Things Don’t Look Good for My Future With Apple

This is the follow-up post to Uncrippling the Lesson.

As I said I would, I paid my book packager to create a separate version of How To Think Sideways, Lesson 6 that did not include links to Apple.

I uploaded the corrected version.

A couple days later, I got this message:

Dear Holly Lisle,

One or more assets from your submission, How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, need to be replaced:

Ticket #: 1438977
Ticket Type: Book Asset
Apple ID: 541126811
ISBN: 9781937533304
Vendor ID: 9781937533304
Please note that the changes in this ticket were not executed. The ticket has been returned to you for additional corrections. Please make all of the changes requested below.

Full book asset:

Competing Website(s)
Rejected Reason(s):
Competing Website(s)

Jun, 29 2012, 12:13PM – Apple:
Book file contains links from competitors: Amazon, in the chapter Q&A 6, under “Question 9”
Jul, 18 2012, 4:54AM – Apple:
The following ticket task(s) have been updated by the feed: Full epub
Jul, 18 2012, 4:54AM – Apple:
Epub internals validation passed
Jul, 18 2012, 1:21PM – Apple:
Please Note: The original change request was not fulfilled. Your changes were not saved. Previous issue was not addressed. Please review your file before resubmitting it. Thank you.

Problem is, the changes WERE executed.

And I tested and uploaded the corrected file again, just to be sure. It’s still blocked with the “Fix this first” ticket attached.

I’ve contacted Apple through their producer customer service. Best case, I’ll hear back from them Monday, and this file and Lesson 13 will be cleared, and I’ll be able to continue adding the rest of the course. In the best-case scenario, it may take longer than Monday.

Worst case…

…between Lesson 6, which Apple has rejected three times now (in spite of the changes it requested having been made), and Lesson 13, which is still unavailable, though with no error message to let me know why, I’m going to end up having to pull the course off of Apple permanently. I cannot offer just SOME of the lessons.

So for those of you who are die-hard iBookstore fans, I’m preemptively stating here: “I have done everything I am willing to do to fix this.” If Apple does not want my course content, or the content of some of the lessons, on the iBookstore, I CANNOT fix that.

And if I have to pull the How to Think Sideways course from the iBookstore because some lessons do not meet whatever criteria Apple has set that are beyond what I can fix (MEANING I will NOT rewrite ANY portion of the lesson content itself), I will not waste my time trying to get How to Revise Your Novel accepted. Nor will I offer my novels there. Nor will I continue to make available those courses that have been deemed acceptable. Such of my presence as I am capable of removing, I’ll remove.

(I have no control over my work offered by other publishers.)

If that means you’ll no longer buy my work, I’m sorry. I’ll note that DRM-free epubs of the course are available from my own shop, and they will work on your iPhone and iPad. If your issue is buying things from Amazon, you don’t have to. If your issue is punishing me because I am not willing to jump through hoops beyond those through which I’ve already jumped…

…well, you wouldn’t have gotten anything useful out of the course anyway.

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51 responses to “Things Don’t Look Good for My Future With Apple”

  1. DM Avatar

    There’s been times I really would have bought Apple products, except this kind of behaviour is EXACTLY why I will stay FAR FAR away. Apple’s original “1984” commercial just really makes me cringe now. Just remember when you watch it first, that they changed their logo from rainbow to monotone (and think of all those pasty faces with ipads and iphones). If you know an Apple employee or shareholder make them watch it. Apple is a sick and wrong sellout.

  2. Sylvia Nickels Avatar

    Never bought an Apple product, never intend to now. I’m the kind of customer who will not be dictated to by the entity whose product I am considering buying. This attitude is most likely the reason they’ve always trailed Microsoft.
    I admire your willingness to jump through hoops for customers who have no other access to your work. Sorry you’re having to go through this. As the saying goes, ‘No good deed goes unpunished!’

