Why is My Book Still 99c? A Smashwords-Shaped Headache

12 Sep

Back in July, I decided to lower the price of my e-book Mousetrapped, which has always been $2.99, to 99c for a limited time. The idea was that with the first chapter of Backpacked now stuck at the end of it and with its 99c price-tag enticing, presumably, more people to buy it, it would help me sell more copies of Backpacked when it came out. I planned on only doing this for 2-4 weeks, depending on how well it went, before returning it to $2.99 in time for Backpacked‘s release.

How many times have I used this picture? Any excuse. Thanks, Chris!

But if you pop over to Amazon’s Kindle store this morning, you’ll see that Mousetrapped is still 99c, and it’s the middle of September.

And Smashwords are the reason why.

Before we go any further, let me just say that this is not a rant against Smashwords. I don’t make unreasonable demands of the self-publishing services I use – unlike *coughcough* some other self-publishers we know – and only blame myself for the situation I’m in. I’m telling you about it today so you know what might happen when you lower your book’s price, so you can take it into consideration before you do any price-changing. That’s all.

Let’s go back to the end of July. Mousetrapped‘s e-book is for sale on Amazon’s Kindle store and, through Smashwords, Barnes and Noble’s Nook store, Sony’s e-book store, Diesel, Kobo and Smashwords.com. Your e-book has to be the same price everywhere – if it’s not, it’s not fair to the retailers OR the customers who’ll buy your books from them – and so one morning, I changed the price of Mousetrapped to 99c on Smashwords and immediately afterwards, went over to Amazon KDP to do the same thing.

Within hours my book was 99c on all Amazon sites, and within days, everywhere else too. Simples.

Flash-forward three weeks or so, when I decide to put the price back up. Again, I go to Smashwords and change the price to $2.99, and then to Amazon KDP where I do the same.

But apart from Smashwords.com, the price didn’t change anywhere. It remained at 99c. I was expecting the retailers Smashwords distributes to to take a while, but when Amazon, which you deal with directly via Amazon KDP, didn’t change, I e-mailed them to find out why.

They told me they had to offer the e-book at the lowest price it was available for anywhere, and it was 99c on Barnes and Noble. Therefore, it had to stay 99c on Amazon’s Kindle store.

I went to Smashwords and unpublished my book. I only sell a tiny fraction of my books from there anyway, so I wasn’t worried about a loss of revenue or anything – the most important thing was getting my book back up to $2.99 on the Kindle store.

A few days later I checked B&N; Mousetrapped was gone. Woo-hoo! I went and re-published my book again at $2.99, and again Amazon failed to increase it. I e-mailed them (again) and this time they told me they couldn’t do it because my book was 99c on Kobo.

I waited a few days until it had been about 10 days after I unpublished, but my book was still available – and still 99c – on Kobo. I decided to try a different tack, and republished it on Smashwords (at $2.99) but through their Distribution Channel Manager, opted out of Kobo entirely.

But last time I checked – which was while I was writing this, at 7.30pm, Sunday September 11th – Mousetrapped is still on Kobo, and it’s still 99c. It’s now been almost a month since I went to return my price to $2.99 and I still haven’t managed to do it.

And this is about more than how many books I sell, or my plans for promoting a new book. It’s about my income. On a very bad month, I’d sell 500 copies of Mousetrapped at $2.99. Presuming that all of those come in at the 70% rate (which most of them normally do), that’s an income of approximately $1,045. At 99c, Mousetrapped sells around 1,100 copies a month which at the 35% royalty rate – which is all it gets priced at 99c – that’s an income of approximately $381. I make my living mostly from selling these books, so being down $664 a month is not something that goes unnoticed by my wallet.

I don’t think that Smashwords are doing anything unreasonable here – presumably updating their third party retailers takes time. I get that. But if I’d known how much trouble it was going to be to get my price back up, I would never have done it in the first place.

And what really annoys me is that this is all being held up by an e-book retailer that has managed to sell just 13 copies of my book, a book that has sold about 7,000 copies from the Kindle store.

