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Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

* not true
** probably true

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Draft 2 Digital vs Smashwords: No contest

So I've been testing out Draft 2 Digital, and can honestly say that up to this point it blows Smashwords away in three very important areas: Ease of use, reporting, and customer service.

Ease of use: You don't need to know how to do anything except make a word document. You send it to them, and it will automatically be formatted. You choose what sorts of extra material you want- dedication, teaser pages, etc- and these are generated for you. All this vs Smashwords' meatgrinder.

Reporting: Smashwords' philosophy seems to be you'll get what we decide to give you, when we decide to give it to you (if we decide to give it to you).

D2D is radically different. Near-real time reporting for every title at every outlet, be it publishing or sales, paid or free. This difference alone absolutely crushes Smashwords, and shows just how pathetic their reporting 'ability' really is.

Customer service: Smashwords' Mark Coker has made a big deal about adding staff to his customer support, and has absolutely ignored the fact that (At least for me and according to others' anecdotal experiences) just because your customer service request is responded to faster, doesn't mean your problem is actually resolved faster- or at all. Smashwords' customer service is essentially kabuki theater for every issue I've ever brought to them. I've stopped trying.

D2D on the other hand a) actually responds more quickly than Smashwords, b) demonstrates that they actually understand what the problem is, and c)either does something about it or tells you they can't, and why, and what you should try instead.

As the volume of users increase, will D2D be able to maintain this level of service? I fervently hope so. But the truth is, no matter what happens, they can't get any worse than Smashwords. They just had to show up to win this race.

This only leaves one question in deciding whether to dump Smashwords completely, but it's a big one: Gettin' paid. The fact is, I have never had a problem getting my money from Smashwords, while D2D is still a cypher. But I can't imagine putting in the kind of work that obviously went into making D2D such a winner, only to fall down when it comes to the one thing people will have no patience for if you screw it up.

In my opinion, Smashwords is toast unless they do a lot of soul-searching. Given my experiences over the last 18 months or so, I don't really see that happening.


suzybazaar said...

That was a very interesting analysis. I have only just come across D2D and from what I read, it seemed that they would be easier to work with than Smashwords, but that was them selling themselves. Having your comments, though, does add weight to what they say.
Where there is a slight problem is that they both distribute to the same filials so I suppose one would have to unpublish on Smashword to transfer to D2D, no? Would you mind saying what you have done?
I do agree that I have never had a problem of payment from SW. I'm in Europe (between the UK and France) and they pay with PayPal whereas Amazon USA pays by cheque with a $100 minimum. A cheque entails bank fees which tend to be exhorbitant.

Anyway, thank you for your post. I shall keep an eye open for others on the subject.

Suzy Stewart Dubot

Michael McClung said...

Hi Suzy,

In some cases I have unpublished from Smashwords, while in others I've decided to bite the bullet and keep the title with them, generally because I don't want to lose the reviews or the category position. Each retailer is slightly different. Barnes and Noble with merge the titles, and then the customer will decide which edition they want to buy, while Apple will sell both versions separately. Many of my titles are sufficiently diverse to have the Smashwords edition in one category, and the D2D edition in a separate category.

As for Amazon, D2D fits my needs perfectly. I'm in Singapore, and would much rather give D2D their cut and be paid via PayPal.

Also as an update, I just got my first royalty payment from D2D, no problems.

Hope this helps,