2018: D2D’s Year of Discoverability & Empowering Authors

Posted by: Kevin Tumlinson 7 months, 3 weeks ago

For sure, 2018 had a few bumps in the road. Amazon shook up the industry first by a shift to favoring paid advertising over organic search results, then with policy changes that led to decreased revenue and even canceled accounts, with effectively no recourse for affected authors. 

Other interesting turns included dubious trademark claims, leading to the addition of terms like Cockygate being added to every indie author’s lexicon. Some authors attempted to trademark generic cover layouts and common words to (allegedly) protect their intellectual property. In general, it was a year filled with questionable practices on the IP front.  

On a more positive front, Draft2Digital’s 2018 was a year of empowering authors in all-new and pretty exciting ways, with all new sales and distribution options, updates to existing tools, and a whole shelf full of new and exciting resources that make it that much easier to stop worrying about everything else and just write.

We love it when authors just get to write. 

In news closer to “home,” Draft2Digital moved into some spiffy new offices in Oklahoma City. Our old digs were just fine, but they were starting to get a little cramped. Our new space allows everyone to be in the same building, lets us bump into each other and have on-the-fly conversations, and is much more photogenic—it’s all the natural light.

The move was exciting, but we bet you didn't even notice, right? That's because even as desks were being dismantled and stuff was being shoved into boxes, D2D's machines kept humming. It was a feat most digital businesses can't claim—but we managed the whole thing with minimal downtime. Your books still made it where they were meant to be, and there was nary a hiccup, all through the house. That's how you do a move!

Plus, we were thrilled to welcome a new addition to the family as Mark Leslie Lefebvre joined the team, stepping in as our new Director of Business Development! 

There are far more innovation and updates and new features to come, and we’re excited for 2019 to get here. But for now, let’s take a look at some of the big deal announcements D2D has made in 2018!

March 15 – D2D Author Pages and D2D Book Tabs

We spend a lot of our time thinking of new ways to help authors take things to the next level. But for 2018, there was one challenge we were eager to take on: Discoverability.

Finding new ways to help readers discover you and your books was our priority for 2018, and our solution was to craft two amazing and powerful promotional tools.

D2D Author Pages are your home away from homepage. This is a single platform online, where readers find more about you and find all of your books, all in one place. They’re beautifully crafted—we even updated them with all new features before the year was up! More on that in a minute. 

These powerful pages include:

  • Your author bio, and an optional author photo
  • Links to your social media accounts
  • Customizable page elements to help promote your books to readers
  • A button that invites users to follow you, either through D2D’s New Release Notifications or by joining your mailing list, pointing them to your signup tool of choice
  • Carousels of your books and series
  • A “hero” book with optional promotional elements, so you can push a new release, first in series, free book, and more

These pages are perfect if you don’t have a website and either can’t afford one or don’t know how to create one. They’re also great as the “My Books” page of your existing site. 

D2D Book Tabs are a lot like a product page for your book, but they're so much more! This is where your book lives and breathes online. D2D Book Tabs give your readers a beautiful and convenient place to find out everything they need to know to make the decision to buy and read your book.

Built on the back of our (very popular) Universal Book Links (UBLs), D2D Book Tabs are entirely independent of any single eBook retailer. Readers can click the Buy Now button and find your book anywhere it’s sold online.

Some key features include:

  • Your book and series titles
  • Your name as the author, with a link for readers to find more books by you
  • The cover image of your book
  • A customizable book description
  • Customizable page elements to help promote your book to readers
  • Your author photo and bio

Both your D2D Author Page and your D2D Book Tabs are designed with a smooth and enticing user experience in mind. They're a perfect balance of form and function, encouraging readers to click through, to buy your books, and to come back for more. They're a sleek, attractive, and easy way to promote you and your work and to increase your discoverability online.

We think they’ll become the home base of your online platform—and we’re just getting started. New features, new tools, and new resources will be added as we go and grow. In fact, we’ve already made some improvements, which you’ll learn all about in a moment!

June 27 – Increased library distribution with bibliotheca

Draft2Digital is always looking for new ways to help authors reach more readers in more places, and one of the best channels we’ve found for discoverability has been public libraries. That’s why we were excited about expanding our library distribution even further with the addition of bibliotheca, the proprietors of cloudLibrary™.

By distributing your books to bibliotheca’s cloudLibrary, you’ll be included in a digital lending platform that serves more than 3,000 public libraries, worldwide. More than that, your books become part of a platform that actively engages readers and helps them connect with new authors and new books they’ll love.

That means better discoverability—more potential readers, with more reason to give your book a try!

