I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter on loops lately about author support at the various ebook vendors. Some authors seem to feel the vendors are out to get them, out to manipulate them, or just plain out to take our money and run. So I just wanted to share what some of my experiences with author support have been at the various vendors. As anyone who does a volume of business on ebook sites, I’ve had multiple very frustrating issues with almost every vendor of ebooks in the three years I’ve been indie pubbing. For example…
Smashwords was the bane of my existence for several months this past year when I moved to a new address and my check went to my old address. (Ah! No one likes delayed payments!) I’ve also had issue with books being slow to move to sites, prices changes being slow, payments not correlating with the reports, etc. However, Mark Coker has always responded quickly to my issues and been super fast to fix them. I’ve been into their offices in person a few times, and the entire staff is always so friendly and tries so hard to be helpful. I think Smashwords has had the biggest growing pains of any vendor in the ebook boom, mostly because I think they were more surprised than anyone how quickly they grew. But of all the vendors, Smashwords is the most invested in indie success. They almost feel like the indie company of the indie publishing world. And no matter what has gone wrong there, they always jump to fix it!
I’m newer to Apple, so I’ve had fewer experience with them so far. When I incorporated my business this year, I needed to contact someone to change my tax ID number and roll my books over to a new account. Something I thought would be easy, but no such luck. The first thing I found was it was difficult to know who to contact. I did finally find a generic email address to contact, and sent my email out with little hope it would actually get me a real person who would be able to personally help me. I was wrong! Almost immediately I got a real response from a real person who fixed my issue with no hassle. Color me surprised. Apple gets a thumbs up form me on author support!
Ditto at Amazon. Every time I write to their generic address, I get someone who can help me, not an automated response. In fact, a couple of weeks ago one of Amazon’s auto-bots took my bestselling book off sale because of a “formatting” issue. (Gah! Heart attack time! I freaked, because I knew this meant thousands of dollars out of my pocket every day it was off sale.) Before I could even write back to Amazon to complain, one of their techs contacted me personally and said he noticed the book off-sale and would fix the issue personally for me. He spent all day on it, worked overtime, and even had techs working OVERNIGHT to fix it for me so the book would be back on sale as quickly as possible. I was incredibly impressed by that. Amazon sometimes feels like the big corporate machine, but there are friendly, helpful people working there that do care about authors and making the best reading experience possible for readers. Do I agree with all their policies? No. But they’ve arguably done more for the indie author movement than anyone.
BN has sometimes been harder to reach through the generic address and slower to fix issues, but in the end they always have for me. Of all the vendors, when I do get a person at BN I get the feeling they really care about authors and treat them more as author-partners not customers. They also seem to have the most leeway in their policy over what they can and can’t do for authors. Basically, they want to make authors happy no matter what they have to do. They are book people, period, and authors are their lifeblood. And I’m so happy to see them working to be innovative wherever they can. My fondest hope is that they find their way in the digital marketplace and don’t go the way of Borders. Long live the bookstore!
So, with Thanksgiving around the corner, I am counting my blessings and thankful for all the helpful people I’ve encountered this year who work at ebook vendors. More often than not, they get author complaints and not author praise. But their help has been invaluable, and we couldn’t do it without them!
Anyone else want to share some ebook love? Had great experiences with vendors or author support? Thankful for anyone in particular who has made your publishing journey just a little easier this year?
Gemma Halliday is a New York Times Bestselling Author, who had a hard time figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up. She worked as a film and television actress, a teddy bear importer, a department store administrator, a preschool teacher, a temporary tattoo artist, and a 900 number psychic, before finally selling her first book, Spying in High Heels, in 2005 and deciding to be a writer. Since then, she has written several mystery novels and been the recipient of numerous awards, including a National Reader’s Choice award and three RITA nominations. Her books have hit both the USA Today and the New York TimesBestseller lists. And she’s a proud member of our WG2E Family.