Saturday, February 12, 2011

Maintaining Control - Revisited

Hello Everyone,

So, I'm gonna take brief break from posting your novels to address an issue brought up by a follower.

A young lady called me (I won't reveal her name for privacy reasons) and explained that she published through Createspace and had been trying to get her book into a bookstore. The bookseller pulled her book up online and said while he'd love to stock it, he couldn't because they book isn't returnable. Those of you who've read this blog know that while I like Createspace, I'm against using their Expanded Distribution Program for this very reason. Most authors don't really understand the ramifications of signing up with this program until it's too late.

I cannot stress enough depending on your goals for your book, which often includes getting it shelved in bookstores--or at a minimum having book signings in bookstores--your book must be returnable. In this economic time, booksellers do not want to be stuck with a bunch of books that won't sell. If they don't sell, they want to be able to return them.

This requires you to ask the right questions when signing up with any POD company to print your book. Three aspects that are key to getting your books in stores: Price, Returnability, and Discount. The price has to be comparable to similar books in the genre and of the same length, you must offer a reasonable discount, and your book must be returnable. Therefore, here are key questions you must always ask BEFORE signing up with a POD company.

  1. What is your standard discount to booksellers? (If it's less than 40 percent, it is unlikely but not impossible, to get your book in stores. Standard discount is 50-55 percent).
  2. Can I set my own standard discount?
  3. Can I accept returns? (Lightning Source allows you to accept returns).
  4. If I can accept returns, does that option cost me anything? (With Lightning Source and similar PODs the option is FREE. Other company charge hundreds of dollars to allow returns. If you pay that, you're getting taken for your money).
  5. Can I set my own book price? And does that option cost me anything?
I go into significant detail about this issue here: Please check it out before you make any major decisions about publishing your book.

I'm off the soapbox now. New indie authors will be coming up beginning again on Monday!


  1. As always, great information. Thanks!

  2. I completely agree. You need to make your book as easy to find, buy AND return as possible. You are competing with the BIG BOY publishers. You have to act like a BIG BOY or GIRL, too! Books that are returned can go out again (or be destroyed if you choose that, but I never can) and you must be competitive. Writing a great book is only the beginning..

  3. Thanks for this post! The information about making your books returnable is really helpful. I've heard of many indie authors refusing to make their books returnable, and while I understand the concern and the frustration, it seems to be a real necessity if you expect your work to be as accessible as possible.

  4. Thank you! FYI, I'm going through CreateSpace now, and not only is Ingrams not taking returns for them, but they are only offering a 25% discount - I had a bookseller that I know personally pull one up and tell me. I'm getting set up to run a test book through LS.