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A couple of weeks ago I read about Draft2Digital, an e-book distributor still in beta mode. They got my attention with their claim to be able to turn a Word doc into a functional EPUB or Mobi (Kindle) file. Naturally I had to check them out, so I asked for a beta code, and I’ve been playing around with their conversions ever since, to see if they’re any good.

The results so far have been fair. I threw them a Word doc of my nonfiction book, which had previously given Barnes & Noble fits. Amazon had handled it well, but the Nook conversion did odd things to my bulleted lists.

Complete disclosure: I no longer have the original file that gave B&N fits. All I had was a fairly clean document I created using the instructions in the now-out-of-print How to Format Your eBook for Kindle, NOOK, Smashwords, and Everything Else by Paul Salvette. There’s a point in the book where you stop and save a Word doc for uploading to Smashwords, and that was the document I used.

That said, the conversion process worked pretty well. It messed up my table of contents the first time around, but when I removed the existing TOC, the second conversion handled it properly.

I like the way they create author bio pages and other back and front matter. You can pick and choose what you want, and I selected everything except the teaser page. (I wasn’t sure what that was.)

I would have liked a few more formatting options. For nonfiction, I prefer block paragraphs. D2D defaults to indented, single-spaced paragraphs, which is great for fiction. However, I have a lot of subheadings in this book, and the conversion properly bolded them but didn’t set them off in any way. In my conversion, they look better being set off with a carriage return before and after.

That’s a minor quibble, though, and I’m sure lots of people would disagree with me about the look.

What about pricing? It’s basically the same as Smashwords: roughly 15 percent of net royalties (or 10 percent of list). By the way, I had to email them about that. The terms of service says 15 percent commission, while the pricing page says 10 percent of list. I found that confusing, and wish they’d use consistent language everywhere. The FAQ explains it pretty well, but I missed that part in my first reading.

They distribute to the following retailers:

• Amazon
• iBookstore
• Barnes & Noble
• Kobo
• CreateSpace

As they say, CreateSpace gets a little complicated, and I didn’t investigate that option thoroughly. If anyone’s used them for CreateSpace, feel free to give us your impressions in the comments.

Will I use them and give up 10 percent of my list? I think so, but only for the iBookstore. I can’t get into iBookstore on my own without investing in a Mac, and giving up 10 percent of list is a less expensive option in the short term. I prefer having more control over my conversions for the other bookstores.

Other than pricing, how do they compare to Smashwords? I haven’t used the Smashwords Meatgrinder, so I can’t compare the conversions. I do like that Draft2Digital pays monthly as opposed to Smashwords’ quarterly payments.

Smashwords currently has more distribution channels, so if you’re looking for the widest possible reach, they are the better bet right now. But if you’re only worried about are the retailers listed above, then both options are pretty equal, with Draft2Digital having a slight edge due to its more frequent payments.

 
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