Not to mention how quickly everyone managed to lower my price – funnily enough, that seemed to happen without any delay at all.

UPDATE: Thanks to helpful advice in the comments section, I have now e-mailed Kobo as of 3.25pm GMT on Monday September 12th, and asked them to remove my book from their store. I gave them all the relevant information and sent it from my catherineryanhoward.com e-mail address, so there should be no question about whether or not I’m the author. Let’s see what happens…

UPDATE 2: [Wednesday 14th September] Angela at Smashwords e-mails me to say that she has contacted Kobo on my behalf re: the price change. She also advises me (as Mark did below) not to unpublish my book just to expedite a change, and to re-publish it, which I’ve now done. The book is $2.99, but still 99c on Kobo.

UPDATE 3: [Thursday 15th September] Mousetrapped is now the euro equivalent of $2.99 on Kobo. Kobo has a help desk system where you track “requests” and since the request I personally submitted 3 days ago hasn’t even been assigned to a customer service operator yet, I have to conclude that the price change is either a) a response to Smashwords contacting them or b) finally, a reflection of the change I made. I’m inclined to believe it’s (a). The thing is, Mousetrapped shouldn’t be on Kobo at all anymore because I’ve opted out of its distribution channel and, subsequently, unpublished it – and I’m going to leave it unpublished on Smashwords for the moment. It’s great that Smashwords responded to me (eventually) and that Kobo responded to them, but what’s the point of having an “Edit book details” if the editing doesn’t take affect without a follow-up e-mail? I just don’t think a few hundred sales out of 8,000+ is worth this kind of effort. Yesterday Lulu announced that they now have a free MS Word doc-to-Epub converter, and will distribute to Barnes and Noble and Apple’s iBooks – the only two retailers where I sell anything significant through Smashwords. I’ve published Backpacked with them and I’ll see how it goes. If that works out, I’m going to re-think my strategy re: my e-books and who I publish them with. I want to offer the broadest range of editions possible and reach as many readers as possible, but I also want to have enough control to make changes to my books if need be.

UPDATE 4: [Thursday 15th September at 8pm] SUCCESS!!! A month after this headache began, Mousetrapped is finally back up to $2.99 on Amazon.com! You’ve got to love Amazon KDP; I republished after I saw the increased price on Kobo this morning and only a few hours later, it’s back up to $2.99.

UPDATE 5: [Sunday 18th September at 10pm] I just got an e-mail from Raylene at Smashwords in response to the message I sent them about my 99c/$2.99 problem, which I can see from their response was sent by me on 2nd September. That means that Angela could not have been responding to the same message. What was she responding to? This blog post, I think. Hmm.

Things I want you to know: my new book, Backpacked, is out now; I’m offering 25% off my formatting services until the end of this week and if you want to buy Mousetrapped for sofa change, now is your chance

54 Responses to “Why is My Book Still 99c? A Smashwords-Shaped Headache”

  1. Elisa Michelle September 12, 2011 at 09:12 #

    Lately I’ve been hearing Smashwords really isn’t worth the technical effort and issues that crop of because of their system. I’m not sure why the sudden change, but it seems Smashwords doesn’t amount to many sales anyway. Why not leave it permanently off there and just stick to B&N and Amazon?

    • catherineryanhoward September 12, 2011 at 10:35 #

      Because I’d like my books to be on iBooks and B&N’s Nook store. Those are the two leading e-book retailers after Amazon and I have had good sales from there (although not that many overall – maybe 600 combined). I can’t publish direct to B&N unless I’m in the US and have a SSN, and I can’t publish to iBooks without going through Lulu, uploading an epub direct and purchasing an ISBN. Smashwords really is the best option and I’ve conquered their formatting now; I just wish things like this were easier. The thing with focusing only on Kindle is that your e-book is available in only one format (.mobi) and with the increasing popularity of other e-readers, not giving customers an .epub option is a mistake, I fear.

