Amazing Apple Turnaround: We’ll Accept HTTS Lesson 6…WITH The Links

Happy Apple
Happy Apple
4:41 PM EDT. My husband, kid, and I are out, and my phone rings. It’s San Jose, California calling, and I don’t answer calls from unknown numbers.

Don’t ask me why I answered this one. I did, though, and it was a representative from Apple calling.

He told me he and others had been over How To Think Sideways Lesson 6, and that, to quote him, “We made a mistake.” He said that on review, he and others had seen that the lesson was entirely within their TOS, that my use of the links had (as I stated) not been there to sell individual products, but to demonstrate a useful technique that taught my students a writing skill.

And he noted that they did not have the lesson WITH the links anymore, but if I would care to re-submit it, Apple would make sure there was no problem with its publication on their platform.

I thanked him, and told him I would be happy to put my work back up on Apple.

And I am.

IT’S GOING TO TAKE ME A COUPLE DAYS. The rest of this week is booked solid, and I’m going to have to re-download iTunes Producer and get it set up again. (Yes, I deleted it from the computer.)

So figure, best case, the first lessons of HTTS (as well as my other work on the iBookstore) will start coming online again on Monday. I’ll get everything up as quickly as I can after that, but uploading each lesson requires significant time and attention to detail on my part. I’ll try to have the whole course available by Monday, August 13th.

Thank you for your support and comments.

I don’t know how this came to Apple’s attention. I’m glad, however, to have the problem resolved, and to once more be able to offer my work on the iBookstore.

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71 responses to “Amazing Apple Turnaround: We’ll Accept HTTS Lesson 6…WITH The Links”

  1. tyrone Avatar

    Congrats!!! Just when my cynical nature was about to give me another “I told you so” you managed to get an industry powerhouse to climb down and apologize–truth is indeed stranger than fiction!!

  2. Patricia Babbitt Avatar
    Patricia Babbitt

    I have put together a few ebooks that I want to publish. I am finding there are sooo many ways to go about this. Is there a software or web site that you can recommend for self-publishing?

    1. Texanne Avatar

      Take a look at Holly’s How To Think Sideways lessons (Amazon, B&N, iBooks, maybe more). You will see that some of the lessons address directly the process of creating, formatting, making book covers, and all that so that you can sell your items. Also covered are elements of platform-building and networking. Inside our forums, we have special places dedicated to marketing and to those who provide services such as editing, formatting, cover design, and so forth.

      Holly’s got you covered! (There’s way too much to include here.)

  3. Rika Avatar

    I am confident that this came about through your deeply honest way of dealing with the problem, and sharing the problems you encountered, the steps you took, your understanding and your reasons. Either in their own process or via your sharing & some kind person in a position to be able to bring it to their own attention, you provided the necessary openness and honesty.

    Thank you for doing so – I feel grateful for the chance to both see you “at work” with this issue, and also for seeing the universe moving things to this fantastic resolution. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Arizona Avatar

    That’s great news, Holly. :o)

  5. Shawna Avatar

    Wow. I was thinking it was a mite hypocritical of Apple when I saw the announcement yesterday that the Amazon Instant Video app was going to be available on the iPad… and yet Apple wouldn’t allow your instruction links to Amazon.

  6. Laraine Avatar

    Congratulations, Holly. I’m so pleased for you. I must admit I WAS baffled that you still got rejected. Your workaround looked fine to me. But everyone “grabs the wrong end of the stick” occasionally.

    But now I’m left baffled about something else: who the hell is Richard Stallman? :-0

  7. GrammaLinda Avatar

    Good news! Now I don’t have as many reservations about buying a Mac next computer purchase.

  8. A. H. Browne Avatar

    Just want to say congratulations! I’m glad that they’ll allow your courses to be put back up, WITH links. I’m sure it will help a lot more people.

  9. Amy Avatar

    That’s outstanding. I’m probably buying a new computer in the coming months and had already decided on a macbook pro for when the time comes. But your experiences had me actually debating whether to stand on that decision or to reconsider getting a new Windows based laptop. I’ll continue to watch how things go with lesson 24 in particular, but I’m glad to hear that Apple hasn’t embraced the evil as it seemed.

  10. Texanne Avatar

    I’m so happy to hear that this has happened. It surprised you more than it did me, but I don’t have to be surprised to be really, really glad.

    A commenter upstream guessed that your file had been shot down by a lower-level check-person, and I agree with that. At the lower levels of any big outfit, the main job is FOLLOWING THE RULES to an extreme degree. Higher up, where rules are made (and the reasons behind them are well understood) there live folks who can see the larger picture.

