How to Use Draft2Digital to Simplify the Publishing Process

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.

Draft2Digital media-leaderboard

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 Little did I know that a lot of folks consider Smashwords a bit outdated (and I can agree with that) and that its throne as a multi-level distributor is being chipped away by a new company, Draft2Digital.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:

Draft2Digital - Initial Doc

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.

Draft2Digital - Dashboard

 

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.

Draft2Digital - Step 1

 

2. Click Manage Publishers.

Draft2Digital  - Step 2

 

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.

Draft2Digital  - Step 3

 

4. Click the + button.

Draft2Digital - Step 4

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.

Draft2Digital - Step 5

When you’re done, your publisher choice should look like this.

Draft2Digital - Step 6

6. Click My Account.

7.  Click Manage Contributors.

Draft2Digital - Step 7

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.

Draft2Digital - Step 8

9. Click Add New Profile.

Draft2Digital - Step 9

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.

Draft2Digital - Step 10

Now we’re ready for the meat of the publishing process!

11. Click My Books.

Draft2Digital - Step 11

12. Click Add New Book.

Draft2Digital - Step 12

A quick word about the publication process. D2D uses a three-step process, going from Acquisitions to Layout to Publishing.

Draft2Digital - Three-Step Process

The first screen is Acquisitions, and it looks something like this:

Draft2Digital - Acquisitions Screen

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!

Draft2Digital - Step 13

14.  Click Save and Continue.

Draft2Digital - Step 14

D2D saves and converts your file. Depending on the size of your document, this could take a little while.

Draft2Digital - Converting

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:

Draft2Digital - Layout Screen

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.

Draft2Digital - Step 15

16. Fill in the Dedication option, if applicable. Again, fairly straightforward.

Draft2Digital - Step 16

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.

Draft2Digital - Step 17

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.

Draft2Digital - Step 18

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.

Draft2Digital - Step 19

21. Click Save and Continue.

Draft2Digital - Step 20

D2D finalizes your document.

Draft2Digital  - Finalizing

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).

Draft2Digital - Step 22

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:

Draft2Digital - Kindle Sample

And the iBooks version (compare these to the original draft that I showed up top):

Draft2Digital - iBooks Sample

And, for funsies, here’s what it looks like in the Kindle Preview app:

Draft2Digital - Kindle Preview Sample

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.

Draft2Digital - Step 23

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!

Draft2Digital - Step 24

27. Congrats! You’re all finished. Now to wait for the money to roll right in.

Draft2Digital - Success

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.

Draft2Digital  - Status

So give it a shot and let me know what you think! I love it already.

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The Mad God: Viracocha in Rural America

Good evening, steady readers. Hope everyone’s having a great week; my own has been crammed with updates, marketing, and writing. Writer’s dream, right? It’s actually kind of a relief to think of writing an ordinary update/entry, but here we are. First, just a reminder that my latest book Room 3 is out there, and I mean way out there. Heh. Seriously, if you like sci-fi, paranormal, urban fantasy…anything like that, I do think you’d enjoy it. Basically, I’m saying that I believe in the book and hope that others will eventually come to recognize what’s on the page.

In the meantime, I’m having a giveaway, because it’s what the cool kids are doing. If you want to get to the meat of this post, just scroll down until you see this bad boy: =====. Then you’ll know you’re past the icky promotional nonsense.

I’m offering a special 2-for-1 deal and giveaway. Here’s how it works:

  1. Purchase Room 3 between now and Midnight on November 18th on any qualifying site. Really, I’m happy with anything, even through this site.
  2. Send me an email at crimnos@gmail.com with the receipt and/or screenshot of the receipt.
  3. Indicate your preferred eBook format and preferred eBook (The Corridors of the Dead, The Kayson Cycle, or The Station).
  4. I’ll send you a copy of that eBook for free! I’ll also give you two entries into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. Pretty straightforward, right?
Now, I know – I’m not just using the giveaway as a tool to puff up my sales. Since memory is so important in Room 3, all you need to do to gain one entry is comment on this post and share one of your favorite memories. That’s it! I look forward to seeing what you have to share.

Now, where do you get it? Why, I’m glad you asked…

  • Smashwords is my current favored e-store for purchase, just because you can get it in so many formats with such little fuss. I’m offering a 10% off discount if you purchase it through Smashwords, in fact; use PL77Y as your coupon code at checkout and you can knock a little off of the price.
  • I’m sure many of you are looking for the Kindle version, and you find it at Amazon. Go go go!!
  • Barnes and Noble also offers the print edition and the Nook version, if that’s your cup of tea. I can’t offer you a discount there, but you’re welcome to check it out.
  • You can also purchase signed and unsigned print editions through my site.
  • The print edition is also available on Amazon and Createspace.

