No More Boomerang Books: Four Tips for Reducing Returns
Some publishers experience return rates of 30 percent or more. There are four important things you can do that can help to reduce or eliminate returns.
- Take responsibility. Retailers and distributors do not sell books. They simply display them or fill the pipeline after you have sold them. Recognize that it is up to you to spread the word, and to get buyers into the stores (if you choose retail distribution) to purchase your books. Then, if your book is good, it should continue to sell.
- Produce a good book. It is not enough to publish book that is well written, properly edited with good page layout and cover design, and priced properly. That is expected. An equally critical factor is that it is based on market need and has a competitive difference. Know the answers to these two questions:
•Why should people in your target markets be interested in buying what you have to say?
•How is your book different from, and better than, all the other books on your subject?
- Conduct a targeted, assorted promotional campaign. Find the right balance between reach (the number of people in your target market exposed to your message) and frequency of promotion that is directed toward those people. This presupposes that you have defined your target reader. Also, simply appearing on TV and radio does not guarantee sales. You must perform well. In addition, promote with an assorted mix of publicity, advertising, social networking, direct marketing, sales promotion and personal presentations.
- Sell on a non-returnable basis. The marketplace for selling books can be divided into two major groups: retail and non-retail. As a general rule, retail sales (bookstores, discount stores, airport stores, supermarkets) are returnable, and non-retail sales (corporations, associations) are non-returnable. Employ the marketing strategy of selling to non-retail buyers in large, non-returnable quantities.
Bonus Tip: If you receive returns of partially damaged books—in relatively good shape but not saleable—send them to the producers of radio (but not TV) shows on which you seek an appearance.