We believe adding bibliotheca to our library distribution is a fantastic way for authors to reach multiple readers at a time, worldwide, giving your discoverability and revenue potential a boost with new readers. In our opinion, libraries are a big deal—which is why this won’t be the last mention of them you see. Read on!

July 18 – A whole year with our (ear)buds, Findaway Voices!

In 2017 we announced our partnership with Findaway Voices—a new way for you to turn your book into an audiobook and distribute it worldwide, even to Audible and Apple Books. 

We saw some pretty amazing things come out of this partnership—

  • More than 4,300 authors produced audiobooks
  • More than 6,000 hours of audio was produced and distributed worldwide
  • More than 1,000 new narrators were added to Findaway’s database

That’s a lot of progress in just one year!

We’ve had a blast working with Findaway Voices, and based on feedback from our authors, we know you feel the same. Their recent announcement that they’re offering direct distribution to Apple Books, as well as a new 45% royalty (versus the previous 25%), is only going to make them all the more fun to work with.


July 31 – A New Look and Feel!

July was a big month for freshening things up, which is precisely what we did with the look and feel of some of our tools, including the My Books page. This update was more than just cosmetic, though.

Along with a fresh coat of paint and a beautiful polish, we added useful new features. Along the right-hand side of the My Books page there appeared, as if by magic, a new set of icons that gave you access to the publication status of your eBooks and audiobooks. Clicking on one of these icons would let you see everywhere your book was currently published, wherever it was yet to be published, and everywhere it was delisted. 

Clicking that icon would take you to a world of pure imagination that even Willy Wonka would envy—a colorful dashboard jam-packed with new features and ways to see, understand, and control the status of your book. Quickly switch between different versions of your book, check its status, initiate audiobook production, and (gasp!) access the brand new Promotion tab! Here you can find your book’s D2D Book Tab (see above), see and edit it’s Universal Book Link (UBL) and even click on the cover to access (and copy) the book’s metadata, for easy use elsewhere.

Cramming any more features into those new pages would be tough. But by golly, will we ever try! 

August 30 - UBL Landing Page Refresh

When we rolled out our D2D Author Pages and D2D Book Tabs, they were so beautiful and so well-done, we got inspired. That’s when we went back to our Universal Book Links and gave them a facelift.

With a look and feel that’s consistent with our two newest features, your UBLs are now an attractive and more efficient landing page for new readers. Sharing your UBLs in social media or on your website is now an even better way to move readers from “just looking” to “just buying.”

September 6 - Walmart Distribution via Kobo

We mean … do we even have to say anything about this? Isn’t that subhead exciting enough?

For months there were rumors, and then in September the bag was opened, and cats just ran everywhere. Kobo had struck a deal with Walmart for not only eBook distribution on Walmart.com, but also through select physical storefronts. Not only could readers buy a Kobo device off of Walmart shelves, they could also pick up a hanging placard that allowed them to purchase an eBook right from Walmart's registers.

Now you could get your oil changed, buy your groceries, pick up fish food, and load up your Kobo reader all from the world’s biggest retailer*.

*We’re never sure if Walmart or Amazon deserves this title, but we’re inclined to give the win to Walmart on this one.

So what does that mean for D2D authors?

Since we have such a great relationship with Kobo, as one of our top sales channels, it means that D2D authors can have their books distributed to Walmart.com as well! In fact, if Kobo happens to be one of your sales channels, you’re already on Walmart’s virtual shelves.

September 12 - Quick Price Change

D2D’s mission (and we’ve totally chosen to accept it) is to build tools and resources that make publishing as easy as pushing a button. We get a little closer with each iteration of our platform, but one of the latest additions has really gotten the thumbs up for weary writers everywhere.

As an improvement to our View Books page, Quick Price Change was part of an improvement to seeing your current pricing and projected royalties. From that same page, you can now change the price of your book and see your new projected royalties instantly, right from the Ebook details section of the View Book Page.

This was just one of several updates and changes we made behind the scenes. It’s pretty incredible how something seemingly so small can have such a big impact!

October 23 - Baker & Taylor

Remember when we put a pin in library distribution, way back at bibliotheca? Here we go!

We’ve said it before, but we believe libraries are a big deal. And they’re a growing opportunity for indie authors. 

Through the addition of OverDrive and bibliotheca, we increased author reach to around 40,000 libraries in 70+ countries. That’s a lot. In fact, in the first six months of 2018 Draft2Digital authors saw a 133% growth in library revenue.

In October we added distribution to Baker and Taylor, the world’s largest distributor of digital and print books worldwide, to thousands of libraries, publishers, and retailers. As a library distribution partner, Baker & Taylor further enhanced D2D’s reach into public libraries around the world, improving indie author reach to the estimated 1.5 billion patrons who visit libraries each year.

