Monday, February 11, 2013

L. Diane Wolfe

Great guest here today! L. Diane Wolfe is here to promote her latest book HOW TO PUBLISH & PROMOTE YOUR BOOK NOW. I've 'known' Diane for a few years now - we met shortly after I started blogging. In fact, Diane was my very first guest poster a while back. It's a pleasure to have her here again today!


Book Returns
Book returns are like a dirty secret. Authors and publishers dread them. Readers have no idea of the extent. However, book returns have been with us for over eighty years.
The ability of bookstores to return books began during the Depression. Desperate for book orders, publishers started promising stores that they could return books that didn’t sell. Bookstores struggling to survive no longer had to worry about being stuck with unsold merchandise and took advantage of the offer.
The Depression ended. Unfortunately, the return policy continued.
Most publishers have a 90-day window for returns. This means the store has to return books that didn’t sell within those three months or pay for them. To avoid this, stores will return books just before the 90-day grace period ends, and regardless of the condition of said books, the publisher or wholesaler/distributor has to give the store credit. Ironically, when a store does this, they will immediately place an order for the very same books since they no longer have any in stock. Now they have another 90 days to keep the merchandise on their shelves without making payment.
In 2004, the Association of American Publishers estimated returns for hard covers to be 31%. Paperbacks were at 18%. When one out of three hard backs and one of five paperbacks are returned, you can understand why publishers hate returns! Authors hate them, too. A returned book is credited against their royalties. And with those kinds of numbers, it’s stunning any publisher makes money.
The primary source of returns comes from physical bookstores and the wholesalers/distributors that deal with these stores. On occasion, library distributors return books as well. However, book clubs, retail sites, direct library sales, and other outlets don’t return books.
As bookstores have dwindled, so has the problem of returns. However, there is now a new source of returns.
E-book returns are not an issue for most. The majority of E-book sellers allow no returns, such as Apple’s iTunes store. Once you’ve downloaded it, the book is yours. A few have the fifteen-minute ‘buyer’s remorse,’ but that’s it.
Except Amazon.
Amazon allows digital returns up to seven days later. Even though a buyer could easily read a book in less than a week and return it, Amazon still gives that person a refund. Who returns a book that was only $3? Who knows?
But, that’s certainly an improvement over print returns.
Have you ever returned a book or had yours returned?
L. Diane Wolfe
Professional Speaker & Author
Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association and the author of numerous books. Her latest title, “How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now,” covers her publishing seminars in depth and provides an overview of the entire process from idea to market. “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, ties her goal-setting and leadership seminars together into one complete, enthusiastic package. Her YA series, The Circle of Friends, features morally grounded, positive stories. Wolfe travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, and assists writers through her author services.

Publishing and promoting made simple!
Have you always dreamed of publishing a book but didn’t know where to begin? This book walks you through the steps of identifying markets, budgeting, building an online presence, and generating publicity. Get the whole story on:
· Traditional publishing
· Self-publishing
· Print and e-book setup, formatting, and distribution
· Finding your target audience
· Generating reviews and media interest
· Networking and developing an online presence
· Promotional materials and appearances
Uncover your ideal publishing path and numerous marketing options before you begin. Writing is your dream. Give it the best chance for success!
Available February 5, 2012
Publishing/Marketing, 214 pages
$14.95 Trade paperback ISBN 978-0-9827139-5-2
$4.99 Ebook ISBN 978-0-9827139-9-0
Available in all Ebook formats

Amazon    Amazon Kindle     Barnes & Noble          
“She gives an unbiased take on the advantages and disadvantages of traditional publishing and self-publishing and publishing paths that combine the two… It's the perfect book for those who want an overview to begin the decision-making process.”
- Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning series of how-to books for writers
“A must-read for writers planning on self-publishing or any writer who wants the ultimate how-to on promoting. Tons of links, advice, and how-to, whether you're going for print or e-publication.”
- Helen Ginger, author of Angel Sometimes

Yikes! I had no idea so many books were returned - and I didn't know you could return an e-book at all! No wonder authors hate them!!
How about you, is this news to you? How have returns affected you?


  1. Hi, Jemi, Hi, L. Diane,

    Very interesting and educational post, ladies. I had no idea you could return ebooks! That is an outrage. How ridiculous is that.

    I know about book store returns, but I didn't know they played the game for months before payment or final return. Since I have nothing published yet these issues haven't affected me, BUT it's something that every writer should know!

