys, if you’ve watched one of these before you recognize Kevin.
Kevin: Hi there. I’m Kevin Thompson. I am the director of marketing for drafted digital.
Mark: Oh cool. So we’re really excited to, to get Tara here because Tara does a lot of work with our customer support team, a lot of work with vendor support team and she has a lot of really cool things that she can share. So we thought we kick off the meeting by a, Tara has some frequently asked questions? Tara, Tara, why don’t you just because people see Kevin and I in walking around, wandering around, confused at writer’s conferences, et Cetera, but they don’t get an idea of what you do. Could you start by just telling us a little bit about your role?
Tara: Sure, sure. Um, I’ve been with Draft2Digital for seven years now, but I’ve been in publishing for the last 23 years. Um, I work directly with authors, so there’s a lot of you have who have seen my name, seen emails from me or even talked to me on the phone. Um, but I also work directly with our vendors. Uh, as we, as we work with an add new vendors, um, there requires a lot of support. We’ve got to make sure everything is up and running and everything goes smoothly and we meet all of their guidelines. So I’m on that front: I help the operations team, we have a whole team of people who work with our vendors. Um, but we make sure everything runs smoothly. No glitches, no errors, no bugs even though that happens. Uh, but that’s what I do!
Mark: Awesome. Thank you so much. And I thought it might be good, um, because, um, because you’re involved in a lot of the questions that come in from the author community, I know you’ve prepared a list of sort of regularly asked questions because we know that there’s probably authors out there maybe even watching this webinar that are relatively new and maybe this is something that could help them. Did you want to start with the first one on your list?
Tara: Sure, absolutely. Where? Wherever you want to start. I’m, I’m game. Uh, the first one on my list was-
Mark: See how great is is to work with Tara?
Tara: As opposed to Kevin.
Mark: Oh. Just troublesome.
Kevin: I get that a lot.
Tara: Um, one of the things that I really wanted to discuss with everyone was sales reports. That is one of our most frequently asked questions. Uh, if not our top, our top number one question. Um, we try really hard to make our sales reporting as transparent as we possibly can, but at this point we are collecting data from a dozen different vendors, um, and they all report on different time schedules and they all report different information. Ahh where some will give me free numbers, some do not. Some give me pre-order numbers, some do not. Um, so it’s understandably complicated, but like I said, we try very hard to make our sales reporting just as transparent as we can.
Tara: You will receive tra-uh, you will receive sales reports from us through your email every month, but we also load them on your dashboard. You can find that anywhere on your Draft2Digital dashboard by clicking on my reports and then click on downloads. When you look in that folder, you’re going to see a list of dates by month. So June, July, August, September. Um, what I want to tell people what, what I think is important that people know and understand is when you’re looking at those reports, let’s use the August, 2019 sales report. Just as an example, the August, 2019 sales report is a reporting of the previous month’s sales and it’s paid out to you in the following month. So August, 2019 is going to be a reporting of your July sales and you can expect to receive payment for that in September. We pay by the 15th of the month in eight any month that royalties are due.
Tara: Um, that is a little bit confusing to our authors because of the dates. When you’re looking at August, that’s the past month sales and it’s next month’s payment. Um, and then the only other big thing that I think will help to clarify our sales report is to discuss Apple’s fiscal calendar reporting. Every other vendor pays from the first day of the month to the last day of the month. Apple does not. Apple does a fiscal calendar month. Um, and the way they do that is they do a month of 28 days a month of 28 days and then a month of 35 days. So a short month, a short month, then a long month. Um, what, what causes a lot of confusion is sales that may fall at the very end of the month may get rolled over into the next month’s accounting period by Apple. We have no control over this. And we do try to make this really clear on our site and in your sales reports, those sales are not lost.
Tara: Those sales do not go away. All that that means is at the point that Apple cut off a particular month, anything that fell at the very end may get pushed into the following month’s sales. Um, that is something that just, that drives questions, understandably. So. Uh, people are constantly asking, uh, why there was a change. They may be looking at their, my reports page and watching their sales numbers for this month. And see a total there. But when we move into the next month and that box shifts to last month’s sales, you’re now getting a report of what our vendors are actually paying us. Um, and so those, those few Apple sales, if there were any, that gets shifted over into the following months. They’re going to drop off. Um, again, those sales do not disappear there. They- you do not lose those cells. They’re just moved to the, to the next month’s reporting period. Um, I think those are the two things that I really wanted to touch on and I think it’ll help explain to our authors, um, especially our newer authors who aren’t familiar with Apple’s reporting calendars. Why this happens.
Mark: Can I ask a question?
Tara: Absolutely!
Kevin: I was going to open it up for the other folks too. So when you
Mark: yeah. Yeah. Well, I have a followup question to that. So, um, do we know which months are 28 days in which months are 35 so we can, okay. Is that something okay.
Tara: That is posted online. So you can go to Apple’s website and you can actually download their, um, Apple fiscal calendar updates in September. If, if I’m correct, um, it updates in September and so our, uh, our 2020 calendar period should have rolled out by now. Um, but yes, that, that Apple makes that transparent. They don’t hide that fact and they do post that online. [Editor’s note: Apple’s fiscal calendar seems to have been moved behind the vendor paywall this year. Sorry!]
Mark: Cool. That’s good to know. You know what, I have all these years of selling books through Draft2Digital.
Tara: You didn’t know that!?
Mark: I didn’t know that. So see, come to these Ask Us Anything and I’m learning just as much as maybe a person who just started. So that’s cool. I think we’re going to alternate between the frequently asked questions and some of the questions from the floor. Kevin, did you actually have one that you wanted to pull off the queue?
Kevin: No, no actually yeah, we’ve got some in slack, a couple of them we can pull in, but I did want to remind everybody if you do have a- a question you want to ask live, this is the place to do it. So type it into um, a little a box there on Facebook and we will do our best answer. But Mark, why don’t you go ahead and I know we have a couple of questions floating here.
Mark: Yeah, let me start with the first one that I can see here. So Cathy Bryson asks and thanks for asking a question. Cathy, can we get an update on when audio book links will be on the books2read landing pages? Who wants to take that one can go ahead.
