Thursday, June 19, 2014

I Finally Gave Up On Smashwords

It happened this afternoon. I was updating my two previous books, inserting a blurb at the end of each to describe my new book. At no time did I alter anything else. Rather, I updated *one* of my previous books, "Athame" with the new blurb.

Note again that the file was otherwise identical to the one that had previously been uploaded. I sent it up to Smashwords and started updating the other book, "Wrath". I got a message back from Autovetter. It told me that my Table of Contents was screwed up. I had not touched the Table of Contents. I have seen this happen before with Smashwords. But whatever. I went in and carefully checked, cross-checked, and double-checked everything. Then I re-uploaded the newly modified copy of "Athame".

I turned back to work on "Wrath". Got another email notifying me that my file had been reviewed by the Smashwords staff and that the links weren't working right. I grumbled and opened the file again. Before I could finish going over it yet again, I noticed something on my Smashwords Dashboard. It seemed that my second book, "Wrath", was showing Autovetter errors, too.

I HAD NOT MODIFIED "WRATH" YET! (Please excuse the shouting. But I am ticked off.)

That snapped it. Over the last few months Smashwords has taken half a dozen wild hairs and sent me false error messages whenever I tried to update, correct, edit, or otherwise modify my files. Half the time all I have to do is upload the same file, unchanged, and it will pass muster the second time through.

But when it gets to the point that Smashwords starts to send me error messages on files that have been sitting, untouched, on their own server for several months, just because I happened to edit one of my other files, I have hit my limit. I am a writer, not an HTML programmer. If I wanted to spend all my time tweaking the nuts and bolts of marketing presentations, I would get a job at a used car lot. I can't get any writing done this way.

For the present, all of my books have been unpublished from Smashwords. I am marketing strictly through Amazon for now. I may, or may not, try to publish directly with B&E, Kobe, etc. when I get some free time. But until and unless Smashwords fixes that mess of a Meatgrinder/Autovetter system they use, I am not interested in spending any more time on it that I could be spending writing. I have enough of a challenge formatting the books properly to begin with. I don't need to deal with an automated system that gives me inconsistent and unpredictable results.

It's a real shame too. I liked Smashwords a lot when I first got started. Their email help was always courteous, although it has been getting slower and slower and slower. They also don't get in a hurry about paying the pittance of sales royalties that I have made though them. But they were a convenient way to distribute to multiple outlets without needing to do it all by hand. That is, they used to be. Shame, really.
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