Discoverability: Draft2Digital

3 January 2019

From Draft2Digital:

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 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.

. . . .

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.

. . . .

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

. . . .

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.

. . . .

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.

Link to the rest at Draft2Digital

Disclosure: PG drafted the first Terms of Service for D2D for the initial roll-out of their service and has paid attention to their progress as they’ve grown.

PG has always liked the people running D2D and their attitude toward authors, including their royalty rates. When Mrs. PG read the OP, she told PG that she was going to try out some of their new promotional tools. (She’s had books on D2D since the company started.)

PG was particularly interested in the Walmart.com announcement.

At various times in the somewhat-distant and really-distant past, PG has attended a handful of business meetings with various Walmart executives. The attitude of managers when Sam Walton was still running the place (PG did say this goes back a long time) was much more receptive to new ideas from outside the company than the attitude of the managers after Mr. Sam left Bentonville to investigate potential store sites in an entirely different realm.

To be fair, Walmart is a huge company (2.3 million employees) and PG spoke to a small subset of their management team, so his attitude toward Walmart management has been based on an entirely insufficient sampling of people, most of whom may not be there anymore.

At any rate, PG has continued to watch Walmart from afar. After many years of so-so performance and getting totally beaten by Amazon online, over the past year or so, Walmart appears to have rediscovered some of its retailing mojo.

In particular, Walmart.com has finally become a decent website connected to a warehouse and delivery system that’s competitive with Amazon. For the first time ever, PG purchased a few items through Walmart.com during the latter part of 2018 because  Walmart was offering better prices and selection on those items than Amazon did.

That’s a long way of saying that PG will be interested to see if Walmart becomes a serious destination for book purchasers.

He just did a quick scan of Walmart’s online bookstore and while it’s a long way behind Amazon (for example, ebooks and printed books are sold in two different sections of the store), at least some of Walmart’s hardcopy bestsellers were beating Amazon’s prices by a 10-20% margin.

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, PG's Thoughts (such as they are)

13 Comments to “Discoverability: Draft2Digital”

  1. Richard Hershberger

    I worked for Walmart in an extremely modest capacity not long after Sam Walton had died. His memory was greatly revered, and his book was strongly encouraged reading. At the same time, the corporate culture had already changed, not, according to some people whose opinions I respected, for the better. The contrast between what was in the book and what was in the store was fascinating, and not at all in a good way. It was some years after I left before I was willing to set foot inside a store again, and to this day I reflexively favor the competition.

    • I read the book awhile ago, and one thing that stuck with me was that somewhere in the second half he said that one thing he regretted was not sharing more of the money that the company made with the associates. He felt, (after the fact of course) that perhaps they should have been paid better wages.

      It’s too late now though. The more I look at companies the more I believe in “corporate DNA”. Once the DNA has been developed and proven successful, it is next to impossible to change. You can look at almost any large company and say “They Are What They Are.” The companies we discuss here pretty much aren’t going to change – B&N is going to be what it is. Whole Foods isn’t going to change because of Amazon. Sears isn’t changing as it goes down the tubes. Amazon has been assembling it’s DNA over the years, but every year that goes by freezes it into place, something Bezos knows and wrestles with.

      If WalMart really can pivot, it will be the result of truely extraordinary effort.

  2. Amazon already offers authors product pages for each book as well as author’s pages. There’s no need to pay for it.

    • If you distribute only through Amazon then Amazon’s author pages and product pages are all you need.

      But if you distribute through Kobo, Apple, B&N, and other platforms then you begin to get link congestion when you promote your books online.

      D2D provides pages with links to all the platforms where a book is distributed. So when you do a guest post about your book or books, or when you run an advertisement, etc. you can use ONE link (to the D2D page) that gives someone who clicks on your ad access to their preferred e-tailer.

    • I’m not sure where you got the idea you have to pay for D2D’s product pages. All you need is an account.

      • It’s true that the product pages come with one’s account, but one does pay a percentage of each sale. Distribution via D2D is not free; of course, distribution from any of the online platforms is not free, nor should it be.

        I distribute via Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, and D2D.

        I really like it that D2D gets my books into international library systems. I’ve been seeing results in the new channel to Biblioteca especially.

        • We pay for everything at Amazon through a percentage of sales, so doing the same through D2D doesn’t bother me. It’s like that everywhere. No one gives you anything for nothing.

          That said, I need to get over to D2D and set up my stuff. Never hurts to have another place for readers to find you (and I do sell books there already, so…)

  3. then with policy changes that led to decreased revenue and even canceled accounts, with effectively no recourse for affected authors.

    Anyone know the policy changes that led to the decreased revenue?

    • I believe that refers to the software used to crack down on click farming in KU that also caught some authors who abided by Amazon’s TOS scrupulously.

      The affected authors lost money when their accounts were suspended (and books or buy buttons removed) right in the middle of a BookBub promotion. (They’d paid for the BookBub spot, but then sold no books.) Since the new bots tended to be triggered by the sales/download pattern resulting from a BookBub spot, the two—account suspension and a BB spot—often went together.

      Many of the authors were eventually reinstated (the bots really had been in error), but it often took weeks of emails and the BB promotion was always long over by then. Plus they’d lost 3 or 4 weeks of ordinary sales.

  4. It really was a very few authors, they just made a lot of noise. Having said that I’ve used D2D recently for a non fic book and am thrilled with how easy it is.

  5. The D2D folks really are amazing. I used to work with a lot of author companies while wrangling stuff for conferences, and they were, by far, my favorite people to work with. 🙂

  6. Back in the dark ages, I worked for a Walmart supplier. I remember two topics that came up at management meetings that stopped me from buying at Walmart.

    1 – During their “Made in the USA” advertising campaign, there were long discussions over how little of a product could be made in the US and still legally qualify for the label. (It was less than you think.) Since most of the products we sold were made in China, I hated this effort at misrepresentation. Now, to be fair, I’m not sure this came directly from Walmart. It may have been my upper management’s thoughts, but I’m fairly sure they consulted with Walmart on this.

    2 – In order to have the lowest price of any retailer, Walmart “suggested” ways our products could be made cheaper. This led to carrying two sets of inventory: the standard product and the Walmart product. The packaging looked identical, but the contents certainly weren’t. Lesson 2: You get what you pay for.

  7. (It was less than you think.)

    Educate us. How much?

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