  3. Bryden Yeo Avatar

    Good call Holly. Apple is being unreasonable. I’m sorry they are giving you such a hassel. The way I see it if they are going to be rediculous like this then they don’t deserve your books. They have helped me more then you will know and for those die hard i book or i whatever fans it is well worth it to buy Holly’s books from her site or Amazon. Hope things work out for you Holly, you are a great teacher and with you high quallity and very useful courses and books you have nothing to worry about. It’s their loss.

  4. Amazingrace Avatar

    Well! As a newcomer to actually getting published, what can I say? Stick to your guns, Holly. Your integrity is far too valuable – to you, to your career – to blow it on struggling to appease myopic Apple and any other such corporate pirates.

  5. Tim Walker Avatar
    Tim Walker

    A very interesting read. Thanks for sharing your tribulations. We are doomed to have this kind of stupidity again and again. I can see how a variant on this could work in my current WIP. Keep on writing everyone.

  6. Patricia Babbitt Avatar
    Patricia Babbitt

    Did you delete the original upload before uploading the revised draft?

    1. Holly Lisle Avatar
      Holly Lisle

      It had been deleted by Apple.

  7. Deidre Lin Avatar

    Interesting!!! It appears that Apple just stomped their foot in a tantrum! Didn’t know apples could do such a thing but there you are! Proof!

    All I can say is…offer the lesson on your site as a substitute for now until you can figure out what to do. This way, you will be fulfilling your promise to your students in a temporarly fashion. Still, the remedy will probably be to pull them off of ibook for the long haul. It appears that anything with a link at all will be rejected?

    We support you no matter what and again, thanks for posting about the trials and tribulations of self-pubbing!!

    Keep your head up !!!

    1. Holly Avatar

      The lessons are on my site., for those who didn’t know I’d moved the store.

      The big problem is, there are a few folks I know of who CANNOT use PayPal, or Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, because these aren’t available in their country, but Apple is.

      So my BIG desire is to see this work out. I can’t make Apple approve my content, though.

  8. Bonnie Avatar

    I love my ipod, but I hate Apple. I always just hope everything works perfectly, because there is no such thing as a small problem with them. Much more frustrating than microsoft and that’s saying something!

  9. Melinda Hagenson Avatar
    Melinda Hagenson

    Useful lessons here. Perhaps your next book could be HTHCB (How to Handle Corporate Bullies).

  10. Davidh Avatar


    Is it okay to post links here?

    There is an old article on the Huffington Post about Apple’s lawsuit against Woolworth’s stores for an allegation that Woolie’s new logo was too similar to the Apple logo.

    I would like to share that link if it is okay.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Posting links is usually okay if I’ve already approved previous posts by you. It automatically dumps first-time posters into my spam…and while I manually check the spam, sometimes I miss things.

      Missed a real comment today—had already clicked the Delete Permanently button when I saw one legit post in the midst of a sea of crap. I wasn’t fast enough to save it.

      You should be fine, anyway, but I’m being extra careful with the spam right now, having just burned a real reply.

  11. Davidh Avatar

    Thank you for the heads-up, Holly.

    I have been debating e-publishing for some time, and whether to teach it to any of my Professional Writing and Editing students, and I am more reticent than ever.

    One thing I do know is that there is at least one less marketplace to consider.

    The whole thing reads like some form of medieval torture with a twenty-first century flavour!

  12. Arizona Avatar

    Holly, I think you have done more than enough to meet thier conditions. I think they are taking the competitor thing to silly extremes myself. Anyone who thinks it’s in their best interests to boycott you over this issue, is well… well, let’s be polite and say it’s their loss. I agree with MegC. Enough is enough. And frankly, it’s Apple’s loss too. Just saying.

  13. Kelly S Bishop Avatar

    They’re walled garden attitude is why I don’t like buying Apple products.

    In an earlier post someone recommended that you try the website. How did it look to you? I’d never heard of them before and don’t know of anyone who has used that site.

    1. Holly Avatar

      The “walled garden” attitude is worrying me a lot. They’re requiring anyone creating software for the Apple Store to include sandboxing, which prevents the software from interacting outside of the Walled Garden.

      The next version of OS X is going to include a setting that will allow the user to close off access to any software other than that which is ON the Apple Store.

