The Nightingale Circus was recently discounted for a week on Amazon, so I thought I'd tell you a bit of what I noticed regarding refunds. Not a glorious subject, I know, when I should brag instead about the number of sales and how it entered Amazon Top 50 Paid (it did!), but this topic needs to be addressed too.
During the 2 and 1/2 years that I've been self-published, I had less than a dozen ebooks refunded on Amazon. Not a big deal obviously so I didn't worry about it. Some buyers' practices did catch my attention though. I will never understand why anyone would ever return a free book. I don't quite understand the return of $0.99 books either. Unless you buy tons of $0.99 books per week, you surely won't get broke because of it.
Still, from what I heard, people do return ebooks quite often and sometimes for the wrong reason. So what would the right reasons be?
1. technological issues - and by this I mean corruption of the ebook file. Of course, the file should be tested on two devices before being returned. It's not Amazon or the writer's responsibility to make sure you own a properly working device.
2. poor formatting - I did see some poorly formatted ebooks that would make the reading experience terrible, but this is usually obvious from the sample available on Amazon, so why buy the book in the first place?
3. non-consistent editing - as in the sample is edited and the rest of the book isn't. I haven't encountered such books, but no doubt there are, though hopefully not that many.
4. misleading description - the book is suppose to be about one subject, but then you discover it's nothing as such. This is a bit debatable because it shouldn't include the quality of the writing.
5. mistake buy - I guess not everyone checks ten times before making a purchase so this should be allowed, but I think the book should be returned in the following 24 hours and not wait for 7 seven days as the current Amazon policy allows.
Any other reason is a big no-no as far as I'm concerned. When you buy a book, you take a chance. You can't return it just because you didn't like it the same way you can't ask for refunds after consuming a meal, watching a movie or a play. The best you can do is write a negative review and warn other potential customers about it.
Now, as responsible readers, we do have to check a few things before making a purchase:
1. title and author - is this the book we want? The release date helps too.
2. book description - would we enjoy reading a book on that subject? Also pay attention to grammar and spelling errors, big red flags when it comes to the editing quality.
3. price - can we afford it? Is it much more expensive than other books in the same genre? Honestly, I saw the other day a $14 ebook, and it wasn't written by a well-known bestselling author. I was like WTF? Unless you publish world wide bestselling books year after year, in which case you can do whatever the hell you want, anything over $10 seems terribly overpriced for fiction. It's different for non-fiction, text books and art books.
4. length - this should also be correlated with the price in most cases. I see many books that are only a few dozen pages long. Don't feel cheated if you haven't done your research before buying.
5. sample - do take the time to read the whole sample. Pay attention to the quality of the editing and the author's voice. You'll be stuck with it for the entire rest of the book.
6. reviews - yes, they're subjective, but they're supposed to be that way. I first check the 1 and 2-star reviews to see if there are mentions of things that would particularly bother me. And then I check on Goodreads to see what my friends thought of the book.
In the end, after you purchased and read the book, leave a review, subjective as it may be.