Tara: I can! Yeah, we don’t have a timeframe. We don’t have a date but I can tell you that is very, that is a very common request. We know that our authors need this, they want this. Um, and that’s something that our development team is actively working on. Um, we will of course keep everyone up to date with, with any changes to our UBLs. Uh, but I did want you to know that that is actively being worked on now. That is high up on the priority list
Mark: And I can attest to that.
Kevin: That’s gonna be very cool. When that is rolled down.
Mark: ‘Cause Kevin, you’ve been Beta testing it as well or not even, not even Beta testing cause it’s still only on stage. But we’ve been finding-
Kevin: Alpha testing? Alpha testing, yeah.
Tara: Just the beginning.
Mark: And it’s been, it’s been from our experience too and you know, we’re reporting bugs back to the Dev team and, and fixing it. I think it’s going to be quite, quite amazing. Uh, particularly with our partnership with Findaway Voices, right? So, you know, allowing you links to your books in multiple formats is, uh, is fantastic. So thanks for asking that question. And Tara, thank you so much for the answer.
Tara: Sure!
Mark: Now. Uh, do we want to jump to a second frequently asked questions?
Tara: You’re the host!
Mark: That you had? There was a thing, there’s a thing about preorders that I think you wanted to talk about? How about we jump right into preorders.
Tara: Sure. Uh, pre-orders are an amazing marketing tool. Everyone who can, should be utilizing preorders. Um, but there’s a couple of nuances that I would love to share with everyone about preorders. Um, one of them is if you don’t have your full finished, edited file ready to go upload nothing at all. Um, our vendors don’t like placeholder files. They do not like dummy files. Don’t upload, if this is going to be book 12 in your series, don’t upload book 11 just to hold its place. Upload nothing at all. As long as you’ve entered a future release state in the release state field, you won’t be prompted to upload a interior file. So you’re good to go. Um, all our vendors ask is that you supply your full finished file within 10 business days of your release date. That gives them time to prep your file, to contact you if there’s any issues, any errors, and to make sure you just have an error free, uh, preorder launch. Um, one of the things that I LOVE letting people know about ibooks offers 250 promo codes per book.
Tara: Some of our best selling authors use this to their advantage with their preorders. So once they get their full finished file uploaded and ready to go, it’s still still on preorder. They start handing out those promo codes to get advanced readers to leave reviews. And we see, we see the authors that do this get some of the best success in the industry. They know how to leverage their preorders. They know how to leverage those promo codes so that they can, they can be selling their books six months or even a year before it’s actually released. Um, the, these authors, they’re savvy, the, not only are they good authors, but they’re savvy business men and business women who know how to do this. But anyone who wants a preorder and a, I’m sorry, and iBooks, Promo code contact, customer support.
Mark: You mean “Apple Books” right?
Tara: Yes, yes, I do. Sorry. Sorry. An Apple and iTunes Promo Code. It’s a, it’s a free code that they can download your book for free. Um, anyone who wants one, contact customer support and we will pull those codes for you.
Mark: So wait a second, this is another thing I didn’t know about.
Tara: What?
Tara: Um, wait- did I know? Is it just for preorders?
Kevin: I knew allll about this. I wasn’t telling anybody.
Tara: No, no, no, no, no. Every single book-! [Kevin’s joke lands and Tara laughs.] Every single… Kevin! Every single book that you have available at Apple has 250 free codes.
Mark: Get out of the city. 250 free codes. Why aren’t people taking advantage of this awesomeness with Apple?
Tara: They are free codes. Any anyone you give them to. So when you’re going to conferences, go with some of those codes in hand and you can pass those out as, as prizes, as door prizes, as people you know who, who are expressing interest in your books. You can get reviews for in exchange for free free downloads.
Mark: So I’m going to leave the Webinar now. I’m gonna go email support@dropdigital.com to get some some of my codes. Thanks. See ya later.
Tara: What you need to know is those codes expire within 28 days of customer support pulling them even if they never get used.
Mark: So 28 days, which sounds like a fiscal period for Apple.
Tara: It is, it is. You got it. So I, I always, I always recommend people err on the side of caution. Don’t pull your 250 codes and and then they expire within 28 days and you may not even be ready to use them. Pull five, pull 10 you can always ask for more. We’re always happy to pull codes for anyone who needs them. And you have 250 per book for every book you have live at ibooks.
Kevin: What kind of turnaround is it to get those once I’ve requested them from you guys?
Tara: Once you’ve requested them? We answer our emails very quickly. Same day, most of the time other than on weekends, but same day. Most of the time. Once we pull those codes, once we see your email, we pull those codes immediately and you get an email back from us with your codes all lined up and ready to go. It’s that quick. It really is.
Mark: All right. This is fantastic. There’s a question that just came in on the, on the codes as well. I’m figuring may as well keep on this. This is exciting. I love this. It’s like marketing the Tara. This is fantastic. Um, uh, Julie says, uh, do those free codes count towards sales?
Tara: They do not. They do not count towards sales. Um, that’s an excellent question. I’m glad that got asked. I should’ve, I should’ve mentioned that they do not get counted towards sales, um, she’s right.
Kevin: Okay. Do you you can fix that, right? Tara
Tara: Uhhhhhhh I’m sure. I’ll look into that.
Mark: I wonder if it increases the ranking? I know when I worked at Kobo when we gave away codes like that, a Kobo, um, that was something that, um, increased the ranking. So it looked like a sale to all of the reports even though you didn’t get money for it. So it still benefits you, right?
Tara: Absolutely. It benefits you. Yes. And, and a lot of authors use this now in exchange for reviews. Uh, it’s a good, it’s a good tool to handout, um, so that they can start getting reviews. I think one of the biggest things I wanted to point out is that you can do this on preorders. It doesn’t have to be a live book, but you want to make sure you’re full finish file: the file you want readers reading is, is available before you actually pull your promo codes. If you’ve uploaded an unedited version and you’re asking for reviews, you may, you know, you may get critiqued when you’ve just got your unedited version in there.
Mark: Okay. Thank you.
