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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