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?

Self Publishing

How I Found My Developmental Editor

CDR Snippet

Are you writing your first novel and not sure if the storyline is moving in the right direction? Or, do you worry that your writing might not be good enough and wonder if you should even finish what you’re working on?

If either scenario applies to you, you might want to consider hiring an editor to provide feedback.

Back in January 2014, with about one-third of my first novel written, I found myself stuck. Not because of writer’s block—I knew exactly where I wanted the story to go—but because I was worried that my writing wasn’t good enough. The self-doubt I felt was so overwhelming that I started backtracking to reread five paragraphs for every new paragraph written. And every time I reread something, I found myself wondering: Am I wasting my time? Will people even like this?

Then one afternoon, a friend was telling me about a computer software project he’d recently completed with the help of freelancers via the online staffing platform That’s when it occurred to me that I could hire someone to provide me with feedback.

Later that night, I went to and created this job:

Please Critique and Edit My Novel

I am writing my first novel. I’m 90 pages in and need an unbiased opinion on the quality of my work. I hope to find someone who has experience writing, proofreading and editing fiction to provide feedback/guidance throughout the process. I’d like to start by paying for feedback/editing on the first chapter. If I can find the right person, I’d like to continue paying for feedback on additional chapters and possibly the whole book.

(I didn’t know this at the time, but I was looking for a developmental editor.)

Within a day, I received 42 proposals, but there likely would have been hundreds had I not closed the proposal window early. The next step was to weed through the proposals.

The first thing I did was eliminate candidates who didn’t have any reviews from previous clients and whose rates were too high. (I was looking to spend less than $75.) That left me with 16 candidates.

After reading each candidate’s proposal, I had a feeling that one particular person was right for the job. However, when it came time to make a final selection, I decided to hire two candidates just to see how the feedback would vary.

In the end, I should have gone with my gut and hired that one particular person who I felt was right for the job in the first place because her edits and comments provided the motivation I needed to push forward. It wasn’t all glowing feedback either—there was a lot of work to be done—but she understood where I was going with the story and her enthusiasm about working on the project came through loud and clear. The other candidate’s feedback was positive and insightful, but I just didn’t feel a connection with her for some reason.

So, a big thank you goes out to for connecting me with Leah Campbell. She’s an amazing developmental editor!

Click Date Repeat, Self Publishing

Coming to Terms With Ratings

My book received a new rating on Goodreads yesterday. Three stars.

Goodreads Rating Scale

5 = It was amazing.

4 = I really liked it.

3 = I liked it.

2 = It was okay.

1 = I did not like it.

While three stars isn’t a bad rating, it still hit me hard. I can’t help it. Anything less than four stars pushes my self-critical nature into a tailspin and my mind into overdrive.

After seeing this particular rating, questions flooded my brain for a good 15 minutes.

  • Why didn’t this reader include a review?
  • What didn’t she like about my book?
  • What is this person’s average rating on Goodreads?
  • Does she normally read books like mine?
  • To what other books has she given three stars?

Craziness, right? Don’t worry. It was only temporary insanity.

When the reader in me finally spoke up, I started to come to my senses.

  • Maybe she didn’t have time to write a review or maybe she never writes reviews.
  • Maybe the main character annoyed her. (Chloe Thompson is unnecessarily picky at times, you know.)
  • This person’s average rating is completely irrelevant! You have given plenty of three-star ratings, and your average is currently 4.14.
  • Whether she normally reads books like yours doesn’t matter either! You read all sorts of books, and genre never influences your ratings.
  • No two books are exactly alike. HONESTLY. Let. It. Go.


And when this entire thought process came to an end, I reminded myself that most of my favorite books have gotten three-, two- and even one-star ratings. All of them. Even books like The Hunger Games, Cutting for Stone and Charlotte’s Web.

I wonder if Suzanne Collins ever obsessed over a less than perfect rating.