    Of course, going viral all over the Internet certainly didn’t hurt! I doubt it scared Apple, but it brought your situation to the attention of the higher-ups, the folks who make and understand the rules.

    When you put up Lesson 24, I urge you to give them fair warning and point out that you are not in violation of their TOS, even though a quick (bot, maybe?) scan might make it seem as though you are. If you got a name from the telephone call, that guy should be your contact point for posting your lessons to iBooks, IMO.

    Happy, happy, happy.

    Now what am I going to do with that pallet of torches and pitchforks in my driveway? I’ve seen the Zoning commissioner driving by, slowly–and is that a digital camera he’s pointing at me? Oy.

    1. Holly Lisle Avatar
      Holly Lisle

      I did have to use the telephone number and name (Thank you, Keith) I got from Apple to get Lesson 24 cleared. It, too, got deep-sixed by the initial folks with a message that I would have to remove the links.

      I’m waiting for this weekend to upload the rest of the lessons, now that I know the two problems ones are live.

  11. Ben Bradley Avatar

    Om the Internet EVERYONE can hear you scream!

  12. snoozn Avatar

    I saw it on boingboing ( Sometimes the power of the internets is used for good! Congrats!

  13. Dee Avatar

    Wow! Really good news! It’s nice to know when something like this happens that a big company is willing to step up and say “Oops, we screwed up.” Congratulations!

  14. wednesday Avatar

    Lessee. ::looks at Amazon:: You’re a bestselling, professional author over there. ::looks at Apple:: They want bestselling, professional authors on their site. If they let you go, they’d lose revenue short-term and long-term. Of course they want you back.

    Perhaps the real test will be when a newbie’s books also contain links to Amazon for some non-fictiony goodness. Then we’ll see if the backpedaling extends to newbies, or only to proven revenue generators who have the readership to go viral.

    You got that, Apple? You gonna suck up to the pros and stomp on the littles, or are you gonna be nice to all of us?

  15. Ruthanne Reid Avatar

    I know how it did. What happened to you has been all over the internet. I’m sorry to say I highly doubt the average unknown client would receive such courtesy (sans publicity), but I’m glad they gave you some respect!

  16. Toni Walker Avatar

    WooHoo! So glad to hear that it all worked out!

  17. Bryden Yeo Avatar

    I am glad that they are finally being reasonable. I mean your courses sell, and I thing after you took them off after they gave you such a hard time and you spoke up about it how harmful that was to their company that you where turing from Apple and lets face it there are some of us who listen and would do the same after seeing how they were treating you and your course after you jumped thought all those hoops and put in so much work. Also your work helps others to write and sell their books online if they choose. SO in keeping your courses they are helping themselves as well.
    I’m happy this worked out for you Holly. Way to kick some butt and speak out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Tim Walker Avatar
    Tim Walker

    Congratulations. Glad to hear Apple is doing the right thing. It’s also good to hear of all those that spread the news of the problem.

  19. Joan Avatar

    I am so happy about Apple’s change of heart. I basically really like Apple, their products and their stores. Good on them!!! And on you for your intention and stand. It’s called integrity.

  20. PD Singer Avatar

    I know this went up on The Passive Voice, an IP attorney’s blog with an enormous following, which couldn’t have hurt. The commentary was scathing.

  21. Anne Andersen Avatar
    Anne Andersen

    Yes… glad they admitted their mistake.

    I sent in Holly’s problem as a tip to NPR and my local public radio station as something to look into. Suspect many did similar things and if only a few of the organizations aware of this issue phoned up Apple and asked questions… sounds like they did damage control. We may never know the facts, we only know that SOMETHING made them sit up and smell the roses.

  22. Deidre Lin Avatar

    Kudos!!! Yes, I’m sure the mighty apple will not divulge how the situation was brought to their attention but, hey…viral is viral!! The most important lesson in all of this is the way Holly handled it with grace and ease. Being Indie means that we are the forefront of all of our writing…no publisher, agent or marketing person guards the door (or the pocket book hehehe)!!! Way to go Holly!

  23. Raenne Avatar

    I can’t help but think this turned out so well because Holly handled the whole thing with such grace. It’s easy to get really mad about situations like this, but she stuck to her guns while remaining peaceful. Can I phrase it like that? Seems to amusing to reword. Kudos to you, Holly!

    1. Raenne Avatar

      Ugh, I meant “too!”

  24. David Masters Avatar
    David Masters

    I’m not an Apple user, but that’s great news ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Gary H. Avatar

    It did appear on Slashdot, and it looks like where THEY picked it up from is Cory Doctorow’s BoingBoing.

    News got around.

  26. Chris Kelworth Avatar

    Yeah, congratulations – I think Apple was probably going into damage control mode, trying to eliminate the bad publicity. I even found a pro-Holly writeup of the dispute on the Macworld magazine Australia site –

    One thing I was wondering was if the second rejection wasn’t for just mentioning ‘Amazon’, but because you were linking to an external page that linked to Amazon – Apple might have been sharp enough to notice that. But hurray that they finally came to their senses.

    1. Holly Avatar

      No. They said not. They said it was simply because they’d screwed up.

      Which I appreciated.

  27. Alexander S. Bosika Avatar

    Hi Holly:

    I caught wind of your website and story through Dan Gillmor, a noted twitter personality (tech) — I ended up re-tweeting his story to Phil Schiller, VP Worldwide Marketing at Apple. To be frank, I wasn’t impressed with their actions so I wrote about it on my technology blog:

    Clearly, Apple a mistake. I won’t get into all the details but it hasn’t been a good week for major tech brands and their “ecosystems” — Twitter has been messing around with its API and scaling back with noted companies like Instagram. All these entities have a responsibility. When they build ecosystems, they need to be “trusted” – they can’t be one way at the start to build up the community, and then start acting like the police when they’ve built scale.

    Communities will WALK away. Whether Phil read the follow-on tweet or other media reports go to Apple, the point is that they LISTENED, admitted their mistake and you/others are able to do what is necessary.

    Congrats on the news!

    1. Holly Avatar

      I was very happy. And I need to point out that the Apple representative did not equivocate, weasel-word ANYTHING, or try to shift blame or responsibility. He said, “We were wrong,” and “We made a mistake.”

      About five times in the course of the conversation, actually. He was very polite, very professional.

      He was, in other words, exactly who I would have expected from my previous dealings with Apple, which have all been as a customer rather than as a content producer.

      I’d had no intention of going back, or of putting my work up on Apple again. I’d shut down all my existing material, deleted iTunes Producer from my computer and walked away.

      But I’m going back (albeit tentatively), and I’m going to give Apple the chance it’s representative asked for when he said, “We would like you to come back.”

      If there’s a problem, it will be in LESSON 24, where I link to my recommended resources for self-publishers. I don’t link to ANY books that I recommend readers buy (which he said was what they actually prohibit), but along with giving links and instructions on how to use Apple and B&N, I also link to places like the sign-up page for Kindle Desktop Publishing, CreateSpace,, and other places where writers can go to sell their work.

      If LESSON 24 gets blocked, I’ll once again shut down all my products, and nothing will induce me to give Apple a third chance.

      So I’ll put up the courses.

      And then I’ll wait and see what happens. And if there are problems, I note them here, simply as a matter of keeping readers apprised. At that point, my decision will have already been made.

  28. Helen Verte Avatar

    I’m glad to hear that there are people watching the cracks at Apple and righted their wrong. Good news!

  29. Donna Lodge Avatar
    Donna Lodge

    Congratulations, and kudos to you for standing your ground. It’s heartening to know that Apple reversed its decision, and acknowledged their mistake. The reach of the internet is amazing.

  30. Robert Billing Avatar
    Robert Billing

    Attagirl Holly! Well done! You’ve established an important principle.

  31. Jean Avatar

    It sounds like you were at the software sift and lower level reviewer level until word began leaking out around the internet (or, if you gave a reason for pulling everything off the store, it reached the eyes of a supervisor around the same time as word began getting out in extended circles that matter to Apple). When someone authorized to think and respond with reason finally got the word, they took time to make it right. I’m glad they did that, but I’m still concerned about the process that allowed this to happen in the first place. I expect more of Apple (or any other company at their level of the food chain).

    I’m so glad you have a happy ending for this one. With links is huge for being able to present the lesson the way it was intended, too. High five!

    1. Holly Avatar

      I didn’t give a reason to Apple for pulling my work. When I was done, I was DONE. I was not negotiating.

  32. Rob Cornell Avatar

    What’s that saying about the squeaky wheel? Sometimes the internet helps that squeak set off a serious echo…echo…echo… ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Laura Avatar

    I think it got slashdotted. I seem to remember seeing it mentioned there. Slashdot is one of the largest tech/science news aggregation sites on the web. It’s read by everyone from people just learning to tech company CEOs so things sometimes get a lot of attention there. I’d be rather surprised if no one with influence at Apple read it. That’s the most likely source for them to hear about it.
    Unless they have a influential employee or family member of one who is a writer using your lessons ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Holly Avatar

      As I said, I have no clue. He didn’t say, and I was so stunned that Apple called me that it didn’t even occur to me to ask.

      I didn’t even realize the discussion had gone viral until Kimberly Hitchens mentioned it here last night. I’ve been busy getting the last HTTS lessons up on Amazon and Nook, and I haven’t had time for anything else.

      They’re all up on my shop, Amazon, and Nook now. The last four aren’t yet linked into the series (did that this morning, it takes about 24 hours to filter down). But if you search series and lesson numbers, they’re all available.

  34. mayank Avatar

    Hey Congratulations ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Marti Verlander Avatar

    Hooray, Holly!

    A PC professional here locally posted on my FB page about the problems you were having with Apple. He’s knows I’m your student and advocate, so he shared. Word really did get around!

    I’m glad things are working out for the best — for everyone.

  36. Derek Avatar

    It is sad the way it has come about, but finally reason and light. Well done Holly!

  37. Deborah Robson Avatar

    Bravo. So good to hear when something like this happens–delayed, but the right thing.

  38. Teresa Reasor Avatar

    Glad you got things straightened out. Apple like most big companies moves as slow as a dinosaur but they’re just as interested in making money as the next guy.
    Looking forward to the lesson.
    Teresa R.

  39. DragonsLady (aka Francine) Avatar
    DragonsLady (aka Francine)

    Goes to show you can’t keep a good kid (or fantastic lady) down. Way to go Holly – you have an amazing and dedicated following.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I do. My readers are good folks.

  40. Larry Avatar

    That’s great! I’m glad you stood your ground (and publicized it!) and that they did the right thing.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Me to. ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you.

  41. Kayle Allen Avatar
    Kayle Allen

    So glad to hear this Holly! It sounded like ridiculous, bureaucratic nonsense from the get-go and I am glad Apple did the right thing. Bests to you!

  42. Charlotte Avatar

    I’m glad to hear about this turnaround. I’m guessing that news of Apple’s misdeeds got spread pretty far and wide, as my husband mentioned that he’d seen news of your case on other technology sites that he frequents. I imagine the attention helped to heat things up for Apple.

  43. Linda Avatar

    Glad to see they stepped up!

  44. Nessa Avatar

    I’m glad they could admit their error and do what was right. Congratulations.

  45. Hitch, aka Kimberly Hitchens Avatar

    You missed it? Hell. That’s too bad. Here you go, don’t say I never give you anything!


    the “other” H.

  46. Lisa PT Avatar
    Lisa PT

    I’ve read about your struggle with Apple in many places. Many bloggers and article writers had things to say about it (that did not favor Apple). I’m glad Apple took notice.

    Go you. I hope the publicity gets you more sales, and wakes Apple up a bit.

    1. Ken E Baker Avatar

      Yeah – that is the downside of bureaucracy – too many good writers and content providers can get caught in that net. Good of Apple to come back after you put your article out there, but I wonder how many more silent victims there are of this red tape rubbish.

  47. Amazingrace Avatar

    Good on you for standing your ground!

    1. Ken E Baker Avatar

      Concur! That is the only way that people are going to hear about these things!

  48. Dianna Bell Avatar
    Dianna Bell

    This is *awesome*. ๐Ÿ˜€

  49. Dusty Avatar

    Oh hell yes! ๐Ÿ˜€ I was only thinking the other day how much I regretted not getting the rest of the HTTS course before they went down. Glad to hear it all worked out!

  50. Hitch, aka Kimberly Hitchens Avatar

    Hmmmm…I wonder if this turnaround has anything to do with the fact that you went VIRAL yesterday on GalleyCat and Appnewser? The story about your books being rejected was all over the Net starting late, late Monday night, was wildly viral on Tuesday (I tweeted it again, too), and was being read on feeds and newsapps all over the place. CONGRATULATIONS, HOLLY!!! You get ’em, girl!

    1. Holly Avatar

      I utterly missed the whole viral thing. But that probably helped bring the issue to their attention.

      1. Jeff Imig Avatar
        Jeff Imig

        Richard Stallman had a note about it. I was surprised.

        Sad that you had to go through all this to get Apple to wake up.

        1. Holly Avatar

          I hope that other writers besides me will benefit from the situation.

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