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Welcome to the longest-running* yet least-read** blog on the internet! Here you'll find me writing about all the things that I write about, which strikes me, just now, as somewhat recursive. In any case, enjoy :)

* not true ** probably true

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Smashwords unhappiness

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.


Mark K said...

That's a real shit that this is still dragging on for you, I really do feel for you. One thing I loathe and detest is the thought that a company, big or otherwise, feel they can walk all over you with shit-covered boots without consequence.

I recall when I used to buy Dell pcs, I had several, but alas I also had issues with them. Now Dell does state it does not do a refund policy, but let me tell you, I got full refunds on each of those machines and even got Dell to refund the money I spent on tech support calls.

So sometimes the 'little guy' does come out on top. So basically, what I'm saying is, don't give in to the bastards :)

Liking the new blog look, btw ;)

Michael McClung said...

No worries, Mark.Smashwords will get their act together. Or I'll get off my behind, incorporate,and publish directly through apple and Barnes & Noble.

Now what to call my publishing company?

Mark K said...

How about MicMc Books?

Elizabeth Marx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Marx said...

I can't believe they took down the post with our comments about the bad customer service at Smashwords. And the guy managing the Smashwords FB page isn't an employee??? He had enough "spare time" to rip that thread off the internet fast enough. So much for their censorship policy. I'm not sure on my next move is but the longer I wait the angier I get!

Michael McClung said...

Hi Mark. I think I want to be a little more fancy-pants :D Currently waffling between Flying Rhino Press and Black Frangipani Publishing.

Hi Elizabeth!

Tired of waiting to get in the Apple store? Check this out:

This is in my future. Seriously. The main reason I've been avoiding it is because payment is a headache as I am overseas. But Smashwords is giving me a bigger headache.

Mark K said...

Mike, I was kidding about the name - I wouldn't dare suggest a name for your venture, you've a creative enough mind to do a better job of it on your own ;)

Anonymous said...

Good Godiva, I am totally with you. It took me week of lame responses to get them to finally admit that, no, in fact, they don't know how an author is supposed to format their ebook TOC using MS Office for Mac (as all of their instructions are for PC users). Now really, was that so hard?

Michael McClung said...

Hi Tammy,

Well, the latest update is 4 days for query responses and 15 days for premium review. They still need to up their game...