Retailer Hell for an Author

In the beginning it was all sunshine and rainbows, and my new sexy book was on a journey to all retailers my books are usually distributed to. It’s long have been listed on Amazon (no issues whatsoever), and via Smashwords it went further to other retailers.

Now, I must say that most of my sales come from Amazon and Smashwords, and some puny 0.0001% from Barnes and Noble. The rest is a black hole and I didn’t particularly care about them.

Until all hell broke loose with the iTunes store.

Now, I know that the quality check teams on both sides — Smashwords and Apple — are humans, not machines. But but but I’m close to detonating because of one persistent issue of the so called ‘Incorrect/Missing Category’. Yep, I’ve got a ticket. A whole lotta them, in fact.

It stared because my categories for the book were

Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Fiction » Romance » Erotic

with Space Opera being the PRIMARY one. Because fuck you, it is NOT a romance. It has elements of it, hence it goes secondary. The only store which had issues with primary category was, you guessed it, Apple. Its human quality check person decided that the MAIN cat for my book must be EROTIC ROMANCE (BISAC FIC027010), because…? Clearly, they don’t read your books. (At best, they look at a book’s aesthetic side and maybe scan for certain words, I don’t know. I’m speculating here.)

But I won’t argue with them about the point that Erotic Romance is a specific genre my book doesn’t fit into. In fact, putting it into the main Romance category would be lying to the readers who expect erotic romance. Oh, I have sex there, plenty of sex, but it doesn’t drive my story. The focus is something else, not even romance. Genrewise, it’s not erotic anything, it’s adult science fiction. But retailers don’t HAVE a category labeled adult science fiction. It doesn’t exist. So, following the market winds, I switched the main category to and left the secondary as space opera.

Fiction » Romance » Erotic
Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera

Normally you’d think the issue would go away, because that was what they wanted you to do. Hey, I’m in the correct category now!


Read bottom-to-top.

In a couple of days I found the same ticket with the wrong main category. So I wrote a message to Smashwords support to ask what does Apple QT want. Apparently, it was all fine on their side now, so the issue went further to the tech team. I’m still guessing how it would be resolved here, since I got no more mails.

It’s possible that there was some glitch.

Meanwhile, the issue still persists.


UPDATE: It’s finally over. The ticket is closed and I hope to see the book in Apple store soon.

Jeno Marz
JENO MARZ is a science fiction writer from Latvia, Northern Europe, with background in electronics engineering and computer science. She is the author of two serial novels, Falaha’s Journey: A Spacegirl’s Account in Three Movements and Falaha’s Journey into Pleasure. Marz is current at work on a new SF trilogy. All her fiction is aimed at an adult audience.


    1. Once you write something genre-non-conforming, the suffering is endless. Just from fitting square pegs of your book into a round hole of a store categories. And don’t forget marketing. How the fuck does one market something like that?

  1. Man, that really sucks. 🙁 Maybe they are forcing that category for age labels? Since I imagine kids can peruse and buy stuff in the SF Opera category. All the same, grr.

    1. In all honesty, no harm would come to a teenager if they read that story about a young family and… GASP!.. communication between the parties! Most of those kids, especially girls, have read ’50 shades’ for sure. I’d rather have young folk reading about healthy and diverse relationships. 😉

      I checked my dashboard at Smashwords and the ticket is finally closed! It’s finally approved. So it’s not about age restrictions, but was really a glitch on Smashwords side.

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