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#23 The Business of Writing – Day 5 – Draft2Digital with Marketing Manager, Kevin Tumlinson

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News From Mel

You’ve typed THE END on your story and now it’s time for the hard part – publishing it. But, if you’ve been listening to our series this week, you know there are all kinds of experts to help you. I’m chatting with Kevin Tumlinson today to get the low down on Draft2Digital, and as Kevin promises, it sounds kind of easy. But hey, I’ve been fooled before. So, my dear listeners, is Kevin telling us the truth? Is Draft2Digital the answer to our digital publishing prayers? Well, if I can work it anyone can and if you listen to the end you’ll find that D2D has all kinds of extras that promise to make our lives easy, well, easier, the most exciting of which is the introduction universal distribution links (and there’s a book reviewing service in the pipeline but I’m not sure I can mention that yet). I’ve decided to give it a go for my soon to be launched novella series so watch this space. To find out more, you can find D2D at www.draft2digtal.com

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Melinda: Welcome to another episode of Writer on the Road. I have the very delightful Kevin Tumlinson back with me and I think it's going to be a regular thing. He's very waving to us here, very, very politely. Last time I spoke to Kevin it was via, it was, what was it called, it was a program called Zencastr, this time I've got this face looking at me and very young and handsome he is as well. Unless I'm just older than the rest of the world, good morning Kevin.
Kevin Tumlinson: Good morning, good afternoon, how are you?
Melinda: I'm good thanks. First of all the very first thing we have to ask you because when I put you up last time I put you up and the man who's moving into his RV and travelling around America. Would you like to give us an update on where you're up to please?
Kevin Tumlinson: So we're like a millisecond away from that. We put the RV in for a bit of maintenance and repair just to get everything perfect before we move in full time and we're looking at probably, I said mid, but probably late September we'll be moving full time. The official date will be October 12th, that's officially the day that we no longer have an apartment, we no longer have any other place to be live and we'll be living full time in the RV. But we'll probably be moved in a couple weeks before that.
Melinda: Yeah and as I'm looking at Kevin here he's in his little flat or unit at the time and it's not much bigger than a caravan either by the look of things. So I don't think things are going to change much.
Kevin Tumlinson: No, it was a challenge downsizing into this apartment actually. We went from a four bedroom home, house with very large additional working spaces that were my office and studio and that sort of thing and we downsized to this apartment for the last year. So that was step one.
So we're, I think, we're sort of half-ready I think to be living in a tin can on wheels.
Melinda: Yeah, now I never do anything one step at time. I just sort of jump in boots and all and see what happens. So you're doing it the sensible way, you must be a very, very patient man.
Kevin Tumlinson: Well, maybe.
Melinda: Okay, not so patient.
Kevin Tumlinson: Well we wanted to jump right into the RV, we wanted to. But we knew there were a few steps. We didn't have the RV yet when we sold the house, so that was challenge number one. So this past year has really been about getting the RV, getting used to the idea. We took some trips, tested it out and we're pretty confident we're going to dig it. So I don't know about patient, but we definitely, we ended up accidently doing this via plan I think.
Melinda: Yeah, my last, I was speaking last night to a lady here in Australia and she's got, her and her partner are traveling around Australia in a 25 foot 5th wheeler and they've certainly got it down pat with their parking and, oh I was going to say mooring it because I've been talking yachties as well. Everyone's out there having fun Kevin it's not fair.
Kevin Tumlinson: I know.
Melinda: But Kevin has been busy with his writing. He does have a new novel coming out, would you like to tell us about the new book and that magic cover design.
Kevin Tumlinson: I would actually, yeah. I have written a follow up to my most popular book, I wrote Coelho Medallion and published that back in May and actually I hit publish on that while we were on first really big RV trip. So it's kind of the symbol of the work we're going to be doing on the road.
But I've written now the first draft of the sequel to that book called The Atlantis Riddle and I have the cover ready, I'm all set, now it's in edit and I'll be handing it over to my street team as soon as I'm done with my initial pass. We'll be passing this guy along to pre-order soon after that. So I'm looking forward to it, I think this is, I say this about every book but I actually this is my best book to date. I'm very excited about how it turned out, it's very much in the genre that I'm enjoying most now. So I'm thrilled about it and the cover apparently looks great because everyone has committed very positively on the cover.
Melinda: I heard a little bird told me yesterday that Kevin does design all his own covers and maybe we'll have him back one day just to talk about that.
Kevin Tumlinson: Yeah, I do.
Melinda: Now he does write in the thriller genre, he does churn his words out and I also heard that his first million words are considered practice words so you can imagine what this guy gets up to at 5,000 words a day I believe it was that we spoke about last time.
