I don’t have a lot of time right now, but news just hit this morning about something that could be a major OMG in the world of indie publishing. Draft2Digital announced it is acquiring Smashwords.
I will admit this announcement took me by surprise. Like so many authors, I’ve seen the two as rivals. I’ve also voiced on one more than one occasion my concerns about Smashwords’ “meatgrinder”. As I’ve learned of late, you no longer have to go through the meatgrinder to upload to SW. But more on that in another post.
Here is some of what D2D had to say about the news:
In terms of the service and resources you’ve come to expect from both companies, nothing really changes. At least, not right away. We will continue to offer the best author support there is, to all our combined authors, worldwide. And over time, authors and publishers will gain all of the advantages from both platforms, with a unified author dashboard and user experience.
The good news is that with our combined powers, all of us at Draft2Digital and Smashwords see myriad opportunities to build even more and even better tools and services, to help you build and grow your author career in ways you might never have imagined.
I’ll let you read the announcement for yourself, but a couple of things you should take note of. This change will let D2D authors take advantage of Smashwords’ coupons. Those who have been focusing more on SW than on D2D will now get to take advantage of D2D’s easier tools, print versions of their books and additional payment methods, among other benefits.
D2D also has an FAQ available concerning this new change to the indie publishing scene. You can find it here.
Of interest to those who write erotica (and from the FAQ):
What are the erotic fiction policies of the new company?
Each retailer, subscription service, or library platform has its own content policies. Draft2Digital will adopt the existing Smashwords erotic fiction policies for these platforms.
A few years ago, Smashwords introduced a certification system that allows erotic fiction publishers to self-certify the presence (or lack thereof) of various facets of erotica that are generally recognized as “taboo.” This more granular categorization provides retailers and libraries with the confidence they need to know that the erotic literature they’re selling doesn’t violate their policies.
The Smashwords Erotic Fiction Certification System will be made available to all Draft2Digital authors.
Will the erotica policies change in the Smashwords Store?
Smashwords has a long history of supporting the erotic fiction community. No changes are anticipated to the policies documented at https://www.smashwords.com/about/tos, nor have there been any changes in the last four years.
The policies on permitted, discouraged, and forbidden erotica categories remain in effect. The Smashwords Store has a more permissive approach to taboo erotica than most ebook stores. The store gives customers unprecedented control over the types of erotica, if any, that appear in their search results.
In the short term, everything will be business as usual for the two sites. Eventually, everything will migrate to the D2D site, if I’m reading this right. Here’s crossing my fingers and toes that everything works as smoothly as they plan and this is another step in the right direction for indie authors and our readers.
So, business as usual for now, which is going to include the sky-is-falling-wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth from the usual suspects. I’m interested to see how they integrate the platforms.
I get to join Team Usual Suspect. Woohoo!
They look like they are proposing to combine their technical organizations. Could work, or it could fail.
I know nothing about the pluses and minuses of the existing systems. I’m ignorant and cautiously cautious.
My take from my current rounds of research (2 books to get out faster than I currently am) D2D is a solid platform that focuses on being writer friendly and easy to use (for the suspicious out there: this is an evaluation of now, not an estimation of future behavior). Smashwords is… weird. They’ve fallen severely behind on the tech curve, but had access to some markets that no one else seemed to be able to get into. So if D2D is serious about what they’re saying this may be a way to get smashwords authors better tools while broadening D2D’s reach.
That’s my hope. I’ll admit, I uploaded my latest book as well as the Honor & Duty series to SW last month. I did a one week coupon for Book 1 of the series, dropping it to 99 cents. I’m now making as much from it, with only their own store and the non-D2D markets as I am on D2D. Amazon is still beating the two of them, but combined the two beat Amazon this month so far.
I’ve used D2D in the past, although my most recent book is KU-only. D2D is very user-friendly, and before the Amazon made the ebook file creation process easier, I used to use D2D to generate the ebook file from my word doc, and then use that on both D2D and Amazon.
The last time I paid any attention to Smashwords was sometime in the first half of 2016. I only knew of the meatgrinder at second hand, but the main site was kludgy and awkward, and the “official blog”/”latest news” seemed to be semi-personal stuff about the founder or some other major person involved with Smashwords. It just struck me as a deeply unserious outfit.
An aggregator with D2D’s interface and whatever Smashwords has going for it (greater market penetration, coupons) could indeed go places, but if the deal requires D2D to find jobs for whoever was holding Smashwords back at a technical level, it could get iffy.
Agreed – Smashwords was extraordinarily clunky and not intuitive to use, and their website was very … primitive in compairison. D2D was much simpler. I had migrated all but the earliest of my books from Smashwords to D2D for that very reason.
I got the feeling that Smashwords rested on its laurels a little too long, and got so far behind that the owners never wanted to sink the needed time and money into catching up. But I could be wrong.
So there is apparently at least a sane reason to think that the two organizations have something to offer each other.
Life is interesting.