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Wide Distribution with Draft2Digital

I had some initial success with Smashwords, especially with short stories. I released several 8k to 12k shorts and they did pretty well, but overall, my ability to sell my genre-specific books was hindered by not implementing a real marketing program for Smashwords. I enjoyed getting into several additional Ebook markets, but like most authors, I was looking for more.

I didn’t like the “Meatgrinder” at Smashwords, and I didn’t like formatting at Nook, and well, the upshot was that I was enticed away by a story that said Draft2Digital was simple. You know what? The story was true.

If you are considering going wide and sharing your book with readers in many markets beyond Amazon, Draft2Digital makes it very easy. The formatting is simple (really, really simple) and while you can submit individually to each storefront (perhaps with the exception of Google Books) and keep your full fee for books sold, I’m willing to go the easy route and share 10% with D2D.

What do I get besides ease? Many storefronts, including:

Quick and Easy

Formatting was as easy as deleting what wasn’t actual chapters and photos and placing the same number of returns between every photo and chapter. Then I tried to browse and upload. It worked. All I had to do after that was insert my Author Photo, Bio, and choose for them (D2D) to issue an ISBN (at no cost), and then upload my cover.

Thirty seconds later I had a tiny image on the screen of my cover and was asked where I wanted my “also by” (meaning other books created for Draft2Digital) notice, in front, in the back, or both. Well, that was the first book, so I tried another book, and while I had to redo one page, it took virtually no time, no queue to wait in, just posted my current book’s teaser, checked the author bio (D2D already had my first book’s bio, so it just inserted that), and named the book.

Oh, I also had to choose my book price – anywhere from free to whatever, and pick my distributors. I clicked them all and a day later, I was hooked up to all the istorefronts. I went to Smashwords and Nook and “unpublished” my early copies and waited a couple days until the new edition of Mob City:Reno was available on all the storefronts.

What You Expect in Sales

Not much, unless you do some promos or marketing, but if you do, you should be able to see interst in your otherwise saleable books. Amazon accounts for perhaps 70% of all Ebook sales. That’s scary! But what if you could suppliment your book sales with 50% of what you already do on Amazon? It’s very possible, so if you are already passing on Kindle Unlimited, what’s stopping you from considering D2D?

What’s Fractured Reading?

Fractured reading is what happens when your mind wanders off-course. Writers try to be clever and present beautiful prose, but sometimes what comes across is, well, fractured. In other words, the authors’ words get fragmented, mangled, mutilated, and dismembered. Sometimes that’s funny.

I once had the pleasure (I got in trouble and was relegated to the slag pile) of reading unsolicited manuscripts sent to a small publishing house. Yeah, it wasn’t exactly Penguin Random House, so the writing was spotty.

A favorite line I came across was “The hunters moved quietly into the forest and found the deer sitting up in the trees.” All I could think was how did they climb the trees?  But that happens. Even Stephen King admits that his editor once caught a passage where he said something like “the fields are filled with local hunters killing their fill of peasants.” Peasants, pheasants, whatever, it’s all good.

Headlines often make me happy, especially if they are fractured, like my sense of humor.

How about “Man reunited with sister after fifteen years at Department of Motor Vehicles.” I know how that is!

Perhaps you prefer “This month’s Little Theatre play is Shakespear’s, Hamlet. Get tickets early if you want to attend this tragedy.” Guess the Little Theatre’s actors aren’t too talented.

Or maybe “See The Surgeon and the Patient, presented in two parts.” Was this an amputation?

And finally, “The friendly couple had their sixth child this week.” They are friendly and fast!

Anyway, I’m just enjoying life. I hope you’ll do the same.


Why Finding a Publisher is Tough

Stealing coverSo you just finished a great novel. It’s well-researched, well-edited, and well-written. Well, well, well. That’s just three holes in the ground. How does that land you a publisher? It doesn’t, it just gets you a one-way ticket to Selfpublishland, where you’ll do your own marketing and rise and fall based on your ability to attract buyers. Well, that and the strength of your story. Why?

Because more than a million new books hit the market every year. You’re just one author, do the math. Traditional publishing houses and editors don’t have time to look at everything, and when they do find the time, it’s usually for a known author. That doesn’t mean you will never find a publisher, but it’s easier to find an agent and have them shop your book while you start on your next great novel.

