Why I decided to remove all my books from SMASHWORDS…

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.

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16 thoughts on “Why I decided to remove all my books from SMASHWORDS…

  1. I understand your problems with Smashwords. Their customer service is often slow. And the communication with their retailers (B&N, Kobo, etc.) is slower yet. I’ve removed a number of my books and my husband’s books from Smahwords and have gone exclusive with Amazon. In doing so, more than once I contacted Kobo and B&N directly to have the books removed because it was taking too long after unpublishing with Smashword. Amazon always outsells them all by far. I have sold a very small number at Smashwords itself, although sales have been okay through their distributors, Kobo, B&N, Apple. Mark Coker has given us ease of getting books to other retailers but Amazon is the best, in my several years now of publishing through Createspace and Kindle. I much prefer the way Amazon pays monthly royalties and gives a realtime look at sales.

    • kannemeinel says:

      I do appreciate what Mark Coker has done. He provided us with a platform that enabled exposure on many levels. But if something is wrong they don’t seem to willing to fix it. I believe (and this is still MY opinion) that I have been targeted as a trouble maker and been ripped off financially as a result.

  2. isaacmaloba says:

    hello K’Anne,
    few people come out and speak about things as they are without sugarcoating, I published my first ebooks with smashwords but they told me that my book file had errors so it could only be sold at the smashwords store but can not be distributed to other stores.
    Your post sure gives me a few pointers to consider as I publish my other books. great post, Cheers!

  3. We have removed many books from Smashwords and their distribution platform… and a year after, they are still selling some of them in other channels where we had previously removed for distribution as well. When we found out and told their CS, we received not even a “sorry” note, much less talking about the royalty they did with them without our consent, etc.

    And you are not able to delete the ones from archive… even though they cry out to handle things different than the big companies…

  4. I am having this same problem now and I’m in trouble with KDP about it. No one wants to talk to me or help me fix the problem. BEYOND frustrated at this point.

    • kannemeinel says:

      I contact the owner of Smashwords and the situation seemed to get worse after that. I had KDP threaten to take away my account because Smashwords didn’t remove all the copies that I wanted. So go to each vendor (Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Etc) and DEMAND that the books be taken down and assure KDP that you have taken action to get them removed.

  5. Daniel White says:

    I find it very difficult to delete my accounts from both Smashwords and KDP. I guess you can check out, but you can never leave!

    I have since republished my book online with the title, “Please delete my account from Amazon!!” And guess what? The updated title was accepted, because this is all done by automation and the robots working on it haven’t considered that anyone would be silly enough to do something like that. So I suggest the same. Keep you book online but change the title to something absurd, like “Don’t ever buy this book here!” If anyone does buy it, well, that would be priceless.

    http://www.amazon.com/Tarkentower-Daniel-Scott-White-ebook/dp/B0078WTNKQ

  6. Beth Camp says:

    Thank you for your helpful discussion here. I’d love to know how the new feature Kindle Unlimited is affecting your sales, as KU is ONLY available if you are exclusive with KDP. Best, Beth

    • kannemeinel says:

      I’m not pleased with KU as some of my books have been given away in massive quantities. The only thing that really pleases me about this is that it has opened up a lot of readers to my work that might not have purchased before. I think though that the only ones to really profit from it are Amazon and their subsidiary Kindle, not the authors, not really.

  7. Mercedes says:

    Do you still have free legal downloads? Where may I find them, please?

  8. cgblade says:

    Thank you for the post. I agree 100%. We have been waiting six months to get paid, they are holding on to our sales revenue. We have sent many letters, most of them very nice requesting our revenue. We have gotten back four different answers as to why we can’t get paid. I believe they are in financial trouble and are holding on to our assets. The last letter we sent was not very nice and our sales stopped completely. We will no longer add books to Smashwords. We are raising the price of our books still remaining there to drive sales towards Amazon and Lulu. Best wishes, CG

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