Draft2Digital Adds Playster to Distribution Network


For authors selling books through distribution service, Draft2Digital, the outlets just expanded. D2D has been sending ebooks to most of the usual (non-Amazon) suspects for a while now including iBooks, B&N, Kobo, Scribd and more. Now they’ve added Playster.

Playster is a subscription-based service that allows readers to pay a low monthly fee for unlimited access to thousands of books (or movies, music, and games, if that’s your thing). Their mantra: Everything Unlimited. Your readers (past, present, and future) can get a 30-day free trial, giving them access to one of the fastest growing digital libraries around.

Amazon Prime and Scribd also use subscription-based business models. Smashwords, the main competitor to Draft2Digital, has more distribution channels but presently does not have ties with Playster. For the meantime, D2D may be the only way to upload self-published books to Playster.

Of note, Babelcube is a site many authors use for translating their books into many languages. Babelcube also uses Draft2Digital for distribution to retailers, so hopefully those of us with translated books through Babelcube should soon see our foreign language versions available on Playster.

If interested, you’ll need to log in to your author dashboard at draft2digital to opt into this new distributor, and start reaching new readers right away. And when you do, you may be prompted to add your books to Kobo Plus as well, another new feature at D2D.

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Write On by Kindle Amazon’s Critique Group Out of Business

Write On by Kindle has gone away. This is old news by internet standards; Amazon’s online critique group shut down a month ago. It was a community where writers shared works-in-progress to get feedback from readers and other writers. But like many things internet, it was a fine idea that just didn’t last or wasn’t executed well or both.

Write On by Kindle


Critique groups are helpful to any writer, in my opinion. That’s what excited me about Write On by Kindle, an online feedback forum hosted by the king of book sales. Sounds like a smart place to craft your next bestseller.

Unfortunately not. One might assume since it didn’t generate revenue or spawn bestsellers that it wasn’t worth Amazon’s expense to maintain. More likely, it didn’t have what it takes to compete with established players, and Amazon was okay with that. Que sera sera.

Plenty of online alternatives still exist. Wattpad has been going strong for over 10 years, and while it’s more than just an online critique group, the same benefits can be found there.

Others include Absolutewrite, Critiquecircle, and Inkedvoices to name a few.

Jane Friedman has an excellent post called How to Find the Right Critique Group or Partner for You.

Not sure why it saddens me to see Write On close doors. I had a work in progress there, but it wasn’t getting many reads. Probably a common story.

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Unicorn Writers Conference Presentation Links March 25, 2017

Below are the links for the 2 presentations I’m giving at the Unicorn Writers Conference in White Plains, NY:

1. Self-Publishing Essentials and 2. Formatting Ebooks

1. Self-Publishing Essentials

my gift to you: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/592348 (coupon code – TA34Q)

KDP Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing): https://kdp.amazon.com/

Smashwords (free distributor): https://www.smashwords.com/

BookBaby (paid distributor): http://www.bookbaby.com/

Draft2Digital (free distributor): https://www.draft2digital.com/

Barnes & Noble Nook Press: https://www.nookpress.com/

Amazon Kindle formatting: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A14LJ3QNDNO64G

Smashwords Style Guide: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52/

LibreOffice (free Word alternative): http://www.libreoffice.org/

Kindle Format 8 complex formatting: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000729511

Calibre Ebook Management (convert .docx to ePub and more): http://calibre-ebook.com/

Smashwords List (formatters and cover designers): https://www.smashwords.com/list

Book Design Templates: http://www.bookdesigntemplates.com/ http://www.diybookformats.com/

Creative Commons Search: http://search.creativecommons.org/

Bigstock Photo: http://www.bigstockphoto.com/

Inkscape: https://inkscape.org/en/ Gimp: http://www.gimp.org/

Google Keyword Planner: http://adwords.google.com/keywordplanner

Digital Book Today: http://digitalbooktoday.com/

Self Publishing Review: http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/

Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/

2. Formatting Ebooks

my gift to you: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/592348 (coupon code – TA34Q)

Free alternatives to MS Word: http:// www.LibreOffice.orghttp://www.OpenOffice.org

Kindle Direct Publishing (free to join and publish ebooks at Amazon): https://kdp.amazon.com/

Bookshelf where you can Add Titles and fill in your book’s information and also use the Preview Mode: https://kdp.amazon.com/dashboard

Help section at KDP Amazon: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?

Amazon Kindle formatting: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A14LJ3QNDNO64G

Kindle reading app for any device: https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/fiona/kcp-landing-page/

Kindle Format 8 for very advanced formatting (drop caps, embedded fonts, pop up text, fixed layouts, HTML5 support, CSS3 support and more): http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000729511

Types of Formats Amazon recommends: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2GF0UFHIYG9VQ

Calibre for converting to ePub, viewing, editing, etc. ebooks: https://calibre-ebook.com/

Epub Validator to check for any problems with epub file: http://validator.idpf.org/

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Do I Need to Copyright My Book?

copyright all rights reservedLike ISBN, copyright questions are common and the legalities of it can be complex. In most cases, copyright is something an author won’t need to spend much time worrying about. The tasks to copyright a book are straightforward, starting with simply writing a book. If you have any concerns, this fact alone should give some relief;

By writing your book, you own the copyright.

