Why I’m excited about the Draft2Digital + Smashwords merger

If you’ve read this blog in years past, you know I have been down on Smashwords before. You know I’ve said some not-very-nice things about them.

But truth be told, for many years, the Smashwords store was my go-to place to buy books as a reader. When I got my first Kindle, I ran to the Smashwords store and browsed a special sale they were holding, grabbing all sorts of interesting-sounding YA books at a discount. The Destroyers series by Holly Hook was one of my very first and all-time favorite indie reads, and I purchased the entire collected works of seminal lesfic fantasy author Sarah Diemer through that store. Smashwords is how I found some favorite authors, and how I eventually decided to become an indie author myself after reading Susan Kaye Quinn’s Indie Author Survival Guide.

Unfortunately, once I became that author, my opinion of Smashwords soured. Because as an author? I couldn’t get their site to work for me!

I’ve screamed about the meatgrinder before. I won’t bore you with it again. Suffice it to say that if you’re an author who writes your book in Scrivener rather than Word, compiling it in a way to meet the qualifications of the meatgrinder is… not a pleasant experience. And if you’re someone who is able to format ebooks yourself, and in fact built a whole second business around print and ebook formatting and design, being constricted to the meatgrinder is frustrating. But if you don’t use the meatgrinder, you can only sell your book in ePub format in the Smashwords store. That means readers like the reader I was ten years ago, who owned a Kindle but wanted to shop on Smashwords rather than Amazon, would be let out. So after experimenting with it for a short time, I ultimately pulled my books down from Smashwords altogether and now only distribute my books through Draft2Digital.

Which is why, when the surprise announcement went out a couple weeks ago that Draft2Digital and Smashwords were merging—and that they planned to keep the best of both sites in the new incarnation—I couldn’t help but be excited. You can read the press release here and the more nitty gritty details here.

Tonight was the first chance I’ve had to listen to the Q&A livestream featuring both the CEOs of Draft2Digital and Smashwords, and I have to say, I was very pleased with their answers and with their plans. First and foremost, I love that both Smashwords and D2D’s primary focus is helping authors succeed. Everything about their business plan is about the authors. Because their bottom line is completely based on our bottom line and not other external factors, their sole mission is to help authors succeed and their entire focus is on making things better and easier for authors rather than themselves. By joining forces and consolidating their relatively similar distribution systems, this frees up a significant part of their budget to focus on new and innovative ways to help indie authors succeed. Smashwords authors will be gaining access to D2D’s template system, but D2D authors can now use the meatgrinder if they prefer—or you can upload preformatted ebooks if that’s your choice! Draft2Digital authors who write erotica will have access to Smashwords’ proven erotica certification process which widens their distribution options. (Obviously not something that applies to me, but as a number of my friends at Crimson Fox Publishing write erotica and erom, I’m happy to see their options expand.) Smashwords authors will have access to Draft2Digital’s royalty split for collaborative projects (such as anthologies, where D2D will pay each of the authors in the collection automatically so the anthologist doesn’t have to!) as well as their beta print distribution. And best of all (for me) is that D2D authors will have access to the Smashwords store!

I am so incredibly excited about being able to access the Smashwords store after not being able to make it work for so many years. I’m excited to take place in their biannual sales, like the one where I got so many great books all those years ago. And I’m also incredibly excited to take advantage of their amazing coupon system!

Up until now, I have used Gumroad to handle direct sales of my ebooks, which has also enabled me to set coupons so I could create special sales to coincide with things like Pride month, Ace Awareness Week, and more. However, I’ve gotten reports of some Gumroad shenanigans that had me hesitant to continue using them, but also hesitant to try switching to a vendor like Itch.io, which is more optimized for games than books. The Smashwords store, on the other hand, is specifically designed as a bookstore. And, as Smashwords’ CEO Mark Coker pointed out in the Q&A livestream, by moving the publishing aspect to Draft2Digital, that will free up the Smashwords store to just be a store, rather than the somewhat confusing mishmash of both publishing platform and bookstore that it is currently. This will allow even greater options for author discoverability, making Smashwords an even more vibrant option for readers to browse and discover their new favorite books.

Once the Draft2Digital and Smashwords merger is complete and the transition to the Smashwords bookstore is finished, I will be very excited to offer you all of my books for purchase via Smashwords. And I will also be planning on running lots of seasonal coupons that you can use to grab my books at a special discount you won’t find at any other stores. Watch this space for more info!

Usually mergers or acquisitions mean only bad news, but everything about Smashwords and Draft2Digital’s merger has sounded like a positive to me. By joining forces, they’ll be able to help indie authors succeed better than ever before, and provide a great alternative to Amazon for readers, as well as to authors who are currently held hostage by them. I’m really excited about this and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store!

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