Kevin: Yeah, so we have a question about Hoopla and we, uh, we had sort of preplanned to say something along these lines. So this is a perfect question to bring in right now. All right, Amber Taylor asks, why is Hoopla taking, I’m gonna use her word “sooooooooo long.” It’s been well over a week and none of my books are published yet. Um, well, uh, we were going to bring this up because Hoopla is currently a Beta program. Uh, we are onboarding books a bit at a time, uh, to keep from- we have a lot of books. I don’t know if you noticed, we actually published quite a few books. So we are onboarding books a few at a time to prevent there from being problems and crashes. And when things do come up that gives us an opportunity to solve the problem before we pass it on to a few thousand other authors. So we apologize. Is taking longer than you would like, Amber, we get it. Uh, if you makes you feel any better. None of my books are up on Hoopla right now either. So-
Mark: Guilty as charged. Same here. But, but you know what? And I think that’s important because now our retailers, so you know, Kobo and uh, Amazon and Apple and Nook, they, when we send them an update, they’re within hours. Usually it’s there. Now a lot of the library systems, cause I know OverDrive is this way, overdrive only pulls data once a week after you email them and send a courier pigeon and all the stuff that you have to do, right? So stand on your head and pat your belly and then they’ll go pick up the file. So Hoopla is a library system and the library systems in my experience have, have always been a little bit slower. So I would fully expect it. It would normally take one or two weeks for Hoopla. Like even once things are running, even once the huge backlog of the, you know, hundreds of thousands of titles that we’re sending to them. Right? We keep, we don’t want to choke them. So, we’re sending them in smaller batches. But I would imagine that even, um, even if you’re opting into Hoopla and you’re listening to this, you know, a year into the future, that chances are it’s probably gonna take a week or two anyways in normal systems. Cause that’s how it works with most of our libraries. Is that true? Wait. Tara would know this.
Tara: You are correct. Operationally, correct, yes. That is exactly how it works. Um, you, you nailed it. That’s exactly right.
Mark: Awesome. And that was a great question. Um, thanks for pulling that one, Kevin. I’m going to jump to another question and this is Nanette was asking, is D2D different than Ingram in terms of distribution. And Nanette Um, I’m, I’m assuming if you want to talk about ebooks, yeah, 100%. Um, um, and I’m only gonna say this because I love Ingram and they’re a company I’ve worked with for years and years and years, but Ingram is the world’s biggest best book wholesaler. Um, they’re a print book wholesaler and they’re the best in the business. When it comes to ebooks, not so good. So, uh, yeah, there’s a huge difference when it comes to ebooks, but I think Nanette, you’re probably talking about print?
Mark: And that leads to another question that came in earlier about the D2D Print Beta is taking so long. I’m trying to credit who asked that question earlier. Um, was it, uh, uh, who asked like Cathy? No, that was Sydney, the print Beta program. Uh, but, but in any case, uh, you know, we have the print Beta program and uh, before the meeting started, uh, actually we, Kevin and I were talking with Tara about that. Um, and, and we do have a bit of an update on, on that program, but I think if I can highlight the main difference between going through Ingram Spark and going through drafted digital just at a high level. The way I like to look at it from my perspective is that IngramSpark is Ingram is the, the wholesaler that powers pretty much most of the print on demand companies out there that they are the world’s biggest. And when you go directly to IngramSpark, you get full control of a whole bunch of different trim sizes. And hardcover and trade paperback and all kinds of choices and control.
Mark: The Draft2Digital print program is kind of like, I’d like to say it’s more like an Ingram Spark lite. It is meant for those who want to be able to push a couple buttons. There’s less of a selection of trim sizes. It’s still a good selection of the most popular trim sizes and it will go to about 98% of the places that the Ingram broad distribution would go to. You can’t change terms to make it returnable. Uh, and the discount terms et cetera are fixed. So there’s a lot less control. But it may be for those of you who want to do stuff by just saying, Hey! I didn’t have a full cover designed, I want to push a couple buttons and have the really sexy Drafted2Digital cool tool, do it for me. So that’s some of the differences from a user author perspective cause I use both systems. Um, and that’s how I’ve sort of used the, the Draft2Digital print in, in my Beta experiences. Hey, I have a book where I didn’t get our full cover flat designed. I don’t want to have to pay a designer to do it. I’m just gonna use the really cool free tool from D2D. Push it through, click a couple buttons and I’m done. But Tara has an update on that. I think that would be useful to share.
Tara: Well, what it was I was sharing with you guys is that we’re getting a ton of feedback from our authors and we appreciate that so much, so much. Um, yeah, our authors are telling us exactly what they want and we are listening. I can’t emphasize that enough. We are listening. We are working really hard to make sure the product that we release is perfect. It’s exactly what you need. It’s exactly what you want. Um, that’s why it’s taking a little longer than we had thought. We’ve had so many good suggestions. Uh, so many things that we thought was really ultra clear until we got it in your hands and, and you guys were kind enough to let us know that doesn’t make sense or it would work better if you did it this way. Um, so our, our Dev team is working to improve constantly, uh, on our, on our print Beta. By the time we release it, I think you guys are going to be really impressed and really happy and you may even recognize many of your own suggestions in there. Uh, the very next time that you try, try a book out, you might see that we listened! We, we know what you want and we’re doing our best to to give it to Ya.
Kevin: Awesome. To be clear, we didn’t take all your suggestions cause some of you were just mean.
Tara: Yeah. That he, he’s, he’s telling the truth.
Kevin: That’s not your business where I put my head, people. Sorry. I’m sorry. [Laughing.]
Mark: That’s funny.
Mark: But no, it’s, you know, it is really valuable. Um, and that that’s an important thing for you guys to remember the feedback that you give us, uh, that when you, when you share it with myself or Kevin or Dan or a few contact support@draft2digital.com, We actually take that, uh, we take that seriously. We actually took it to heart and, and, and, and, and we actually talk about it and say, how can we make this happen? Is this going to benefit, uh, you know, a, a number of authors, or is it just gonna benefit Kevin Tumlinson. ‘Cause if it’s just gonna Benefit Kevin? And while that’s not as important as if it was gonna benefit Kevin and a thousand other authors, right? Like we want a little-
Kevin: It still gets done!
Mark: Of course it gets done.
Tara: Eventually.
Mark: We have a hot question that’s coming up.