  2. Hi Diane! I've never returned a print book but I have donated books to charity or book swap schemes!

    And you're right! Who on earth would return e-books for as little as that?

    Take care

  3. I've never returned any book. Who would return a three dollar book? If you can't afford to risk three bucks, don't download it in the first place.

  4. It was so interesting reading the details about returns. I've only returned a few books my daughter got as presents that we knew she wouldn't like and we immediately exchanged them for another book.

  5. Michael - exactly! We all need to know it, because it will affect us one day!

    Old Kitty - I can't imagine returning an e-book - seems so rude!

    Alex - agreed! That's crazy.

    Natalie - I can see doing that - exchanging makes total sense to me :)

  6. Michael, bookstores play the game all the time. It's how they do business.

    Thanks so much, Jemi.

  7. Yes, I did know about Amazon and returns. I don't think it has affected me. But I'm with you, who returns a $3 book you've read?

    Although, I have wondered about gifting books through Amazon, say in a contest. I've often wondered if that was a mistake to do because people might exchange your book for something else.

  8. Oh, so that's how they do it. I was wondering about that since my local book store has books on their shelves that have been there longer than 90 days. Wow, that's a full time job in itself.

  9. I had a few Kindles returned. I thought, "Wow, its just a couple dollars. Was my book that bad to the reader, or are they just cheap?"

  10. I didn't know any of this! I've never returned a book, even those I didn't like or never read. I'll donate them to the library or give them away. It would never occur to me to return them and Amazon should not do that. As you say, a lot of books are easy to read in seven days.

  11. Likewise who returns a 99 cent book? But they do. (Not me, I look through the preview first and then make my purchase and I'm always happy.)

    7 day return policy on ebooks is too much. 24 hours I think would be reasonable for all parties.

  12. I didn't know about book returns - wow. That's kind of awful, although I can understand the necessity of it (especially during depressions/recessions). I don't like the idea of a seven day return policy either. Yikes. Thanks for the knowledge! :)

  13. Print returns are a mess. The whole system is wasteful, actually, and I think it's one reason why publishers and bookstores are struggling now.

  14. Jennifer, never thought about exchanges.

    Stina, some stores have one person dedicated to keeping up with it.

    Yvonne, I've never returned a book, either.

    Holly, 24 hours max.

    Elizabeth, it is so wasteful! I should've added that mass markets aren't returned, they are destroyed. A complete waste.

  15. Interesting...

    And I wonder about Amazon wanting to sell "used ebooks." Who gets the profit? Prolly Amazon, LOL!


  16. I've had two of my ebooks returned on Amazon. I can't figure out why someone would do that.

  17. Diane - you're very welcome!

    Jennifer - the gifting process does add another twist to the plot, doesn't it?

    Stina - it really is! Who knew? :)

    Stephen - I'm going to go with cheap and decietful!

    Yvonne - I agree - it rarely takes me a week to read a book! But I've never returned one (and never will!)

    Holly - 24 hours is much, much more reasonable!

    Bethany - I know - it's hard to imagine, isn't it?

    Elizabeth - that makes sense! It's awful to look at the piles and piles of books in a book store that you know will go back!

    lb - probably! *sigh*

    Susan - me neither. I figure it's my risk to take and if I hate the book - oh well.

  18. It's news to me. I had no idea regular customers could "return" e-books after buying them.

  19. I guess books are a risky business for all parties. One thing about the ebooks is that I guess I won't be finding those at Dollar Tree stores. I guess the books they sell there must be returns from other stores. I've found some pretty good deals there.

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  20. Golden Eagle - I think it's crazy!! No need for that

    Lee - we don't have Dollar Trees here - and I haven't seen any books in our dollar stores - seems odd!

  21. Lbdiamond, let's hope it never comes to used e-books.

    Golden Eagle, only on Amazon.

    Lee, those are returns! Just like many of the discount books you see at Barnes & Noble. The author makes no money though.

  22. Really interesting! I never knew that!

  23. Lisa - I didn't either! It's a little mind boggling!

  24. So interesting! I didn't know much about book returns before reading this. I couldn't imagine returning an e-book, that's kind of... different.

  25. Diane has done a fantastic job promoting this book. It's a must-have!

  26. Shelley - it really is! Can't imagine doing that!

    Charmaine - it really, really is!! :)

  27. Returning e-books?
    Come on... really?
    I struggling to wrap my head around it...

  28. Michelle - I know! Bizarre - and rude! :)

  29. Hi Jemi! Hello Diane!

    I haven't ever returned a print copy but once without clicking through I received an invoice of an eCopy of a book, which I promptly returned.


