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 self-published authors and small press.
But I have to say that I am now moving to Draft2Digital for distribution to ebook retailers other than Amazon.
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 an excellent 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 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 book retailers.
But enter Draft2Digital as a publishing service, and ebook publishing becomes a totally different experience for independent authors.
It is a fast, simple, easy, and highly automated way to get your books published. 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.
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. There was no fuss, no bother, and no errors. It was the same result for all book formats.
Your book description can be styled a little with bold and italic, which is a nice touch. I like how easy it is to add genres and keywords. 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
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 only 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
This feature is the BIG, BIG, BIG reason I am moving to Draft2Digital.
On every other platform, including KDP Select, 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.
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.
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. However, D2D does not have an equivalent to the Smashwords Store.
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.