Kevin Tumlinson: Yeah 5,000 a day. I will confess since taking on work with Draft 2 Digital that number went down a little temporarily, but I've been slowly building back up to 5k a day and it's not as difficult as people think, really but it's not required. If you're struggling with word count don't be discouraged by someone doing 5k a day, just go do what you can do.
Melinda: Oh I think it sounds very exciting and I think last time we spoke Kevin's got a book out there called The 30 Day Author and that's full of motivational stuff and that helps the rest of us get to that point of completion and ready to publish. That's why I've invited Kevin back today because he snuck in a new job while we weren't looking and after we spoke to him last time he's gone and picked himself the grand title of marketing director of Draft 2 Digital and of course I immediately wanted to know about that. So congratulations Kevin.
Kevin Tumlinson: Thank you very much. If I remember right, I was actually being courted for this while you and were chatting last time. So it happened almost immediately after we talked. So I wasn't able to announce it or anything at that time.
Melinda: Look we'll forgive you.
Kevin Tumlinson: I'm glad to come back, I'm glad to be back. Good, good.
Melinda: Alright, what we want to know is what do we do once we've hit the end to progress from using your service and we're, treat us all as complete novices, I've been to speaking to several other ladies and we're all interested in coming aboard with you, we are all captive, potential customers. So you have to do your best to sell us right now.
Kevin Tumlinson: Okay, so what Draft 2 Digital will do for you in a nutshell? So one of the things we handle for you is conversion your manuscript to eBook format and we make that really easy. So it's literally sign up for an account, upload your manuscript, upload your cover, type up your, you can cut and paste this by the way, you can drop in all your metadata which is your book description, the key words that you're using, everything that you would set up and say Amazon KDP platform you would do here and then we'll convert that book for you and it takes a few seconds really, I mean it doesn't take very long at all. Then you actually, at that point you have the option of being able to download an ePub or even a .mobi file or even a PDF of your book that you could use anywhere really. So if you were only using it for conversion it would be great for that.
But one of the big benefits of the service is that we actually have a whole network of venders that you can distribute your book through. So you come to us and we'll do the formatting for you, automatically and then all you got to do is hit the publish button and you get to choose from a large selection of venders including Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, everyone you've heard of, some of the bestselling book distributers on the planet and you'll be able to publish with those guys all in one place and with the world's easiest and coolest dashboard.
I'm going to just confess to you. I was really excited when these guys approached because I was already a huge fan boy of this service, based on that dashboard I was extremely excited about that and I really wished that Amazon had something similar at the time. The only service we don't publish to at the moment is Amazon, well there are others we don't, but we are very picky about who we will distribute to at this point and we work very hard to make sure we're in line with all their various guidelines, they're content restrictions, that sort of thing. So there are companies out there that won't publish erotica for example. So we take care of all that stuff for you.
If a company isn't going to publish something that you write we let you know and help you work around that in some way. In other words you can still publish with all our other companies but not this one in particular for example. If you upload your cover and it doesn't meet the cover requirements, first of all we do a lot to automate that process too, but if it doesn't meet it we'll let you know right away then we can work with you to get the right type of cover up, the right size and make sure it's not-- for example Apple doesn't allow you to do the whole book set.
By the way, I'm sorry of course for some reason, this is as is traditional lawn guys have showed up, this is like the third day in a row during a podcast that these guys have shown up. So if you're hearing all that buzzing in the background that's what that is.
Melinda: Okay and we're talking to Kevin Tumlinson about Draft 2 Digital, we had to have a little stop there because of yard maintenance happening over there in his home town.
Kevin Tumlinson: Apparently in my living room I think.
Melinda: Yeah, he's got pot plants on the veranda that needed mowing. Okay please continue Kevin, we're very keen to hear about Draft 2 Digital and its lawn mowing service.
Kevin Tumlinson: Yes, so okay, so the long of the short of Draft 2 Digital is, we will help you with the formatting and distribution of your book, that's where we start. That's not the entirety of what these guys will do for you but that right there alone is a huge help for most authors. Because of our vendor relationships and because we're very picky about who we actually have a relationship with you're going to have some of the best opportunities to reach a broader audience globally.
That's a big advance that’s what's interesting and I talk about going wide a lot now because a lot of authors are in, they're in the KDP select program with Amazon, which means they're exclusive to Amazon. I understand why, because I did the same thing but that's great way to make a lot of money much faster if you're trying to do this for a living and I cannot blame anybody for wanting to be in that program.
But what I've come to discover and what I'm seeing evidence for time and again now is that you're actually much better off strategically if you plan to go wide. Meaning that rather than being exclusive to one service and thus subject to all of their rules and any changes they might make to those rules you're actually broadening your scope and getting out and reaching a big, wide global audience through a bunch of different venders.
