Apple rejects writing lesson for links to Amazon, then for mentioning Amazon

lesson6Fantasy author Holly Lisle (whose books I’ve read and enjoyed) has a series of writing lessons that she sells in e-book form. One of these, “Lesson 6: How to Discover (or Create) Your Story’s Market,” discussed techniques for using Amazon’s software and databases to place stories in alternate genres. It had links to Amazon in it, and Apple quickly rejected it (as it did one of Seth Godin’s e-books in February, for a similar reason).

So Lisle revised the e-book to remove the Amazon links and resubmitted it—and this time it was rejected for mentioning Amazon.

In a fine fury, Lisle writes:

I cannot sell PART of the course on Apple. So How To Think Sideways will not appear on the iBookstore. Neither will How To Revise Your Novel.

But I also will not deal with this sort of head-up-ass behavior from a distributor. You don’t tell someone “The problem is the live links,” and then, when that person has complied with your change request and removed the live links, turn around and say, “No, no. The problem is the CONTENT. You can’t mention Amazon in your lesson.”

This is not professional behavior from a professional market.

And cold moment of truth here—you cannot write a writing course that includes information on publishing and self-publishing and NOT mention Amazon. It’s the place where your writers are going to make about 90% of their money.

So I’m pulling ALL my work from the iBookstore today. I apologize to iBookstore fans. I tried. Hard.

But I’m done.

On the bright side, pulling all of her (self-published) content from the store will probably not affect her bottom line all that much—as she says herself, 90% of her income is going to come from Amazon anyway. Nonetheless, Lisle concludes:

I’m deeply disappointed by the loss of Apple as a viable market. I know a lot of folks hate the company. I loved it, though—and recent decisions on this issue as well as the issue of sandboxing in the next OS make me realize it’s working hard at making itself a company I won’t be able to support.

I suspect that what may have happened here is that the book may have been reviewed by two different reviewers, one of whom might have known about the live links but not the content itself, and the other who knew about the content question. It’s an artifact of the way Apple’s approvals are handled, in which a submission gets examined by different people who may reject based on different criteria.

I have to wonder, though, whether the second examiner really had Apple’s position right? It’s a bit odd to expect anyone publishing any sort of course material or lesson plan about self-publishing not to mention Amazon. It’s like denying the sky is blue or that gravity makes things fall down.

At any rate, the iBookstore has never been particularly relevant in terms of sales, and will probably get even less so after the DoJ settlement goes into effect. So it’s not as though it’s a big loss for Lisle anyway.

(Found via BoingBoing.)

6 Comments on Apple rejects writing lesson for links to Amazon, then for mentioning Amazon

  1. I don’t understand Apple’s rigidity here. This isn’t a way to push content off Apple, because Apple simply doesn’t provide the resources Amazon (or Barnes and Noble) does.

    The wealth of information isn’t focused on just the Apple distribution system.

  2. Martin Tolley // July 29, 2012 at 6:05 am //

    How about an ebook about the threat to the worlds’s rain forests instead? That would have a lot of mentions of a particular river in it. Maybe even featuring very large in the title etc. I wonder if that would get through?

  3. If you search on “Amazon” in the iTunes Store, you’ll get lots of hits, In the books section, I found a book entitled, “How to Self Publish On Amazon, Kindle And iBookstore.” Here’s the link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/how-to-self-publish-on-amazon/id546291491?mt=11
    So, what Apple needs is an appellate system where the mistakes of over zealous reviewers can be reviewed and reversed.

  4. For what it’s worth, Apple has reversed itself in this one case…though their anti-Amazon policy remains in effect in general.

  5. First off I want to say excellent blog! I had a quick question in
    which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior
    to writing. I have had a difficult time clearing my thoughts in getting my
    thoughts out there. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted
    just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints?
    Appreciate it!

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