      • jon June 4, 2012 at 04:27 #

        I’m still trying to understand this Catherine. So what is the rule of thumb here for when you want to do a promotion at 99 cents then switch back to 2.99? Do you have to ONLY do it on kindle the promotion? or do you have to be prepared that if you drop everything to 99 cents its going to take forever to get it back to 2.99 on kindle? please advise?

        • catherineryanhoward June 4, 2012 at 12:34 #

          There is no rule of thumb, and you might get caught in an infinite loop of price-matching. And you *can’t* just drop the price on Amazon, because you have to maintain the same price across the board. That’s part of the terms & conditions of both sites, and it’s only fair. (Why should a Kindle owner pay less than a Sony E-reader owner? etc.) If you want to lower your price, I’d do it first on Smashwords. The price will change immediately on the Smashwords website, but will take a few days to filter down to the other retailers. Of course, it seems to take a lot less time for a lower price to be passed along than an increase in price later, but why am I not surprised?! :-) Then go back to Amazon and lower your price there.

          When you want to raise your price again, go to Smashwords and increase it—but allow at least a fortnight for that change to show up. (Keeping it to the lower price on Amazon while you wait.) If you don’t see changes, e-mail Smashwords and tell them the increased price hasn’t filtered down. You might have to do this a few times. Once you’ve waited a couple of weeks, go back to Amazon and increase your price. Here’s the thing: they won’t increase it until they see the same price on B&N, Apple, etc. but they’ll do it automatically as soon as they do. So as long as you’ve re-entered the higher price on KDP and informed Smashwords of it, it’s just a waiting game.

          However I would say that I wrote this before KDP Select. Now if I wanted a price promotion, I’d do that instead—but of course that means unpublishing from Smashwords, which is another headache. I think I was waiting well over a month for Backpacked to disappear from all Smashwords retailers, and it only did after several e-mails.

          • jon June 4, 2012 at 14:37 #

            what a nightmare lol, they really should have it in place that changes made are immediate across the board

  2. laurenwaters September 12, 2011 at 13:03 #

    Good to know. Thanks for the heads up! Doesn’t seem like the one month reduction is worth the headache. Did you at least sell more copies of Backpacked like you’d hoped?

    • catherineryanhoward September 12, 2011 at 13:39 #

      Not really! Well, not that I can tell. I *have* sold a lot more copies of MT – for the first time ever, sales are over 1k a month – but I don’t know how many of those people are genuine readers for what of a better term, and how many of them are just filling their Kindles with 99c titles. It’s hard to judge it so early; maybe it has given me an advantage that I won’t see for a while. As I said though if I knew it was going to be this much trouble I’d have just left it.

      • laurenwaters September 12, 2011 at 13:50 #

        Well, let’s hope that you see an big increase in Backpacked sales in the next few months after new readers gobbled up the extended deal!

      • Tahir September 12, 2011 at 14:24 #

        The “buying a title to fill the library” aspect is interesting, and for the moment may actually be a sustainable source of income: if Amazon is selling a million kindle devices a year (blind guess) then over 80,000 people have a new kindle every month and need to fill it up.

  3. Tahir September 12, 2011 at 13:23 #

    That’s terrible, huge hole in the pocket, hope it gets sorted soon. Basically this shows that smashwords ultimately has no control over what a retailer does, there is no enforcement. As for making a book exclusively available on Amazon, I wonder how many people are aware that there is a kindle app for every device so the file format doesn’t matter. I have theory that people are already buying from Amazon when their device is not a kindle, simply because of customer “comfort” with Amazon. In other words if someone has been buying from Amazon for years, they may not go to BN just to get the right file format. I certainly wouldn’t. A customer may also think that that they have more confidence in case of problems with Amazon than smashwords. And then Amazon has the whole managed bookmarking thing going on. So all of these things may explain why smashwords sales are a consistently low percentage. i.e. even if somebody knows about smashwords they might still prefer to buy the book in the wrong file format from Amazon (I would).

