There have been a few shake-ups with the print-on-demand industry lately. The big changes happened around a year ago. First, GST changes prompted KDP to stop sending author copies to Australia. A little over a month later, Amazon closed Createspace and folded it into KDP Print. The conversion of titles caused a few headaches for some authors with large backlists.
As a result of these changes, a lot of Australian indie authors turned to Ingram Spark, who can not only get your book listed on Amazon, but also in the Ingram catalogue that bookstores order from. In addition, Ingram offer the option for hardcovers. And they have a factory in Australia where books can be printed locally if you want that proof copy, or a little inventory to hand sell. The main disadvantage of Ingram Spark is that they charge a fee for each manuscript upload.
A new player is arriving on the scene, which will provide a third option for consideration. I have been accepted into the BETA program for Draft2Digital’s new POD service. I’d yet to dip my toe into the world of print books, so this seemed the perfect opportunity to get started.
Draft2Digital’s print service has some good things going for it. First of all, they can distribute to the Ingram Catalogue, but they don’t charge a fee for upload. Of course, getting your book onto the catalogue is no guarantee your books will end up on the shelves of any store. But it does mean that if you approach a bookstore, you can tell them that the book is available in their usual catalogue, should they be willing to order it.
One feature I really like is the cover converter. Many cost-conscious indie authors elect to buy an ebook cover. This is a single rectangular image that represents the front cover. But print books also have a spine and a back cover. Does this mean that when you want to make a print version of your book you must go back and pay for a full print cover design? Draft2Digital have an alternative. They take your existing ebook cover and generate an appropriate spine and back to match. Clearly this won't have a fancy picture that continues from the front to the back. They’ll use a solid colour that goes with your cover artwork, add the blurb, author bio, author photo, and a place for the barcode. I think the results look great.
Draft2Digital’s print service has a wide array of options. You can choose trim size, paper colour, cover finish, all the standard settings you’d expect. You can provide your own ISBN, or Draft2Digital will provide one for free. You can also customise the orphan and widow control (how many orphaned words on the next page will cause the entire sentence to move the next page). You can elect to have all chapters start on the right-hand side, or not. You can allow the software to automatically generate the cover and the inside content, based on your eBook, or you can provide your own cover or PDF interior.
Here's a tip I've learned. If your eBook has hyperlinks in it, the automatic print conversion will add the URLs as footnotes. This makes sense. You can't click hyperlinks on a print book. But there may be times you don't want this behaviour. For example, you might have spelled out the full URL in the link text. To prevent the software from adding the footnote, you need to ensure that the URL contains the protocol identifier (http://).
I found that I had all the options I Would need, but it wasn’t immediately obvious where to find those options. The user interface wasn’t entirely intuitive to me. This is to be expected in a BETA. The process will no doubt be smoothed a little when it goes public. My biggest issue was that I was too nervous to proceed past a certain point while I was just experimenting, in case my experiment ended up published. Fortunately, Draft2Digital provide excellent support. I sent in a bunch of questions and they responded with very detailed answers, which got me back on track.
Draft2Digital give you the option to receive a proof copy to review prior to authorising the release of the book. You can also purchase author copies.
All in all, I’m quite happy with the experience of creating my first print book through Draft2Digital. Once it goes live it will provide a viable alternative to KDP Print and Ingram Spark, and will probably be my default go-to service for future projects.
You can learn more about Draft2Digital's POD service at draft2digital.com/printbeta.
youTube channel. You can find him at AdamDavidCollings.com