Saturday, 1 June 2013

Draft2Digital and leaving KDP Select

When KDP Select started at the end of 2011, I was an early adopter. My books had sold very well on Amazon, while selling hardly any via Smashwords, so the decision was a no-brainer for me. And at the start of 2012 it enabled me to sell huge quantities of ebooks at a higher price than I'd been able to charge before, as well as making money from Kindle Owners' Lending Library (KOLL).

But what has it done for me lately? Over the past year, the benefits of KDP Select have dwindled, and Amazon has not yet offered anything to replace them. I'm not criticizing Amazon; Jeff Bezos runs his business extremely well, and has no obligation to promote my books for me. It's possible that Amazon no longer needs indie authors in the same way after the DoJ's judgement against the Price-Fix Six. I'm grateful for the opportunities Amazon has put my way, enabling me to prove there is a market for my writing and make quite a bit of money.

But though I expect most of my future sales still to come via Amazon, it may be time to branch out. Last week I came across a long article on Survivorship Bias, including this observation: 

Lucky people tend to constantly change routines and seek out new experiences. The lucky try more things, and fail more often, but when they fail they shrug it off and try something else.

These days there is an alternative to Smashwords' clunky meatgrinder: Draft2Digital. Its site is classy, non-buggy and easy to use, its terms eminently reasonable. Support is fast and helpful. D2D's software converts your Word document into an ebook with a ToC and chapter breaks. Five of my six books reached the end of their three months in KDP Select yesterday, and I've now loaded them on Draft2Digital. Within the next week or two, they will go live on Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Apple's iBookstore.

I'm not expecting to sell much, at any rate initially, but I know from Statcounter that people are looking for epub versions of my novels, and now they will be able to buy them. I hope to be lucky - but if it doesn't work out, I'll try something else.


  1. Like you, I'm grateful for the opportunity Amazon gave me, but I took my book off KDP Select. I haven't published it elsewhere, yet, so I'll certainly look into Draft2Digtal. Thanks, Lexi!

  2. That's a great quote and I totally believe it. Failure is not to be avoided but welcomed because it shows us what isn't working.

  3. Too many of us think it's safer not to try in case we fail. Adults often teach children this - also that it's safer to do what you're told rather than think for yourself.

  4. Lexi, I hope your new books will still be available on kindle.

    As a reader I really don't want to be bothered with multiple formats, especially if DRM protection is involved.

    I think that the best way to publicise a new book is to offer it free on Amazon for limited periods. I always scan the free e-books list and have picked up many superb authors, including the likes of Jean Brashear, Jennifer Blake, Rebecca York ...

    Whatever the probs however, I will always want to read a new Lexi Revellian!

  5. Q, Amazon is still the main ebook player, particularly in the UK; they've done a lot for me and I will never desert Mr Micawber. It's possible Amazon will offer a new incentive for KDP Select which will see me rejoining - who knows what their private deliberations are?

    I agree free does find an author new readers. Myself, I'd prefer very cheap, as many people value what they have paid for more than what is free, and I like to earn something from my books.

  6. I agree with preferring very cheap and for the same reasons.

  7. Lexi and Anna, you have to speculate to accumulate!

    If there was a 'cheap books' list with similar filters ( by ranking, by stars etc) to then I would also support that.

    Trying new authors involves reader risk, mainly for wasted time if the writing doesn't appeal. When I find authors that do it for me, they go to my auto-buy list and I will pay whatever is asked (within reason!)

    New authors should really want to be on my auto-buy list if they have what it takes. LOL

    I also buy a lot of audio books from .... If my auto-buys have audio versions I will buy those for preference.

    Have you thought of expanding into audio?

  8. Q, you are preaching to the choir - one of the benefits of Select is the ability to go free for five days out of ninety, and I've taken advantage of this. But Amazon's algorithms have been repeatedly adjusted to diminish the post-free boost. I think the generous sample you can read before buying removes much of the risk of trying an unknown writer.

    ACX at present only works with American authors. I hope this changes, as I'd love to have audio versions of my novels.

  9. I think the generous sample you can read before buying removes much of the risk of trying an unknown writer.

    Possibly, but you have to find a writer to try first.

    I actually have a fairly extensive list of auto-buy authors so could simply ignore the new authors until one makes it into the stratosphere of book reviews.

    Picking at random from thousands of covers and titles is not good. Book review sites tend to pick out well known established authors so that debut indies lose out.The free books list, though not perfect, does organize in order of ranking so that you can look at books by new authors which are most highly rated by other readers, thus giving a quick way of selecting a rated newcomer to try.

    Works for me anyway! LOL

  10. True - visibility is the number one problem for authors. Amazon used to help more than it does now, with various recommended lists. Remix was on several at one time, and it had a magical effect on sales.

    Do you use Pixel of Ink? Their daily selection of free/cheap books is decided mainly on the number and quality of reviews.

  11. I'm an audio fan, Q. I have hundreds of what I call 'bedtime stories'.

    The right reader makes a lot of difference. I love Bill Bryson's, as read by Kerry Shale, but when the author reads his own works, I'm asleep by the end of the first sentence. They are both good as bedtime stories but I assume that indies would not want their books to fall into the second category. A good reader, presumably expensive, would certainly meet with your 'speculate to accumulate' comment.

  12. I will take a look at Pixel of Ink .... how I wish I was a time lord, and could create more time at will! LOL

    I haven't heard many authors reading their own work. I do have Richard Dawkins reading his 'Selfish Gene' which does send me to sleep, but on the other hand I have heard authors lecture in an inspired manner. I remember Abdus Salam at Imperial college talking about the eight fold way in particle physics and wishing that I had a recording to play over and over again!

    So much depends on the author's acting ability and the nature of their spoken voice.

    Having seen Lexi's lovely portrait I'm convinced that she would mesmerise me with lilting tones reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe ..... you as well Anna ..... sigh!

  13. Well, that's plain spooky, Q, because my friends will tell you I sound EXACTLY like Marilyn Monroe when I speak! (Quite how I got the American accent when I'm a Londoner is a mystery...)


  14. Mm hmm, and I sound like Cary Grant!

  15. Me and Tony Curtis. And Archie.