Kevin: Well, we have several, we’ve had a call, a few folks ask about Google. Uh Google, it’s Google Play specifically. Um, there, there’s lot going on there. And what we can tell you is probably, since a lot of it, you already know. Google is a, they’re not quite playing well with everybody. Um, and so we are, we’re working to figure out a strategy that will, uh, benefit all the authors. We don’t do anything that doesn’t benefit the authors. So, uh, we’ll be coming to some decisions and making some announcements, uh, regarding Google Play. Uh, we’re always hopeful. We’re always trying to figure things out. Uh, but for right now, there’s no, like firm dates on anything and no, nothing, uh, nothing firm to announce just yet. So, uh, we’re working on it. That’s not the answer anybody wants, but that’s, that’s as far as we can go.
Mark: Kevin, is it safe to say that when Draft2Digital makes a decision on how we’re going to work with a partner, how we’re gonna implement something? Is it safe to say that we’re really looking for what is a scalable solution that actually makes it easy for the author to do it? Not harder for the author to do it. And if harder is the answer, we’re not interested in that solution. We’re interested in how do we make it easy? Is that true?
Kevin: That’s kind of it exactly.
Mark: I’m still new so I still have to ask these questions.
Kevin: You’re learning Mark! Uh, yeah. Our, our M.O. is to make life easier on the author. So anything that’s, that’s going to do the opposite is something we need to either figure out or, uh, put aside and uh, you know, or you know, work on it later at least. So that’s a, that’s certainly been the case with Google. Google has their own way of doing things. They’ve got their own requirements. You’ve seen the announcement, you know, we, we sent out announcements a while back about, you know, basically an author’s having to opt in individually. This, this wasn’t scalable for, uh, for the way we do things at all. It just over complicates the author’s lives. Um, so, you know, we’ve been working to kind of figure out what the best play is for the authors. We’re always going to go with the thing that’s best for the authors. Uh, we can promise you that. And we know that’s sometimes that’s going to disappoint folks, uh, who really want to go one way or another. But our goal is always to make it so that the most, the most stressful thing you have in your life, hopefully is uh “Am I going to finish this book in time to meet my preorder?” That’s what we really want your life to be.
Mark: Excellent. Thanks Kevin. Appreciate that. Uh, Tara, do you want to jump into one of the FAQ before we take another question? It was this the one you’re going to talk about subject codes and you’re muted again.
Mark: The cat. Push the button again. Right?
Tara: Sorry. I kicked him out! Or at least I tried to! Uh, yeah! Uh, now’s a good time to talk about BISACs. I-We are constantly-
Mark: What does BISAC stand for?
Tara: It’s the Book Industry Standards and Communication, I believe is what… Elyssa will tell me if I’m wrong.
Mark: Or Advisory Code. Book Industry Standards Advisory Committee? Is the committee that creates these codes.
Kevin: Well, if you knew the answer, Mark!
Tara: It was a test!
Mark: I know. I just, this is a discussion.
Kevin: Why are you trying to humiliate Tara?
Mark: I’m not trying to humiliate her. I just didn’t want anyone commenting and saying, no, wait a second. But when we say BISAC, we usually mean BISAC subject code usually-
Tara: Yes. Exactly right.
Kevin: Tara, what is a quark?
Mark: It’s a-
Kevin: No, no. Don’t even.
Mark: It’s a little, it’s, it’s like a duck. It’s a mini duck, isn’t it? Isn’t that a quark?
Mark: Let’s go back to BISAC
Kevin: Sorry Tara.
Tara: See what I have to deal with? Day in and day out?
Mark: It’s a good thing we’re not in the office all the time. Right?
Tara: This is why the Betas takes so long is because these are our main Beta testers. Keeping them focused can be a little bit hard. Yes. BISACs. BISACs are really important. Um, I have a lot of authors who either don’t realize this or who think I’ll, I’ll grab something, pop it in there and I will research this later BISACs are important, uh, the, they, they tell the vendors where to place your book on their websites and then they lead your buyers into finding them. Um, so, so there’s a few things that I, I like to point out to our authors. When you are selecting your BISACs, be as specific as possible. Think about the book that you’ve written, the content of your book. Um, be aware that the BISACs should reflect what the book is about. Not the format of the book, not the language of the book.
Tara: Um, think about who your target audience is. I cannot tell you how many times I have had somebody write let’s just say a romantic comedy, um, about a woman who trains horses and she meets a man. And I will find this book under nonfiction equestrians because there are horses in this book. Um, but buyers who are shopping in the nonfiction equestrian area, they’re not looking for a romantic comedy. They’re looking for information about horses. Um, so, so keep in mind, what the BISAC codes are used for, this is how your buyers are going to find your book, how your target audience is going to find your book. We allow space for five BISACs whenever you’re filling out your metadata, we allow space for five and the order that you put them in is important. Um, some of our vendors only look at the top three.
Tara: Some only look at the, the primary BISAC. So as you’re filling in your BISACs, make sure the top BISAC, the very first one you selected is the most relevant to your book. And you can always adjust this. You can always drag your BISACs and rearrange them on our site. Um, if you’re, as you’re reading through the list, if you spot something that is actually more relevant, make sure you’ve moved that one to the top, the primary position. Um, that’s just really, really important that I, that I cannot emphasize enough because Apple for one, they’re one of ’em our vendors that really they take primary BISAC that is the main one they look at whenever they are categorizing your books.
Mark: and Amazon only takes the first two, correct?
Tara: Well, yes. Uh, it’s, it’s the top three at Kobo that I see. I believe Barnes and Noble uses all that. We send them all five, so does Scribd. So some of the vendors will take all of them, but some are really only looking at your very, your one, two or three. So make sure those are the most relevant to your book.
Mark: So prioritize basically. So you can go up to five but make sure the first few are- cause those are the ones that are gonna go to the majority of the vendors that thank you so much. And Tara, I have to apologize. Elyssa corrected me. I was wrong about BISACs even though I sat on the committee in New York years ago. I was wrong about what the thing stood for. So I’m, there you go. So you get to, um, you get to mock me when I’m in the office next time.
Tara: And you know I will!
Mark: I know you will. Haha.
Kevin: I’m mocking you right now.
Mark: You are! Kevin! Speaking of Amazon, there was a question you wanted to answer.
