You guys are in for a treat, because I have an extra special iUniverse story to share with you today.
As you may already know, my book, Imminent Danger, is having some issues with being filed under the correct genre. If you pop over to Amazon.com and look up my book, you’ll find that the Kindle version is listed under the following categories:
Books > Children’s Books
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children’s eBooks
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Children’s Fiction
This is, obviously, incorrect. Imminent Danger is Young Adult, or Teen. It is not a children’s book. Take one look at the cover and that becomes glaringly obvious. So … what to do?
Back in January, I contacted iUniverse and asked them to fix this problem. They said they would request that Amazon change the genre listing. Fair enough. But over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that other sites also filed the book incorrectly. So I called iUniverse yesterday about the issue, and today they sent me their complete list of book categories and told me to pick the categories I wanted my book listed under. One problem: these are the same categories they sent me back in November, when my iUniverse rep told me that I had to list the book as Juvenile Fiction because a Teen category didn’t exist. According to my rep, online retailers like Amazon would then list the book as Teen. Clearly, they didn’t. So when I got this email today which basically wanted me to repeat the exact same process I went through in November, I got a little irked.
So I called them. After chatting with a customer service lady for about 45 minutes and not getting anywhere, I asked to be transferred to her supervisor. He was a bit more helpful, and after another half hour or so, he promised he would send a request to Amazon and Barnes & Noble that they change my genre to YA / Sci-fi / Romance. Apparently he can’t contact other online retailers (like Chapters.Indigo.ca) directly, and I didn’t understand his reasoning on that at all, but he did say that once the genre listing changes on Amazon and B&N, other online retailers should follow suit. I don’t believe that for one second, but I figure I should pick my battles.
Anyway. During this phone call, I also suggested to him (supervisor guy) that iUniverse add some sort of Teen book category to their book category list. He said it was a great idea, and that I should send an email with my suggestion. I had to ask him about four times who I should send the email to, which was an interesting exercise in patience and repetition, and he finally divulged that I should just send it to Customer Support, addressed to “iUniverse Management”. Vague, but okay. I’ll bite. Let’s see where this goes.
Here’s a copy of the letter I sent them. I think I hit the various points quite nicely, although I worry that I came off a bit patronizing, as I repeated my point many, many, many times. You can be the judge:
Dear iUniverse Management,
As per the suggestion of the iUniverse customer support supervisor I spoke with this morning on the phone, I would like to suggest that you add a new book category to your book category list. This book category would be called “Teen” — as in, similar to Juvenile Fiction, except intended specifically for a teenage audience. If you go on Amazon.com or similar websites, you will find that they have tens of thousands of Teen books, listed under a Teen category. In fact, one of the current best-selling series — Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer — is a Teen book. At the moment, iUniverse does not have a Teen category, which I believe is an oversight that should be corrected immediately.
I would like to share my personal struggle with this issue with you, so that you can understand why it’s necessary to create a Teen category. My novel, Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It, which I have recently published through iUniverse, is a Teen novel. It is about high school aged characters doing high school age-appropriate things — which includes consuming alcohol, using minor curse words, and having complicated romantic entanglements. These are elements which do not belong in a children’s story. But because you do not have a Teen book category, I had to list it as Juvenile Fiction. My iUniverse rep assured me that when the book went up on sites like Amazon or Barnes & Noble, these third party sites would list it as Teen. They did not — and why would they? They listed it as Children’s Literature because the only information they received from iUniverse was that the book category was Juvenile Fiction — i.e., Children’s Literature. Amazon doesn’t have time to read through every book that is submitted to them to see if a Juvenile book should actually be Teen — the only thing they have to go on is what iUniverse tells them. And in this case, iUniverse told them it was a children’s book, which it is not.
Therefore, I propose that you add a Teen book category to your list of book categories. You will probably also want to add sub-genres to that, like Teen / Science Fiction, Teen / Supernatural, Teen / Romance, Teen / Fantasy, etc.
“Teen” is not a passing fad — this is a legitimate genre, as you will see if you go to virtually any online retailer. iUniverse is misrepresenting their authors by forcing them to submit books under the Juvenile Fiction category rather than a Teen category. We Teen authors are missing out on potential sales, because our target audience is people who read Teen books, and they won’t be able to easily find our books if they are listed in the Children’s Literature section. And I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of this, but missed sales for iUniverse authors means missed sales for iUniverse.
I hope you will consider my proposal. As the situation stands right now, I have very little motivation to self-publish another book through iUniverse, because I write Teen fiction, and the hassle of getting another of my books listed under its correct genre is not something I want to go through again.
Thank you for your time,
Will my message ever get to elusive “Management”, whoever that is? It’s hard to say. I hope so. It’s beyond ridiculous that they don’t have a Teen book category, and it’s also beyond ridiculous that they apparently won’t even consider adding one unless they get the suggestion in an email from one of their authors.
Phew. It feels great to get all this off my chest. I can only handle so much silliness in one day.
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