Smashwords is the leading independent ebook distributor, in case you weren't aware. Everything I've released independently, barring those titles on Amazon, have been through Smashwords.
That may be changing soon.
Smashwords has gotten a lot of things right, and by availing myself of their services, I've been able to reach a heck of a lot of readers. but Smashwords has also gotten a fair bit wrong, the worst of which is how they respond to their customers' problems and complaints.
1) From the want ad they placed on craigslist:
"-Ability to maintain positive, helpful attitude, even if client is angry, irrational or misguided "
2) From the Smashwords facebook page (go ahead and watch the whole thing- it's funny, but it's also indicative of how Smashwords views the torrent of customer service queries that comes in. Basically we're impatient and spoiled, and should be grateful that their service exists.)
3) Another from the Smashwords facebook page. Subtext? If your book isn't showing up at the Apple store, it's probably your fault, dummy. When an author had the temerity to question this, they were basically told that their problem only affected five authors. The tone was pretty passive-agressive:
At the moment only ~5 people have this problem out of the ~13,000 on this FB Page
Does Smashwords have angry, irrational and misguided customers? I'm sure they do. I was in retail a long time. Every business does. Have some authors not followed the guidelines, and has this delayed Apple making their title available? I'm sure they have, even though ostensibly once your book has been approved for 'premium' status, that should be the end of it. But the cake-taker is the utterly unhelpful response on their facebook page. If only five people have the specific problem that that author had, that problem should be fixed already. If Smashwords feels the need to remind everyone to read up on what Apple requires, that means a lot of authors are having problems with getting in to the Apple store. I know I am.
And the thing is, all of this would be categorized under 'shrug' if Smashwords had a responsive customer service desk. They don't. As it stands, you have to wait days, sometimes over a week, to get a response that as often as not amounts to 'Sorry dude, can't help you.'
If Smashwords were the only viable way to get ebooks out the door and into retail sites, I'd just grit my teeth. But they aren't. Sure, the alternative is annoying and paperwork-filled, which is why I let Smashwords take a cut of my earnings. But they are shut out of Amazon, the single-largest ebook seller in the world. If they can't manage to get my books into the Apple store either, then their usefulness is limited to Barnes & Noble and all the 'also rans' like Kobo and Sony. Which means their usefulness does not outweigh their annoyance factor.
If the would-be emperor is wearing something, shall we say, scanty, he shouldn't be commenting on my fashion sense, even in a veiled, passive-agressive way.