    • catherineryanhoward September 12, 2011 at 13:41 #

      I think that’s true for iPad – i.e. people downloading the Kindle app and then buying Kindle books instead of iBooks – but it’s not true for B&N’s Nook or the Sony e-reader. Those users can’t download a Kindle app and although they only have a small market share, I don’t want to abandon them completely. You have to have an epub at the end of the day. From where is the question.

  4. Renee September 12, 2011 at 13:28 #

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure other self-publishers are as glad as I am to have this information readily available should we decide to lower our prices. I really hope the price gets adjusted for you soon. That’s a huge difference missing out on over $600 a month. Best of luck.

  5. Lindsay Edmunds September 12, 2011 at 14:33 #

    I got caught in the EXACT same trap. I lowered price on Cel & Anna to 99 cents through LAbor Day, Sept 5 (Ha!). I switched price back up. Barnes & Noble, with whom I fortunately can deal directly, complied immediately. Amazon did not. I contacted them and finally this past weekend they raised the price back to $2.99.

    I thought that was the end of it. How wrong I was.

    I use Smashwords for distribution to the Apple store. This weekend, more than 3 weeks after I originally lowered the price, the 99 cent price finally showed up in the Apple store.

    And guess what Amazon did?

    Right.

    Based on your experience, I can figure on another month of selling Cel & Anna for sofa change. It won’t hurt me the way it has hurt you. But it will hurt.

    Had I known, I never would have lowered the price in the first place. But how would we have known?

    By the way, I have a Nook, so I personally am grateful to any author who publishes in both formats.

    • catherineryanhoward September 12, 2011 at 14:42 #

      Oh, for god’s sake! How annoying! I’ve unpublished Mousetrapped completely now on Smashwords and won’t make another move until it disappears from all Smashwords-related distributors. Then I’ll put the price back on KDP and re-publish on Smash at $2.99. Who knows how long it’ll take. Never, EVER again!

      • epcyclopedia September 12, 2011 at 14:52 #

        Cath,

        You might need to email Kobo and tell them you’re the author/publisher and you want the book removed.

        When I first switched from Smashwords to PubIt I had two versions on BN.com – A quick email stating who I was and why I wanted the Smashwords edition removed got the Smashwords listing pulled.

        • jon June 4, 2012 at 04:30 #

          interested in knowing. why did you switch from smashwords to pubit if smashwords does the same thing as pubit??? any advantage?

      • Kathryn Lang June 17, 2012 at 05:36 #

        Okay – I found your post while dealing with a similar issue today. I UNPUBLISHED my novel on smashwords back in May – but it is still showing up in Barnes and Noble. The really annoying part is that it didn’t even show up in Barnes and Noble until after I unpublished. Any way to get THIS fixed?

  6. Sean Walsh September 12, 2011 at 14:53 #

    A few weeks ago I lowered the price of my several ebooks on Smashwords to $0.99 – hoping it would bag a few sales. No. Not as much as one sale… But when I tried to make the same reduction on my ebooks on Amazon Kindle I got a warning in red bold: the price must be between $2.99 and $9.99.

    • catherineryanhoward September 12, 2011 at 15:14 #

      Sean they’re telling you that because you have to change your royalty rate to 35%. You can only get the 70% if you price it between $2.99 and $9.99 – that’s what they mean.

      • Sean Walsh September 13, 2011 at 06:29 #

        Ah-hhh! I get it!.. Thank you, Catherine… I guess I fit into the category, E-Publishing for Slow Starters!

  7. Carradee September 12, 2011 at 14:56 #

    E-mail Kobo. Kobo’s probably the problem, not Smashwords. I had a nice merry-go-round with Kobo insisting they never got my story files when I had Smashwords submit 2-3 times. It took a few months for me to even start showing up with them.

    I’d thought the delays with Kobo and pricing issues were common knowledge—I’ve known and been hearing about them for a good 6 months, now—but I guess not.

