Smashwords to Draft2Digital

I know people complain about Smashwords and the uploading process when you’re trying to get a book out of a Word document, but I have to say that at least managing a book there is a thousand times easier than managing one at Draft2Digital.

The whole process is more awkward.

But the worst is trying to get more than one book delisted at a retailer. It’s a pain in the ass. And there’s no way to see if you’ve already delisted a book so you end up going into the same pages to double check, making the whole thing annoying and a waste of time.

I dread the day when my main pen name account at Smashwords is forced to transfer to Draft2Digital.

My little side pen name transferred already, and that’s when I found out I’d really misunderstood what was going to happen. I thought merge meant merge, but apparently it was “transfer” all along, which is a far cry from a merge. Now I have two accounts at Draft2Digital. I’ll eventually have three: both pen name accounts from Smashwords and my original Draft2Digital account that published books for both pen names.

Someday, they claim I’ll have tools to merge these on my own. I’m hopeful, but I won’t be holding my breath while I wait on it.

In the meantime, I found out that things were not all well on the home front after the transfer.

My library prices came in at $0.99 for some reason instead of $16.99 and, wow, is that a huge difference. I quickly fixed them, but only after I found out it had happened, about a week after the transfer. My fault for not going over every detail of the books once the transfer took place, but really, it never occurred to me that they’d get something as basic as pricing messed up.

All in all, I’m sad to be moving to Draft2Digital, even if the interface is slicker and the book upload process is smoother. The actual management of my catalog is going to become a lot more tedious, and I just don’t see how that’s a win for me.

I’m also not that thrilled to be using a company that is so risk-averse with sexual content. Violence always seems to get a pass, but put sex in a book and it’s suddenly “erotica” even if it’s just a romance. They claim they’re going to be good to the erotica authors who are moving over from Smashwords too, but I’ve already been hearing grumblings that it’s just not happening that way at all.

As for me, I have a romance series that gets pushed into the erotica category every time. Since I know what content it contains and the series is strictly within the “erotic romance” category, meaning it is a romance no matter how much sex is in the story, I get annoyed every time I have to try to defend myself against this switch in genres (and I was once a Vice President of a chapter of Romance Writers of America so I do know what I’m talking about here). It’s not erotica. It’s romance. The sex is essential to the story, but the romance is the primary driver of the entire story. That’s pretty much the definition of the genre.

They can tell me as many times as they want that it’s not an automated check looking for certain keywords, but that’s exactly what has to be happening. All they have to do is read the book description, genre tags, and think for two seconds. It’s a distinction a human versed in publishing and genre tags could do easily. Instead, they seem to be relying on keywords that come up from content inside the books that can only be inferred as erotica content if you take the keywords out of context and ignore the genre and description of the book.

As I said, risk-averse. They rely on blocking books from being distributed to certain retailers and then try to tell you it’s all the retailers’ fault.

That said, I decided to pull all my books from Hoopla because of this issue, and I’m probably better off for it. I get about $0.52 every time my books are checked out for novels that sell for $6.99 and net me between $4 and $5 depending on where I sell the copies. I was honestly doing Hoopla and its library clientele a favor by letting them loan out my books at that rate.

If the onus is on Hoopla for the blocking of books, then I’ll admit my mistake, but I doubt it is. They had approved and were loaning out multiple books in this and other series, while “blocking” a few random books in that and another series that I suspect could have keywords that might be misunderstood.

For example, one romance series has a book in it in which my character has out-of-control magic. So the character started wearing a collar to block the magic. That collar is absolutely not a slave collar, not a sex collar, not a collar in any way tied to taboo content. It’s a thing to stop magic. The book is blocked from Hoopla. I suspect because some automated system picked up “collar” from the book and combined it with an exchange between characters where one character in the book says to another character (in a humorous exchange): “I’m not going to be anybody’s sex slave!” Or something like that. I can’t remember the exact wording. This screams automated keyword scraping as a method of filtering books.

It’s a joke. But a bad one. In fact, joke’s on me for writing humorous stories, and choosing a collar as the way to block out-of-control magic. But screw them. They don’t get to loan out my newest book in the series, possibly costing me sales, and block the one that came before it. :D

Anyway, I just really don’t like Draft2Digital. Or Hoopla, for that matter. Even if I’m not sure which one of them is to blame. Both have annoyed me.

This needs to be the year I get my Apple account up and running so I can just ignore D2D from now on.