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Return policies are there for a reason: because people might just dislike something after buying it. This usually applies to physical products, but it can also affect people who sell Kindle books as well. In fact, there are some people that will deliberately buy books with the thought of returning them. While you can’t please everyone, and you can only do so much to stop rampant returners, there are a few things that you tweak about your book description to ensure the lowest number of returns.

Amazon’s Policies

If you sell ebooks on your own (like many Internet marketers), then you have very little protection against rampant returners. However, Amazon doesn’t want to lose money, so there are some good policies in place to keep returns to a minimum. First of all, you should know that Kindle books can be returned. Many authors don’t think this, and the truth is that it’s fairly uncommon since most people don’t know how to return books through Kindle. At the same time, it’s becoming more common as people get used to their devices and understand that they have this privilege.

According to Amazon’s Kindle return policy, users can return a book within seven days. After that point, they can’t return the book. This strict limit will keep returns to a minimum. If the book is returned, then the user will no longer have access to it. That’s another good measure, but not quite as effective because smart users can duplicate the file, return the book to get their money back and continue reading.

The last thing that Amazon does to protect you, and this applies to all products, is that it will limit and then ban users who return too many items. 

Pre-Buying

Why do people return books? There are two major reasons (outside of those who feel justified in stealing material): the book isn’t what they thought, and they just don’t like the book. Let’s focus on what they see before buying. Every book listing is going to show a description and cover. Both are important as selling tools, but they will also keep your returns to a minimum if used properly.

The cover should look professional and enticing, but it should also work with the subject matter of the book. For example, don’t show a portrait of Hitler if you’re discussing the history of India, and don’t show an image of werewolves and vampires if your novel is a realistic period fiction. The cover has to relate to the subject matter of your book.

The bigger tool here is the book description. First of all, make sure that the book description looks good and that it has nice formatting. This will improve your sales, and it will reduce any confusion that potential buyers might have about your book. Amazon allows you to use some HTML formatting, and you should do your best to accurately describe the book. While you definitely need to build suspense to make people want your book, the description (like the cover) must be accurate. This ensures that people are getting what they expect. 

Amazon also has the “Look Inside” feature automatically enabled for every Kindle book. This allows people to see the first few pages of your book. Make sure that these pages really exemplify your writing and that they build up the rest of the book. This is a good section for non-fiction writers to explain the purpose of their book, and for fiction writers to show the reader what he or she can do with words.

Post-Buying 

The customer now has the book, but he or she still has seven days to return it. How can you reduce return rates after the customer bought the book? You got the customer through the description, cover and the first few pages, now you just need to make sure that the rest of the book is up to the same standard of quality.

A professional editor would be best, but most Kindle writers don’t have the resources for that. The best thing that you can do is edit your book for any factual, logical or other inconsistencies. For example, make sure the main character’s name is David and his hair is brown from page 1 to 100. 

You must also check for grammar and readability. Many sentences can be shortened or improved so that they read better. Having very poor grammar throughout the whole book can cause readers to return your book, and having overly long and clunky sentences can do the same. Even the most lighthearted book should be edited with an air of professionalism. Make sure that it’s the best that it can be, and also ensure that your grammar is perfect. If this is too difficult for you, then you might want to consider hiring a professional proofreader along with an editor.

There are many grammar checking programs (Word is built with one, and there are numerous third-party solutions), but don’t rely on them. They’re good for checking broad errors, but they aren’t always right and they don’t always find everything. You still need to check your text with a fine-tooth comb.

If you gave the customer what he or she wanted, then the only reason to return to book is if the quality takes a major turn for the worse. Make sure this doesn’t happen.

Conclusion

While returns are fairly uncommon with Kindle, they are starting to become more of a menace as people understand how to return books. You can reduce this by ensuring that your description and cover match your book, and that the rest of the book is up to the same standard of quality as the first few pages. It doesn’t take much, and all of these steps will improve your ability to sell.

Filed under: kindle publishing

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