    Also, Smashwords can be worth it, particularly for providing free e-copies to reviewers and giveaway winners. Personally, I only buy on Smashwords; I have an old PowerPC Mac, so that way, I’m sure to get a file format I can read.

  8. Catana September 12, 2011 at 15:02 #

    From what I’ve been reading lately, I think the problem is more Kobo-shaped than Smashwords shaped. I’ve seen many complaints about how long it takes for Kobo to put up books that Smashwords has distributed to it, and the failure to change your price is just another bad sign. I love Smashwords, and that will always be where I publish my books first. But I also publish directly to B & N, mostly because I’ll make a bit more money that way. I plan to publish to Amazon eventually, using the KDP program, but given what you’ve said, I may just turn off the Kobo channel when I do that. Considering the extreme disparity between your Kobo and Kindle sales, you might be better off not bothering with Kobo at all. If its failure to change the price is costing you elsewhere, it’s actually a negative for your sales.

    • catherineryanhoward September 12, 2011 at 15:17 #

      Thanks epcyclopedia, Catana and Carradee – I’m going to e-mail Kobo and see what happens. I’d presumed there was no point since they’re dealing with Smashwords as the distributor but I’m willing to try anything to get this situation sorted.

      I hadn’t heard anything about Kobo but I’ll know better next time. I’ve edited the settings on my Smashwords distribution channel so no book of mine ends up within spitting distance of Kobo in the future. I really like Smashwords and will continue to use them but more so for iBooks, Sony and B&N than anything else. Live and learn! :-D

  9. Leonard Kinsey September 12, 2011 at 16:03 #

    Thanks for “taking a bullet” for all the rest of us who might have been considering a similar price reduction. Personally, I was thinking that at some point I’d experiment with an increase of the price of my book from $2.99 to $3.99, but obviously it’s just not worth the hassle. And now I know to never, EVER decrease the price!

    I do wish it was easier to submit directly to iTunes. Smashwords is okay, but I’m not thrilled with how much I had to dumb down the formatting of my book to get it to look semi-decent after passing through their “Meatgrinder”. They’ve also been consistently unresponsive to support/billing questions….

    • catherineryanhoward September 12, 2011 at 16:23 #

      Well thanks Leonard but I didn’t know I was taking any bullet! ;-)

      I do feel like I have to dumb down the formatting too but I can understand that because Amazon is just converting to 1 format and Smashwords is converting to several. But I don’t see it as having any real impact on my sales as a whole; I just think of it as a bonus, really.

      Congrats on your win on The Book Designer this morning, by the way! :-)

      • Leonard Kinsey September 12, 2011 at 16:51 #

        Haha, yeah, but you DID decide to write about it, which is admirable because now we can all learn from your misfortune ;)

        I’m getting a fair # of sales from iTunes, so I wish I could get a better copy of the book up there. It has a lot of bulleted and numbered lists that look so much better in the Kindle version. And of course, the paperback looks best of all, but sells the least… oh well.

        Thanks for the congrats, and congrats to you for the nice things he had to say about your cover! I think I originally got the link to that site from one of your Twitter posts!

  10. Catana September 12, 2011 at 17:11 #

    A last note about Kobo. Apparently Kobo applies DRM protection to all epub formatted books. This not only holds up the distribution process, it violates the preferences of writers who object to DRM.

  11. Jenny Briars September 12, 2011 at 23:22 #

    Just wanted to say that I have just read mousetrapped and it was the most enjoyable book I’ve read in a long time. I only bought it yesterday and I have finished it today! I will be recommending it to all my friends and will be buying backpacked too. Thanks for your great book.

    • catherineryanhoward September 13, 2011 at 00:17 #

      Jenny thank YOU!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it and I really, really appreciate you recommending it to other people. If you bought it at the 99c price, I suppose it was worth all the trouble! ;-D

  12. epcyclopedia September 13, 2011 at 02:26 #

    I guess I should consider myself lucky that Kobo doesn’t even list my book as for sale. Smashwords reportedly sent them the files back in May.

