Monday, June 11, 2012

Indie Authors - Don't Let the Amazon Returns Scare You

Keep in mind that there are an overwhelming amount of readers who wholeheartedly support authors. They far outweigh the few misguided souls.

When I first started publishing on Amazon, I totally freaked out when someone returned one of my books. It was shocking, it was embarrassing, and it... hurt. I felt sad that someone hated my work so much the person felt the need to return it - even when it was free. 

Now that I have been doing this for five months, I've come to realize a few things and don't allow returns to mess with my head or my writing. The fact is people have different reasons for returning an eBook.

There are legitimate reasons:
  • They didn't mean to buy it.
  • The formatting of the book was bad and made it unreadable.
  • There were so many errors in the writing that it detracted from the story.
I also know (having read some of Amazon discussion boards) there are a few misguided Kindle users out there. Some readers do not understand if they read the book, they are expected to pay for it.

Unreasonable returns:
  • A few readers think it's a library. (I've had people buy an entire series and then returned each and every one.) They enjoyed my work, but they had no qualms about returning it.
  • Some think they can return a book if they don't like the ending or one of the characters.
  • Others don't take the time to read the description or check out the sample and end up buying a book they don't really care for.
Reasonable or not, I believe authors should watch the returns to see if a book has real problems. Normally, I experience between 1-5% returns on all of my books. However, there have been months where some of my books saw 10-20% returns and it upset me wondering what was wrong (especially when no one left a negative review). Funny thing is the following month those same books had only a few returns. So, there may not be any rhyme or reason to the returns but it is worth going back over your story to make sure there aren't any serious issues.

What time has taught me:

Amazon allows for eBook returns, so there will be people who abuse it. As a writer, there is nothing you can do. Amazon currently has the greatest number of readers so even taking into account the loss of sales, you will still see more success there than on any other site.

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