======

So anyway, tonight I’m on the cusp of finishing the first draft of a story that I mentioned awhile back called Passage of the Mad God. I originally wrote the story back in 2004 and serialized it on the Something Awful forums (http://forums.somethingawful.com) in an effort to elicit some feedback.

Let’s just say I didn’t like what I got, and I never did it again. Thing is, eight years on, I dusted it off because I thought the premise itself was so appealing and so close to my heart that I just had to take another shot. You know what? Those *assholes* had the temerity to be right all that time ago. Damnedest thing, right? I was not ready. 

Am I today? Well, I like to think so, and I hope that you read the story when it’s finished and out in the wild next year. Today, though, I’d like to talk a little bit about that “mad god” in the title. His name is Viracocha, and he’s based on this guy:

Now, according to the Incas, this dude was the founder of civilization itself. Continue reading

Room 3 Launch – Get the Details Here!

Hi readers! I am proud to announce that Room 3 is now available on all major eBook and print platforms – and coming to many more in the near future (including an audiobook that’s in the works).

I have a fun promotion and giveaway going on this week, but first, let’s look at the current lay of the land with where you can pick up my second full-length novel:

  • Smashwords is my current favored e-store for purchase, just because you can get it in so many formats with such little fuss. I’m offering a 10% off discount if you purchase it through Smashwords, in fact; use PL77Y as your coupon code at checkout and you can knock a little off of the price.
  • I’m sure many of you are looking for the Kindle version, and you find it at Amazon. Go go go!!
  • Barnes and Noble also offers the print edition and the Nook version, if that’s your cup of tea. I can’t offer you a discount there, but you’re welcome to check it out.
  • You can also purchase signed and unsigned print editions through my site.
  • The print edition is also available on Amazon and Createspace.
More editions are coming soon (I’m trying to work something out with Google at the moment); it’s just taking some time to get them into the pipeline, as usual. In the meantime, I’m offering a special 2-for-1 deal and giveaway. Here’s how it works:
  1. Purchase Room 3 between now and Midnight on November 18th on any qualifying site. Really, I’m happy with anything, even through this site.
  2. Send me an email at crimnos@gmail.com with the receipt and/or screenshot of the receipt.
  3. Indicate your preferred eBook format and preferred eBook (The Corridors of the Dead, The Kayson Cycle, or The Station).
  4. I’ll send you a copy of that eBook for free! I’ll also give you two entries into a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card. Pretty straightforward, right?
Now, I know – I’m not just using the giveaway as a tool to puff up my sales. Since memory is so important in Room 3, all you need to do to gain one entry is comment on this post and share one of your favorite memories. That’s it! I look forward to seeing what you have to share.
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An eBook Standards Carol Part 1: Ghosts of Formats Past

Hey folks, brace yourselves for a lot of information about the eBook format wars; I’m going to switch hats for the next two posts and write as a technical writer rather than a novelist. I’ll get back to the ghosts and goblins soon, I promise. This post began with a two-part post over at A List Apart about the state of standardization in the current eBook market and where it might be going, including the need for a standard format that everyone can use. You can read Part One here and Part Two here, then come on back.

I shared the post with JW Manus, as she’s explored quite a bit with formatting eBooks and even taught me some tricks that I didn’t know. I was interested in seeing her take on it (and she is sharing her thoughts in tandem with my own here – we’re going for complimentary posts here, so please read hers, too, it’s a worthwhile read), but we ended up in a discussion and I realized that I, too, actually have some things to say about the current state of eBooks and format standardization. Here is the drive of my argument, cleaned up just a bit:

“I’ve come to realize that I’m fortunate in some ways, as I’ve been fighting the formatting wars for close to 13 years when creating documentation (I’ve become a style sheet wizard, which helps in HTML transformations, but that’s a hard-fought victory). Standards can definitely be a double-edged sword. Implementation is everything – MS Word, for example, has some standards, but the implementation is incredibly sloppy. Anyway…he’s right in that we’re becoming a bit more platform agnostic, but everything seems so very patchwork. The most reliable application that I have found for converting Kindle files is an antiquated command-line application. We have to use the ridiculous workarounds that come with translating legacy file formats, and the future is just more of those workarounds if we continue down the same path of everybody following their own paths. This line, in particular, echoes something I’ve written on my blog: ‘The publishing landscape of 2012 looks similar to the music landscape of 1998, crossed with the web designs of 1996: it’s encumbered by DRM and proprietary formats, it treats customers as criminals, it’s fragmented across platforms, and it’s hostile to authors who want to distribute their work through independent channels.'”

Essentially, I realized that I had lived through so much of the period described above that I should talk some about what that was like, and what I learned. Here’s a bit of my own journey, and how I see things eventually playing out, from the standpoint of a technical writer. Continue reading

Official Announcement!

It occurred to me that I had posted this announcement everywhere but here. Now to share with you. An official date has been set! The Corridors of the Dead will be available as an eBook on 11/18 at Amazon, Smashwords, or B&N. Look for details on a print copy and a second cover (yes, two for this one) coming soon, as well as details on a few publicity tours for which I’ve signed on. Spread the word!