  13. Christopher Meeks September 13, 2011 at 21:01 #

    This is extremely helpful to know. With my new novel “Love At Absolute Zero” now coming out in print, I think I’ll upload it to Smashwords but keep the price at $2.99 while I lower it at B&N through PubIt (a great service) and at Amazon.

    Thank you.

  14. Michael E. Walston September 13, 2011 at 22:06 #

    A cautionary tale indeed.

    Thanks, Catherine. Good information to have. As a new indie author, I also hope to actually sustain myself by writing. This post has definitely been helpful.

    The lesson I take from it isn’t necessarily the lesson everyone will see, But I’m thinking once I’ve made a decision about a book’s price I should probably just leave it alone.

    After much thought, I priced my first book (a collection of stories) at $1.99, referring to this in the blurb as an “introductory price” (in my mind adding “for a limited time”).

    I was planning to up it to that magical $2.99 price at some point. Which I will probably still do, but it seems I’ll need to keep an eye on it. So–thanks for the heads-up! :)

  15. Mark Coker September 14, 2011 at 07:29 #

    Sorry to hear you’re having trouble, but what you’ve done so far here is a casebook example of what *not* to do to fix a pricing problem. :)

    If a Smashwords retailer ever does not update a price in a timely manner (or if any other bit of metadata is incorrect), your solution is here in the Smashwords FAQs – https://www.smashwords.com/about/supportfaq#error The support team at Smashwords has the ability to request expedited corrections. As we mention in the FAQ, simply click “comments/questions” from any Smashwords page and email us a direct link to your listing at any Smashwords retailer and then specify the issue and our support team can often get you same day or next day fixes (granted, the team is a bit backlogged at the moment, but they still help you solve this faster, more reliably, and with less grief).

    By repeatedly unpublishing, you’ll prevent your books from achieving sales rank, because each unpublish event kills your sales rank at the retailer. Think of your book at a retailer as a fledgling seedling. Each time you unpublish you’re yanking it out by the roots at every retailer we reach.

    By contacting the retailer, they will most likely send you back to Smashwords because it’s a fix they want coming from us. And yes, sometimes errors originate on our end, which is all the more reason to contact us first. If there’s an error such as this where weeks go by and your price hasn’t updated, we want to know about it. By following the instructions in the FAQ, you’ll help us help you faster.

    Good luck!

    mark

    • catherineryanhoward September 14, 2011 at 09:38 #

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment here and giving us all advice on how to avoid this problem in the future. :-D

      The thing is, I did e-mail Smashwords. I’m not sure exactly when, but it was between the unpublishing and the re-publishing with the opt out. My Smashwords account is under cath.howard[at]yahoo.co.uk and I e-mailed to explain what happened, pointed out that I was an idiot for unpublishing but that I’d done it only because I’d actually forgotten about the channel manager, and I asked if there was anything that could be done to speed up the process of removing it from Kobo after the op-out, I think. Maybe what I did subsequently meant this got lost or couldn’t be actioned and I know you guys must be completely swamped, but the upshot of all this is that my book is still 99c at Kobo…

      You know I like Smashwords, Mark – especially because, in the last month, I have SO conquered your formatting instructions (finally!!! – and earlier in the week I wrote a blog post about it, actually). This to me is a Kobo problem. Even B&N updated the price within a week or so, which is fine by me.

      • Jackie Bouchard February 15, 2013 at 22:54 #

        I can see this is “ancient” history now for you, but you’d think they’d have sorted this problem out, now 18 or so months later. I just had this exact same problem with my book, “What the Dog Ate”, in January. Kobo was the major hold up! It says in the channel manager on Smashwords that files are “distributed” to Kobo daily, so the price change should have gone much more smoothly. I could see on my channel manager that it took over a week to get the adjusted price sent out to Kobo. Then it took even longer for Kobo to actually make the change. It took several emails from me to Smashwords to get things fixed. In the meantime, I got an email from Amazon threatening to remove my book if I didn’t comply with the rules, so had to drop the price to 99c there. As you said, you could find yourself in an endless loop of trying to get your prices to reset! So frustrating.