Draft 2 Digital isn't the only company doing this, they're not the only company that helps you by aggregating these services and then don't even have the largest catalogue of vendors but what they do have is probably the best customer service I've ever encountered in a service like this and a continual growth. We're always looking at new vendors, we're always looking at new tools we can develop, we just recently released universal book links which are something we can talk about but that's a brand new, amazing tool to help authors market their work even if you're Amazon exclusive you can use these things to reach a much bigger Amazon audience, they do what we call globalization so that even if you're exclusive to Amazon you can reach readers worldwide with just one link because every time they click on that it'll ask them if they want to use the regional Amazon store as their default store. So you can send readers to the exact storefront that they want to use for their region. So there are lots of little tools like that in development, already kind of sitting here as well.
On the whole I was really excited about joining these guys because this is the kind of stuff I liked being a part of as an individual, as a sole proprietor with my own business. So it was just kind of a natural fit for me to come on and start helping this to promote this to authors who really need this stuff. I mean there's some cool things happening and some of it's just almost overwhelming. There's so many, that service does so many things behind the scenes that no one even knows about which is part of my, that's part of my challenge is to start letting people know, like here's what we can do for you.
Melinda: Now Kevin is a great talker and he will be traveling around the place and not only will his books be painted on the side of his rig so will Draft 2 Digital.
Kevin Tumlinson: Yeah, probably.
Melinda: Just get that word out there. The thing that excites me and the thing that I keep hearing from you even speaking with you today is the word universal, because we're out here in Australia being able to access lots and lots of different countries, probably if you're in America I could understand that straight to Amazon, but over here in Australia the fact that you've got the universal links, the fact that we can upload to you and you can get out us there into the big, wide world that's got to be an advantage surely.
Kevin Tumlinson: Yeah, I actually have talked to people in the past who actually don't have access to Kindle Select or any other Kindle program. So they're, for them to be able to reach the same general audience is kind of a big deal for them. A lot of them, it's an amazing to me how many authors don't realize there are more online retails than just Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Even knowledge of services like Kobo for example, which is Canada's big dealer, eBook retailer. There are a lot of authors who don't realize that exists. It’s a little bit mind boggling but then not everyone is entrenched in this the way I am. So I have to give them a little bit of a leeway there.
But one of the things that happens when you sign up with Draft 2 Digital, and it's free by the way, nothing Draft 2 Digital does costs the author any money directly, they make all their money on a percentage of the sale of the books. So we literally do not succeed unless we help the authors succeed which is probably the best business plan I've ever heard of. You want to set up that kind of symbiotic relationship because then the authors are benefiting but they're also more interested in helping you succeed because it means their own growth.
But when you join Draft 2 Digital you gain access to all these different venders and all these different countries. Just today, now this is tied to the universal book links, but just today I had to write a description for an Italian eBook distributor and I was pretty, I had to basically translate the page so that I could get the information I needed and it kind of struck me that I don't think I would have to do something like this for Amazon, Amazon has their own presence in those regions, but no one really knows about these companies in the U.S., no one knows that any of them exist. So we're connecting you with a whole new landscape, a whole new ecosystem really of book distributors.
Melinda: Yeah and I noticed even with my podcast I've got a little circle on all the countries that listen in and like 50% is Australia, and the American percentage is 30, but there's 20% of countries that's growing every day and I look at those countries and I go wow, and I had a German lady on, or a lady who lives in Germany, I think she's American and I think it added another five countries to my listening base and I just went isn't that amazing that the world is becoming smaller and smaller and I know when you mention things like Amazon and then you go Amazon UK, Amazon America, Amazon Australia and I go oh give me break this is all too hard.
Kevin Tumlinson: Yeah, that's the way I feel about it too. That's one of the frustrations I had just with my own work is keeping track, this is like the whole dashboard experience by the way, I like being able to look at one dashboard to see what my book sales are like and keep track of all the different Amazon stores alone was like a full time job that I don't have time for. You read articles and you listen to podcast from people like Joanna Penn and some others who are just brilliant, but they'll tell you need to be on top on what are your sales like in India, what are your sales like in the UK, don't just concentrate on your U.S. sales.
I just never could keep up with any of it. Getting that information through kindle's or KDP's dashboard was kind of tricky, you have to do all this reshuffling and everything. So I'm very appreciative of what Amazon's done to open up the market that I now use for my career. But I was just entranced by how simple things were once I brought all my work over to Draft 2 Digital.
I'm still with KDP because Amazon's a huge market, I would never walk away from it entirely, but being able to go wide with my work provides me with a bunch of benefits, not the least of which is I'm no longer at the whim of Amazon. Amazon's got a history by the way about changing its mind about certain policies and you have no power. You have no recourse. If Amazon decides tomorrow we're no longer going to sell eBooks, a lot of people that I know are out of business, I don't think anything that extreme is going to happen, but the equivalent has happened several times with different parts of that business. So I can't rule it out, I'd rather be safe.
Melinda: Look you mentioned Amazon earlier. So when I upload my little novellas to you guys it will still go on Amazon but just not in its Kindle Direct stuff, is that correct?
Kevin Tumlinson: The way that it work is you would still need to upload directly to Amazon because we don't upload to Amazon.
Melinda: That's what I thought you said and I thought have I misunderstood that, no.
Kevin Tumlinson: Well Amazon likes exclusivity, they want all their authors to be with them and them alone, and so they don't play well with the idea of an aggregate service. We used to have Amazon way back when we first started but then things got complicated we'll say and we're constantly working to see if we can figure out a way to get back to working with those guys because they are a huge market and we believe we can help them as much as we help our other vendors. They don't see it that way yet, but that's fine. So you would still need to upload directly to Amazon, which is no big deal for most authors, you're probably already there.
Where we help is we actually help with the upload process for all the other vendors, so you can be in the Barnes and Noble Nook stores, you can be in the Apple iBooks store, and Google Play and Kobo and Sony and the, all these different vendors that you've heard of but you may not be familiar with how to get your work there, or it becomes a hassle to try to do it over and over again and keep track of your sales on all these different channels. So we just simplify that process.
Melinda: So you provide the files for me to upload to Amazon, that's correct?
Kevin Tumlinson: You can do that, yes. Yeah, we can, you can download the .mobi file from us and just upload it to Amazon which does help, some people do have trouble with the conversion, so we do help with that, which is by the way, if you think about that, we give you all the tools to go elsewhere, you would never to have to use at all and you'd never have to take a cut on your royalty by using us if you didn't want to.
We make things simpler and we have a lot more pull with some of these vendors then the individual author is going to have. If for no other reason than to Barnes and Noble for example we are thousands upon thousands of books under one account, that makes a big difference to those guys, it's a bunch of authors that they don't have to manage themselves if there's trouble with their book of they need to change the cover or there's some tech support problem those guys call us instead of Barnes and Noble. So we provide a service to these guys.
So they're usually happy with us and they usually make better deals with us than they're going to make with individual authors. I mean, just for example through Draft 2 Digital you can make a Barnes and Noble book free, a Nook book free whereas you cannot do that when you go direct to Barnes and Noble. So we give you certain advantages you're not going to get on your own.
But if you wanted to just convert your book through us and then go and upload it there direct there's no reason you can't do that. We really are kind of set up to just help you do what you're going to do and we make our money from the authors who are in our catalog, we make it off the percentage of royalty that we take, but beyond that we don't charge the author anything if we can avoid it.
Melinda: Yeah, and I was listening to that as well. You guys charge 15% on books sold and I was thinking about that, you guys wouldn't be going from strength to strength if you and your authors weren't making. So to me it seems to be a win-win thing if you guys, and I've listened to Kevin talk on a couple of other podcasts and we all know that Draft 2 Digital is coming to our attention all over the place, so that would not be happening if everyone wasn't happy with the sales of the books from us.
Kevin Tumlinson: Right, yeah. We've seen, actually we've gotten a number of "New York Times" and "USA Today" best sellers in our catalogue, quite a few, I don't remember the exact number right now and I should because I just recently looked that up for something. But we actually, there are people in our catalogue who are just making phenomenal numbers of sales and doing very well, full time living status for a large number. So we didn't get them there, we helped them but they got there on their own merit, but we did make it easier for them to do this. That we're, we represent several things that you don't have to pay attention to anymore, which is conversion is one of those.
But also, just monitoring all these different sales channels. I mean, if I spent, basically when I was direct to different channels it would take me a full day to gather all my sales numbers and they usually weren't accurate. So it's a big huge convince to me as an author to have one place where I can log in and say okay this book's doing great and it's doing better on this sales channel than this sales channel. I know how to target my marketing because of that information, so very helpful.
Melinda: The other, one question I've got for you, so I use Scrivener, but I know I much up some of the front data, so I'm going to, in Scrivener I can convert my files to epub and mobi all by myself by pressing a button, god knows how, so I just send those to you. Who checks it for my muck ups?
Kevin Tumlinson: So we don't handle any of the content side of this thing, all we do is take your completed manuscript and we do the conversions. So if you're working with an editor you would get all this and you would clean up your book and finalize it and then send us a manuscript to convert. So that's where we start.
You wouldn't even have to necessarily, I mean if you, some of the services we have built into our conversional, and they're optional, so you can turn these on and off, but if you're having trouble with like front matter and end matter you can have actually have us do your table of contents if you want one, well I think they're required with every platform. So we can do that for you, we can do an also by page, so if you've published all your other books through our service, we'll automatically generate that also by so that people know what other books you offer. We can do an about the author page if you have your own publishing in print we can do an about the publisher page, all your copyright pages, all that stuff, we can auto generate.
