Thursday, July 13, 2017

Smashwords Doesn't Give Two Shits About Authors Who Don't Write "Romance." I Have Proof.


I want to let you, my few readers, know something. I upload my works to Smashwords only because taking them down and re-uploading them to Draft2Digital or Pronoun would be a righteous pain in the ass. That's it. If it were an easier matter, even slightly easier, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Smashwords, in my opinion, sucks. I'd like to share with you why I feel that way. I had no recent intentions of writing anything for the blog, let alone a rant, but then, late last night, I discovered Smashwords' Twitter feed, and I felt once again like climbing on a rooftop with a high-powered rifle, and decided again (I have posted many rants in the past about Smashwords on various social media sites) to vent.

Did you click on that link and check out their feed? Did you notice the entire goddamn feed features one and only one genre--romance? As though genres like, say, young adult fantasy, or memoirs, or non-fiction, or any of a hundred others don't exist?

Like anybody who writes in those genres doesn't exist?

Like I don't exist? Like being an indie author laboring against obscurity day in and day out isn't already difficult enough?

Mark Coker is Smashwords' CEO. He sees himself as a leader in the "ebook revolution." But if that Twitter feed proves anything--and it does prove that thing--it shows Coker is nothing more than a money-grubbing ignoramus who doesn't care for ninety-eight percent of all literature. He cares only for "literature" that makes him rich. That's it. In other words, he's a big-talkin' fraud.

Let's talk about that "literature" for a moment. It's called "romance," but let's be honest: It's smut. It's pornography. It's cheesy humpa-humpa-humpa alpha-male psycho-sexual dysfunction for suburban women who insist on calling it "romance" because that way they can feel good about it as they twiddle the ever-increasing desiccation between their thighs after blogging about home organizing, and before their husbands return home from their corporate cog jobs, soon to be lost to automation.

(But that's okay, because they voted for Trump, who's going to "Make American Great Again!" Trump, after all, is a self-proclaimed pussy-grabbing alpha male.)

I'm certain that there is well-written romance on that site that actually qualifies as romance. In fact, I know there is. The Candle is one of those works. But well-written romance isn't what makes Smashwords money, simply for the reason that it is too fucking rare. What makes Smashwords money is garbage, plain and simple, and in mass quantities. And Coker knows it and profits hugely from it.

I don't have a problem with porn. I really don't. I'm no Puritan, and never have been. If you get into porn, have at it! What's pissing me off here is threefold:

1. Authors who give Smashwords the honor of hosting their hard work who don't write "romance" are demonstrably, provably, and utterly ignored by Smashwords and Coker in particular;

2. Far too many readers of "romance" refuse to acknowledge its true nature, thereby creating a really nasty culture of denial that cannot be good for anyone; and

3. The success of "romance" leads avaricious idiots like Coker to believe that the authors of said sewage are somehow smarter and more "with it" than their peers, as demonstrated by multiple blog posts he's written heaping praise upon those authors for their "best practices" when in fact those authors, at best, aren't better than their non-"romance"-writing peers, and in fact, from everything I've seen, are more often than not worse.

Smashwords promotes the shit out of "romance" and utterly ignores every other genre. They regularly publish bestseller lists for "romance" titles. They don't bother doing that for any other genre. And that Twitter feed ... Jesus.

The website is ugly as sin and hasn't been changed since its inception almost ten years ago. It looks like it's from the fucking 90s, for God's sake! It's so unsightly that I wonder if readers visiting it for the first time don't wonder if it isn't a scam site, or one that's infected with Trojan horses. If you're an author and wish to upload to it, you must follow to the letter the nearly incomprehensible Style Guide, authored by Coker, which should've been rewritten a hundred times by now, but which, to my knowledge, hasn't been updated once in a decade. If you screw up at any point in the process, you are viciously bollocking fucked.

Their customer service "team" is substandard. At least, that has been my experience of them. They often take more than a day, sometimes a week, to get back to you, and have been rude to me on several occasions. I'm certain they have been with others as well.

Once you upload a manuscript to the site, and assuming their hated "Meatgrinder" properly formats your hard work into something the public can use on their various devices, you must typically endure days of waiting before you are approved for their "Premium Catalog."

As I've said, I have ranted many times about Smashwords and its owner, who likes to proclaim liberal values, but whose actions are clearly very elitist and Republican. I have called him out multiple times, even on his own blog. But I am a nobody; I don't write garbage that makes him tons of money; and so I simply don't count and am therefore summarily ignored.

How many of my links right here on this blog lead to Smashwords? A hundred? Two hundred? More? How much traffic do I send that asshole and his "team"?

All so I can be ignored and marginalized. Because I don't write "romance."

If I can find a way to dump Smashwords without too much hassle, I'm going to. Coker loves to rank on Amazon (all in the guise of "fairness" and concern for Amazon's enormous market share), but Amazon:

1. Promotes all genres. As far as I can tell, they do so fairly equally.

2. Has stellar customer service. As in amazing. As in, if I don't get a well-written, nice, helpful answer from them within a day, I'm surprised as fuck. As far as I can recall, that happened only one time. In ten fucking years.

3. Doesn't marginalize or ignore authors who utilize their platform, even people like me who don't upload to their Select program.

If you are an author like me who doesn't write "romance" and you publish to Smashwords, I have this to say: It's time that we stood up to Coker and Smashwords and their marginalization of us and our hard work. If that means a mass exodus from his site, so be it. He can rename it Smutwords or "Romance"-words or Really Cheesy Alpha Male Bumping Uglies Oh Baby I'm Coming Give Me Your Billions-words. Because that, in the end, is all Coker cares about.

Fuck you, Smashwords. Fuck you, Coker.

This rant is ended.

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