Oklahoma business uses technology to allow writers to self-publish
By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2015, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
If you’re a regular reader of these columns, you know that I like to write about Oklahoma startups and the entrepreneurs who are building them.
These founders, their teams, business partners and customers are the source of the jobs and wealth of Oklahoma’s future. Startups solve big problems for big markets. They allow people and businesses to do things they couldn’t do before.
As would be expected, the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma creates big opportunities for startups like Well Checked Systems.
The promise of Oklahoma’s bioscience sector is also being realized by firms such as Biolytx Pharmaceuticals.
And what’s really cool is when passion, know-how and the reach of the Internet enable two Oklahoma entrepreneurs to start a company here in an industry that has nothing to do with Oklahoma — and then attract thousands of customers from around the world.
Draft2Digital, provides web-based author services for self-published writers with a focus on getting new books in front of readers instead of in the infamous “slush pile.”
“We serve a very specific market by making it super easy and streamlined for an author to publish a book,” said Kris Austin, who with co-founders Aaron Pogue and Toby Nance started Draft2Digital about three years ago.
In one day, an author with a Word document and cover image can go from manuscript to published book.
And once the book is online, Draft2Digital’s wide distribution and expert formatting help authors to engage readers and sell more books.
“We embed rich meta-data and do other things to make books more discoverable,” Austin said, “Readers looking for a particular genre such as romance or mystery can easily and quickly find our authors’ books. Our whole focus is to help authors get good books in front of more readers.”
It’s working. Draft2Digital has published 66,000 books from 19,000 authors. The company has more than 9.5 million sold books, with 5 million units this year alone. Draft2Digital has gone from six to 17 employees in the same time.
“We have the best customer service in the industry. We are adding hundreds of authors and more than 3,000 books per month,” Austin said. “We treat authors like they should be treated; we approach every new author like they are gold.”
Draft2Digital is able to sustain that level of service as they ramp up their business exponentially because they’ve built powerful proprietary software and a highly automated process. Technical know-how is the backbone of this surprising young company.
Book publishing is a long-lived New York industry, where traditional publishers have called the shots for a couple of hundred years. Silicon Valley is the heart of technology startups in the US.
And yet here’s an Oklahoma company excelling at both. That’s something I’m excited to write about.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.