We do that from, you can upload a word document or you can also upload a formatted epub and I forget in what you sort of lose in uploading your own epub I think it's just the ability to shuffle and edit chapters or something, I'm not sure. But, and I should that. But the, in general you can upload either of those documents you can get a, I just uploaded an epub by the way and got a beautifully produced .mobi file and a new epub file, all of them up to date with the current work that I have in my catalogue. So it’s very convent but we don't do editing and we don't do anything related to your content, you have to provide your actual, final manuscript.
Melinda: Yeah, so I'm going to upload something as an experiment, I'm going to upload a little novella, I'm going to send it to you in epub and mobi, you're going to distribute it for me and I'm going to sit back and watch what happens. How does that differ from, at the moment I'm with Ingram Sparks, now I know my books on Ingram Sparks come up, takes ones to two extra days for delivery and I know as a customer I never books that take one to two extra days for delivery, I think oh there must be something wrong there. Now that I'm with Ingram Sparks I know what that means, but when I was just a reader I didn't, so I always avoided that kind of stuff. Do I still need to be with someone like Ingram Sparks or do I not need that anymore?
Kevin Tumlinson: You can if you're familiar with them and you're like what they're providing you, what I would say, and I don't recall but I think Ingram Spark actually charges you for eBook production right?
Melinda: I think it did yes. It was only a small fee, it was only a $145 or $45, and it was one of those things.
Kevin Tumlinson: Per book?
Melinda: Yeah, yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson: Yeah, you can avoid that. There's, you can avoid that because what you've got, so if you're using them for your print books by the way, we actually do, even though this is Amazon, we actually do have a way for you to publish to Create Space so that you can have a paperback version of that same book and it uses the same manuscript. We can do all that for you as well. So there's no charge for any of this stuff.
So where we're different then the services like Ingram Spark is we only make money on the book's sale. Now if they're doing other things for you, like if they're taking your mark up and handling edits and updating the actual manuscript, I mean that's outside of what we do, but beyond that you hand us a clean manuscript ready for public eyes and we'll take care of the conversion and everything for you and including making sure that the cover is resized based on the criteria of every single vendor that we deal with, and all of them seem to have some different criteria.
So we have a minimum that you'd have to upload but once it's there we'll do the conversion and we can handle, we have services that will put calls to action in the back of your book that say subscribe to see whenever this author publishes a new book, get an alert, call it author alerts. We have previews of another book, so if you've published several books with our service and you have a catalogue of these things you can actually do a preview of the next book in a series for example at the end of this book. So book one, they finish, they get to the end, they read about you or whatever and then it says if you enjoyed this book you might also enjoy book two. Then you'll have a picture of the cover followed by an excerpt from the book. So lots of nice little built in tools and it's all done automatically.
I will confess that I've never used Ingram Spark, I've always come close but then by the time I get around to it, something else pops up like this that prevents me from even giving them a try. But if you're used, if you're already used to dealing with Amazon's KDP service or something similar this is going to be no sweat, in fact it's a great deal easier.
Melinda: Now look I'm jumping up and down out of my little wheelie chair here. I've been roped into a little project here in Australia and I think there's some American authors in it and it's a box set of romance novellas for Christmas, and they forgot to me it was Christmas so I wrote the whole novella before they told me that then I had to go back and rewrite it and put the Christmas in.
Kevin Tumlinson: You had to go add in sleigh bells and mistakes.
Melinda: Not quite, we're in the 38 degrees heat in the summer but never mind. But I did manage to turn that into a three book novella series set in three outback towns that I've had the privilege of living in and the idea is that I write one, pre-order the next one and go on to the next one. So as you're speaking, I'm thinking all those things about call to action, all about previews of next books, all that kind of stuff, this is all the stuff that I read about every day at 3 o'clock in the morning, this is all the research, everything that I tell my wonderful listeners to think about on a regular basis and Kevin's just delivering through to me here through my little Skype camera and I'm going yay, yay, yay, yay.
I can confess, and I'll probably get in trouble for this and I'll have Ingram Sparks on tomorrow, but I've sold my books through Ingram Spark and lost money, its cost me to sell them simply because of a) the percentage they take and b) the conversion to the Australia dollar. So I think I go into work sometimes and hey look I made minus 33 dollars this month, it cost me to sell my books.
Kevin Tumlinson: Oh that's not right.
Melinda: I've been actively seeking an alternative, but being completely technically challenged.
Kevin Tumlinson: Okay we're going to help you, we're going to help you do this. Here's, and you hit on something I think it's a vital point. What we've done here is we've taken all that advice you get from people and you never quite know how to implement it, put a call to action in the end of your book, put an also by list in you book, you get that advice from a lot--
Melinda: Oh and now you're gone! Come back! Sorry!
Kevin Tumlinson: What's that?
Melinda: I hit a wrong button, you disappeared off the screen, and you’re back.
Kevin Tumlinson: You get all that advice from every podcast, every blog, every book and what we've done is take all that advice and build it for you so that you're literally, your job is write your book and upload it and hit publish and we'll take care of everything. We, if you've, once you've set your price by the way, there's this page that pops up.
Once you get through the publishing process, before you actually hit publish there's a page where you can actually input your price for the book and then we give you a list of all the different vendors where that book can appear, you can check and uncheck the ones you want or don't want and every one of those has a little price under it that is the exact amount you're going to make on royalty when you sell a book through that service.
So you don't get that with anybody else, nobody tells you here's how much you're going to make on a sale of this book, it's all left to you to figure out. If someone says, Amazon will say you're going to make 30% or you're going to make 70%, you can calculate that, that's not hard. But I like being able to look and say okay in all these markets this one's going to pay me the most, and this one's going to pay the least, I'll focus on getting more people to go to this market.
You should never been in the negative on book sales, just never. I mean, I'm just appalled and it's happened by the way, I've had negative days on Amazon when I first started, not anymore, but I mean I've had negative days but that was through returns and that sort of thing. To just go about the normal practice of publishing your work there's no way it should cost you. You're supplying a product for other people to sell you should always be in the black.
Melinda: Look you're looking at me here, I do all this stuff because it's fun, I never, I just haven't got the right kind of brain for any of this kind of stuff, but with these little romance, I know you actually gave me the idea with your short story a day, where you turned out your short stories, while I'm doing this teaching contract to try and get my head around what I call my real writing, it's been too difficult, so these novellas at 20/25,000/30,000 words are a little bit of fun and it's kicking back into the romance genre and a lot of my listeners are my new romance buddies, so that's really exciting.
I just think the questions I'm asking you today, I can't be the only numskull not knowing which way to turn and what to do. So you're telling me all the things that I know I have to be able to do and I can't, I know the call to action, I paid a techie there for a long time and he used to just shake his head and go oh Mel we're in trouble. He was the one who got me all set up on Ingram Sparks. So I've got my Scrivener IOS on my Macbook pro, oh sorry my iPad pro, I've got a go button to draft a digital and a fancy new account that I'll open up shortly. From after that I'm in your hands Kevin. Next time we speak and if I sell my books for a dollar go, I'm going to make 85 cents per book.
Kevin Tumlinson: That sounds right, you'll see real numbers on the site, but yeah. Yeah all the information you need to keep in mind here is that you're, the book seller themselves are going to want to make a percentage of your price and then you're getting 15% of that. I'm sorry, you're getting, we're talking 15% of the amount you make minus that. Does that make sense? I think I just went in a circle.
Melinda: How much is the book seller going to want?
Kevin Tumlinson: So that's up to the book seller, each one's different. Let's just say that they're paying you 70% of the book price. So on a dollar book that's 70 cents and then we take 15% from that. So you're, over all you're going to make a little less than you would if you went direct but what you get in exchange for that 15% is number one all these services are right there available for you to use whenever and you can do whatever you want with that epub when you generate it, it's yours. We are continuously building that network of vendors, we're continuously building new tools that can help you with whatever.
Basically I tell people this, we go off and look for author pain points and then we solve that pain point. So that's what you're getting for your 15%. So if you're looking at this in terms of how much money am I making per sale, there's a tendency for people to not find this attractive just because they're making less than they would direct, but it's a convenience fee, you're making things easier so that you can spend more time writing and that's the point.
I applaud people who have the fortitude and the time to go do all this stuff individually per channel, I don't. I was perfectly willing and I'm still perfectly willing to give a cut of the royalty to have someone else do it. If I were going to pay an assistant and you may have heard me and Matt talking about this on Author Strong, you mentioned that before you started, but if I were going to pay an assistant to do it I'd still be losing that money. This way I can spread the cost out over numerous books.
Melinda: Kevin and I were talking about some interviews that Kevin did on Author Strong, if you want the serious guide on how to move over to Draft 2 Digital and all the advantages and disadvantages of doing that because there was some rather interesting debates going on between Kevin and the host over there.
Kevin Tumlinson: Matt's a good guy, I want to say that publically. I like Matt.
Melinda: He's a wonderful guy, yeah.
Kevin Tumlinson: We live same town.
Melinda: Yeah, but they knew what they were talking about is what I meant, I haven't got a clue what I'm talking about and I'm going to actually title this the newbie's guide to Draft 2 Digital and then I'll put a link to Author Strong because that's the serious person's guide to Draft 2 Digital and all the pros and cons and all the rest of it that go with it. It's 8 episodes you've got to listen through, here you get it all in one. Kevin and I have gone straight to the point, how do I do this thing and yes I'm, as I said I'm a bit of a two thumbs and just get me up and get me published and make me some money please because I'm going backwards.