      In the first release, that switch is voluntary. But if in one of the updates, they remove the option, people are going to only be able to buy from Apple.

      I have in the past bought a fair amount of software from the Apple Store.

      I’m done with that.

      I don’t allow my hardware to dictate my choice of software, so for the first time ever, I’m not going to move to the new version of OS X.

      And I’m now actively looking for Apple software producers who are going to maintain their software development independent of the Apple Store.

      The fact that I’m not going to upgrade to the next OS probably means that any attempts to get my work approved in the Apple Store are futile, actually, now that I think about this end of it. iTunes Producer, which is the way I upload books to the store, is almost certainly going to upgrade with the new OS, leaving me behind.


  14. Chris Kelworth Avatar

    Yes, I agree that what you’ve said makes sense. Sounds like once again you’ve reached the point where you’re saying “Yes, I’m ready to die over this hill. But you first!” 😉

  15. Eda Avatar

    Well, I’m glad there’s still an alternative way to get it on iPad or I’d freak out.

    On a sidenote – Wow, are there really people sobbing and threatening not to buy your stuff for that? I’d search for countless ways to GET them, not reject them because of that. Their loss.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I had one guy in a previous post on this topic tell me point-blank if I didn’t offer my stuff on the iBook store, I’d would lose him as a customer and a reader.

      For every one person who posts there comment, there are between ten and a hundred who don’t. Apple’s bookstore market share being what it is, I’m guessing closer to ten.

      But, apparently the answer to your question is “Yes.”

  16. A. H. Browne Avatar

    If Apple has issues with a book of yours including a link that NEEDS to be in there, that’s not something you can change. In this particular case, in a way, you’d be doing Apple and Amazon both a favor, but I do know their rules. Having gone through formatting my own books for publishing under their guidelines I know how they are sticklers for keeping to NO other marketer links (in this case Amazon is considered a competitor link, despite it being a link necessary for the books included information, and not trying to promote the site), but if they give you so much hassle? I agree with others that you should keep the books on your own site, and just not list them through Apple.

    I don’t think anyone can fault you, though we all know there are those people who will, sadly. I say do what works best for you. The people that benefit from these books need them AS. IS. Not altered to fit someone else’s compliance rules. Your fans will probably benefit anyway, since all your stuff is on your site period.

  17. Spredo Avatar

    I think I know how the next contract for publishing on apples websites will be:
    – You will NOT discredit Apple in the text.
    – If writing fiction, at least 2 of your characters must use Apple Computers, or 5 must use Apple Software.
    – You will NOT mention any of our competitors, unless this is in some way to tell how BAD that competitors product is.
    – You will use an extra email account of yours, and write a POSITIVE review of the Apple Website and the whole buy/download process. (Copy of text, WITH your email AND your password for that email account will be sent to Apple will have sole access to this email account for 6 months, and can post ANYTHING and ANYWHERE in your name in this period. YOU will be responsible for anything published/written from YOUR email account.)

    If you for some reason decide to WITHDRAW you book from the Apple Website, you will PAY ROYALTY to Apple for loss of sales. Amount will be decided by using the total sales of the top 3 writers from the USA Today bestseller list for 6 months. Payment must be made within 24 hours after withdrawing your book.

    By reading this contract, you are bound by its terms.

    1. Heidi Avatar

      I can see that happening too.

    2. Kenra Daniels Avatar

      Oh, wow, don’t give them any ideas!!!

      Personally, I’ve never bought any of their products, or paid much attention to them. From that perspective though, they don’t seem all that different from Amazon or any other mega-corporation. They all are terrified their market share will fall, and to prevent that, they do whatever necessary to make sure the market is their captive.

    3. Holly Avatar


    4. Athena Grayson Avatar

      You forgot they’ll patent-troll you, too. Because you’re a rectangle with rounded corners or some other nonsense. 😉

  18. wednesday Avatar

    …and that’s another reason why it’s always better to buy an author’s creations directly from their site, and support the author 100%. Silly Apple, to make this decision so easy.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Exactly what I keep thinking.

  19. Connie Edwards Avatar
    Connie Edwards

    I can empathize with your frustration.

    While I do have friends that swear by Apple products, I’ve not gone there mainly because of the no right-click feature.

    However, someone did send me an ebook offer and provided a link to their free ibook app for the PC. There were problems downloading that and their customer service responded with more or less a TS reply – couldn’t spend much for a free product.

    About 3 days after I tried that failed download, the icon did appear on my desktop – I haven’t even tested it to see if it works – maybe if enough folks buzz about their poor customer service, something will change for them.

    In the meantime, I believe you are fully justified in not dealing with them. In fact, if you were to get this done successfully, you would most likely be encountering many problems in the future.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Dude, there’s right click. You just don’t use their stupid mouse. I use Logitech trackballs.

      Right-click works perfectly. If it didn’t, I would NEVER have made the switch.

  20. Tom King Avatar

    This is why I never bought a Mac. Apple’s paranoia over it’s customers buying software products that work with Apple equipment from companies Apple doesn’t own or have a piece of. Apple hasw a right, of course, to do so. I have a right to buy Kindles, Nooks and anything without a little “i” in front of the name and I uninstall i-Tunes every time it sneaks itself onto my computer. Hold your ground girl!


    1. asraidevin Avatar

      Man, my daughter got an Ipod for Christmas and it will not sync with our desktop Itunes. Itunes crashes at least once a day. And since there is no other way to sync music to it. Lucky for me, it syncs to my laptop.

  21. Carlos del Río Avatar

    I don’t think you should worry about losing readers, it’s Apple’s problem, and you’re doing the right thing.

    Besides, anybody who wants to buy your books will be able to do so in the other shops.

    By the way, congratulations for your best-seller status at Amazon. You deserve it!

    1. Holly Avatar

      Besides, anybody who wants to buy your books will be able to do so in the other shops.

      I wish that were true. If it were, all my stuff would have been out of the iBookstore yesterday.

      The ONLY reason I’m putting up with this crap at all is because some of my students and readers have told me it’s the ONLY way they can get my work.

  22. Laraine Avatar

    My books are up with Apple (I’ve just checked) though nobody in New Zealand can buy them. 🙁 But I decided it was too much trouble going straight to Apple so I settled on Smashwords, following their formatting advice (though I used Pages; nothing in the world will induce me to go back to Word after the Word 6 fiasco). This also meant I didn’t have to submit to a whole lot of other distributors. Have you ever considered doing the same, Holly? I know you lose some of your royalties, but …

    Mind you, when I’m finally forced to get that ITIN, I’m not sure what I will do. On the face of it, a current passport is the easiest route. But my two passports expired way way back and I don’t find it acceptable to pay over $150 for something I will never use again. To put this into some sort of perspective for others, imagine yourself spending more than half of your after-tax weekly income on something you will never use for its proper purpose. Acceptable? You need your head reading if it is!

    1. Michelle Avatar

      For all those non-US writers out there, go check this site.

      I found it after a lot of research over a lot of months – I had the same issue with non-photographic ID. It explains how to go about getting an EIN, which both Amazon and Smashwords will accept.

      It works. I’ve done it. Just check the time zone from where you’re calling from and ring at 9am Philadelphia time, you won’t have to wait a long time. You still have to submit the W8-BEN as well.


      1. Megan Avatar

        Great post! I hope lots of foreign readers get your advice!

        1. Megan Avatar

          *writers, I mean 🙂

    2. Holly Avatar

      No. I won’t use Smashwords. They don’t meet my standards of a professional distributor.

  23. Mike Avatar

    I can’t fault you for this at all. Actually, in a way, this needs to happen. The more authors and developers that let Apple know that their poor communication and absurd content policies are loosing them content the more of a chance they will change.

    Besides, as I said earlier, I prefer to buy directly from the authors if they have DRM-free anyways.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I much prefer people by directly from me, too. But putting work on the big platforms allows more people to find me than ever would if the only place I published was my shop.

      That’s essentially true for anyone who’s self-publishing.

  24. Hugh Avatar

    For shame. We must all bow down before the almighty Apple and offer to eviscerate ourselves for daring to bother them with our feeble presence.

    (Am I allowed to say Apple, or does that violate copyright laws?)

  25. Russell Adams Avatar


    From the way you’ve described it, Apple strikes me as an arrogant bunch of shortsighted bastards. I’m not strongly pulled toward buying ebooks anyway, but I’m perfectly happy to write this current bunch of pinheads off completely. It’s unfortunate, since you apparently have a number of people who would like access to your materials this way.

    I wish you well on this. There are many alternative words to ‘pinheads’ coursing though my mind at the moment, but one does need to maintain a bit of public decorum.

    Illegitimi non carborundum!


  26. David Avatar

    Hi, Holly

    Your recent triplet of posts on this has had me thinking about ebooks in general. I’ve always liked the iBooks reading experience, (although the Kindle has played catchup VERY well of late…)but I hate that some books have to be bought here, others there, others from the authors directly and what not. I guess I like a monolithic librarious experience!

    Not directly because of Apple’s run-around in this issue but, perhaps, tipped over the edge by it, I’m leaving iBooks behind as a reading platform wherever possible. I’d never refuse to purchase a book from iTunes if it is only available there because that would only hurt writers.

    Thanks for supporting a variety of sources to get your lessons. Enjoy #2 very much at the moment!


  27. MegC Avatar

    Good for you, Holly. There comes a point when the only right thing to do is to say “Enough!”

    I, too, think it’s a shame that people might boycott you because of this. After all, you’ve certainly put out the extra effort to work with the silly company.

  28. Nicole Brown Avatar
    Nicole Brown

    I don’t blame you for the frustration you are feeling. I loved apple related products until iBooks and Jobs passed. It seems to me as of lately they have decided they are the end all be all to technology, and that everyone need to change how they handle things to meet up with the company’s need to reign.

    I would not stop buying your books and lessons just because they aren’t on one platform or another. I still get hardbacks/paperbacks when they aren’t available on Kindle.

    1. Holly Avatar

      I’ve seen the same thing. Or maybe it’s just more apparent with Jobs gone.

      Either way…I have every Mac I’ve ever owned, and all of them, even the very first one, still work.

      It’s hard to look at this system on which I have lost a total of 300 words in the past twelve or thirteen years, and contemplate vastly inferior hardware, and software that gets in my way.

      But I am. Matt and I are both looking at Linux now as a possible replacement for OS X.

      And what the HELL am I going to do to replace Scrivener, if it comes to that?

      1. Deb Avatar

        Apparently running Scrivener for Windows on Linux is a possibility, according to the Literature and Latte website. Unsupported, mind, but hopefully it’ll come on board at some point. It’s in beta at the moment.

        Having discovered Scrivener a couple of years ago, I can’t imagine writing without it. I use both the mac and the windows versions.

      2. Keran Parizek Avatar

        I’ve done a lot of writing in TreePad ( Comes for Linux and Windows, and the Biz version can hold a lot of material, variously organized. The enterprise version is beyond anything I’ve needed yet.

        Doesn’t have graphic notecards, but it is built around a highly configurable hierarchical organizer-with-pane that can create whatever you want for series-book-chapter-scene/outline/research/images/R’lyehan peanut butter squid recipes/any arbitrary category.

        Among other things, it does hyperlinks.

        Also: it must have a bug or two somewhere. But I haven’t hit one yet.

  29. RNFrancis Avatar

    *Looks around* Are there really people who would beat you up (a.k.a. not buy your stuff) over this? I am flabbergasted.

    Their loss.

    1. Holly Avatar

      As I noted above, yes.

      But the ones who decided to threaten to stop reading me and buying my work aren’t the ones I was staying for. They can dump me now. Probably should, actually, because if that’s the way they do things, I don’t want or need them as readers.

      The ones I’m trying so hard to stay for are the ones who have no other access to my work.

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