        Seriously thinking of opting out of Kobo going forward (I definitely will if I plan another sale), and for my next book I won’t be publishing through Smashwords. It was a major hassle and, similar to your situation, a big loss of income on Amazon – all for the sake of a handful of sales via S.words.

  16. catherineryanhoward September 15, 2011 at 20:12 #

    Thanks everyone for commenting. You may be interested in the updates I’ve added to the original post – success at last! :-D

  17. Diceyblog October 16, 2011 at 19:43 #

    Thanks for the heads up! I just reduced my ebook from 2.99 to .99 as a Halloween promotion and wondered how the process would work. Since my book is still new, I haven’t been making a tremendous amount of sales anyway so the delay may not be as big a deal. I’ll probably just wait until all the other sites update through Smashwords before I change anything on Amz. And I’ll just keep in mind it may take a month…or more to update.

  18. Robert David MacNeil April 1, 2012 at 05:42 #

    I’ve had the same problem. I had my book, Iona Portal, listed at 2.99 for its initial six months, at which point I wanted to raise the price to 4.95. I changed the price on Smashwords and on Kindle. Of course, Kindle would not change the price because the Smashwords distribution channels would not change the price.
    So I eventually unpublished from Smashwords, thinking that would work. It’s now been five weeks since I unpublished and Iona Portal is still listed on Apple’s ITunes store, and it’s still $2.99! I’ve written Smashwords at least weekly asking for help, but get no response at all. This is totally unacceptable. I’ve liked being on Smashwords, even though most of my sales are on Kindle, but this is making me seriously doubt whether I want to publish with Smashwords again.

  19. Charl May 22, 2012 at 02:15 #

    Oh dear.
    It seems to me, if everyone price matches, the price will never increase, unless you unpublish.
    I know both Amazon and Apple do matching. They could just keep pointing their fingers at each other. Endlessly. Forever.

  20. Laura Roberts (@originaloflaura) June 5, 2012 at 17:39 #

    ARGH! I just found out about this debacle reading your new book, which includes this blog post. I wish I had known about it before I decided to lower my price at Smashwords for the month of May, because now I’m having the exact same problem! I’m still waiting for Smashwords to fix the prices on all its distributor channels, although Kobo nicely changed the price (and incorrect cover image) for me when I emailed them. What a total PITA. I am definitely never changing my prices again; it’s coupons for anyone who needs a freebie or they can fork out the $2.99.

  21. Eric Fox July 10, 2012 at 18:04 #

    I have a similar problem with Kobo and Sony Bookstores. Its been a month now since I unpublished my book from Smashwords, simply because I’ve never made a sale from there. Only off of the Kindle have I made sales. I think it’s ridiculous that Sony and Kobo won’t lift a finger to change to the requests made by Smashwords. I want my book priced at $2.99 again after I briefly made it free on Smashwords.

    I’m not blaming Smashwords at all. They are very helpful in responding to emails.

  22. George December 6, 2012 at 23:50 #

    Why I cant believe Smashwords responded to your emails.

    I’ve been emaling them for over 2 weeks and nobody at smashwords has responded at all to any of my emails.

    I wanted to ask if I could have checks mailed to me instead of having payment paypaled (I’m in Canada and out of the USA Smashwords only gives paypal payments) and they have not responded no matter how politely or presistant my emails are. When I emailed Amazon customer service they were lightening quick to respond.

    BTW I don’t like paypal, they have a nasty tendency to freeze payment accounts on a whim if they decide you are “making too much money in a short period of time” (a quote from one of their communications to a friend of mine who sells alot of lady’s shoes on ebay! I kid you not! She had her Fall sale and of course sales spiked and paypal did not like that. I try to avoid such payment processors)

    I read articles like yours and am having serious doubts if I should list my 10 books on smashwords at all. I might just avoid Smashwords altogether.