In 1886 The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works was signed as an international agreement on copyright. Your creation is your intellectual property. Think of it like this: only you have the “right” to “copy” your work and sell it; nobody else has the right to copy your work and sell it.

Your book is automatically under copyright, extending from the time you write it. However, there is a stipulation of proof. You need to commit the work to a readable form perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Don’t just leave it on your computer or mail yourself a certified letter containing a copy of it. Perceptible means you’ve placed your book somewhere so it can potentially be viewed by others whether they view it or not (i.e. online or through an official registration service).

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Every retailer requires you to claim copyright as it protects them and you. That’s done with one simple check of the “I claim ownership” box during publishing.

Piracy Concerns

Authors frequently ask about the dangers of copyright infringements or theft of their work. While infringements do exist, they are rare and usually do little or no damage. Many authors will find alleged copies of their ebooks for sale at disreputable websites. Fear not. Most book buyers never shop at those sites because they’re full of malware. Examples of that type of pirating happen all the time, but Google and other search engines are happy to combat it.

My advice when this happens is to do nothing and not worry about it. You might be thinking, Really? It’s true, all of my titles have ended up on these pirated sites yet I seriously doubt many, or any, sales have resulted. Those sites are not where loyal buyers shop. I’ll continue to do nothing and doubt it has hurt me as an author.

If you want to take a more active response, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was designed to battle common internet infringements. A DMCA takedown notice can be issued to a website by any author claiming copyright infringement. It’s a powerful tool that’s easy to use. Essentially you send the website manager or online service provider (OSP) a notice that your copyright has been violated on their website, and the OSP is required to remove or disable access to the material in order to avoid being held liable.

To issue a DMCA takedown notice, request the OSP to remove or block the violation and include the following information:

  • your signature
  • the work that has been violated
  • the URLs or pages you want removed
  • your contact info

The Register of Copyrights has published a directory of agents online to receive and respond to your DMCA takedown notice: http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/list/a_agents.html. You can also contact a lawyer for more serious claims.

Common Safeguards

During the months while you’re working on the book and sending it to others to read, announce your copyright with the symbol: ©. Place that near the beginning of the document, then include the year and your name along with “all rights reserved” or standard phrasing for your nation. The phrase of © 2017 Author Name All Rights Reserved can be added as a line to the beginning of your books and voila, you’re protected (actually you already were). You can include any other legal information following the copyright line.

Copyright pages often include text like: No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any manner without the express written permission of the publisher and/or author.

There’s no rule for exact wording. Other books have examples of copyright text you can alter for your own. If you write fiction, text like this may be helpful: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Extra Insurance

Copyright infringement can take forms beyond a pirate stealing a book and trying to pass it off as his own. For example, you may write a successful novel with a unique plot structure. Years later someone might publish a nearly identical book with different characters and setting but essentially the same story. In that case, you may be able to sue for copyright infringement and it will help if you have additional sources of protection.

Plenty of methods for protection exist. These are not mandatory but are wise to do and reasonably priced. You can visit the Library of Congress US Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov/) and follow the prompts to register a copyright. Below are divisions for other English-speaking nations.

UK Intellectual Property Office: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office

Canadian Intellectual Property Office: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/Home

Australian Copyright Counsel: http://www.copyright.org.au/

For more info, visit the directory at WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization): http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/urls.jsp.

Other Ways to Protect Your Work

If you have a blog, post some chapters and a book description. Introduce characters and the plot to your readers. That can be done even while you’re writing the book.

One obvious method to broadcast copyright is to publish the book. This gets into “common law” copyright protection. Imagine publishing with Amazon on May 9th of 2017. After that, if anyone tries to steal your book and sell it online, you could contact the retailer or site owner and prove the book is yours. If a future movie gets made based on your story without your consent or awareness, you’ll have proof.

Just remember rarely are authors harmed by copyright infringements. For the vast majority of writers, don’t worry much about it.

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Should you buy an ISBN?

ISBN BarcodeISBN is for International Standard Book Number, issued by a select agency in the nation where the publisher resides. You’re probably familiar with 10 or 13 digit ISBNs appearing on the copyright page or above the barcode on the back of a print version book. The barcode just identifies the ISBN and may or may not include a price.

Even though ISBN is a number corresponding to a book, it has more to do with the publisher and edition than the title and author. For example, the same ebook could have several ISBNs for different retailers selling it, and it would need another ISBN for a paperback version and yet another for a hardcover or audio book. A separate version is needed for the ePub file compared to the mobi file. Or if you change the trim size of a paperback, like from 5 x 8 inches to 6 x 9 inches, it will need a new ISBN.

