Indie Like You

Posted by: Kevin Tumlinson 3 weeks, 5 days ago

True confession: I’m a D2D fanboy.

Shocking, I know, but it goes deeper than being part of the Director of Marketing job description.

When I first discovered Draft2Digital, as an author looking to distribute my books, I was ecstatic. Here was an alternative to Smashwords—a service that up to that point I thought was the only way to get my books to other platforms without having to go site-by-site. Beyond that, however, D2D just had a better user experience.

In contrast to Smashwords, D2D had a very modern and friendly and open feel. It had a bit of design flair, a focus on usability, and a workflow that didn’t require me to download and read a book, just to figure it out. D2D didn’t make me put my book into anything called a “meat grinder,” and it didn’t make me include “D2D Edition” or anything at all on my copyright page.

There was a real emphasis on an idea that I've come to think of as part of D2D's operating philosophy: It's your book, we just want to help you publish it.

Instead of a stark cutting-edge-1990s user experience, D2D delivered a beautiful and easy-to-use website that took care of a lot of the bigger hassles I had to deal with. Formatting was done for me automatically, along with all the pain-in-the-posterior endmatter stuff. Sales and royalty reports were given to me in a form I could read without a Ph.D. in statistics. And if I had a problem, the D2D support folks would instantly go Vanilla Ice—“Yo, I’ll solve it.”

Sorry, I have a Pop-Culture-Pavlovian response to certain phrases. When I hear someone yell “stop,” I’m not sure if I’m supposed to “collaborate and listen” or “Hammer time.” Possibly in the name of love.

So long before I joined the D2D team, I was a big fan of the brand and the way they did business. Giving the authors a plethora of free resources was fantastic. But I’ll admit, I always wondered “what do they get out of it?” More importantly, as I entered into their playground and started seeing it from the inside, one of the questions I had to answer was: “What’s their Why?”

SO WHAT IS D2D’S WHY?

The whole question seems kind of trite these days. We hear a lot of internet entrepreneurs and mind hackers and self-improvement personalities use the “What’s your Why?” line, and it starts to feel artificial. But I wanted to know the reasoning, the logic, and the motivation behind Draft2Digital, particularly if I was going to be a brand evangelist for them. I wanted to know what the human connection was, and what was driving the business to be what it was and to grow into what it could be.

It didn’t take long to figure it out.

In fact, it was just ridiculously simple. So much so that it can actually be hard to articulate.

The “why” behind D2D is now, has always been, and will always be, “Because we’re indies too.”

THE INDIES AMONG US

Aaron Pogue, one of D2D’s three founders and our current President, was a lot like me. He wanted to be able to publish his books without having to jump through hoops or bow to draconian formatting rules.  As a self-published author, he had a trait a lot of us share, which is a bit of entrepreneurial drive.

That’s why he reached out to a couple of his friends, to see if they could build something he could use to make publishing easier. So that all he had to do was focus on writing.

See the traces of DNA there?

Kris Austin, D2D’s CEO, and Toby Nance, our CTO, may not be penning novels about dragons or archeologists, but I’ve come to realize that they are both indie writers in their own way. They write code instead of dialogue, but the spirit is there. They’re both in elevated, executive positions in the company, and yet they’re both still in the trenches, learning everything they can about what authors need and want, and helping to shape services to meet those needs. “Writing to market,” if you will.

You may have heard that we recently added Mark Leslie Lefebvre as our Director of Business Development. Mark is best known in the author community as the head of Kobo Writing Life. He's a tall drink of water who shows up to beach resort author conferences in a suit and tie and talks to authors and industry folks alike with the same gentle and respectful tone. Mark also happens to be an indie author, with a pretty impressive array of titles. And like most indie authors, he has a podcast. Just seems to be a thing we do. He’s indie through-and-through, knows and understands the industry and the community. We’re incredibly fortunate to have him on the team.

Dan Wood, our Director of Author Relations, may be one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever met. He doesn’t have a book (yet), but he’s so entwined in the indie author community that he’s instantly recognized and accepted as “one of us.” He connects D2D to the authors in a way I'm not sure anyone else could. And he's indie, make no mistake. He gets it, he's entuned to it. And because of the relationships he makes with indie authors and the publishing industry folks, he's a bridge between the two. Some authors approach D2D for help with a particular sales channel, even if they don't happen to distribute to that channel through us. There isn't much we can do in a case like that, but it shows how firmly Dan has managed to link us to the "we help indie authors" concept.

Tara Robinett, our Customer Service Manager, runs Support like it’s a business within a business, and it shows. I can’t even keep track of the number of people who go straight to social media to praise our author support. Seriously, how often do you see people pop into Twitter to say something positive about a business? Like, ever? We get that all the time because Tara and her team think like Indies. They know how frustrating and scary it can be to have a problem that impacts your bottom line or messes with your workflow or effects your readers and have no way to get help. So they help. Because they live by one of our founding principles: Self-publishing with support.

I’m an indie author myself. I was an indie author and a podcaster before I’d even heard of D2D, but somehow being a part of the team here has managed to amp up both of those aspects of my career. D2D is the resource I needed, back when I was really getting my feet under me, and now I get the honor and the privilege of helping to shape it to help even more self-published authors. It’s the best job on the planet, for a guy like me. It amplifies my mission to “inform and inspire, educate and entertain,” and to help indie authors succeed in every way that I can.

DRAFT2DIGITAL IS INDIE

D2D is as indie as a business gets. Our very DNA is replete with the indie author drive and spirit. Everyone on our team is an entrepreneur in his or her own right and understands the struggle and the needs of the business and industry and, most important, the individual authors.

I wanted to write this piece because I feel so proud of this place. I had relatively nothing to do with making Draft2Digital the world’s best book distribution platform. I’m just the guy who talks enthusiastically about them any chance I get. Half the time I sit back and watch conversations evolve in Slack, with no input from me, that I can feel in my bones are leading to something amazing and unequaled and indescribable for the indie authors of the world. It's humbling. And trust me, I'm not a humble guy.

But again, I wanted to put this out into the world because I know there are still some who don’t fully understand what Draft2Digital is or does. To put it simply, we build resources that make your publishing life easier. We’re here to be the motive force behind the realization of your dreams.

We’re indies, just like you. And we’re here to help.

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