Kevin: Yeah! Ah, we had uh T. L Rains popped in with, uh, how does Amazon D2D, work with- How- I’m sorry, let me start over. How does D2D work with Amazon? Do I have to wait a certain amount of time before I use, I can use a Barnes and Noble or post my short story on my website? Uh, I’m so I’m interpreting that to mean that you are in Amazon’s exclusivity program. Uh, KDP Select, um, you a what you basically you’re in that program from 90 days and it will auto, um, renew you. So, uh, you need to go into your KDP select dashboard and choose that book and you can actually opt out of that so that the, at the, it’ll give you a timeframe, by the way, I’ll give you the date that you’re done and at the end of the 90 days you’re free.
Kevin: Uh, once that date is up, you can take your book and go live everywhere. Now, uh, they will sometimes still register that as, as being exclusive if that, that that pops up, we can, uh, we can sort of help up Tara will be, surely fill in the gaps here, but, uh, we can at least, uh, nudge you and give you some tips and get pushed in the right direction as to, uh, what you need to do there. But as to for their terms and services, a terms of service that you are free to do whatever you want at that point.
Mark: So Kevin, we also actually submit data to Amazon. If an author would rather not go direct. And when you come through us, there is no exclusivity option, right?
Tara: That’s correct. Right.
Kevin: You can, by the way, reach Amazon through us. I don’t know if we made that clear. Uh, there’s advantages, disadvantages to doing that. So you’ll just have to decide what works for you and your business. But, um, if you do that is NOT part of the KDP Select program and you’re not exclusive, uh, you don’t get to benefit from some of Amazon’s other programs. Like they’re, uh, they’re Ad, uh, programs and that’s that promotional things that they offer. Um, but you’re not locked in on anything either. You can go as wide as you want, right?
Mark: Meaning you can publish that short story to Barnes and Noble. You can Barnes and noble, you can your own website, etc. Right.
Kevin: Okay. You can, uh, any, anywhere we can take you. You can certainly go at that point. Uh, even Amazon, as long as you’re not distributing to Amazon already. So if you pulled the book altogether, you could come to us and go back to Amazon. I don’t know why anyone would really do that. Uh, some people though, or maybe you don’t like dealing with Amazon. We understand. Um,
Mark: I have some people like the, the ease of just having one account and not worrying about logging into six different accounts. Right. That- it’s whatever you choose and that’s why we’re, we’re here to support.
Kevin: Great. Tara, did you want to throw in anything on that?
Tara: I think the only other thing that I would add that this isn’t common knowledge. Um, I’ve had a lot of authors who will put their book, um, they’ll put their book as a preorder up in the Amazon Select program and then they will also try to push that preorder out to everyone else. And the thinking is it’s not live, therefore they’re not, they’re not in conflict with Amazon’s terms of service. You actually are. Um, Amazon does make this clear on their site that even if it’s just a preorder, you’re still locked into their 90 day window and you cannot post that outside of their, uh, of, of their website. So just something to be aware of so that nobody runs into problems or, or gets emails from Amazon.
Mark: Okay. Thank you. There’s a sort of a question along those lines. So Diamond just asked, can you choose to only distribute to libraries on Draft2Digital?
Kevin: Yes, you can. As a matter of fact, I have books that are only going to libraries through D2D right now. So, um, and uh, that’s, that can be a great discoverability tool, by the way, if you are distributing to libraries, uh, even if I, you know, now if you are just- Wow. Listen to that motorcycle.
Mark: Sorry my window’s open.
Kevin: If you are, uh, going using us to go straight to the library, you just know that, uh, you can’t be enrolled. Uh, according to the terms of service, you can’t be enrolled in KDP Select. Uh, when you do that, they still count libraries as being a competitive for whatever reason. Yeah.
Mark: Thank you. And a followup question on Amazon is, Richard asked if you’re banned from Amazon, can you still publish to Amazon? I guess through D2D. I do have some books on the Nook.
Kevin: Wait, should we all tune in together on this one?
Mark: If you’re banned from Amazon-
Tara: Noooo.
Mark: -probably that’s if you’re banned, that’s probably be for a good reason, right? Yeah. Yeah.
Kevin: You can go anywhere else you want, but not to Amazon. Uh, so if you have been kicked out of Amazon, we will not be your backdoor into Amazon. We can’t be. So-
Tara: You are still welcome to publish through any of our other sales channels and we will still provide you with the absolute best customer support. But it’s part of our contract with Amazon. We cannot relist you.
Mark: Fair enough. Cause again, we need to work collaboratively with our partners. Now Josh, I believe Josh asked the question about are there other distribu- distribution platforms? Yes, of course. We’re always working on them. We have a queue of people lined up that we’re working on that we’re negotiating with, that we’re testing. We’re always going to do what we can to help you push one button to get your books into more platforms. So stay tuned. There will probably be another announcement about that in the next month if everything goes well? We’ll see how it goes.
Kevin: Yeah, we’re always looking to add new platforms. There’s a couple of things we’re always doing. One is we’re always looking to add new platforms and if you’re, if you’re wondering why not every platform is available, we are pretty serious about vetting platforms to make sure that the author is going to benefit from them and not get, we want to make sure you get paid. We want to make sure that your book, uh, is pulled. If it needs to be pulled out, if your delisting it needs to be, you know, it needs to be pulled off that site. You know, we want to make sure that the, these channels are playing ball just like we expect the authors to, to abide by rules. It’s fair. Right? So, uh, yeah we are always adding that. And the other thing we’re always doing is we are always improving and or adding features behind the scenes so that, you know, that’s something I think uh, I can confidently say that we, we do better than anybody is we’re always looking to add new tools, new features that are going to just make the author’s life that much better.
Mark: Thank you Kevin. Now speaking of new features and features, we have a, and I, and I say this cause when, when I worked at Kobo I paid a lot of money for the, for the conversion to all that Kobo writing life has. But even when I worked there I use Draft2Digital’s word to epub conversion cause it was the best on the market or the best free platform on the market and I would use that and then you know, get my e pub and then load it directly to Amazon and directly to Kobo and then use Draft2Digital for everyone else. I’m, I’m being honest here, just being honest, as an author I preferred it. Now we have a great tool, but that is mostly for reflowable texts, like text-based books. But it’s, we have a question that came in from a Kay and it’s a bit of a longer question.
