Smashwords vs Draft2Digital

Smashwords-vs-D2D

In the self-publishing world, there are many different platforms in which you can sell your books on. Most know about the uber popular Amazon KDP, but what about the others?

As it turns out there a LOT of different platforms out there that sell self-published books and will actually make sales like iTunes, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, etc…

But formatting a book and submitting it to all the different platforms can be tedious work.

Thankfully, this is where services like Smashwords and Draft2Digital step in. These platforms will take your book and distribute it out to a list of publishing platforms, control the analytics, collect on the royalties and pay you in one lump sum.

This is incredibly efficient and helps to quickly get your book out to more readers with little to no extra work.

However, these two services are very similar, so which one is the best?

In this article, you’ll learn about

  • When to use these services
  • Essential comparison parameters between Smashwords vs Draft2Digital
  • Draft2Digital Vs. Smashwords: which one get’s my vote and future business

When to Use These Services

Let me be frank.

These services are for those of you who do NOT want to format and upload their book into each individual publishing service like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, etc.

Instead, you’ll choose to use one of these services when you want to quickly and efficiently get your book on LOTS of different markets, and just receive one royalty check a month instead of a couple of checks from different platforms a month.

PS: If you are an international writer and you have difficulty publishing your book on a platform because of it, guess what? Either of these platforms won’t have that problem and can get it in there for you!

So for a small price, these guys will do all that for you and allow you to move on to something else.

And to be fair, this is A-Okay with me. Remember, each of those publishing services have their own guidelines and required formats. Honestly, it can be a little confusing and heaven forbid you are doing your own accounting…oy!  Case-in-point: Itunes is way more strict on what you can say in the summary while Kobo has different requirements for formatting.

Can you make more money by not using these services? Yes.

But is it really worth all the time it would take to individually list you book on every platform? That depends on you, your budget and your goals.

But for me, I like the ease of these services and how much extra they have brought me by listing my books on all the other platforms.

But which one is the best?

In order to write this article, I did actually submit my books to both and even went as far as to contact the CEO’s of both companies.  Many thanks to both Matt Coker of Smashwords and Aaron Pogue of Draft 2 Digital for your time.  You guys are both super classy and your hard work and effort is thoroughly appreciated.

Draft2Digital vs. Smashwords: The Showdown

Down to their basic core, they are generally the same service. Having been the only big dog in town for a while, Smashwords is the most popular of the two. However, just recently the newerish kid on the block, Draft2Digital has made a real splash.

Let’s first look at some of the basic differences between the two:

  • Upfront Cost
  • Input Formats Accepted
  • Their Commission*
  • Who Formats
  • ISBN
  • Distribution Sites
  • Extras
 
Smashwords
  • $0
  • doc, epub
  • 15% on Smashwords
    10% Other Platforms
  • You
  • Free
  • Apple
    Barnes & Noble
    Kobo
    Scribd
    OverDrive
    Baker & Taylor
    txtr
    Mobile Phone Apps
  • Coupon Generator
    Adjustable Royalty
    Splits w/ Distributors
Draft 2 Digital
  • $0
  • doc, docx, epub
  • 10% All Platforms
  • They Do!
  • Free
  • Apple
    Barnes & Noble
    Kobo
    Scribd
    Tolino
    Inkterra
    CreateSpace
    -
  • Can Setup a Preorder
    with most Vendors
*Remember that their commission is on top of whatever the platforms commission will be.  So, if you sold a book on iBook for $10, iBook would take $3 (their 30% commission) and D2D/Smashwords would take $1 (10% of their commission) leaving you with 60% or $6. 

Pros and Cons of Smashwords

Truth be told, Smashwords is the original ebook publishing platform for indie authors, and the world’s largest distributor of self-published ebooks.  Currently they distribute over 350,000 books from over 100,000 indie authors. That’s pretty jaw dropping when you think about it.

Besides being a Mecca of knowledge, their website also houses a ebook store that allows Smashwords self publishers to create coupons and even give their books away for free – no kindle select style contracts required either.

One of the strongest arguments for Smashwords though is that they have a larger amount of publishing platforms that they distribute to.  To most this translates into “more sales.”  However, as you will see later in this article when I analyze a case study of mine, that might not be the case.

Furthermore, to submit your book to Smashwords, you’ll need to format your book as per their instructions which the requirements for formatting are a little extensive.

How extensive, you ask?

They created a 27,000 word document to tell you all about it. Yup…27K. That’s basically a complete ebook on how to prepare your ebook.

Now, that being said, I will say that it really isn’t that difficult, but just something to consider if you haven’t done it before…especially if you aren’t very tech savvy.

Pros and Cons of Draft2Digital

Draft2Digital is the new kid on the block and like a new kid, he has the shiny new sneakers to match. Adopting a new age platform, the Draft2Digital website is pretty sweet and the dashboard is very easy to use as well.  Honestly, comparing the two, Smashwords looks and operates like an early 2000’s website, while D2D is pretty modern, sleek and much more clear.

Oh, and did I mention its a lot easier to navigate around and understand?  Plus, unlike Smashwords who pays you quarterly, D2D pays you monthly…which is nice.

But my favorite part, other than getting paid more often and faster, is that they do the formatting for you. Just send them your .doc or .docx and they will make it compliant for all of their platforms.  As they say on their front page:

“Your style guide is our style guide. And if you don’t have a style guide, that’s okay too. Just get us your manuscript and we’ll do all the technical stuff for you. It’s really that simple.”

Another thing I like about Draft2Digital is that they will email you each time a book goes live on a platform and keep you apprised to the status of the other platforms.  That’s what I call instant notification!

However, the major con for Draft2Digital is that they do not distribute to as many publishers as Smashwords.
But is this really a bad thing?  Later on, I’ll show you why that might be overrated.

The good news is that they have the most important ones: iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. But what about the others?

Case Study: Draft2Digital vs. Smashwords

So, let’s take a look at this and see how the other platforms on Smashwords do, and whether or not they make a difference.

Below is the Smashwords sales report for one of my books during its 1st quarter – remember, smashwords pays you quarterly while Draft2Digital pays you monthly.

Looking at my metrics, I noticed that out of the platforms that Smashwords publishes to that Draft2Digital does not, only Scribd made any sales.

Sales on Smashwords

A whopping 3 sales of difference.  Of note, the above book sells at $9.99 so…that’s about $18 extra over 3 months(10% goes to Smashwords and 30% goes to the platform), thanks to Smashwords sending it out to more platforms.

Now, this isn’t to say that your book won’t sell on txtr or Sony or on whatever other non-D2D platform.  But for me, I’ve never seen enough difference to take those other platforms seriously.

So, one extra book sale per month OR better design, faster pay, and no need to format the book?

The Victor is Clear: Draft2Digital

Let’s face it, in the end, the new kid on the block wins this one.

Listing their pros:

  • Better design
  • Easier to use and navigate
  • Monthly pay instead of quarterly
  • Does the formatting for you: HUGE!

Sure, you won’t be able to sell on Baker & Taylor, txtr, and certain mobile phone apps, but how many sales do those actually equal out to? Plus, most of those companies are seeing the light and joining Draft2Digital monthly. I even had to update this article twice, because two new platforms showed up (yeah, I like to write a couple of months in advance).

Borg GoogleNEWS UPDATE: Oyster is no longer in business since they have been assimilated by the borg…I mean Google.

And besides, the whole point of using these services is because I wanted to quickly and efficiently get my books on more platforms – especially those that actually have a market.

Therefore, in my humble opinion, Draft2Digital is the clear winner and I will be continuing to distribute my ebooks for the foreseeable future.  Nothing against Smashwords and they served me well, but D2D takes the cake.

Cheers,

Dave-Signature

About Dave Chesson

When I am not fighting dragons or chasing the bogey man out of my kids closet, I like using my previous Online Optimization skills to help other authors with the 'technical' stuff and get the right authors to the top of Amazon and any other eBook service out there.

  • Over time I think D2D will be including more and more platforms for distribution. I’ve been impressed with them so far but I have to say that I haven’t used Smashwords so I can’t really compare them. This is a brilliant comparison though. Thanks Dave!

    • Yeah, I’m really liking D2D after having been with Smashwords for a while. Thanks for the read and comment!

  • Hynek Palatin

    Another reason for using an aggregator is that some platforms don’t accept international publishers, but the aggregators do.

    • NICE! I never thought of that. I’ll make an update to reflect that!

  • Chris Backe

    Smashwords still lists Sony and Diesel on the backend, but if memory serves both of those shut down quite some time ago. I’d be surprised if either of them has been open in 2015. As for the other platforms Smashwords reaches… well, they *sound* good, but the proof is in the sales. Great post.

  • Chris Backe

    Also, for clarity, D2D retains “15% commission on net royalties (which is approximately 10% of the list price)”.

    • Yeah, I saw that too but I didn’t want to get too technical and bogged in numbers. Short a simple: they take 10% of the listing price.

  • Don

    Great article, but can you clarify, both of these distributors do not publish to Amazon? I’ve seen Smashwords on Amazon as publisher, how does that happen? Thanks for the great content.

    • Neither publishes to Amazon KDP, but Draft2Digital will be publishing to CreateSpace very soon.

  • There’s only one problem I have with D2D, they make it so darned EASY that it’s too easy for the plagiarists to publish YOUR book! I know I know, that’s possible with all platforms but it’s more prevalent with D2D.

    • hahaha….yup, but man do I love them for my purpose.

  • Vicky

    Great article Dave! Made me think that diversifying my publishing income (so far I have all my eggs in the Amazon basket) is easier than I thought. My question is: ok, you gained an extra $800 from 1 book. But how much did you lose having opted out of the kdp select (payment for Kenp?)

    • Hey Vicky, thanks for the read. I actually don’t sign my books up for Kindle Select. So, nothing in that case. I think the best idea though is to test it out and see if it works for you. Sometimes the other platforms are really hot for particular genres, and sometimes they aren’t.

  • Kitty

    Great post, Dave!
    I was wondering if you’ve heard of Pronoun. It’s a new site similar to smashwords/draft2digital, but it says it’s 100% free and doesn’t take a commission. Any thoughts?
    Thanks!

    • Thanks and no I haven’t. I’ll check it out but I would be weary about something that does all that work for free. I’m not opposed to the 10%-15% paid to have dependable and legitimate companies handle my works of art (or at least that’s what I like to call them 😉 ).

      • Kitty

        Thanks! I thought it might be shady at first, but I looked around their website and it seems legit. They even have a whole manifesto about changing the publishing industry here: https://medium.com/@pronoun/how-to-fix-book-publishing-e40a04ffd804
        I feel like NaNoWriMo wouldn’t want to associate their name with anything shady though, so that’s a vote in their favor.

  • Thanks again Dave – I just tried it! You are right D2D is much MUCH easier than smashwords!

    They published it in 12 hours to kobo and iTunes. -BUT- one caveat, I still had to use Calibre and make my own Epub to take full control of the Table of Contents. I will be using D2D from now on for sure: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1059100399

  • I’ll be trying out D2D before too long, but the fact that they the formatting is actually a con for me. I LIKE designing ebooks.

    • well, the good news is that you can still format it yourself and upload it….They’ll do it automatically if you upload a .doc. So, no issues there.

      • You had listed epub as a format for uploading for Smashwords, but not for Draft2Digital, so I was confused.

        • ah…good call. I’ll make that edit.

          • Matt

            You still haven’t edited it, it’s been 4 months.

          • thanks for the catch…done.

  • I totally agree with the final conclussion. I have experience with both services and D2D simply rulez.

  • I’ll admit it. I’m confused.

    The D2D site FAQ currently says they’re only working on a distribution agreement with Amazon. But this and a couple other articles I’ve read on D2D vs. Smashwords imply that publishing with D2D already does get your book on Kindle. At the same time, your chart doesn’t list Amazon/Kindle as a site that either service distributes to.

    So… does it? I’ve been thinking to use one of these two instead of Lulu for my second ebook, but, unsurprisingly, no-Kindle-distribution is a dealbreaker for me.

    • Hey Benita! While D2D doesn’t do Amazon, don’t let that be a detractor. In most cases, Amazon KDP makes a LOT of sales. Because of all those sales, it is worth the extra time to submit your book to KDP separately so that sites like D2D and Smashwords don’t get a ‘cut’ of your profit. The idea between these two is that they make it SUPER easy for you to also distribute to other sellers that individually wouldn’t be worth your time. I hope that helps.

  • Rick Freeland

    There’s a newer kid on the block now, called Pronoun. So new it’s still in beta. Looks promising, though.

    • I’ll have to check that out.

    • I’ve read about Pronoun and it is newer, shinier and … has newer sneakers. I need a table to compare the three. Hmm, where would I find such a thing? 😉

      • I’ll add it to my list to try out when I launch my next book. I want to get the experience of ‘slogging’ through it first hand.

    • Emmanuel Hermañez

      have you tried it?

  • Matt

    You need to make a correction to the table listed. Draft2Digital does accepted epub files. I got this directly from Draft2Digital’s website:

    “What if I don’t need conversion? Can I just upload a formatted epub?
    If you already have an epub of your own, we’ll accept
    that as well. We won’t make any changes, but we’ll gladly distribute it
    to all our digital stores for you.”

  • Emmanuel Hermañez

    Whats better KDP select or Smashwords or D2D?

    • If it’s between D2D or Smashwords, the above article will show you why I think D2D is better. But whether or not you give Amazon exclusivity over your book with KDP Select, that depends on your book and the market.

  • Sarah L Jensen

    Hi Dave.

    Im about to publish my first e-book. There are quite a lot of pictures as it is an instructional book, and each chapter is followed up by pictures with caption. In my printed book it is all very colorful with matching headlines and text-boxes, and I would like to give my e-book the same look if possible.

    Since reading this article I would prefer going with D2D to avoid all the formatting. But is that a bad choice since I want a certain look/design? Am I better off giving myself a headache by reading Smashwords 27.000 word document?

    • Hey Sarah – I bet that’s a great feeling. While D2D does the auto format for you, I’d still recommend a professional formatter take hold of it…especially with extra design elements and aspects. There’s the cheap option of Fiverr peeps or there are the professionals like Hynek Palatin (on Facebook) which is who I use for all of my books – when they have advanced formatting features like that.

      • Sarah L Jensen

        Thank you, will get in touch with him.

  • mcmarais

    Hi, I found your article very interesting, but I disagree with your conclusions. A better designed web site does little for me as an author and I prefer the more “solid” feel of the Smashwords site which I have found pretty easy to navigate. I suppose it might be a little confusing at first, but that is because of the vast amount of information on it to support authors, including fora. Getting paid monthly instead of quarterly, should not be an issue for new writers, as the amount that accumulates is pretty small – I may feel differently when I’m famous and the money is pouring in (I wish), but then I am sure some arrange could be made. As a bit of a techy (well a scientist really) I was keen to understand the ins and out of what was needed to format my book – so I would have done it anyway and once you’ve gone through the process it’s pretty simple. All I can say is that I have only had great service from Smashwords, but I am sure the same can be said by those that use Draft2Digital. Having said that it is good to have more than one aggregator in the business – it keeps them all on their toes. Thanks for the article and the free book about Kindle rankings – looking forward to reading it.

    • Hey, no problem. I completely agree that it is good to have solid competition. It will force Smashwords not to be complacent…not that Mark Coker would ever be complacent.

  • Emmanuel Hermañez

    do you still prefer D2D now?

    • Yup, absolutely. Smashwords hasn’t made any changes yet while D2D continues to grow the list of platforms they sell on. I’ve made some updates over the past couple of months to the article above every time I get wind of a change.

      • Emmanuel Hermañez

        Have you tried pronoun? and if so, what is your opinion on it

        • Nope, not yet. But I’ll keep you posted if I do and whether or not its a winner…I like to give the new sites some time to mature…otherwise, I might give them the wrong review before they have time to fix their issues.

  • AC Adams

    I’m not sure, but for what it’s worth Smashwords seems to have a better presence in the book industry than D2D. I rarely see any book industry news from D2D. Mark Coker is always championing indies at various conferences etc. I personally believe Smashwords has a better relationship with vendors than D2D. Books I can’t get into some retailers through D2D, don’t seem to have any problems being submitted via Smashwords. But it would be nice to see Smashwords develop monthly payments and retail specific links.

    • Yep, like I said, their the older distributer and Mark definitely is a presence. I think a lot of the “industry news” is because of Mark and his presence as well as it being the oldest. But that doesn’t necessarily mean better. Hopefully the growing presence of a legitimate competitor will force Smashwords to adopt a monthly payment scheme and links….competition breeds progress 😉

  • Pingback: IngramSpark vs. Createspace: Print on Demand Battle Royal()

  • Sarah L Jensen

    Hi Dave!
    What are your thoughts on Kindle Select? – What they offer sounds good, but for 90 days it is not permitted to sell via other platforms. So I was just wondering if its worth to wait that long before uploading elsewhere? Is it a great start for a book to join kindle select?

    Ps. Thanks for recommending Hynek for formatting. Im very pleased to work with him.

    • Hi Sarah! Kindle Select has its benefits, depending on your market strategy. When it is free, there are lots of promo sites and book Facebook pages that will promote it. Therefore, if you time it right, you can get a LOT of eyes to see your book. However, the downside is that you can’t put it on Smashwords or D2D then. Me personally, I never sign up for Kindle Select, but that’s because I don’t depend on KS free pushes as much as others. Plus, I see good income streams from the others.

      One final recommendation is that you can always test and see. Put it on KS, do your free period, get a LOT of downloads (which equates to a couple of reviews), and hopefully hit the bestseller mark. Then after your 90 days, remove it from KS and place it on Smashwords or D2D and see what happens. Compare your earnings and go from there.

      And yes, Hynek is the bomb.

  • Jason

    I would recommend everybody to STAY AWAY from Draft2Digital. They are a scam company who will close your account without warning, with all your funds still in there and your books published on their distributors.

Follow More Kindlepreneur Action Here