While most of my posts are generally geared toward my readers (or book nerds in general), this one is for the indie authors out there…and it may be of interest if you’re curious about the world of book publishing.
It’s a post of good versus evil, of a little guy doing heroic things, of trying to get a hoard of treasure.
Wait, that’s the Lord of the Rings, isn’t it. I’ll admit, this tale isn’t quite that epic and there’s far fewer elves (okay, there’s none), but it’s still a tale of loyalty and doing what’s right.
A Little About Our Main Character
Draft2Digital (aka “D2D”) is an ebook aggregator, which means authors upload their books to the D2D system, then the D2D elves (ha, I lied…there ARE elves!!) distribute that book to dozen of ebook retailers such as Apple, Kobo, Scribd, Tolino, Bibliotecha, and more.
Why wouldn’t authors just upload directly to these retailers? Because it’s a pain in the butt. Not only would you have to upload your book file, description, cover, keywords, etc to dozens of places, but you’d also have to visit all those sites to track your sales. Then, if you need to update a book, you have to do that update on every single retailer.
Basically, D2D consolidates things and saves author’s a ton of time. For me, that’s always been worth the small percentage of royalties D2D takes for their service. There’s also some vendors where, as an indie author, you simply aren’t allowed to upload to on your own.
Notice I said “small percentage of royalties.” D2D offers all their services (of which there are many) for free. If you never sell a book, they never earn any money from you. If you do sell a book, they take something like 10 to 15% from the royalties the retailer pays (which averages around 65%).
Now, I do upload directly to Kobo to take advantage of their promotions feature, to Google because they’ve proven to be a nightmare for aggregators to work with, and to Amazon for various reasons that are beyond the scope of our story. But for nearly everything else, I distribute through D2D and have been super happy with them for years.
But then something happened and my whole attitude toward them changed.
In Comes the “Villain”
I’ve always enjoyed visiting their stores, and I don’t want to label them as evil, but our “villain” in this story did do a pretty poopy thing. Plus, villain is easier to type than antagonist. Anyway, our villain in this story is Barnes & Noble.
Now, when shoppers buy an ebook, the royalties from that sale don’t get paid to authors for 60 days. So, when you buy a book for $5 in January, I don’t see my cut of that (which would be about $2.50) until some time in March. This is generally business-as-usual across all ebook retailers.
But Barnes & Noble up and decided one day in April that they weren’t going to pay out the money that they had collected back in February. They used COVID-19 as the excuse even though they’d earned this money before the economy went pear shaped.
Included in Barnes & Noble’s refusal to pay the money authors had already earned for the company were aggregators like D2D.
D2D Tells It Like It Is
Very soon after Barnes & Noble announced they wouldn’t be paying out any royalties in April, D2D sent out an email to all its authors telling them what was going on.
In the email they said the payments from Barnes & Noble might not come for another three months. Now keep in mind that this isn’t “new” money. This is money Barnes & Noble earned back in the winter. It was already spring and were they now saying they weren’t going to make good on it until summer??!!
The email then went on to say Barnes & Noble was willing to pay one-third of the royalties they owed, then would pay the remaining two-thirds “at a future date.”
So now we’ve gone from 90 days to a vague date in the future.
D2D Takes Stellar Action – Read This Part!!!
Like the hero sacrificing himself for the greater good, D2D followed up this wicked action by our villain by laying themselves on the line.
To make up for the two-thirds that Barnes & Noble was withholding, D2D was going to take out a line of credit to pay its authors the full amount they were owed from their Barnes & Noble sales.
Let me state that again…a small company was willing to risk their financial security to do right by their customers (authors are technically D2D’s customers) after a big company screwed them over.
Can we all just stop and applaud the team at D2D?
The Villain Makes Good
A week or two after D2D sent this email, Barnes & Noble did suddenly find the means to pay out the money they owed (and, may I emphasize, had already earned).
I assume this means D2D doesn’t have to take out that line of credit, but I still think the very fact that they were willing to do so is worth a ton of praise.
So, yes, my opinion of Draft2Digital has changed…for the better. So much better.
Get Thee to D2D!!
For writers who want to publish wide, I have always recommended using Draft2Digital. Now, after they were so willing to take a hit for their authors, I can’t recommend them enough and strongly encourage you to distribute your books through them.
If you’re ready or just curious, clicking on the logo below will take you there*.
Or, if you have any questions about ebook distribution, I’d be glad to share what I know, so don’t be shy about asking.
What are your thoughts on this? Was Barnes & Noble playing fair? Did D2D do they right thing? Does this change your opinion of Barnes & Noble?
*That is an affiliate link and I earn small prize if you sign up with D2D via the link. Thanks!!