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Please Return My Books

Reading a book, especially by a new author, is an investment and a risk. Sure, you aren’t exactly betting your life’s savings on a roll of the die, but you are walking through the door to a new world, investing your emotions into fresh characters, and giving your time in exchange for the hope of entertainment and maybe some deeper and more complex emotional reward.

Novels, and the authors who write them, offer you the promise of entertainment, laughs, tears and maybe even a few chills. If an author breaks that promise, you deserve your money back.

If any of my books break that promise, I want you to return it and get your money back. When I write, my goal is to pull readers into my world like a magnet, and keep their attention fully invested. I want your breath to hitch; I want laughs; I want that tightness in your throat. Most of all, I want you to care what happens to Maya, Gabe and Tarren. I want to make your heart ache for their troubles.

If you read a few chapters, and are, “Meh…” then I didn’t do my job as an author. Don’t let me get away with that. Return the book. It may have only cost you a few dollars, but that doesn’t matter. I don’t deserve your money if I didn’t do a good job.

Amazon has a seven day book return policy for Kindle ebooks, which you can find HERE. You have seven days to try out a book and return it for a full refund if you don’t like it. You don’t have to explain why or fight to get your money back. Amazon also offers a generic 30-day return policy for most of its products and encourages its sellers to do the same. Most print books should follow this 30-day policy, but certain books may vary depending on their publisher. (I believe that all of my print books follow the 30-day policy)

Amazon’s return policy makes some authors nervous, and I can definitely see why. The opportunity for abuse is pretty clear. I’ve published a handful of short stories in my The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles that take less than two hours to read. Last year, I noticed that someone returned each of my short stories, and I wondered if it was the same person, buying one story, reading, returning within the seven-day window, and then buying the next story in the series. Well, at least they liked the stories enough to keep reading through the series!

Yes, the potential for abuse concerns me, but I stand behind Amazon’s return policy. I think it is much better to offer readers an easy out than to try to save authors a few dollars by making returns difficult or impossible. I trust that the majority of readers are honest and will be glad to pay a few dollars for a good book that can make them laugh so hard they pee a little. In fact, I wish there was a pee bonus I could give out to certain books.

Authors shouldn’t fight against Amazon’s return policy. The policy is not our enemy; it is actually an ally. If readers know that they always have the option for a full refund if a book turns out to be a stinker, they will feel safer investing in a new author or trying out a new series.

Self-published authors have long tried to entice readers by slashing their prices to the bone or even setting books and short stories for free. These practices may generate interest and downloads, but they undercut an author’s profit potential. (And there’s that whole concern about bottoming out the market, which is a topic for another blog.) Rather than trying to lower prices as far as they will go, authors should trumpet Amazon’s return policy as the no-risk opportunity that it is.

Invite your readers to return your book is they didn’t like it, and then they’ll have no reason not to try it.

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