Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Indie Life: Stuck in Kobo Limbo

I self-published Twinned Universes in March of this year. Since I want to make my work available in as many formats as possible, I prepared a paper version as well as an eBook (and an audio version will be available very soon; I'm currently in the final review stage). I also distribute the eBook to all the major sellers, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for the other retailers. Unfortunately, Twinned Universes isn't available on Kobo, which is a shame, since this is the first book I've tried to directly publish through them instead of through Smashwords.

I'm not sure why Twinned Universes is stuck in the publishing process at Kobo. I didn't encounter any issues when I went through the various publishing steps on Kobo Writing Life in March. (I reviewed everything last night, and everything is checked off.) It's possible there may have been some conflict between Kobo and Smashwords. (I may have had Smashwords at one point set to distribute the book to Kobo at the same time as it was supposed to be published on Kobo's website. I think I even played with the settings a couple of times to see if it made a difference. However, currently I am opted out of using Smashwords to distribute to Kobo.)

I've been so busy with many other things that I haven't had the chance to seek support from Kobo until last month. Their response (sent on 5/22) was essentially to make sure Smashwords wasn't distributing the book to Kobo and then publish the book through Kobo. This didn't fix the problem, but they sent me an e-mail on 6/2 telling me since they hadn't heard back from me, they changed the status of my troubleshooting ticket to "pending solved." I wrote back to them telling them I'd gone through the procedure they'd suggested, but it didn't work. From what I can tell, there's no way for me to remove the book from their system. I therefore asked Kobo to delete my account so I could push the book through Smashwords. They then told me they could forward the book to their publishing team so they could take care of the problem; otherwise if I confirmed my e-mail address, they could delete my account.

I thought about it for a while, then decided to give them one more chance and asked them to publish my book. I sent my response on 6/4 but got no response. I had to double-check my account settings before realizing it could be due to me sending the e-mail from a different address than the one they had on file for me. Accordingly, I updated my e-mail address and contacted them again. I even told them I was going to blog about this problem on Wednesday and hoped we could report it resolved. This time I received an apology and a reassurance that the Kobo team was working on the problem and my book would be available soon. As of Tuesday evening, Twinned Universes is still stuck in Kobo Limbo.

I think if there's no change by next Monday, it'll be time to pull the account with Kobo. Honestly, even if Kobo does get my book published before then, I'll be very reluctant to publish directly through them in the future. I hate to do it, but it may be simplest to just use Kobo as a retailer, not a publisher. If the problem really is due to a conflict with Smashwords (remember, this is just a hypothesis; it's not proven yet), then the systems need a way to identify this issue for the authors and to check when the conflict has been removed. In the meantime, I apologize to any Kobo users who would like to read my book; I'll have to refer you to Smashwords to sideload the correct format.

Have any of you Indies had similar experiences with Kobo or other publishers? If so, were you able to have the problem resolved? What has your experience been with Kobo?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm sorry! That's bad customer service that they haven't resolved the problem yet. You've more patience than I. (Then again, I'd have no idea how to do any of that!)
Hope you get your book in their virtual store one way or another.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

Thanks, Alex--and nice to see you were able to stop by and comment today!

PT Dilloway said...

I just let Smashwords distribute to Kobo for me. I doubt I've sold very much there. Kobo's a bigger deal in other parts of the world I guess.

I had some problems with B&N's new PubIt system and their "customer service" was pretty useless. I solved the issue myself by using their old system. Clearly newer does not always equal better.

Unknown said...

Wow, you've spent a long time in Kobo limbo! Sorry about that ... And I'm afraid I have no experience publishing directly with Kobo, as I always go through Smashwords.

J.L. Campbell said...

I can only imagine how frustrating that experience has been, but I guess we learn something from each experience good or bad.

Catherine Stine said...

Kobo limbo sounds awful--I feel for you. My book formatter just cautioned me away from Smashwords, saying that the formatting isn't good. Anyone else find that?!

Maria Zannini said...

This isn't the first time I've heard of problems with Kobo. I'm not sure why some people can sail through the process yet others hit roadblock after roadblock.

Part of me says I should distribute to Kobo directly, but hearing about these problems make me wary.

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