Kevin Tumlinson: That's what we're aiming for.
Melinda: I also did a calculation because Kevin writes 5,000 words a day, he could churn out on of these little novellas one a week, add that up, he'd have 52 books a year, starting to remind me of Joe Konrath, he churns out his little books at the same rate.
Kevin Tumlinson: I will tell you by the way, I am strongly considering, once I'm done with Atlantis Riddle I was planning on doing a few novellas for that very reason because it's, one it's fun, they're quick and easy books. At twenty to thirty thousand words I really can crank them out pretty quickly.
But there are, James Patterson is kind of rolling the dice on that length with his book shots. He's writing books that, he's got writing partners, he does the outline they do the book. But he's publishing under that book shots in print and in the universes he's already established with his other full length fiction and seems like he's doing pretty well.
This was an idea I actually had years ago but I don't have the clout that James Patterson has, but I'm glad he's breaking ground on this. But I'm really considering doing that for the next handful of books I write, just doing novellas because I think people respond to them very well and they're a useful tool for building up a library of books and also building a readership because people can get through them very quickly.
Melinda: I'm putting together, I committed to this project, write this thing and get it out in 30 days because Christmas is coming up quickly i.e. that word Christmas. So I kept a journal as I was writing and all the problems that I encountered so I'm putting together a little blog series and podcast series on how to write a novella, I've got some women coming on board in the next few weeks and we're going to talk through that podcast series, because I've heard podcast are interesting way to go so I thought I'll have a go at that with this novella writing thing. I'm going to churn out these little books.
With all the pitfalls that I have, I've been lucky to live in Outback Australia so there's quite an interest in Outback romances here, the big writers make very, very good money but they're also much better than me. I finding it that I had to really tighten my writing, I had to cut the wonders a bit, I had to cut down on my characters so there's lots we can talk about on that. So down the track a bit you and I might come back on board and we might talk about our novella writing experiences because that'd be a bit of fun as well.
Kevin Tumlinson: Yeah, I would love it. I shared this story on your show, but when I was doing a short story a day, most of them were actually novella length. So I started publishing those shortly after. That was an interesting exercise because for one it does really sharpen your skills because you are churning out a full story and you can do that in just a few hours’ time really.
But one of the things that I found very advantageous about that was just the fact that my readership was seeing a variety of stories from me and I could determine which stories resonated best with them which was another factor in deciding to start writing thrillers because overall the thriller stories were the ones that were doing the best, people loved the science fiction, they loved all the stuff I was doing, but they really resonated with these stories. So I was excited to learn that because now I know how to test a story concept with my audience, that's the point.
Melinda: I think that's a very good point, I think that's something really interesting and I'll make a note of that, finding out what our readers want and I think reading a story in a couple of sittings or at one sitting is an attractive thing too, we all love our big, meaty novels and we'll all keep writing those because that's what we love to write but those shorter things are great as well.
Now I'm going to let Kevin go because I've got to go off to school and my little alarms are going here. But I did want to ask him one last thing and this is something that I don't know if I'm allowed to mention but I picked it up on Author Strong, and I'm not allowed to say that it's in competition to Bookbub because that got you in all sorts of trouble or got him in all sorts of trouble, but you guys are working on I think it was called Books2Read was it?
Kevin Tumlinson: Yeah Books2Read, no it's not, I mean there was no trouble. He is convinced that Books2Read is a Bookbub competitor in the making and I can't deny that it might be, but right now it's not set up for that. It is called Books2Read, he made the point that it is likely focused on the reader, which is true. But the home right now of the universal book links and some other tools as well but that's the primary tool that we feature there right now.
For authors you can go and create a link that will link to everywhere your book is sold online and you do this by copying and pasting a link from an existing eBook retailer's product page for your book. So Amazon's page for your book, you can copy the link to that, the URL, drop it in, it'll do a scan and it'll create one link that links to every place that books appears. It scans and finds your book everywhere it appears online and if you don't see the store there that you expect to see there you can actually add it manually and that means that you've got something very useful for the marketing side of your world. If you got a link that no matter what you put it on is never going to go out of style, is never going to go flat or break. I use them now, I'm using them in all my books in the calls to action and the also by pages. I'm going to use them on my website, I just haven't taken the time to do this yet.
So but on the reader's side, what they get is when you give them that UBL they click on it and it asks them, it says Kevin Tumlinson's Coelho Medallion is available in these stores and you can click on the one that you link and when you do it'll ask you do you want to make this your default store. If you do then every time you click on a UBL from that point forward it'll take you directly to the book's product page on that store.