Speaker 5: So Kay says, I’ve written a craft how-to book and naturally it has a lot of photos that make sense. I would really like to make sure that the photos are formatted in a way that allows the relevant instructions to be right next to them. So far I haven’t found any system that allows me this kind of control over the formatting. Does the D2D formatting, the one that Mark, you know, loves so much and the conversion process, does it deal well with this kind of formatting or should I continue my quest elsewhere?
Kevin: You can continue your quest, but you’re not gonna find it. Uh, because.
Mark: At least not for free right?
Kevin: Now, I for, well– I mean there are technically ways to make a, a, an image stick with, uh, the text in a book. Um, and I think there were actually even, um, different versions of epub that will handle that. But it’s not common yet. Uh, go ahead Tara.
Tara: Dying to jump in here. I would probably say, or I would probably tell Kay that she should send an email to my support team. Um, even say attention Tara and I would love to help you with this. Um, there, there are several things that we can do and I can show you once- What I typically ask from an author is if you’ll send me the file to look at, um, give, I need an idea of what I’m working with. Um, but there’s a lot that we can do with your file and that I can show you how to do with your file to make that work. Um, when it comes to ebook publishing, you need to think about your screen size. So I generally tell authors, don’t place your image next to your text cause imagine that on a screen as small as an iPhone screen.
Tara: Uh, you end up with some very skewed text as it tries to squeeze it all in. So I typically recommend you put your images above or below your paragraph of text. And then there’s some little tricks that you can do that you will, we call them soft returns, but you’ll kind of a link that paragraph to that image and, and a non breaking space and, and they’ll stick together. Um, but it’s uh, it’s whole different world when you’re working with ebooks versus print books. A lot of these craft books like what what you’re describing. Um, I see those in print. I don’t see it’s a little bit harder to get it into ebook, but we can definitely help you with that contact our customer support team and, and I would love to jump in and see what I can do with your file.
Mark: Thank you Tara. And you know, at this Kinda, this reminds me that there are a lot of new people coming in to this industry every day and maybe they, maybe they are print initially print book people and they only think about books in the print layout. Would it make sense for us to do a focused webinar where we bring in Tara and maybe somebody else from the team that deals with formatting issues all the time and we can kind of do a walkthrough and would that be a useful thing? So feel free to email us or comment if that’s something that you guys would like because I think that could be useful for our authors
Kevin: In that vein. By the way, we did have someone ask if we would be willing to do an all audio book Webinar and yeah, we’ve discussed doing exactly that. We’re going to try to con someone from our friends at findaway voices to come in and uh, be a part of that. So we’re working on it. We’re going to get, uh, we’re going to get somebody over here. I know I can, we’re going to be seeing- hanging out with those guys that nick next week so I know I can con somebody into it.
Mark: We will strong arm them. The two of us will we’ll strong arm Will or Kelly or someone.
Kevin: Yeah. We’ll stand on either side of Will and glare down at him until he comes to our webinar here.
Mark: All right. Uh, so, uh, jumping to another question. Um, actually I lost my place. Tara. I think you had an FAQ about universal book links. Would you like to address that now?
Tara: Yes, I would love to. Um, universal book links. I think that’s one that, that you and Kevin and Dan have talked quite a bit about. So I’m just gonna do a highlight on universal book links. Universal book links is something that Draft2Digital created, uh, based upon author feedback. Um, what I kept hearing from authors was as you start going wide and adding vendors, you end up with an entire page of links in your book just trying to direct your buyers on where to find your book. Um, so, uh, the amazing people at Draft2Digital, they sat down and tried to figure out a way to simplify this. That’s where we came up with our universal book link. Um, super handy, super handy. What I want you guys to know is that anyone who’s publishing through Draft2Digital automatically has a universal book link created for every book that you publish.
Tara: Once you publish my book, our system does it automagically. You don’t have to take any additional steps. Um, and that does people think- people want it to be harder than it is. And so they will go and try to create a book link and then they go, wait, I see two of them. That’s because we already made you one. We were fast. Uh, it does take at least one of your vendors being live and available before the link is live. You can still, you’ll still have access to the link. You can still start using it, posting it, putting it in your books. The link will not change. The data displayed on the link is what gets updated. So if Apple is the first book to go live, you’ll see a little icon where buyers can click and purchase your book from Apple. And then Kobo goes live. Same link. But now there’s an icon for Kobo.
Tara: The only other thing I really want to hit on is just one of our most frequent questions. Um, when you click on your universal book link, there is an option to, to set a preferred store site. People do this all the time without even realizing that they’ve done it. Um, if you’re always buying at Kobo, then you tend to click Kobo is your preferred store site and the link will take you directly to books for sale at Kobo anytime the book is available at Kobo. You actually skipped the landing page and you go straight into your preferred store site. It’s a great, great time-saver and an easy option to get your information out there. But if you are pulling up a universal book link and, and looking at several of your links and they always go to the same store, you’re not getting a landing page, all that means is you set a preferred store site. That’s something that you can change. You can change it back to no preference. Um, and it doesn’t affect what your buyers or your readers, anyone you give that link, it won’t affect what they see. They’re still going to see the landing page unless they have set a preferred store site on their computers.
Mark: So that’s because Tara, that’s cause books2read is meant to be easy for readers to go to where they prefer to read. So an author probably wants to test it and make sure it works. So how, where does an author fix that if they accidentally, because yeah, I buy all my books on Kobo. So where would I go and uncheck that? Please just take me to Kobo. How would I do that as an author?
Tara: Absolutely. So books2read.com is, is the website. Um, you can use your Draft2Digital login information to get in to books2read.com and up in the upper right corner it says change preferred store. Um, and it will have a whole list of every store out there. And one of the options is no preference. So if you want to see everywhere that your book is available, if you want to see the actual landing page so you can see what your buyers and your fans are, are looking at, change it to no preference. If you have a preference and you just want to go straight to the store that you always buy from, set a preference.