    George
    PS I love your website Catherine and I too am caffeinated –its the only way I can work.

    • jon December 11, 2012 at 03:28 #

      i gave up with smashwords and removed my books from them and went to kdp due to non response by them

  23. Jon December 11, 2012 at 03:09 #

    I think that everyone should go back and think about the primary assumption, that you can’t lower your price at Amazon for a short period. A reality check says Amazon is 90-99% of your sales, so it is not relevant what other sales channels want, and most likely they will never find out. Amazon is aggressive in enforcing the price rules, but others do not care about short term changes. I drop the price of my books for a few days on Amazon so that I can get a bump in sales ranking. I leave Smashwords alone, and never ever change the price.

    A smart shopper always checks Amazon for the current price on a book because of KDP Select, where authors drop the price to zero 5 out of every 90 days. And I do NOT remove my books from Smashwords when I enroll in KDP Select, and if Amazon takes my money or cancels my account, then I have an attorney standing by, just waiting for Amazon to pull a stunt like that. When a corporation’s TOS (terms of service) is in violation of US Federal law, then you have an opportunity just begging for justice.

    Amazon has a monopoly, and sooner or later somebody, hopefully me, will file suit against them for their predatory practices. So, do what you have to do, and hope that Amazon messes with you, because the reward is triple damages against a corporation that violates the Sherman Act (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman_Antitrust_Act)

    P.S. I am not an attorney, just a liberal who stands against tyranny. Take my advice with the bath water, all others pizz off.

    • jon December 11, 2012 at 03:27 #

      Are you serious?

      You never remove from smashwords when you go into KDP?

      How many times have you done that and for how long

      I want to see how long you have got away with it :)

  24. ZH January 11, 2013 at 01:12 #

    I am going through the same exact headache with Sony via Smashwords as we speak. I love how you described it as an infinite loop of price matching. It has been over a month for me too since Sony has not updated their price. I’ve contacted Smashwords multiple times now since I cannot reach Sony’s ebook platform directly. Still no price change, despite them telling me they’ve submitted the change. It’s one of the most aggravating feelings to not have control over your own content’s pricing. Hopefully, I end up with a happy ending soon, like you! :)

    • ZH January 23, 2013 at 19:16 #

      Much to my pleasant surprise, my books’ prices were updated manually after Smashwords contacted Sony’s representative again recently. I’ve learned my lesson about price changes and realize that it might take weeks (in some cases, months) until updates are made, especially if there are any glitches in any systems used. I hope others will learn from our experiences and choose a price they are happy with from the beginning. Coupons from Smashwords are a better way to lower a book’s price. With the price matching going on with multiple channels (i.e. KDP), it’s not worth the headache to lower your price, only to find out you must wait ages to raise it back up again.

    • jon February 16, 2013 at 02:09 #

      The moment sony, itunes and B&N open up to people outside of the USA I will drop smashwords like a bag of spuds. I found them a waste of time. Support is terrible. Updates and promises are paper thin.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. On Record « Write Your Own Story - September 17, 2011

    [...] I love Kobo because I have a Kobo. I’m biased. But a recent entry from Catheryn Ryan Howard (Why is my Book is Still 99c?) has made me think about it in a different light. Not a negative light, just different. If you want [...]

  2. Lulu, I Love You « Catherine, Caffeinated - September 23, 2011

    [...] You can read about the whole thing in detail here, but to summarize: I lowered the price of my book Mousetrapped from $2.99 to 99c in an attempt to sell more copies of it and, thus, sell more copies of its sequel, Backpacked, when it came out on the first of this month, but when I went to put it back up to $2.99 a few weeks later, I was tearing out my own hair in frustration waiting for the change to take affect on Kobo. And, until it did, Amazon couldn’t increase the price because they have to offer the lowest price available. [...]

Ah, go on. Tell me what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: