Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The #Kobo #Review Fail

Although Amazon is the big cheese in book publishing/selling, I'll say right off it isn't perfect. It is not the author's best friend. The recent scandal about Kindle Unlimited (go HERE and HERE, but keep an eye on your blood pressure if you get through both AND the comments) and the top new releases show how scammers are taking as yet unpunished advantage of Amazon, and the continually diminishing payments in KU with its demand for exclusivity have put my hackles up. That said, it is still the marketplace that pays me most.

And let's face it, there's no serious competition. Other retailers have been slow to adopt the often groundbreaking methods of Zon to provide an exceptional service to readersr. 1-Click purchasing to get a book straight on your Kindle, a loaning system that works for readers (but not necessarily so great for authors these days), a straight forward, easy option for authors to publish ebooks and print (it's the one platform where I NEVER have an issue with uploading or formatting) - yep, Amazon has a lot to offer. B&N have clearly given up, with their latest decision to withdraw from the UK. The Smashwords interface and Meatgrinder continues to suck. I've pulled my books from Google Play because of their random, unexplained and no-warning price changes that can affect my book prices elsewhere. I don't understand the All Romance eBook rebate thing, and I don't sell anything there. I only get sales from iTunes via D2D - not having a Mac or an Apple account makes them unfathomable to me.

The only real alternative I see to Amazon right now is Kobo, and I do still have my issues there as an author. At this moment I also have an issue with Kobo as a reader, and it's one that affects authors too. Authors love and want reviews, right? But what happens when Kobo rejects your review and won't tell you why?

I don't know about most people (when I posted about the problem on Facebook most didn't even know you could post reviews on Kobo. Now that's another problem for a start) but I've now wasted a lot of time on this issue and made zip progress. So I'm about to give up. I've wasted precious time, and an author whose book I enjoyed is missing out on a review. This has been ongoing for over two weeks now.

So, my issue with Kobo?
1. Their 'guidelines' - listed as review writing tips - are vague and no help in identifying exactly what triggered the rejection. Plus you can only find those when actually writing a review (at least, after searching Help and looking around their website, that's the only way I could find them. Please point out my blindness if that's wrong).
2. When I finally got someone to talk to me via email (after several auto responses and invitations to 'chat' - no. I don't chat. I want email) they gave me their more specific but internal review guidelines...which still didn't tell me what the actual issue was.
3. After removing three things I thought might be triggering the rejection, resubmitting, and hearing nothing for over a week, another rejection. Bearing in mind I've posted other similar reviews before and since, AND at all the other retailers (including Amazon who can be temperamental and random with review deletions) without ANY issues.
4. Their appalling lack of a decent 'contact us'. A form for reporting ereader faults only is...unhelpful.
5. Their Twitter account @KoboHelp was way more responsive...but after discussing it up to and including sending them my actual review, they went silent. I've messaged them again twice. I got one reassurance that they were looking into it the first time. Then nothing.

So here's the review that posted everywhere else, and the crossed out bits are what I cut from the edited review that I submitted (and that also got rejected), with the new sections in blue. Can anyone tell me what's getting it booted? (PS, this is taken from the Goodreads version where the spoiler is hidden-for the retailers, the hide option is not available so the spoiler is in full).

Please excuse the peculiar phrasing which is due to Kobo's oversensitive review algorithms.
What I liked:
Grab some tissues and hold on tight! This final installment packs some serious emotional punch (one reason I generally go for SFR over straight SF, but here you get it without the romance), as well as a real adrenaline-laced ride through violence, more betrayal, sacrifice, and emotional awakenings. Basically all hell breaks loose. I finally forgave Caleb for being such a jerk as this a-hole twat of a reluctant hero has finally turned himself around from someone I hoped would die long before the end of the series to one I could cheer and feel for. Clean, crisp and gritty writing, with a couple of good twists towards the end, plus a satisfactory conclusion that wraps up the four books but leaves intriguing openings for more. Frankly I would love more of One's adventures, but could let Caleb fly off into the sunset because I can only see him reverting after all the character growth in the four books (and I don't want to see that).

What I didn't like:
*spoiler alert! Don't read this section if you don't want the ending given away* 

[Well. It's a minor niggle, but the ending didn't sit entirely right with me. I think it's more because I'm perfectly willing to kill all my characters at the end of a non-romance, so maybe I expect other authors to do it (and there's really no reason why they should!). And the vague hints of romance/light romantic elements throughout weren't exactly resolved either - there's still an opening there for potential future books. Maybe I'm just too set into the SciFi romance groove to accept a non-romance ending when I felt the story was heading that way. That said, it wasn't enough to even justify taking off a half star, and didn't spoil my overall enjoyment.]

In conclusion:

I feel like One ripped out my heart and squished it, before giving me a hug! This was a seriously good conclusion to the series, and a real tear-jerker, as well as providing some dark, acidic humor and high-adrenaline action. Those hoping for a romantic ending might be disappointed, but for fans of scifi action adventure who aren't offended by the sex explicit bedroom scenes and foul language, this is perfection. Recommended for those who like Firefly/Farscape certain space opera series starting with F.

Full disclosure: I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.


Any ideas? Maybe the full disclosure thing? IDK.

Update: I received this via Twitter -

"Thank you for your continued patience. We have reached out to our web team and it would seem that this is currently a known issue. Unfortunately, until this is resolved you may continue to have issues submitting your review without it being denied. This is a system issue but please note that we are working adamantly to resolve it."

I'm guessing that means there's a problem with their automated system and perhaps not the review itself after all, but I'm not really all that much the wiser so I said so -

"It seems that quite a few reviews are being automatically rejected by the system. We are looking into this matter and working to resolve it. We apologize that you believed our team was rejecting your post..."

So there you go. I've still waiting for two further Kobo reviews to go live (I uploaded them before the second rejection) but they could get caught in this problem, and repeatedly rejected too. I'll let you know. But your best option if you want to talk to Kobo is very clearly the Twitter account.

Status Update
I'm pushing to get the revisions done on Reunion by the end of this week as my monsters break up for the spring holiday on Thursday and I'll be taking my usual social media/work respite. The release date is still 21st May, but the sheer amount of words I've had to add so far (almost 10K) is starting to scare me!
I'm also signed up to edit my June project for this April's Camp NaNoWrimo. I need deadlines! Another downside of being indie is I don't work well to deadlines I set myself, not even release dates. If anyone would like to volunteer to stand over me with a cattle-prod to get things done, I can pay in cookies...
Quickshot releases in just 9 days! If you haven't pre-ordered it, you can find it at all the links below the cover. With the scandal over KU I decided to pull it from Amazon exclusivity and go wide, and finished uploading it to other retailers last week (phew!).

A Space Opera Short Story
Goodreads | Webpage
Amazon | ARe | 

iTunes | Kobo | B&N
Restless In Peaceville (my YA paranormal with zombies) and When Dark Falls (my dieselpunk superhero romance) are now both out of KU and back up at most retailers (I think I'm just waiting on B&N for Restless. As per usual). This means you can't borrow my books anywhere at this point in time. I'm sorry about that. The KU system sucks for me, and nowhere else is currently offering a subscription service that works. If you want to read my books for free, I can only suggest signing up as a reviewer at Manic Readers or The Romance Reviews site - I'm currently updating and reloading my titles there and added Quickshot and Keir's Fall - or my YA works (currently excluding Gethyon) are available at YA Insider.
AND Keir's Fall is currently up at NetGalley to read and review for free HERE. Working for a review site is a fantastic way to get books for free without using pirate sites, harming authors and opening your computer to viruses or getting your financial info hacked.

The Little Things Blog Hop is in full swing until the end of March. Over 100 participating authors and over 50 prized to be won! Click the banner to visit my post on the hop and find the link to the next.

From next week I'm taking a two week break as my monsters are on holiday, so my next two posts will be on automatic as I share some info and excerpts from Quickshot. Enjoy!


  1. It seems that the entire marketplace is unfriendly to authors in one way or another, and that baffles me.


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