Mark: Now one of the ways I use this as an author is I don’t set a preference. So when I’m doing a bookbub or a bargain Booksy or freebooksy or any of the promo sites and they ask for the links to all the retailers, what I do is I have the, you know, bookbub open on one page and then I have the universal book link page. I have the universe, the ubl, the books2read page, and then I just right click go to, here’s my Kindle link, here’s my nook link, here’s my Kobo, here’s my Apple, et cetera. And I find that just so easy to,
Tara: Yes, yes, I, it’s so many different stores that you’re having to fish from and gather this data and we have put it all in one spot for you. Um, and, and you don’t even have to publish. Let’s say you’re going to Amazon direct. We will still populate this link with your Amazon, your, it’ll display the Amazon store. So long we, we do some kind of some fuzzy matching. We’re looking at the cover image and the description and the title to match those up when you’re not actually publishing through us. But we get that question as well as I go direct with Amazon. Will my universal book link still show my Amazon? It sure will! [Editor’s note: If you don’t automatically see your Amazon link because you do not publish to Amazon through Draft2Digital, there is a “re-scan” button on the UBL edit page. Re-scan and Books2Read will attempt to find your book for you!]
Mark: It’s universal. We’re just trying to make it easy for authors. It doesn’t matter how they publish. You don’t even have to publish anything to Draft2Digital to use Universal Book Links.
Kevin: Well you’re right. And by the way, if you happen to be like a blogger or a podcaster or a book reviewer, you can use these links without having anything published at Draft2Digital. Um, you don’t even have to technically have an account to use the links. But if you want to modify the URL, like customize the URL or get data or you know, a few other features, then you would need to set up a free account. I mean it’s free and we’re not gonna pester if you don’t want us to. Uh, and then you can use those links in, uh, your, you know, your various, uh, stuff
Mark: I use [them] because I’m traditionally published as well and self published. So I use, I use a universal book links for all my traditionally published books cause I make advantage of the URL so I can easily name off the URL without having to go, you know, dash umlauts slash dot exclamation point.
Kevin: And one more thing if you are a, if you have affiliate accounts, uh, an affiliate account by the way is a, you know, Amazon has their Amazon associates for, for example, and you can include a little link that when someone clicks through and buys something, you get sort of an additional credit for that. We can now, we can accommodate affiliate links for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, uh, even Smashwords, uh, and it’d be built into your URL. It’s kinda hidden from view. You won’t even notice it’s there. And, uh, that way when people click through, even if they don’t buy that specific book, if they buy something else while they’re shopping, Amazon or whatever, uh, you, you get like a little tiny percentage of each sale and it sticks around, uses cookies. So it sticks around for like 24 hours. Uh, so it can be a nice little additional revenue. If you,
Mark: you said cookies. I’m really hungry now.
Kevin: Now I want cookies. I do, I do want cookies. My coffee is cold. 🙁
Mark: There is a question, uh, from Cybill, so Cybill asks, does, um, does D2D offer author promotional opportunities to advertise their books? And if so, who can I contact about that feature? Well, Cybill, we’re always looking for ways to promote stuff with our retailers. We have a really good relationship with specifically Apple, Kobo and OverDrive who will send us stuff from occasion and a, and this is something that, uh, Dan and I tend to work on collaboratively in terms of trying to curate some stuff and nominate them for their promotions. Now, what we’re gonna do is I’m going to provide a link in the, in the notes here on the Facebook page afterwards cause I can’t do it while we’re live, but it’s going to be not live in 10 minutes and this is if you have any preorders for uh, you know, Kobo, Apple, OverDdrive, et cetera.
Mark: If you have pre-orders with a relatively long preorder window, I’m going to drop in a URL [Editor’s note: https://vrcoordinator.wufoo.com/forms/tell-us-about-your-new-release/ ] that there’s a form where you’re going to be able to fill in to tell us about your preorder. And if we get the chance, because we do have sales calls with these folks from time to time, if we get the chance to promote the title and spotlight and say, hey, there’s this awesome title coming out in November, it’s in this genre or it’s in this category and we know that this author has sold on these other platforms or this is a new book, but it looks like it’s going to appeal to customers or readers of this genre. We do try to get you guys promotional spaces. And I do know, and this is, this is one of the many things in the background that we’re working on, but we have limited resources and lots to do. Um, we are planning on expanding that into something that you’ll eventually see in the promotions tab. Uh, first we have to update and make some fixes and updates to the territorial promotional pricing. So if you’re, if you’re getting a bookbub or some other special deal, right? Allowing you tighter control over that. Uh, and then of course the next one is then how do we allow that to accept those entries? So right now it’s very-
Kevin: it’s in Beta is what you’re saying.
Mark: It kinda, it’s kinda like a very early Beta where we’re trying when it comes-
Kevin: Alpha.
Mark: Uh, but at the very least for those of you who have forthcoming releases, it’s a way for you to just share them with us because then we can easily pull them from, from a spreadsheet. And when we’re sitting down with apple or we’re sitting down with Kobo or any of the retailers, like a overdrive does that. And, and what I’ve heard from our friends at findaway who already worked with Hoopla: Hoopla, will have promotional opportunities coming up. So we’ll do everything we can to try to make those available to the right people at the right time. And eventually once we get the, that in place in our systems, anyone will have be able to have access to that through D2D. Cause we’re all about trying to make it easy for you guys. I think we’re getting close to the end. Do we have a few final things that we need to share? My friend Kevin?
Kevin: Uh, we’re going to soon if not now announce the, uh, give everybody the link to, um, sign up for their free author consultations. Well that’s coming up. Um, was there any, Tara, did you manage to get through the FAQ is did we get everything? Pretty much. Those did sound like they were frequently asked questions. Yeah. Um, okay. Well I’m, I think then we could, we can start kind of the windup, uh, while we might have time for one more question. What do we got in the, uh, cue here? Anything that we can handle in a like three minutes.
Mark: Let me see. I’m just trying to go find the Q. I just popped a Elyssa the length, so she’s going to be able to drop it into the Facebook page before we finish.
Kevin: there is this question from Adrian, which is drew specifically, uh, tagged for you, Mark.
Mark: Oh, uh, there it is. Okay. What options do you have for POD and audio options? We kind of talked about that earlier. And will that link with your Amazon and audible for audio books? Um,
Kevin: We didn’t quite talk about audio but we can.
