Draft2Digital vs Smashwords Review – One Clear Winner

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Draft2Digital vs Smashwords review

I have been a (very) long time user of Smashwords. I have to say that without Mark Coker, there would never have been an alternative to Amazon for any self-published author.

But I have to say that I am now moving all of my ebooks over to Draft2Digital for distribution to ebook retailers other than Amazon Kindle.

Why am I changing over? Read on for my quick Draft2Digital vs Smashwords review.

Smashwords created a fantastic service over the years for Smashwords authors. Without it, there would be no competition in self-published ebooks today, and Amazon would own the market.


Smashwords is still a very fine platform and publishing service. However, using it today feels a little slow, sluggish and cumbersome.

Sure, there have been changes and improvements to distribution and ebook formatting. But Smashwords’ metagrinder and autovetter have not really changed all that much over the years.

The process of uploading for Smashwords ebooks and having it approved is slow, tedious and trying, especially for the premium catalog.

But enter Draft2Digital as a publishing service and ebook publishing becomes a totally different experience for independent authors.

Fast, simple, easy and highly automated. There are so many features that I love about Draft2Digital that I’ll have to do this in list form.

For self-publishing distribution, Draft2Digital wins on almost every count over Smashwords.


Manuscript Preparation

Unlike having to wade through Smashwords’ 170 page Style Guide to get a manuscript approved, Draft2Digital only requires your text in a docx Word doc with chapter headings styled in Header 1 and body text in Normal.

You don’t need a title page, credits page or other books pages as they are all added later. All you need is Chapter One to The End.

When I uploaded my first ebook, I immediately checked the epub file that Draft2Digital prepared for me to download, and the formatting was 100% perfect. No fuss, no bother, no errors. It was the same result for all book formats.


Book Details

Your book description can be styled a little with bold and italic, which is a nice touch. But I really like how easy genres and keywords can be added. Genres have a search box, so it makes selecting genres quick and easy.

For keywords, simply copy and paste your comma-separated keyword list into the box, and they are automatically listed individually.


Draft2digital Offers Automated End Matter

draft2digital end matter This is where Draft2Digital absolutely shines for Indie authors. Once you have uploaded your manuscript, cover and entered your book details, it’s time to let Draft2Digital’s automation take over.


A list of tick boxes lets you add a Title Page, Credits Page, Dedication Page, Books Also By Page, New Release Email Notification Page, a Teaser Page for another book, About the Author and lastly an About the Publisher Page. What a list of add-ons.

Best of all, most of these pages are created automatically. You draft2digital ebook promotion pagesonly need to enter your author and publisher details once, and they can be added to all books.

For me, the winner here is the book teaser page.

Being able to select a book with one tick box to add at the end of a book is a fantastic book marketing tool, particularly for books in a series.

All of these tick boxes add valuable features to an ebook that can help authors sell books. It is so simple, you have to ask why nobody thought about this earlier.


One-Click Updating of Other Books

draft2digital update all ebooksThis feature is the BIG, BIG, BIG reason I am moving to Draft2Digital.

On every other platform, including KDP, every other already published ebook needs to be changed when I publish a new ebook or delete a title.

For me, with eighteen ebooks to manage, this has always been a nightmare.

When I publish a new ebook, I have to add the new title to all my other books back matter, and then upload every one again, and wait for the approval process all over again.

Yes, eighteen times for KDP and eighteen times again for Smashwords. That takes days and days.

But with Draft2Digital, it’s a one-click process to have every one of my ebooks updated and distributed with all new ‘Also By’ pages.

Anything that saves me days of work gets my vote.



There is no doubt that Smashwords has more distribution channels than Draft2Digital. But for me, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo are the only ones that have reasonable sales potential. But you can select Baker & Taylor, Playster, Tolino and Overdrive plus a few more.

Draft2Digital distributes to these main three, plus others, so that’s all I need.

I have also noticed that Draft2Digital seems to get titles published and available for sale much faster than Smashwords for the bigger retailers.

Another nice touch is that Draft2Digital sends a confirmation email every time one of my titles is published on a retailer’s site, with a link to my book page.