Here I Go Again: The Industry, Again

I don’t talk about the state of the publishing industry too often on this blog. I’ve had maybe three or four entries. Considering this has been going since February, that’s a pretty sparse output. I just don’t feel the need most days to criticize or comment on how things are progressing. I mean, better people maintain blogs about the publishing industry and the changes that are going on. I keep my eye on those blogs and try to stay current, but I try to maintain a divide between that side of my interest and my writing. One day I may start a website for my “publishing” company, which would cover some of this in more depth, who knows.

However…every now and then, little issues bubble up to the surface. Today it’s this post about how an author who has signed on with a major and, anticipating this and trying to help promote the book, released a collection of previously-published award-winning stories. The publisher flipped out, for lack of a better term. They essentially fired her and are now demanding their $25,000 advance back (pretty good in this day and age – $1000 are far more the norm). You can read the whole post about what the publishers are claiming and the counter-claims. That’s been talked about ad nauseum and that’s not what I’m interested in talking about here.

What I’m thinking about – and something else that I’ve picked up from some comments, is related to something that I’ve talked about here before: the lack of creativity and innovation coming out of the Big Six these days. I don’t know what sort of level of support was given for this book, market-wise, but I do know that most authors who aren’t the Stephen Kings of the world handle the bulk of their own marketing. So she was likely expected to handle a lot of things. And she went to a marketing technique that has been proven to work. Maybe not in publishing, but definitely not in other venues.

I’ve mentioned I’m a gamer, and I’ve seen this happen time and again in video games. For example, the horror series Dead Space – kind of a riff on Alien and Event Horizon. Great series, highly recommended for horror fans, but that’s beside the point. Every time they’ve released one of the major games in the series, in advance they’ve released a DVD with a related animated movie AND two smaller side games to whet consumers’ appetite for the big release. This has become a standard marketing approach in gaming and has proven to be effective.

To me, her approach here is basically the same: smaller, bite-sized stories equal to those side games, designed to whet the appetite for the big kahuna coming down the pipe. It’s not a gamble, it’s proven. But this publishing company saw it as competition. Not only that, but an agent was blind enough to back the publisher’s approach on this:

The author’s conspiracy-theory conclusion that this is about the publisher versus Amazon seems wrongheaded. If these were print books we would understand in a flash that publishing two books prior to a contracted-for work would constitute a breach of contract. These books change the picture of where the author is in her career– and give potential consumers additional buying choices. Things the publisher did not anticpate when making their offer for the novel. The author clearly changed the landscape a bit; and the publisher thought that landscape was now more hazardous…

Seriously. That logic makes no sense to me at all. Wouldn’t a publisher want a writer to raise their profile some, build an audience? I don’t know. I tried to be fair. I looked at this from a self-publishing point of view, if I had signed on another author and they did something like this. While I might want a bit of a cut of what they’d done, the fact that these stories had been previously published would mean you have no right to the cut. So instead I’d satisfy myself with the boost that it would give to the book that we’re publishing. No matter how many mental gymnastics I do, I just cannot see that collection as a threat or competition. Not in this context. In that “conspiracy theory of publisher versus Amazon”? Then it starts to make some sense, but that’s not the rationale we’ve been given, so speculation down that road is ultimately pointless.

Once you accept the publisher’s decision at face value, it just makes no sense. In the context of other decisions by the Big Six lately, that’s not such an unusual thing. There’s so much desperation to cling to the old model that if an author comes along with a new idea, they lose it. Farther, they seem to be distancing themselves more and more from eBooks when they should be embracing them.

None of these are new things. I’ve talked about them before, but I think it’s important to look at the big picture on this one. A publisher is punishing an author for helping to market the book – it would not only help the release but is proven to work in other venues. Not to mention that it seems her contract has nothing forbidding her from issuing what is basically a re-release. She’s a previously-signed author. It’s hard to believe that someone who has had dealings with the Big 6 before would willingly violate their contract. That also makes no sense.

I’m also…well, frankly, astonished by the agent’s reaction to this. For so long, I had a different idea of what agents did for writers. In general, I had an incredibly positive impression of agents even if my impression of publishers was so-so. Some of the elitism and detachment that I’ve seen regarding this has lowered my opinion of the profession in general, especially since the guy quote above is on the BOARD OF DIRECTORS of the Association of Authors Representatives and giving that opinion of his own volition, even where he’s not involved. It just doesn’t look good, and it’s not the sort of thing an industry wants to do when it’s struggling.

Alas, we continue down the path of the RIAA and the MPAA, two organizations no one should emulate. This whole debacle does make me appreciate the smaller publishers a whole lot more. Maybe one day, once I’ve become more established, I can align myself with one. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m going to be following this very closely.