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The main exceptions are for reprintings or minor updates, which do not need new ISBNs. In most cases you don’t need a new ISBN for title, metadata, cover or price changes. Since it’s an international designation there are varying aspects from nation to nation, so your situation may differ from an author in another country. In a nutshell, if your book is to be sold through a retailer, it needs an ISBN to identify the publisher and edition.

However, many retailers don’t require you to provide an ISBN. Amazon, for instance, assigns its own version called an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). Amazon currently doesn’t list an ISBN on the product page even if you provide one, though you can find specific titles there by searching for the ISBN number. If you provide an ISBN to Barnes & Noble, you’ll be required to make it specifically for NOOK. Barnes & Noble support said this when asked about ISBNs: NOOK Press does not check the Bowker status or title assignment of an ISBN that is submitted to a NOOK Press Project. If you choose to enter an ISBN for a Project in your NOOK Press account, that ISBN will be displayed in your sales report, and is not used for any other purpose. Kobo says: You will still be able to publish your book on Kobo without an ISBN and sell in over 190 countries worldwide as we will issue our own identifier number when it goes on our site.

Since most retailers don’t require you to provide an ISBN for ebooks, they’ll assign a unique one at no charge. The main catch is, depending on the retailer, you may not be listed as the publisher. In the cases of Smashwords and CreateSpace, accepting their free ISBNs will list them as the publisher, not you. You’ll still be listed as the author of course, but if you wanted your name or publishing imprint to be listed as publisher, you’ll usually need to purchase and provide your own. A few retailers, like Kobo, have certain distribution partners that may not receive your book without a provided ISBN.

This decision divides authors based on specifics, goals and finances. Some authors insist on providing ISBNs while others have never paid for one. Another author might purchase an ISBN for one title (or retailer) but not for another. It’s up to you as there are several ways to manage this. Fortunately your book can be successful regardless of how you handle ISBNs.

If you decide to buy one or a pack of ISBNs, check with your nation for the agency that distributes them. You can get more info at the International ISBN Agency: https://www.isbn-international.org/. In the United States and Australia, R.R. Bowker is the exclusive ISBN agency. Prices start at $125 for a single ISBN, $295 for a 10-pack, $575 for a 100-pack and $1,000 for 1,000. As you can imagine, an author with several titles existing in a few formats uploaded to multiple retailers might need more than 10 ISBNs, so going this route can get expensive. Even if you only have one book but plan to sell at multiple retailers and make print or audio versions, then you may want several ISBNs.

Whether or not to purchase ISBNs has been debated since free was an option. The main benefit to purchasing an ISBN is to have your name or publishing imprint listed as the publisher instead of Smashwords or CreateSpace or whichever company supplies your book with a free ISBN. Your book will also have some additional distribution and search-ability factors, though these things are changing rapidly.

In my opinion ISBNs will be most useful to authors who plan to aggressively market print versions (paperback or hardcover) to large bookstores. Ebooks really don’t need an ISBN assigned by you because the retailers each have their own way of handling it and will additionally assign their own numbers. If you decide to purchase ISBNs for ebooks, you may need or decide to use a unique one for Amazon and Barnes & Noble while clustering Apple, Google and many other retailers under one ISBN.

Smashwords, the world’s largest ebook distributor, sends your book to multiple channels. Smashwords allows you to use your own ISBN or to use one of theirs for free. Vendors like Smashwords and CreateSpace purchase enormous amounts of ISBNs from Bowker at $1 apiece. That’s why these companies can offer you an ISBN for free.

Should you buy ISBNs?

If you plan to aggressively market print versions (paperback or hardcover) to large bookstores, then yes. Consider buying ISBNs.

If you are seriously promoting your brand, name, or publishing company or publishing imprint, then yes. Consider buying ISBNs. (A single publishing company may have multiple imprints, with the different imprints used by the publisher to market works to various demographic consumer segments.)

If you believe the initial costs of ISBNs will be offset by additional sales resulting from select distribution partners and search-ability via ISBN, then consider buying ISBNs.

For most other authors, especially those on a tight budget, the freely assigned ISBNs are a great choice. (I have never paid for an ISBN, but that’s just one author’s choice.)

What about Print Books?

If you get to the point of making print versions, either paperbacks or hardcovers, then ISBNs will be more important to consider. For those on a budget there are still free ISBN solutions from companies like CreateSpace, Amazon’s print-on-demand publisher. CreateSpace gives you 4 options of ISBNs, from free to $10 to $99, or you can provide your own. Each option has slightly different features, but with any of them your paperback can be available for purchase in many parts of the world.

There’s a myth that says you need to buy an ISBN and list yourself or publishing imprint as the publisher to be successful. Not true. Many incredibly successful indie authors have published with free ISBNs including Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath.

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