The Quarter-Million Dollar Example

So let’s just suppose I have a book that’s sold, hmm, 20,088 copies in a softbound style at bookstores and online. I figure that’s pretty good, right? The publisher is generous and pays me 12% of the $11.99 cover price. That’s also pretty good. And, that means I’m responsible for $240,855 in commerce. I’m adding to the GDP, yeah me.

I’m excited to have sold so many copies of the book, but even more, I’m excited to have received $28,903 in royalties. If I wrote a book every six months I’d be set, so life looks good for me.

For my publisher, not so much. I won’t merit a three-book deal because they sell my book at 35 to 40 percent of the cover price to the distributors, so 37.5 % of $240,000 is $90,000 in gross profit and they paid me $29,000 and spent $15,000 on pre-press expenses and marketing, leaving just $46,000. Oh, and they actually had to pay $2.16 per copy to produce and ship my books, which totaled $43,390 and left them a net profit of $2,610. Yikes. No wonder they won’t return my phone calls.

On the plus side for the publisher and myself, the book will sell online and in ebook form forever, so the money will still add up to a tidy sum, eventually. For now, my book really just broke even,  and it took some time to do even that.

So when you mull over your manuscript at night wondering if it is good enough to submit somewhere, don’t be disheartened, it might be great, but don’t be afraid to keep smoothing it out. You only get one chance to impress a prospective publisher or agent – make it your best!

Who Am I, Really?

This is the blog for author Al W Moe. I’ve been writing fiction and non-fiction for plenty of years now. I’ve got a long series of posts on Gambling, and I write a historical blog at Nevada Casino History. Is that enough? No, not for me.

I’m also the author of seven books under my own name and about a dozen books that I ghostwrote or helped finish. The truth is, I just really like to write. If you saw me in high school you’d be freaked out by now.

I struggled through English Comp classes during my senior year. I didn’t like my teachers very much and once in a while I was late to class. Probably because I forgot to get out of bed, or stopped on the way to school for breakfast at McDonald’s. Whatever, right? I didn’t like being forced to write, and I didn’t like reading my paper to the whole class. You know, in a national poll, people rated “Speaking in Public” as their biggest fear. Dying came in second.

Anyway, for some ungodly reason the writing stuck with me, as bad as I was at it, and by the following year, I was doing a mail order newsletter, two-pages, every month. I wrote articles, sold ad space, got the thing printed. It was terrible. I misspelled headlines, had no sense of sentence structure or tense, and left big gaps of blank space on the pages. You could throw darts at my front page and miss the text fifty percent of the time. Disaster, and yet I managed to break even.

By the following year I’d morphed to four pages each month and shortly after that while attending Cal State Stanislaus I managed to start making a profit. Dumb luck, but I was happy. Then I found casinos.

After giving school, writing and my future a long hard look I quit school and moved to Lake Tahoe to play blackjack full time. Excellent choice! Ah, the things you do when you haven’t yet turned 21. Casinos were outrageously important to me at that age. I loved them. I lived in them, the way others my age lived in college dormitories or their little rooms at home with their parents.

I lived in South Lake Tahoe, Reno, Las Vegas, and played in Atlantic City and the Bahamas. I made more money at blackjack than I did writing articles for Gambling Times and Poker Player, bought a house in Reno, and started selling old casino memorabilia through my own 8-12 page quarterly magazine I called Casino Chips and Gaming Tokens.

When I felt that the casino chip business was dropping off, I wrote a book called Nevada’s Golden Age of Gambling. No editor would touch the book, so I figured I could print and sell it myself. How hard could it be?

If you thought that was a lead-in to a joke, it wasn’t. My final draft was rough, dozens of grammatical errors and typos, but I had a niche audience, and I worked hard. The book went through two 2500-copy printings of 8×11 paperback before I hooked up with Amazon Kindle and Createspace. Now all I have to do is a little marketing for the book and royalties get direct-deposited to my bank. I’m a genius, right?

NGAG Cover E new 3-8-17

Well, not exactly. I worked while I was writing that book, and after I wrote the book, and while I wrote other books. Fortunately, most of the time I was employed in casinos, which I loved, so it wasn’t too bad. Right now, I’m living in Hawaii and writing full time. It took a long time, but here I am with my wife and daughters. It wouldn’t have happened without my wife’s support, but that’s another story.

Thanks for reading. I’ll have more soon.