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?

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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.

Smashwords

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

BookBaby

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

Draft2Digital

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?

Ask KJ, Self Publishing

Book-marketing Services for Readers and Authors

Book marketing emails

As an avid reader, I receive daily emails from various book-marketing services. These services notify readers about discounts on both traditionally published and self-published books. Many featured books are even FREE. Through notifications from these services, I usually pick up five to 10 books each month, all for less than the cost of a monthly Kindle Unlimited subscription.

The first service I became a subscriber of was Ereader News Today. I don’t remember how I found out about this service several years ago, but it used to be my only source for discovering great Kindle book deals. I had no idea so many other book deal services existed! I also naively thought that ENT chose the books to feature in daily emails, which is only half-true.

When I published Click Date Repeat, I mentioned to my husband that I had my fingers crossed for it to appear in an ENT email someday. I thought it was a far-fetched dream that would probably never come true. (Funny, I know.) Imagine my surprise when I read in a marketing forum on the Kindle Direct Publishing site that authors can submit their books to ENT for consideration. While I felt pretty silly for assuming for so long that the books sent to me by ENT were handpicked, I was also excited to learn something every novice self-published author needs to know: You have a world of marketing prospects to choose from.

Here’s a list of the services I subscribe to along with what I have paid to have my book featured. (Note: Prices may vary depending on the genre of your book, and there are certain criteria that your book must meet to be accepted.)


Ereader News Today

Featured on September 26th – $35 (Women’s Fiction Category)

Readers subscribe here.

Authors submit your book here.


Riffle_sm

Featured on November 28th – $25.50 (Romance Category)

Readers subscribe here.

Authors submit your book here.


BookGorilla

Featured on November 29th – $50 (Women’s Fiction Category)

Readers subscribe here.

Authors submit your book here.


My book has not yet been accepted by this service. From what I gather, BookBub is the choosiest by far. (Based on the number of subscribers they have, they can certainly afford to be choosy!) I have analyzed their submission guidelines and tips and always pay close attention to the books that have been accepted, especially those that are self-published. I think I have figured out what I need to do in order to get my book accepted (wait until Click Date Repeat has a lot more reviews and publish another book), but it will take waiting quite a while before I resubmit.

These are the categories I have to choose from for my book:

Contemporary Romance – $580 (1,120,000+ subscribers – WOW)

Women’s Fiction – $440 (960,000+ subscribers)

Chick Lit – $60 (150,000+ subscribers)

*Prices are based on a book promotion price of less than $1.

Readers subscribe here.

Authors submit your book here.


Readers in the Know logo

Click Date Repeat was featured as Book of the Day on October 28th – FREE with a 60-day trial membership

This site prominently displays books that are discounted and allows authors to run giveaways. Yearly membership is $32.98 and includes free credits that allow you to sign your book up for Book of the Day.

Readers and authors register here.


Both readers and authors benefit from these services. If you are a reader, signing up for one or more service will keep you up-to-date on great book bargains and help you discover new authors. If you are an author, submitting your book(s) might put your work in front of hundreds to thousands of eyes (maybe even over a million if BoobBub accepts you), which could result in a spike in sales, new fans and an increased number of reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.

Please leave a comment if you have experience with any other book-marketing sites or if you’d like to add anything about the ones featured here. Thanks!

Ask KJ, Self Publishing

Goodreads Giveaways: Good or Bad?

When I published Click Date Repeat, one of the first things I did was create a giveaway on Goodreads. As a newbie to the world of self-publishing, I was ecstatic to have found a way to advertise my book and garner some reviews.

goodreads_icon_200x200-8b5b322a54ffbe04db26585de0830763 As the days passed and entries accumulated, I began poking around on Goodreads (which is a wonderful site for both readers and writers, by the way). I happened to stumble upon a forum thread where people were (are still) debating the effectiveness of giveaways. After reading through several posts, my stomach became queasy, and I started to regret setting up my giveaway. But then I did what I typically do when something doesn’t sit right with me, I pressed on in hopes of finding some positives. By the time I’d read each and every post, I didn’t know what to think. Are Goodreads giveaways an effective marketing tool or not?

Here’s what I gathered from the lively forum discussion:

Cons of Goodreads Giveaways

  • Book resellers make up a big chunk of the people entering to win.
  • Some people enter simply for fun or because they want to win something. They may not even be interested in your book.
  • If someone who isn’t interested in your genre wins, they might leave a bad review.
  • You might receive a bad review from a winner who reads your genre but simply didn’t care for your book.
  • Goodreads does not require winners to review the books they win.

Pros of Goodreads Giveaways

  • Hundreds of people see your book.
  • Hundreds of people shelf your book as “to-read” when they sign up, which means anyone they are friends with is likely to see your book too.
  • You might get some reviews.
  • Winners who enjoyed your book, might recommend your book to others.

So what was the outcome of the Click Date Repeat Goodreads Giveaway?

Duration of giveaway: 4 weeks

Number of entries: 701

Books delivered to winners: 5

Books Fedexed back to me at my request: 1

(Book reseller discovered by Goodreads one day after I mailed out the book. They chose a replacement winner. Thank you, Goodreads! Story for another post!)

Number of Reviews: 3

Number of people who have it marked as “to-read” as of the date of this post: 326

As for the two winners who have not reviewed my book yet, one still has it on her to-read shelf, and the other doesn’t have it on any of her shelves. Could she be a reseller? Sure. Or maybe she accidentally removed it from her to-read shelf. (There I go again, looking for a positive explanation.) Either way, I just hope someone reads that particular copy someday!

So, are Goodreads Giveaways good or bad? I say good, but I am a glass-half-full kind of girl.

Based on my results, what do you think?