Make the Move from Pronoun to Draft2Digital a Success

Are you an author who needs to make the move from Pronoun to Draft2Digital a success? The good news is, you can.

With Pronoun closing its doors in January 2018, I among thousands of authors need a fast fix to republish our books. This post details my week’s efforts of porting my books from Pronoun to Draft2Digital (D2D). I wrote this for struggling authors because it contains all the information I wish I knew when I ported my books.

Panic of the Pronoun

Pronoun announced it would close its doors in a cryptic email that suggested, IMHO, Macmillan saw no profit in helping indie authors. (completely unsubstantiated opinion).

Queue the panic. I loved Pronoun. I even used Pronoun over KDP for the books I distributed widely. But now, what was I going to do? Why, freak out, of course!

Let’s be honest for a moment; Using a newer, smaller indie-publishing system like Pronoun contained inherent risks we (knowing or unknowingly) accepted when we published our first book with Pronoun. Unfortunately, the risk became an issue for many when they announced its demise. D2D, like any other company, could close its doors in a few years, but we’re going to hope for the best and offer them our business so they stay open for a very long time.

Making a New Plan

With three active pen names, multiple books of various sizes, and my own publishing imprint, I strongly considered moving to Smashwords. Though some formatting details and other elements may have been easier, I didn’t appreciate a 27,000 word document teaching me how to format for premier status within the Smashwords system. I’m sure it works for some, but I didn’t care to relearn a massive, new process.

I should point that I self-classify as the control freak author (aka power user). I want everything to look a certain way and I want my ebooks to look like my print books, something easily accomplished with KDP and Pronoun. As I discovered, it wasn’t initially easy to do this with D2D, but you’ll see I’ve overcome that challenge.

With my mind settled on moving to D2D, I updated my book writing and publishing plan. For instance, I write—um, wrote—every book with the Pronoun codes (e.g. **) in place because it’s easier to global find-replace (remove) for other editions later. Since these don’t translate to any other platform, I had to make publish-ready manuscript changes.

Previous Plan

  1. Write/create the Pronoun version for novels everything except Amazon KDP.
    1. For my short stories, include Amazon with Pronoun publishing.
  2. Create and adjust the KDP edition for Amazon for my larger, main novels.
  3. For novels, create and format the paperback editions (CreateSpace, IngramSpark).

New Plan

  1. Write/create the D2D version for everything except Amazon KDP.
    1. For my short stories, include Amazon with D2D publishing.
  2. Create and adjust the KDP edition for Amazon for my larger, main novels.
  3. For novels, create and format the paperback editions (CreateSpace, IngramSpark).

Formatting Your eBook for Draft2Digital

With D2D, I can still format-as-I-write a manuscript to streamline steps 2 and 3 above. That being said, D2D offers formatting advice on their main site: https://www.draft2digital.com/style-suggestions/

However, there were a few formatting elements that confused me. After Googling through articles and discussions, I finally found what I was looking for. If you are a control freak/power user like me, you may find this D2D formatting blog post helpful: https://www.draft2digital.com/blog/the-pocket-guide-to-ebook-layout/

As a Pronoun user, this blog article helped me reformat my manuscripts for D2D without ** (line breaks). You should note that D2D treats line breaks and section breaks (marked as *** centered on aline) as the same thing. Kris Austin, CEO at D2D, offers the following explanation about why the system works this way:

The decision to drop single line breaks was made several years ago because we discovered that 95%+ of the time authors did not intend to have those line breaks. This was causing terrible looking eBooks. Our goal was to create a tool that would make a great looking eBook with no work from the author. There was also the issue with single blank lines falling at the end of a page on an eBook and the reader not realizing that a new section is starting on the next page. You can’t control where the single blank line lands. So, for various reasons we removed the option for single line breaks and made section breaks designated with repeating symbols and/or 2-3 blank lines. 4 blank lines creates a page break. Honestly, we’ve just never revisited this since the demand is fairly low and authors that need that much control tend to pay a formatter or use other, more powerful tools.

That makes sense to me, and I’m okay changing my understanding of best practice for ebook formatting. Still…I struggle. To work around this for my existing novels, I opted to use the 2-blank line rule to force a line break where I wanted it and use the D2D Simple template. For my short stories, I removed the blank lines and used the Deco template. The following two images show you how the same novel looks formatted with blanks vs. the D2D singular “break.”

     

As you can see, I insist upon my own front matter and refuse to use pre-generated copyright pages. I did that with Pronoun as well. With Pronoun and KDP, I get exactly what I want in the end. With D2D, I had to work for it. Here too, I’m okay changing my understanding of best practice for ebook formatting.

So, to recap: D2D’s decorative templates treat Pronoun’s ** and *** marks exactly the same. Use a double return (two blank lines) to force D2D to insert a line break, but you have to use the D2D Simple or the Non Fiction templates for it to carry through. This information will help Pronoun and other users adjust their manuscripts for better formatting.

