About 18 months ago I had some questions for Smashwords and sent them in, it took weeks to get them answered and I could ‘sense’ the annoyance of the person working there in being ‘bothered’ to even have to condescend to answer my questions.
At this time I was selling perhaps 1-3 books a DAY on Smashwords, not a lot but with them being on about 7 or 8 platforms including their own, Barnes & Noble, Kobe, etc I thought the exposure was good. They had been my FIRST e-book experience when I first started publishing and I was excited the day I sold my first e-book! I was also very loyal and promoted them AND my books as I should.
After my questions though (November 2011) my sales went down to maybe 1 or 2 books a WEEK. Now I was heading into what I thought would be my ‘busy’ Christmas season so I was alarmed, concerned, and a bit annoyed. I contacted Mark Coker, the ‘owner’ of Smashwords and received a nice note back. Then I got form letters from both him and his employees telling me the party line that sometimes sales are up, sometimes sales are down. I get that, having been in business myself for over two decades.
It didn’t however explain how I’d go to absolutely NOTHING in sales with them after my questions. I mean I did have for comparison Amazon sales which were steadily increasing. I began to have suspicions that perhaps my sales weren’t being reported to me. Now this is just MY opinion but if you give someone too much power over money they are going to be tempted to skim a little here and there and with millions involved, that adds up. My questions and concerns however went unheeded and I got the impression I was ‘labeled’ a troublemaker for even asking!
So I began a strategic withdrawal from Smashwords and didn’t post any new releases again. It didn’t seem to affect my sales on any other platform.
In February of this year I hosted a FREE giveaway for myself and other authors. It was for Valentine’s day weekend ONLY. I posted it on Smashwords because their platform was easier to give it away for free than on Amazon. I removed the FREE from the book I offered for that weekend ONLY after three days. Then I posted it on Amazon as well.
Two months went by and I realized Amazon was giving my book away for free. My inquiry that I sent in gave the information that it was free on other platforms and they were price matching as per their policy. Well, the only other place that it had ever been free was on Smashwords. I checked, nope it wasn’t free THERE. It was however FREE on their other platforms which apparently hadn’t gotten the ‘memo’ that it had been CHANGED after only the three days offered for FREE back in February! I sent in an inquiry at Smashwords, it took them a week to get back to me! (Amazon got back to me within 24 hours). They said that there were changes necessary in the format of my book (the cover actually) that until those were changed they couldn’t help me. I ‘unpublished’ this book to halt the whole process.
In the meantime, there have been HUNDREDS, even THOUSANDS of downloads of this book because people found it for free. To be honest I wouldn’t have minded as the hundreds that I gave away during that promotion made me feel happy that perhaps people who didn’t know me, people who loved my work, and people who might not have read my romance novel might get the chance to read one. What I did mind is that it was being given away by the hundreds and thousands without my consent. I had withdrawn said consent after those three days!
As I have almost no sales anymore due to my ‘troublemaking’ on Smashwords I’ve ‘unpublished’ each and every book I had offered on their site, except for one FREE poem I left on there, deliberately. I know they won’t care as they haven’t been too helpful or polite about offering help when there was a problem.
I’ve also enrolled ALL my books in KDP select, this will let people ‘borrow’ my books for free and get people to enjoy the various offerings and I will benefit. Now I’m not saying this is the ultimate solution and eventually I will be offering them myself on Barnes and Noble (that too is a problematic site in my opinion), Kobe, Sony, etc. In the meantime, I thought I’d let people know MY decision and the WHY. If you are going OH NO, I can’t READ her books now, I can send you a link that will allow you to download my books from Amazon on your computer or phone if you don’t already own a Kindle.