  30. Nas - now that I can totally understand! It's so easy to have the computers play games with us :)

  31. The whole economic structure of the publishing business is so out of whack. No wonder they don't make the kind of money they should.

  32. Carol - it really is crazy! Hard to believe.

  33. Shelley, and now Amazon wants to sell used e-books. Can you imagine?

    Michelle, they do it.

    Carol, I'm really surprised any of them have survived. The loss on returns is huge.

  34. The return system for print books is incomprehensible. It benefits no one but the bookstores, and it is so wasteful. Hard to believe it's been allowed to go on all these years.

    I did return an ebook to Amazon once—about 30 second after I bought it. I realized I'd ordered the wrong book.

    After Amazon joined with Audible, I began receiving emails saying if I bought an audiobook through Audible, and I didn't like it. I could return it, which I still think is absolute lunacy.

    I received my copy of Diane's How to Publish and Promote... on Friday. What a fabulous resource!

    ~VR Barkowski

  35. VR - I'm glad they accept returns for mistakes like that - that's plain old good customer service! But the other stuff is nuts!!

    Diane has created a fantastic resource here! :)

  36. Yikes, this is such an interesting post! I wasn't aware of the extent of this! And I didn't even realize that about Amazon! Wow. Thanks for posting this!
    congrats on another book, Diane! I hope your sales soar.

  37. This was an interesting but also disturbing post! I had no idea that this was such an issue, I guess I never thought about it. I also never dreamed that Amazon allows returns of ebooks like this, that seems crazy to me. Very informative post, thanks to you both!

  38. Wow. You know, I'm a literary agent and I didn't know this. What an informative post!

  39. I've never returned a book, but I see them once in awhile on my Amazon reports. What troll returns a $1 book? I can see if they made a downloading mistake. Therefore, returns should only be allowed for 24 hours.

    It's weird because they don't allow returns of downloaded music or movies.

  40. Terry - it is more than a little bizarre how A works!

    Julie - Diane sure knows her stuff! I'm still shocked about ebook returns!

    Searching - makes me feel better! :) Diane really is a great source for information on all things publishing!

    Mary - good point! I agree on the mistaken download - that makes good sense. But 7 days is nuts!!

  41. Hi Jemi and Diane,

    I have never returned a book and even if I decided I didn't like it as in a 'real' book you can actually touch, well I can always give it to somebody I don't like.

    Nice to see Diane here and I know her book will be of much help to many and I've suggested the latest book to an aspiring author friend of mine.

    Gary :)

  42. Gary - too funny! I tend to donate my non-favourites to the library - I can't imagine ever returning one!

    Great to hear! Diane is completely awesome & her book will help a lot of people :)

  43. VR, thank you so much for ordering it. Yes, the return system is so wasteful, especially since mass markets are destroyed.

    Thank you, Terry.

    Julie, returning e-books a week later is just wrong.

    Searching - surprise!

    Mary, that's what I say - you can't return other electronic mediums, so why books?

    Gary - LOL!

    Thank you so much, Jemi!

  44. I've never returned a book. I usually have them sitting on my shelves for a long time and if I decide I don't want to read them, I donate to a library or put them into my classroom. It's good to know about the ebook returns, but I rarely start a book within days.

  45. Medeia - I know - my TBR pile is enormous so I often have a book wait for a while. I do the same thing with my books :)

  46. Hi Jemi - I followed the link from Diane's blog. It's nice to meet you.

    Diane - no, I have never returned a book. Not even a book I didn't like. It wouldn't even occur to me. Granted, I can only think of two books I own that I don't like, but even those are still on my shelves.

  47. Annalisa - nice to meet you too!! :) I've never returned one either - just can't do it :)

  48. What a fascinating post! I can't recall ever returning a book. I had no idea about the different return policies. I can't believe an ebook can be returned, as it would be very easy to read and return the book in 7 days. Wow! I wonder how many ebooks get returned to Amazon.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

  49. Jess - I know! It's bizarre - it rarely (if ever) takes me 7 days to read a book - but I've never returned one!!

  50. Thanks for this post. Now, I know ebooks can be returned.

  51. CD - I hope most people don't though - unless it's a mistaken click! :)