To my delight, Kris shared additional information that made me giggle with glee:

We are working on an upgrade to our Style Templates feature that will allow authors to create custom templates. One of the options intended to be changeable is for an author to tell the system to “preserve single line breaks.” This would allow you to do what you want.

This made me a very happy author and independent publisher.

Lists and Quotes

  • This has been straight forward. Bulleted or numbered replicated without additional formatting.
  • For quotes, Per the D2D blog post I linked above, indent the quote at least .2 inches and Word and watch the magic happen.

Publishing with Draft2Digital

You’ll be pleased to know the D2D setup process is similar to Pronoun. Biggest tip I can offer: DO NOT DELETE your books published from Pronoun until January 2018. You can copy/paste most of the information directly into similar fields over at D2D. However, you’ll want to delist/remove them from publication prior to republish on a new platform especially if you recycle a book’s ISBN.

ISBNs

These are tricky, and depending on what site you read for advice, the advice is different. I recycled all my Pronoun-issued ISBNs with D2D when possible. This should help keep the books and reviews intact because, after all, it’s the same book—you’re only changing the publishing platform and making necessary formatting tweaks.

I allowed D2D to generate ISBNs for my new books and my pre-orders.

New ASINs on Amazon

Since I don’t publish my short stories with KDP, all of my short stories published to Amazon via D2D now have new ASINs. If you want to keep your reviews intact, use Amazon’s Author Central and request they link the old ASIN with the new ASIN. It’s important you write down the Pronoun-published ASIN before you remove a book from distribution in Pronoun’s system so you can make this request.

For the books I published via KDP, obviously there was no change in ASIN.

Table of Contents (TOC)

This was an initial nightmare for me. My larger novels contain parts (H1) and chapters (h2). Other platforms—Pronoun and KDP—respect and preserve this hierarchical TOC up to three levels, but with D2D you get one level.

After a morning of frustration, trial and error, and other hair-pulling moments, I finally found success and figured it out.

  • For my short stories, I updated the manuscripts to use H1 for the chapters, even if front and back matter aren’t really chapters.
  • For my novels with parts, I tweaked the D2D edition and used H1 for front matter, chapters, and back matter. Amazingly, as you can see, the system neatly joined “PART ONE | 1 | You Are Blessed,” “PART TWO | 7 | Third Time’s a Charm,” in the TOC—so I didn’t mess with perfection.

D2D offers several different methods for determining your chapter titles, and I have to admit that’s one slick system. For instance, you can tell it to use style headings or you can have it pull all bold, centered, larger text as the heading, among other possible combinations. Win!

Categories and Keywords

Naturally, there are differences with D2D and Pronoun. One of my favorite features at Pronoun was the category and keyword data that the platform provided. This looks different at D2D, but if you’ve published a paperback with CreateSpace or some other service, you’ll already be familiar with selecting a BISAC. Since Amazon publishing is new to D2D, you don’t yet get to choose the two categories at present. You can, however, set up more than seven keywords, which is nice. You can also choose more than one BISAC. However, here’s a learning curve tip: Don’t mix your BISAC categories. Your book will be rejected. For example, don’t mix categories or you’ll get this message:

The Death of Author Pages

Author pages was a really cool feature from Pronoun, but as you remove books from distribution, these will go away and you’ll have to repoint people to something else. D2D offers the next best thing: Free universal book links from Books2Read (B2R). This site automatically searches for your book in its connected marketplaces and generates them for readers. You can customize the B2R link as well so it’s more meaningful than some random series of letters and numbers.

For example: books2read.com/u/3J0nlA became books2read.com/the-climb. Clicking through takes you to the book’s page and allows a user to see all the online stores they can purchase the ebook from. Note, this doesn’t necessarily take into account Paperback unless the retail site, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble, already link both versions, i.e., if you published through CreateSpace as well.

That’s still not an author page, but hopefully you’re already managing your book list on your author web site. If not, I recommend you do so because you web site is less likely to go away than a site you don’t control. I plan on leveraging MyBookTable by Author Media on my author sites soon.

You could also use Booksprout, a cool service that authors and readers can use for free in many instances. This service even offers an easy-to-use ARC system.

Support from Draft2Digital

D2D is happy to offer support when something goes wrong.

At the time of writing this post, D2D has been inundated with support requests from confused Pronoun users. Regardless, both their Twitter and “contact us” support have been fantastic. Knowing they care about their customers and our struggles has been a fantastic.

In Conclusion

So, to conclude: despite my initial personal frustrations, I had my small collection of books reformatted and manually moved to D2D in less than a week with only a day’s learning curve.

A happy author at Draft2Digital!

%d bloggers like this: