Monday, June 13, 2011

Kindle Returns, or Why Do People Hate Me?

Okay, if you're a seasoned e-pubbing professional, you know a thing or two about returns. If you're new to this whole Indie thing, or haven't published yet, there's this little thing you should know about. It's called "returns."

You can count me as one of those authors who cringed every time she saw the number in the "return" column increase. Since I am now the proud owner of a Kindle, though, I can honestly say, without a doubt: it's not you (or me).

First of all, both BN and Amazon let you sample a book before you purchase. If there's an issue with your writing, the reader will likely know after they sample, and no purchase will be made.

I noticed on the Kindle, though, when I select a book to view and the page pulls up, the "Buy" button is automatically highlighted. What this means is that if I accidentally hit the "enter" button, I've purchased the book. I, quite literally, have to make a conscious effort the moment I click on a page to move to a different part of that page. If I don't, I'm one of those people who would accidentally buy something I didn't necessarily mean to purchase.

The good news is, once this happens, a message pops up asking if the purchase was a mistake. This is why, if you watch your sales closely, odds are you'll see a purchase followed almost immediately by a return.

The Percentage of Acceptable Returns (that sounds like it should be some kind of law, right?) that I've seen floating around the KindleBoards is 2%. If your return rate is less than 2%, you're fine. If it's more than that (or your return rate is astronomical), you might want to check your formatting, just in case. Obviously, the more books you sell (the more people who view your books), the higher your return rate will be.

For instance, for the month of May, I sold 2,435 copies of Cross My Heart, and I had 55 returns. This left me with 2,380 copies sold. I sold 150 copies of The Guardian, had three returned, and ended up with 147. In both cases, the return rate is less than 1%.

I'm cool with that.

This is what it looks like on the KDP homepage.

Barnes and Noble (PubIt) doesn't show sales vs. returns.

Bottom line? No need to panic. Returns are a way of life for the indie author. It's not you. It was an accident. It might've even been me . . . except that I'm trying to be super careful once I hit that product page. I don't want to cause unnecessary angst.