D2D believes libraries are an excellent way for authors to improve the discoverability of their work while increasing revenue potential. With expanded library distribution, more potential readers can discover and read your work and recommend it to friends. Good word of mouth is always the best marketing tool.

October 30 - D2D Print (Beta)

It may be the single-most requested feature from our authors: Print on Demand.

That’s why we announced that we’re beta testing D2D Print, our own unique, in-house POD service that will have no upgrade fees, no recurring fees, and low-cost author copies.

It’s in beta now, but when it launches it will have some pretty amazing features, including:

  • Cover Converter—If you need a print-ready version of your eBook cover, we’ll generate one for you automatically!
  • Cover Templates—If you want to supply your own existing print cover, you can use our free cover templates to ensure it is the perfect size and dimensions
  • A variety of trim sizes—All of the POD industry-standard trim sizes are here
  • Widow & Orphan Control—If you use our auto-generated interior we can help keep the weird line breaks and pesky widowed and orphaned text to a minimum
  • All the choices you’re used to—Matte or glossy finish for your cover, cream or white paper for your interior, a free ISBN from D2D or bring your own—we have you covered!
  • Brick & Mortar Distribution—Physical bookstores will be able to order copies of your books, to place on their shelves.

NOTE: This does not mean your books will automatically be available in physical bookstores. You will need to request that a store order and carry your books, and they can order them through their regular channels. Draft2Digital does not distribute directly to physical bookstores.

And of course, you’ll get our famous author support and customer service, to help you the whole way!

November 15 - Custom Carousels

Back in March, we introduced D2D Author Pages and D2D Book Tabs. Those are pretty sweet, and our authors loved them. But we promised then (as we do now) that things weren’t settled with these. There would be improvements.

And there were. Mostly behind the scenes. For most of the year, we tweaked this and adjusted that, made this work better and made that work faster. But then, in November, the first major update came: Custom Carousels.

With Custom Carousels you can rename, rearrange, and reorganize your book series carousels to fit your personal preference.

You can also:

  • Create new series carousels and name them anything you like
  • Rearrange carousels to put your preferred series up top (or in any order)
  • Create promotional carousels, such as “First in Series FREE” or even a holiday collection
  • Build curated collections, preferred reading orders, or anything your creative mind can think of!

Custom Carousels work on both D2D Author Pages and D2D Book Tabs, and they’re a great way to showcase your work. Build a series, create a reading list, make a list of First in Series Free—anything you want. 

We’re really curious to see how authors put these to work.

November 27 - All-New Publish Page

We’re going to be honest with you … this is the same Publishing Page you’ve grown to love. But we’ve updated the look, feel, and layout to make it easier to find what you’re looking for, and to prepare for some pretty exciting updates in the future.

So, same publishing page, same functionality, all new layout.

We’re looking to the future, and the future is bringing along more storefronts, more libraries, and more subscription services—we can’t wait to give you even more distribution options! So we’re updating the look and feel to make room for all that new.

These new changes include:

  • Separate sections for Digital Stores, Libraries, and Subscription Services
  • New selectors that let you turn all Digital Stores, all Library Services, and/or all Subscription services off or on with a click
  • Individual Library Services
  • Your Projected Royalties for each distribution channel
  • Special Considerations that pertain to specific distribution channels (to help make decisions easy)

Dec 19 - Account Sharing

And for our final act of 2018, something for the pros!

D2D Account Sharing will allow you to give select users limited access to your Draft2Digital Account. So if you have a virtual assistant (VA), or have a family member or friend who manages your books on your behalf, you can now grant them access to do what you need!

With D2D Account Sharing, you can grant an assistant the ability to:

  • Upload a new book on your behalf and manage your book details, including the description, keywords, and categories
  • Update your book’s manuscript and cover
  • Choose one of D2D’s layout templates for your book
  • Choose your sales and distribution channels and set or change your cover price
  • Delist and relist your book on various sales channels

Your assistant can help with the uploading and management of your books without having access to your bank or tax information or your royalty reports.

Way more to come

It’s been a great year, filled with ups and downs, but mostly ups. The industry may have taken a few lumps, but authors are in a better position than ever to really take off over the next year. We’re honored to be a part of that, and we can’t wait to see what 2019 has to offer. 

For now, thank you for being such an amazing community, and for being the reason for our growth and success. We’ve enjoyed meeting and knowing you, helping and serving you since 2012. And we look forward to many more years.

 

Happy New Year, and happy publishing, from your friends and family at Draft2Digital! 

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