Today we’re going to be talking about Draft2Digital, a service that can take just about any Word document formatted with a semi-consistent style sheet, turn it into the proper eBook format for a service, and submit it to that service.
It’s been four months since I published a book, and in this industry four months can be an eternity. Little did I know that a lot of folks consider Smashwords a bit outdated (and I can agree with that) and that its throne as a multi-level distributor is being chipped away by a new company, Draft2Digital. I learned about the new kid from a group of self-publishers who are big advocates for the site, and while it sounded great, I had some valid questions.
I signed up, though, and published a couple of books through them. Are they perfect? No, and this still isn’t the silver bullet that we’d hoped for, but it’s pretty damned close. Let me walk you through the experience and maybe see if you’d be interested.
First things first, you’re going to need to pull all front matter, covers, back matter, etc. out of your draft. No author bio, no blurbs, nothing like that. Further, no copyright page, as Draft2Digital will create that. Just for posterity’s sake, here’s what The Station looks like before going into D2D:
Then, if you haven’t yet, you’ll need to sign up for Draft2Digital. It’s currently a beta product, so you’ll need to request an invite code. Don’t be intimidated by this part of the process. I received my invite code within three hours, and the most I’ve heard is a couple of days. It doesn’t seem to be a very arduous process at the moment. Once you have that, log in.
You’ll see the Draft2Digital dash. Obviously yours will look different from mine, as you won’t have any books in your library yet.
Just familiarize yourself with the dashboard before diving in. You do NOT want to click Add Book first. I made that mistake and ended up hating myself for it (okay, strong words, but you get the picture – huge pain).
1. Click the My Account link at the top of the page.
2. Click Manage Publishers.
The Default Publisher is you, in your name. You’ll want to add a payment method, of course. If you want to set up a custom publisher, however, I’ll walk you through the entire process.
3. Click Add Publisher.
4. Click the + button.
5. Enter your publisher information. Name is the only required field, but you’re probably going to want to add a payment method. I’m not going to walk you through adding the payment method in this tutorial, as there’s just way too much risk in putting that kind of information, even obscured, out there on the net. Sorry.
When you’re done, your publisher choice should look like this.
6. Click My Account.
7. Click Manage Contributors.
8. You should be set as the default Contributor. Click View Profiles. If you are not, click Add Contributor; the process is fairly self-explanatory. Once you have the Contributor set up, return to this screen and click View Profiles.
9. Click Add New Profile.
10. Name this profile in the Label field (this is used as a bio for your books, so I named mine bio), then enter your bio information in the Profile field. You can also add your author picture and website. When you’re done, click Save.
Now we’re ready for the meat of the publishing process!
11. Click My Books.
12. Click Add New Book.
A quick word about the publication process. D2D uses a three-step process, going from Acquisitions to Layout to Publishing.
The first screen is Acquisitions, and it looks something like this:
13. Fill out the appropriate fields. The ones with a * are required. Don’t forget to upload your book file at the top of the screen!
14. Click Save and Continue.
D2D saves and converts your file. Depending on the size of your document, this could take a little while.
We’re now at the Layout phase. Note that D2D generates a table of contents based on your headers, and this is where you run into one of the problems with this being a beta product, as it seems to only judge headers based on large, bold fonts or items that are set apart rather than actual header settings. This can cause trouble if you have sections with large bold “hand-written” fonts. I’ve had to request help on this issue, but if you’re lucky, things just work out and it looks like this:
15. Upload your cover image and choose the items that you want. I’m not generating a Title Page since this book already has a decent one. First I click Copyright Page, which seems pretty straightforward, but this is why you needed to do all that work with Publisher and Contributors upfront.
16. Fill in the Dedication option, if applicable. Again, fairly straightforward.
17. For this exercise, let’s just say you have other books available in your collection. If you’re new, you won’t, but you may want to come back and add them. Click the Also By option and select where you’d like this in the book itself. I always choose End of the Book so if someone is interested after they finish the story, they can click right through.
18. The up-front work continues to pay off. Choose to generate an About the Author page and select the profile that you set up.
19. I usually skip the About the Publisher page, but you can add it here if you want.
20. One of my favorite features is the ability to generate a Teaser Page. When you select this, you can choose to tease one of your other books at the back of this one.
21. Click Save and Continue.
D2D finalizes your document.
22. Now we get to where D2D really shines. You’re presented with the choices to preview book layouts for each of the four major services. This was one of my major beefs with the Smashwords publication service – so little control and view into what got sent to places like iBooks. I advise saving out the major ones that you like. There are many ways to get this to your favorite testing applications, but I favor saving the files, then emailing them to myself so I can open them on my iPad (though I also test them in the handy Amazon Kindle Previewer).
23. Test the documents. Here is what the Kindle version looks like on my iPad. Note the About the Author page and Teaser page – all generated by D2D:
And the iBooks version (compare these to the original draft that I showed up top):
And, for funsies, here’s what it looks like in the Kindle Preview app:
24. Do some tweaking to the information on the previous pages. Trust me. There’s likely something you missed – I’ve done this three times and missed something each time.
25. Once you are satisfied, check the “I have reviewed this manuscript…” box and click Next.
26. At long last, we have reached the publishing stage. Choose your price and your chosen platforms. I can’t speak to the CreateSpace process, as I handle all of that myself, but apparently they can help you to get that thing in print, too. Once you’ve set your options, affirm that you own the rights to the book and click Publish my Book!
27. Congrats! You’re all finished. Now to wait for the money to roll right in.
One last note: you can always check the status and sales of your book by going to My Books and click on the Book Title. This page offers a lot of handy information and also allows you to download their version of the book.
So give it a shot and let me know what you think! I love it already.