Ask KJ, Self Publishing

Smashwords vs BookBaby vs Draft2Digital

Converting a manuscript for eBook publication is more complex than simply uploading it to various digital sales channels. This makes choosing a conversion/distribution service an important decision for many self-published authors. At this point, I have narrowed the options down to three: Smashwords, BookBaby and Draft2Digital.

Before I get into comparing the three platforms, I should disclose that my books are currently enrolled in KDP Select, which makes them exclusive to Amazon. For now, this makes sense to me because I’m a newer, relatively unknown author. But in the future, say after I publish my next two books, I plan to branch out into other markets. It never hurts to do your homework early, right?


One advantage to being enrolled in KDP Select is that it makes my books available to Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime subscribers. Without the exposure, a lot of Amazon customers would never come across my books or my name. Furthermore, when a subscriber borrows one of my books, I get paid per page read based on the size of the KDP Select Global Fund which varies from month to month. Sounds good, right? Well, yes and no. While I currently make more on borrows than on sales, there is definitely a downside. KDP Select books can be sold only on Amazon. So, readers who purchase eBooks from Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Apple (to name just a few other eBook retailers), don’t have immediate access to the e-versions of my books. Sure, they could download a Kindle app, but some readers simply prefer other platforms and some may not have access to the Kindle store period. This is why I plan to opt out of KDP Select in the future.

Now, back to comparing Smashwords, BookBaby and Draft2Digital.


Upfront Cost: $0

Royalty per sale: 15%

Input formats accepted: Word .doc, professionally designed epub

Formatting: Must be done by author (unless a fee is paid)

Distributes to: Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, Scribd, Oyster, Baker & Taylor (operates Blio, a popular e-reading app, and also operates Axis360 which distributes ebooks to public libraries), txtr, mobile phone app vendors (Aldiko on Android; Kobo on all mobile platforms) and other online venues (must upload to KDP yourself)

Extras: Coupon generator, adjustable royalty splits with distributors

What I’ve heard: easy-to-use formatting guide, classy output, excellent dashboard interface


Upfront Cost: $299

Royalty per sale: 0%

Input formats accepted: Word, PDF

Formatting: Included

Distributes to: KDP, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Copia, Gardners Books, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, Flipkart, Oyster, Ciando, EBSCO, ePubDirect,

Extras: Print-on-demand services available, converts up to 50 graphic elements, premium listings on Goodreads, Noisetrade, BookDaily, and Bublish, step-by-step guide to choosing keywords, free social media guide, free reviews

What I’ve heard: good cover illustrators


Upfront Cost: $0

Royalty per sale: 10%

Input formats accepted: Word .doc or .docx, RTF

Formatting: Included

Distributes to: Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Scribd, Tolino, Page Foundry (must upload to KDP yourself)

Extras: Can set up a preorder with most vendors, free ISBNs

What I’ve heard: very user friendly, excellent (human) customer service

At this point, I’ve ruled out Bookbaby due to the upfront cost. Between Smashwords and D2D, I’m leaning toward SW because of the wider distribution and the coupon generator, which allows authors to offer books at discounted rates, or even for free, without changing prices on sales channels.

Do you currently use one of these services? If so, what are your thoughts?

22 thoughts on “Smashwords vs BookBaby vs Draft2Digital”

  1. BookBaby was my go-to choice until they upped their prices recently. But their distribution seems good and formatting is included.

    So a BB decision is perhaps best dictated by how many ebooks you plan to sell.

    I haven’t come across D2D so will have a look. Thanks for the post, and good luck with it all.

  2. I find using Smashwords the easiest of all to upload, and the most effective when it comes to distribution if you consider the reach – they can turn one .doc file into multiple formats for multiple sales outlets. Not to mention most issues are pointed out immediately and your book is published much faster than on KDP. I still use KDP (though not select) because of exposure and because I use Amazon a lot for myself.

  3. Between smashwords and D2D I far and away prefer D2D. Their upload process is easier, their customer service is on point, they’re constantly in contact re: things that they’re improving or when their own contracts w/ distributors change. Distribution time is a fraction of smashwords as well. I’ll have my book released on all platforms through D2D within 48 hours. Smashwords takes 2 weeks (or longer!) and doesn’t tell you anything about how you can improve that or why it’s taking so long. There’s no transparency.

    If you upload a .doc, the smashwords meat grinder is a beast of a failing machine. It will eventually kick out a result, but the formatting rules and specifics are so detailed it’s hard to get started as a new author. D2D’s .doc conversion is fast, their requirements are simple, and their bug report is very clear if something is wrong.

    However, there’s no reason you can’t use both systems, and I do. I upload to Amazon first, D2D and all their distributors next, then Smashwords and all their libraries third. Any distributor conflicts between D2D and Smashwords, D2D wins the distribution.

    For the books I have only in Amazon KU, I upload to D2D for the conversion and backmatter generator, then download the .mobi for upload at Amazon directly. I use D2D’s formats they generate to upload directly with Smashwords so I don’t have to go through their meat grinder.

    Basically I’m in love with D2D XD

  4. Try them both! There’s no reason not to. You can always remove your books from one and go to the other. Or opload one at each and compare. I started at smashwords and migrated later.

  5. Oh, and right now, smashwords is really the only good way to get into libraries, but you need to go into the details and check pricing. You can set library pricing seperate from other distributors. I recommend setting your library prices to free.

  6. Thank you for this concise comparison. My question is why should I be opposed to an upfront cost ($300 seems very small to me) when the royalties are 0%? I would imagine, in the other options, the royalties would well exceed $300 over time. What is my little experience missing here :-)?

  7. Tami, I’m getting ready to remove my books from KU so I reread your comments. Based on your advice, I’m going to use both Smashwords and D2D. Thanks again!

  8. Thank you so much, you made my decision on where to publish that much easier! I will probably go with Smashwords.

  9. Thanks for the info! I’ve used Book Baby on my first 3 books, and it’s very $$$. eBooks, print, and POD, each project was over $1500.00. I’m comparing new platforms and am leaning toward D2D.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s