Smashing! I’ll Stick With The Numbers.

“Smashwords”?  Or is it “Smash my plans”?

I would normally not write this until the whole process of investigation, query and (hopefully) resolution was complete.  It is, however, something which I’m truly angered by.  Looking at my Smashwords Dashboard, which is a daily habit, I have again discovered some of my ebooks have been removed from their “Premium catalogue”!  This means that they won’t be distributed to partner bookstores, like kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, and so on.  I’m not sure how that works, as they had already passed muster and been distributed to these places!  In fact, some have been there since late last year!  So why, in the first place, have these books been reviewed again?  They had already gotten through the Smashwords “Autovetter” and human review, and declared perfectly acceptable!  Up to 9 or 10 months ago!  Whatever the accuracy of the cause for retraction might be, this behaviour can only be described as mystifying.   As to the cause?  Well, it’s the same in every case.  Puzzlingly, the declared problem only applies to some, not all, of my books.  Why is that puzzling?  Well, the simple answer is that every single one of my book manuscripts was created using the same software!  Software designed specifically to produce Word doc files that meet the format demands of Smashwords!

I believe a friend has made a very important observation.  It applies to just about every online ebook publishing site out there, for a variety of reasons!  They seem to forget that 50% of the company’s business relationship base is the authors!  Without authors, they have nothing to sell!  It doesn’t matter how many readers visit them, or how many “partners” (I.e. retailers) they have!  Without us, they have no product.  They should think on that!

Now, I have to go back to waiting for answers from various quarters.  I hope that the response I receive from Smashwords is a whole lot more polite than the last time I raised an issue with them!

+++Late news+++

The indications seem to be that a single setting in Jutoh may have caused this problem.  However!  I maintain that no such problem would have existed for the books concerned if they hadn’t suddenly been reviewed again.  So it would seem that something has changed in the “Meatgrinder” formatting software used by Smashwords and they decided, for some very strange reason, to revisit some books that had already passed muster!  Indeed, I can honestly say that I haven’t heard of anybody else facing this extra work!

A Question of Numbers

You’re probably sick of my fascination with statistics!  Please bear with me for a very short entry, though.

The blog is up to almost 10,400 views since its birth!  From a mere trickle of comments on posts, we’re closing on 1,400.  The number of direct Followers has risen to almost 500, and a further 1,400 on Twitter, 400 on Facebook (for the Imagineer-ing page) and 30 on Tumblr (rounding the figures).  I also have nearly 240 Friends on my personal Facebook page and a considerable number more than 500 contacts on LinkedIn.  I’ll not go into followings on other networks! As anticipated, average daily numbers declined during the Summer months.  As a trained statistician, I wouldn’t make any real assumptions of views of the blog based on a year’s figures.  In fact, I’d prefer to have ten years of data!

As an aside, no, I’m not one of the modern statisticians who seem to think that it’s worthwhile quoting figures based on a handful of survey respondents, like on the majority of TV ads!  They should be ashamed!  Any statistician knows that any sample below a certain level is absolutely no use.  90% of 138 means absolutely nothing!  Even if it does make a product sound good!  Just come back when your sample size is in the thousands!

I’d just like to issue a big Thank You!

~ Steve

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About Steve

An author since the age of 13 years, writing again dominates my activities. My "Imagineer-ing" blog is my primary site. Also: Beginner knitter since November 2010. Favourite knitting techniques: cable and lace. Beginner cross stitcher. Beginner jewellery maker. With the promotion of self publication and all the other work that has been going on here, Dad decided around 2am this morning (22/11/2013) that it was time to begin his next adventure. He was seen off earlier the previous evening by myself, my brother, my sister in law, and my sister, as well as his wife (our mum), and an enigmatic being known only as A Lorraine. After this time of story telling, laughing, crying, joking and mickey taking, we saw how tired both mum and dad were, and we decided to leave them under the (sometimes) gentle care of The Lorraine. When Dad found the timetable for his travels, he let Mum know gently, which woke her from her drowsing, then, with the same gentleness he showed in this universe, he boarded his favourite mode of transport, the Interdimensional Steam Train, and set off with a smile and a wave. For those of us closest, that smile was a reminder that his pain has ended, and the wave, an indicator that he will pop in to all those that knew him, from time to time. Usually at the most inconvenient and in opportune moments he can. While we are sad that he is no longer here, we are happy he now has no pain, and is experiencing more extraordinary things that his writers mind will be frantically weaving into a new story. Posted by Son Damien

7 thoughts on “Smashing! I’ll Stick With The Numbers.

  1. Pingback: Smashing! I’ll Stick With The Numbers. | Yay , Imagineer-ing is back! | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!

  2. I’ve had similar problems with Smashwords, where a couple of my books were suddenly taken off the Premium list. I’m no expert, but my guess is that they change some of their standards in the AutoVetter. Maybe it has something to do with changes in what EPUB will accept. In my case it involved extra spaces (three spaces are not allowed, nor are extra spaces at the beginnings of paragraphs. Those are really hard to see and you have to make a special search to catch them, which I now do in the process of formatting for publication.) But the strange thing was, some of my books remained on the Premium list, but I checked them and they contained the same problem! So Smashwords remains a bit of a mystery. But I intend to continue using it because it’s so easy to make books temporarily free or to give them away with coupons.

    • I just don’t get the rationale behind such behaviour, Lorinda 😉 They’re effectively making pointless work for themselves. Apply new specifications to new submissions, by all means, but go back randomly and check books that have been out for almost a year? Utter madness! Yes, ePub specs are changing, but that’s constant. There’s supposed too be backwards compatibility so that older things work with new versions of he software. I believe ePub is now at V3.0 – but most ePub generators haven’t upgraded – they’re waiting until the bugs are ironed out. I haven’t encountered the spaces issue. I guess they pick on one thing per person! Yes, I’ll stick for now, but I don’t know for how much longer…

  3. There is so much going on in the publishing world. Is Smashwords being squeezed by somebody? Have they changed the fine print in their agreement with authors? It is so hard to keep up with social media changes these days. I am not a techie, but I would calmly ask them to go through their reasons step by step.

    • I would have thought that Smashwords would improve their service, rather than make it worse. There have been changes behind the scenes in the company, none for the better by all accounts. At the moment they seem intent on driving authors away… My questioning might have been calmer (not that it was violent) if this hadn’t been the second time in two weeks and a) there was good cause for their actions and b) there had been some communication to 1) inform that the action had been taken and 2) the reasons for it. Simply doing it and hoping that authors make regular visits to their Dashboard is entirely unacceptable.

  4. Thank you for highlighting this issue. I have not put my book on Smashwords yet but I have heard mixed stories surrounding its success. Just another thing to look out for it would seem! 🙂

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