Hello peeps! Today I will share with you my experience with Draft2Digital (D2D) whom I chose to make a freebie book available to all major e-stores. In the process, I stumbled upon formatting issues that I share here. This post will also give you a couple of good reasons why you may choose not to publish your paperback with them.
Let me explain, first of all, that for my novels, I give exclusivity to Amazon, having registered them to KDP Select from day one. As a result, until recently I had no experience with Smashwords or Draft2Digital to make a book of mine available to other sales venues.
Back in the Fall, as I planned to publish a perma-free poetry book to attract new readers to my romance trilogy, I downloaded and began to read Smashwords’ infamous Formatting Guide. I am not ashamed to say, even though I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in IT, that the darn thing gave me a headache and I quit reading half way through. Next, a wonderful touch of serendipity provided the perfect solution. It was brought to me via an article by The Kindlepreneur (Dave Chesson) which showed the pros and cons of Smashwords VS the new kid on the block, Draft2Digital. The said post declared that Draft2Digital is preferable to Smashwords. For me, the biggest advantage of D2D was that they don’t expect you to read a mind-boggling formatting guide to apply, or to cough up a fee to a formatter to do the hard work for you.
So, without further ado, I registered with D2D and had my free poetry booklet sent out to new sales venues in no time. However, I did encounter an unexpected problem with the formatting and this is why I am blogging to tell you all about it. D2D converted my books into ePUB and MOBI format but it wasn’t done in the immaculate way Amazon Kindle does it… For my books, I use a .19 inch indent for every new paragraph. With Amazon Kindle, my book’s indents and line spacing look exactly as they do in the original Word file I upload.
When D2D converted my Word file into ePUB and MOBI format and asked me to check them for errors, I was surprised to see they didn’t look right at all. Take a look at two different passages in the book and you’ll know exactly what I mean:
The first line is all over the place in comparison to the rest of the text in any given paragraph – anywhere but honoring the .19 inch indent of the source file I uploaded. Now, here is where it got a bit awkward. I wrote to D2D’s Customer Services Dpt and asked for help to fix the problem, telling them I chose them instead of Smashwords as I didn’t know a great deal about formatting. To my surprise, I received a rather stiff response: “We are not proofreaders nor do we offer a full formatting service, even though we do help when asked to correct minor formatting issues.”
In the same email the agent declared: “Our conversions are made in Standard Narrative Fiction format which means that after every page break or scene break the first paragraph of the section is not indented. If you look at any print fiction book on your shelves at home you will see the same standard format.”
The agent then offered a solution of sorts – to change the setting of my book from Standard Narrative Fiction format to Block Format, which changed the look of my book into this:
It’s not perfect but, as I had no other choice, I took it. As you can see, all the indents are gone. Furthermore, in the poems, the line spacing has increased… As I said, I had no other choice. At least this way there were no ugly discrepancies that jump out at you when you look at any given page. The agent told me she changed the setting in my book permanently so if I upload a later version it will retain the Block Format setting. So, if you go the same route as me and pick D2D, keep in mind if you encounter the same issues to ask for the Block Format option as opposed to the Standard Narrative Fiction format.
Truth be said, I do feel rather let down about that. In D2D’s home page, they state: “Your style guide is our style guide… Just get us your manuscript and we’ll do all the technical stuff for you.” I’ll say to that that there’s a whole world of difference between this statement and their agent’s response when I asked for help to fix the formatting issues. But, I do admit I was given an automated fix that met me somewhere half way. So there you have it – certainly not perfect as all the original indent and line spacing formatting is lost, but I didn’t have to bother with a formatting guide and it cost me nothing. In these respects, D2D delivered the promise. The publication process to the sales venues was incredibly fast and efficient too, with separate email notifications for every different channel. An excellent, FREE service.
D2D provides an option to publish your paperback with them using Createspace. I gave this a miss for a number of reasons. For starters, why give the middle man a percentage when you can publish with Createspace directly? The publishing procedure on Createspace is quite simple and self-explanatory. Other than that, be warned of these two important reasons why you may want to opt out of publishing your paperback using D2D:
- D2D only provides one trim size option for paperbacks: 5.5″x8.5″ with black and white print and cream paper. If you’re publishing a non-fiction book this restriction becomes an even bigger problem as the standard out there is cream paper for fiction and white paper for non-fiction.
- If, like me, you have to use the Block Format option with D2D as discussed above, it will work for your ePub and Mobi books sold out there in e-form but the setting will be lost when D2D sends the file to Createspace. The agent actually told me so – so your paperback may have the bad formatting shown above (if your original Word file looked on ePub and Mobi like mine did originally).
So, there you have it. My experience with D2D – Where I felt it delivered 100% and where it rather failed me. Mind you, I believe this company has a great future ahead of it and it seems active with closing new deals. A few days ago they emailed to advise they sent my book to a new partner – 24Symbols – and will continue to do so with any new e-stores they start collaborating with. Hopefully they will provide more formatting options in future as to do a better job, and maybe one day they will manage to convert Word files in the immaculate way Amazon Kindle does, leaving all line spacing and indents as they are in the source file. We can hope. I certainly do. So, thank you D2D! It was wonderful you came to the rescue to save me from that appalling Smashwords formatting guide. Yuk! Isn’t being indie hard work enough? Kudos to any of you out there who have braved the Smashwords path – I am in awe of you – but for any of you who’d struggle with that ghastly formatting guide like I did, at least now you have a good alternative. Despite the unfortunate formatting issue, I don’t regret my choice and will certainly pick D2D again.
Have you used Smashwords or D2D? What was your experience?
Thanks to D2D, Poetry from The Lady of the Pier (a selection of poems from the trilogy and a short story of sweet romance) is now available FREE on Amazon US &UK, iTunes, Kobo, Nook, Inktera, Oyster, Scribd and 24Symbols.
FREE Download Links: http://effrosyniwrites.com/books/poetry-from-the-lady-of-the-pier/
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