You can see right away how huge that is for authors because it means I only have to create one link and send that in email, on print materials and social media and it will link to all the places my book is sold so that I don't have to have a whole list of links, I don't have to bulk up an email with 500 different links to 500 different stores, it's all right there for me. So that's the gist, that's the idea and that's what Books2Read right now is all about. We're going to be adding more tools as we go. I cannot deny that there may be something Bookbubish about it at some point, it's just not on the docket right now.
Melinda: Well I think there has to be something other than Bookbub because I tried to get on Bookbub with The Miner's Wife and they ignored me.
Kevin Tumlinson: Oh it's impossible.
Melinda: Yeah, so I think we really do need more services, I think there's room for more services, I think there's room for the rest of us to get our books read and noticed. I just, I think Bookbub and I don't know enough about it and I'm going to get in trouble for saying this but it appears to be for people who are far more famous than I or me, famous than me because I'm an English teacher. I'm going to get in trouble if I don't race off to school. So I'm going to, I know we could talk about some of these things for a while. Now I can't box set my three little novellas with you yet, is that going to happen down the track maybe?
Kevin Tumlinson: Well if you've got it in one document you can do it. It just needs to be one continuous book, but yeah, maybe. That's an intriguing idea.
Melinda: Well that works.
Kevin Tumlinson: To be able to bundle things, something I will definitely ask about because that actually would be kind of cool. Personally I could do that with the books that I have there, it would be very nice to click and create bundles, so yeah, maybe. I can't say it's definitely happening, but I would like for it to.
Melinda: See that's the advantage we have a direct line to whatever we want now, so [00:47:18] (unclear), I'll ask Kevin and he'll make it happen, that's the beauty of ever changing technology, you've got to be nimble on your feet, you've got be prepared to try new things, somethings will work, some things won't. That's why I think places like Draft 2 Digital are doing so very, very well in the market because they can respond really quickly.
I was speaking to a lady last night and she is published with a traditional publisher and she said she's an impatient kind of person and she publishes a book a year because that's how long it takes and I had to really bit my lip there and go, waaa, I couldn't stand it especially when we can make things happen so much more quickly now and readers don't care where our books are published as long as they're of a high standard, to sit around and wait for publishers to go through all that, whatever they go through and yeah to make the books better but we can hire professional editors to do that for us anyway, we can get it up, we can get it out, Draft 2 Digital is sitting there waiting for us. We can actually get print books as well as you've just mentioned, that was one of my questions. Kevin is there any contact details that we need to know for you for Draft 2 Digital?
Kevin Tumlinson: If you, anything you want to know about Draft 2 Digital you can find about right away, just by going to draft2digital.com. That's draft2digital.com. If you have questions and my advice is go sign up, go start the process. It doesn't cost anything, you're not obligated to anything, but once you're in there and you upload that first book just wait, you don't have to put it on sale right away, but if you have questions hit up the support team there, support@draft2digital.com will answers your emails or you can even call them on the phone and the thing is those guys are pros and they're the best customer support I've ever encountered, they will help walk you through every step of it. So that's the best way to learn how to use it, it's very simple but if you have trouble we're right there waiting to help you.
Melinda: Yeah, and I'll be out there, I'll be doing it, I'll be podcasting on the results and my trials and tribulations. I can confess right from the start that I put in Draft 2 Digital to find for Kevin's interview this morning and I typed Draft To Digital and I went oh it is the number two. So see I'm learning, I'm learning quick. Kevin's here to help me, I have a direct line to the god of Draft 2 Digital, so I promise not to nag you too much.
Kevin Tumlinson: Look when you contact those guys, when you contact tech support or customer support in any form, tell them you heard about it from me, ask them if they know me, they love that.
Melinda: Yeah we're going to get him a pay raise so that he can stay on the road longer and share more of his adventures with us, it's all this scratch each other's backs type thing.
Kevin Tumlinson: They think, we're all in slack together and they ping me all the time to tell me this customer said they heard about us from Kevin and they asked if I knew him. They said I was so lucky.
Melinda: Yeah, and I'm going to put a little Draft 2 Digital on the back of my caravan, we call it this Kevin's place here and we'll get there. Alright, look thank you Kevin, thanks for that. Say hello to Kara for me, I'm looking forward to the rest of your journey and we'll catch up again in a few months.
Kevin Tumlinson: We will, good luck in school.
Melinda: And good luck with that new book, I'm looking forward to reading it!

About the author, Melinda

I'm an authorpreneur, English teacher and podcaster who dreams of a life on the road full of adventures and handsome heroes, whilst making squizillions of dollars in book sales to pay for my chocolate fix. In the real world, I write novels and non-fiction, and offer my expert advice via online courses (as soon as I make them) and writing retreats (as soon as I organise them).

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