Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen some of my rants (some may call them bitch sessions…understandable) Perhaps most notably my Facebook tirades, but also from time to time, my going-off-on-Smashwords ones. I’m not a big fan of Smashwords for several reasons. I could do an entire post about them, but that would just be annoying – therapeutic to me maybe, but annoying nonetheless. One reason stands out: TIME.
Smashwords has opened up an entire new world for self-published authors, and Mark Coker (founder) deserves piles of praise for putting together such an easy-to-enter-market method. The ONLY reason I use Smashwords is to get my books into non-Amazon/Barnes & Noble outlets, such as Sony, Kobo, Diesel, and most importantly, iBooks.
The iBookstore is, at the time of this writing, a disaster of epic proportions for both authors and readers. Apple treats it like Steve Jobs once described the Apple TV – as a hobby. Hard to search, impossible to upload, somewhat clunky apps, and absolutely zero marketing efforts. You’d think with the advent of the iPad, Apple would throw their considerable weight behind iBooks, but as of yet, nada. I DO still believe one day some VP in Cupertino will bring a plan to the table that will go on an all-out attack on Amazon for book market share, but nothing yet. They have the platforms (iPad, iPhone, rumors of a 7″ iPad mini), the infrastructure (over 100 million US customers in iTunes with credit card information), and dollars to spend on marketing and fixing the system. So I’ll be patient.
What I can’t be patient with is Smashwords’ time frame. I uploaded Gabriel: Zero Point on April 2nd (actually 7 days before official release and 6 days before I uploaded to Amazon/BN) knowing they take a while to push through to Premium status (which is a manually-vetted status that allows Smashwords to then send the book through to other channels, like iBooks). A while was an understatement – THIRTY FIVE DAYS. On May 7th, it hit Premium. But I know that it takes still another couple of weeks sometimes for the channels to receive it, so on a lark, I went to my iTunes Connect* app, put together the file, and uploaded, thinking it would be just like the process was for Gabriel’s Redemption, which was over 30 days then Apple returns a mysterious error I couldn’t track down so I threw in the towel.
* Apple does allow direct uploads of books by self-published authors, it’s just a much more complicated process and requires a specific program, Mac-only, and an ISBN. And from what I and Michael Hicks found a couple of months ago, is even slower than Smashwords, believe it or not.
The file uploaded, I didn’t get any errors, and less than 24 hours later, this is available:
Yes, 24 hours and it’s there. Now THAT is how it’s supposed to work, boys and girls. Perhaps Apple is putting some additional effort into iBooks. We’ll see. But in the meantime, I now will CANCEL my Smashwords distro for GZP. And because iTunes will pay slightly more than Smashwords for royalties, plus the descriptions look SO much better (not to mention my other Smashwords pet peeve – I can upload my clean ePub file to iTunes, not rely on a Word doc conversion), and it appears new/changes are being done much faster, I’ll be working on redoing my other books direct.
Oh, and if you notice above, Gabriel: Zero Point is FREE on iTunes. Free as in beer…
Has anyone else had success or problems with iTunes direct? Anyone feel the same about Smashwords as I do?