Book Pricing

You can set your retail price automatically for all retailers, or you can select a different price for individual retailers.

This is a nice feature if you want to run a campaign for one retailer. You can also set your price to zero if you want to make a title perma-free.

You can also set your book for pre-order.



It’s far too early for me tell, but for the few sales I have made so far, the sales report has been super fast. As I have sold ebooks through Apple, B&N and Kobo for many years now, I expect sales will be the same.



Royalty Payments

Another big win here for Draft2Digital because it pays monthly by EFT or Paypal. There is no minimum threshold so you will get paid even if you only make one book sale.

It is worth mentioning here too, that when I set up my account withDraft2Digital, it gave me the option to complete my tax details online, which only took a few minutes.



I have only sent only one message to Draft2Digital support, but it was answered in a very timely and helpful manner. My experience over the years with Smashwords has been the same.

Unlike KDP support, which is notoriously hopeless and unhelpful, both aggregators have great support.



Why did it take me so long to get around to trying Draft2Digital?

All I can say is that it is by far the easiest platform to self-publish with features that are useful, practical and very time efficient. It is far better than both Smashwords and KDP.

What are the pros and cons? Well, all I can say is that I really struggled to find any negatives.

Draft2Digital also has a reader site, Books2Read. From the site, you can also set up universal links to promote your books with one link.

You can read my earlier first impression Draft2Digital review here.


Update Note 1: Draft2digital has added a new typography feature for ebooks. It’s beautiful.

Update Note 2. Draft2digital now distributes to Amazon. Read the details in this Draft2Digital blog post.


Derek Haines

Webmaster and Writer at Just Publishing Advice
A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all forms.
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
Derek Haines

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Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.

58 thoughts on “Draft2Digital vs Smashwords Review – One Clear Winner

  • December 17, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Ha! I’d long felt the same, because while SW kept screwing up my formatting (pictures kept disappearing and I could had to submit epubs directly because SW couldn’t keep from corrupting them), Direct2Digital turns out to be a huge scam.

    In 2018 I earned $42 on D2D. While that’s not a significant earning, it’s still fair. However, in 2019, I sold a total of 15 books (5 to various library of share sites like Kobo and Bibliothecha), and EVERY SINGLE book was returned within the month. Note: these were often the exact same books which have been selling for years on SW and last year on D2D, so it’s not the quality of the books. It just means that D2D is failing. If anyone DOES remain, I suggest that you secure every book, so WHEN readers return them, they can’t simply keep them to read later anyway.

    But, after this past year, I’m think I’m done with distributed sales completely, as this ‘Free Book Bonanza’ now seems epidemic. At least, if you dump your books to a torrent or share site, those thieves at least have some morals, often purchasing your other books outright from your site. This past year, there have been ZERO associated sales from these bogus D2D sales.

  • November 12, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Okay, I’m sold.
    Have been a patient and appreciative SW user almost since the beginning, especially helpful to me as an indie publisher who eschews Amazon completely – they can convert to Kindle files and I never had to go there. Their payments were almost always correct, if slow, and I appreciated the deposit to PayPal, which let me quickly turn that around to my authors.

    My sad experiences with their EPUB converter only appeared this year. After years with almost *no* problems, one revised and previously-Premium approved manuscript, where the only thing changed was a few typos/words(!), needed a total of 14 attempts, including several hours of help from their own tech support (which is marvelous and very responsive, btw – Raylene, I’m looking at you. Thank you for saving my life, dear). The EPUB grinder apparently corrupts .png files now – who knew – so that book that had flown thru to Premium status became hopelessly mangled with the update we had to do this past Spring. I thought I would tear my hair out without the help of their tech support angels, who gently guided me into converting the .png image to a .jpg that their EPUB converter wouldn’t chew up. The whole thing caused a delay of weeks, actually, and meanwhile the book in question disappeared from the shelves of BN.com and other retailers. In sum, this was a backup for an already-published book that almost cost me an author. I’m sure she’ll never submit anything to us again because of it. Three other new books had similar EPUB issues, and it’s like I almost always have to depend on their tech support to fix the problems for me.

    You know, this is something that a serious publisher simply does not have the time for. I have been looking at other options all year long.

    Another drawback is the eBooks will never appear on Amazon unless I upload them myself, which I was never going to do until recently, when I had to face the fact that the only option for Kindle is thru SW directly or our own website was actually losing us sales. I did the unthinkable and signed up for an Amazon account, only to find out that, as a publisher, they’re going to charge me $39,99 a month to sell my own ebooks on their platform. I’m thinking – um, NO. Their Amazon Associates program would have been a work-around, and it’s still listed as the best option for an indie publisher like me, but guess what? They’ve mysteriously disabled it. Wonder why? Working on a recommendation, I was looking into KDP, and trying to figure out how all that worked, to be sure that we are still the publisher working for several independent authors, and it all looks so confusing I was seriously getting stymied and wondering wtf to do.

    Enter D2D, which I had considered before, but it just didn’t seem to have the chops until I read this article, and with all you have mentioned above, my concerns seem to be vanishing. And now it distributes to the Behemoth and I never even have to acknowledge the connection (just take their money, thank you). Another previous issue with going to D2D was the fact that they didn’t distribute to Baker & Taylor, and I needed to be able to distribute to libraries.

    With both of these shortcomings resolved and the prospect of never submitting our precious works into the gaping maw of the meat-grinder again, I will probably leave our SW works up at that platform, but am definitely going to use D2D for our future publishing projects.

    Thank you so much!

  • October 28, 2019 at 5:52 am

    New to Ebook publishing, I have a completed 120,00 approx. words novel, edited, with front and back cover designs. I wish to publish this MS as an Ebook, and would like to know what this entails, and an approximate cost – plus anything else you feel I should know.

    • December 17, 2019 at 6:38 pm

      J. Turbes-Shaw, this is a fairly complex question, as there are a LOT of alternatives to consider. But DON’T pay ANYONE to publish your book! They are ALWAYS scams! You either submit them to publishers, waiting years as you deal with repeated rejections, or you publish on your own, using sites like Amazon, SW and D2D. The various sites have the necessary steps in publishing to them. With D2D, you need to build your entire TOC yourself with internal links, whereas the other sites will accept a MS generated TOC.

      In terms to the quality of the material, Amazon ranks the best in terms of maintaining the look of your book, with D2D second and SW way behind, as they keep corrupting their conversions and randomly deleting images.

  • May 1, 2019 at 7:39 pm


    Your Smashwords “Meatgrinder” issues don’t surprise. After finding that my previously OK books on SW were in limbo because they’d revised their standards without informing some of us, I complained. I managed to tweak my books to pass muster by creating ePub versions using Calibre that bypassed their bonecruncher converter.

    Next thing I knew, SW had blocked my sign-on and I was/am no longer able to reach my books. So they sit there limboing and I’ve had to go elsewhere for e-book publishing. I guess if my SW books sell, they’ll at least have the decency to send me a check, eh?

  • April 30, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    Excellent article, and I learned alot from the comments as well.

    I’ve been using Smashwords for several years, and it’s always a hassle to get my source document through its Meat Grinder unscathed. The name alone should tell an author what to expect from their converter.

    And that’s not the only problem I’ve encountered with Smashwords. The EPUB file they generate from my DOC file almost never passes the EPUB validation. But the EPUB file my word processor develops always passes the EPUB validation at the validator.idpf.org site. Why? Because the EPUB their Meatgrinder produces isn’t the same as the EPUB my word processor developes. Their EPUB file for my e-book almost always corrupts the HTML in the EPUB file. Ugh!

    The main reason I’m leaving Smashwords, however, is that the EPUB file that my word processor develops looks great in Adobe Digital Edition, whereas the one Smashwords develops has ragged edges on both the text and the illustrations.

    I’ve complained many times to the tech support people about all of these problems but received no answer. So I’m looking forward to giving Draft-to-Digital a try.

    Thanks for the article.


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