Mark: yeah. Um, so we do have D2D Print Beta [Editor’s note: You can sign up to be considered for beta at draft2digital.com/printbeta ] and um, I know on Amazon sometimes for Amazon you actually have to contact Amazon separately to get them to link. Even if you’re publishing it directly. I’ve, I’ve, I’ve actually worked with authors who are working directly in kindle direct publishing and they’re doing both the print and the ebook directly in kindle and they’re still not linked on the Amazon page. So even when you’re published directly on Amazon, you may still need to reach out through your KDP account and, and ask them to link them. Um, audio usually links because our audio partner findaway. Voices will, uh, when you’re publishing the audio book, we’ll ask you if it is, if there’s a print version.
Mark: available and you’ve asked you to put the URL and then find a way when they send them metadata to Amazon, they make that link happen. I believe and Tara is nodding cause she knows this way better than I, I’m just guessing. She knows this for sure. So why don’t I let you answer? Did I, did I, did I pass?
Tara: You pass you, you that was exactly right. I was going to ask-
Kevin: We frequently ask questions of Tara.
Tara: I was gonna say, um, if you’re using Draft2Digital to publish to Amazon and you and your books are not linking contact customer support and we can, we can hook you up with that. We can take care of that. Uh, it should happen automatically. So long as the book title and the author name is exactly the same on your ebook, your kindle book, your print book, and your audio book. That’s what Amazon is using to ensure that they’re connecting the right things. Um, so sometimes people will add or make a slight change and then they don’t link up correctly. But if you’re using draft2digital contact customer support, we’ll get it corrected.
Kevin: We probably could have shortcutted this entire ask us anything by just starting with, just ask our customer support and see you next time.
Mark: Next time is going to be next month, right? We will be doing this every month. So probably around American thanksgiving.
Tara: American?
Kevin: Well, probably before. It’s probably going to be around this date.
Mark: Ok, Canadian thanksgiving.
Kevin: We’ll send you an email. Uh, we’re going to have to figure out how to combinate the Canuck in the group so that he can go to his thanksgiving.
Mark: We don’t take a week off like you guys do in the States.
Kevin: They eat their turkey, like poutine is what they do. They put it on top of French fries with gravy.
Mark: Oh with cheese curds and gravy. Oh yeah.
Kevin: So yes, we’re going to probably aim for ish around this time. Uh, so we’ll, we’ll send you an email to let you know, um, do us a favor, tell other people about these. If you’re enjoying this, you’re getting something out of it. Let other folks know, uh, that they might want to tune into these. Um, get in your author groups and share these things. When you get a link. I think I’ll start putting that, the emails.
Kevin: Uh, but before we wrap up, I did want to mention that we are as a, as we typically do, we’re going to be offering more of these, uh, author one-on-ones, these consultations that we’re giving you for free, a free 30 minute consultation with either me, uh, our good friend Mark Lebfvre here, right. And I are even more good friend and would, who didn’t, uh, who didn’t pop in on this week’s, uh, episodes. Sorry, you don’t get to hear him.
Mark: Although he has been a wonderful voice in our ear, encouraging us all along. Thanks. He’s right there.
Kevin: He’s right there watching. He’ll have notes after the show.
Tara: Oh yeah. For all of us.
Mark: It’s like a director’s notes.
Kevin: But if you’d like to sign up a, they are open as of now. Uh, and they will stay open for less than 24 hours. So you’re gonna want to hop in as quick as you can. Uh, the link should pop into the Facebook feed there, but, uh, it just in case you can go to bitly, that’s bit dot L Y slash d two d consult [Editor’s note: bit.ly/d2dconsult – open for 24 hours or less!] Bitly Slash d two d consult and a pick a time slot. Um, they are kind of limited just because of, you know, hours in the day and physics of the universe.
Mark: I mean, we’re, we’re going to be at a conference all next week, so we’re gonna yeah-
Kevin: if by the way you are at NINC next week, please stop by, please say hello, we’d love to chat with you. We may even ask you to step in front of a camera if you, um, if you want.
Tara: Whoah.
Kevin: Uh, but uh, yeah, we’ll be there. So that does Kinda cut into the consultation times, but uh, mark is, has been kind enough to sort of extend his hours. So maybe, uh, there’ll be some more slots, but we’re going to keep, we’re going to have this open and, uh, pop in there now because those things fill up fast. We wanna make sure we get everybody. So if you’ve already gotten one of these, by the way, please, please let someone else take your spot. Uh, we love talking to you. Uh, if you want to talk, maybe we can arrange something outside of these consultations. [Tara laughing.] Uh, you know, we’ll, we’ll hang out. Uh,
Mark: well, I just want to make sure everyone gets a chance because, uh, it’s, and it’s, it’s useful for us too. To, to talk to authors directly.
Kevin: I can tell you, I, I consult with, uh, mark and Dan one-on-one all the time and it has been totally worth it. Uh, I get my money’s worth every time, worth the price and more.
Mark: I pay you in Canadian smarties. That’s what it is. Right.
Kevin: Uh, we’re probably gonna need to go ahead and wrap up then. We’re like two minutes. Uh, you, anybody want to throw anything in there and make any announcements or otherwise, um, say something kind of pithy.
Mark: I would like to thank you, Kevin and you, Tara for this amazing ask us anything. I appreciate. Uh, I love working with you guys and thanks so much for asks- answering some questions and thank you guys for asking great questions. I know we didn’t get a chance to get to all of them. We do our best to try to answer as many different questions as we can. It’s not because we’re slighting you and um, sometimes the stuff scrolls by, it’s so fast, it’s really hard to catch them on the fly. So please bear with us if, if we didn’t get to your question, we, we may be well in the future or maybe it’s a chance to ask us, you know, one on one or just email support@draft2digital.com
Tara: Customer Support!
Kevin: Oh, I’m telling you, we should just open with that and then go, like, spend the hour just having a drink or something. [Mark lifts his glass to the camera in salute.] That would save us so much time and so much energy. Uh. All right. Well I think that’s it. That wraps us up, so thanks for tuning in everybody.
Mark: Enjoy the rest of September. We’ll see you.
Kevin: We’ll see you next month.