Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Authors Acting As Business People: Customer Service

To a certain extent, all authors have to think and act like business people sometimes. Especially when it comes to marketing and promotion. Getting the information out there, so to speak, is an important process when it comes to a book release. And if you don't do that you could wind up confusing people without even knowing it.

After being in business myself for a long time, I learned certain things. One is never take anything for granted, and another is keep it simple and at eye level. No one wants to think too hard. They want to view a product or book cover without having figure too much out. I always try to think of the who, what, when, where and why as I'm writing blurbs and coming up with book cover ideas. I try to do this in blog posts when I'm talking about the books, too.

But sometimes things get mixed up no matter how hard you try. And that's happened to me more than a few times. This past weekend I received a private message from a reader on Goodreads. She bought a copy of "Chase of a Dream" on iTunes and wound up getting the abridged version instead of the unabridged version. Up until then I'd assumed that most retail web sites where e-books are sold will exchange books when mistakes like this happen. I know Amazon does. Evidently, according to what I'm told, iTunes does not do this. I don't know personally because I don't shop there for books; just music. And I've never returned any music.

And it doesn't really matter anyway, because I had a reader who didn't get what she wanted and that was the only problem on which I wanted to focus. It was also a problem I knew I could handle quickly. When I released two versions of "Chase of a Dream" I'd planned ahead for mistakes like this. Because books are not usually released in abridged and unabridged versions, with and without sex scenes, I knew I might have to troubleshoot a few issues if and when readers got confused and wound up with the wrong book. As a side note that makes me smile, so far no one has complained about getting the unabridged version. The only issues I've had were people getting the abridged version without the sex scenes.

So I did what any businessperson would do with a dissatisfied customer: I replied to the reader on Goodreads and told her to e-mail me personally and I would look into it. When she did, I sent her an ARC of the unabridged version of "Chase of a Dream" and solved the issue in a matter of minutes. The customer was happy, I was relieved, and neither of us had to deal with iTunes and the fresh hells they put people through. Most readers are polite and extremely cool about these things, especially if you make that effort to offer them assistance.

If this had happened with any of my books that have been published with e-publishers, I would have told them to contact the publisher first. I've had cases where things like this have happened, and each of my publishers have been more than happy to fix the problem. But when you self-publish like I did with "Chase of a Dream"...and I mean self-publish in the true sense, not with your literary agent's e-publishing service...you're going to have to deal with all issues that come up and there's no one to fall back on.

I think it's important to point this out to anyone who is thinking of self-publishing. You're going to have to be a hands on business owner and you are going to have customer service issues no matter what you publish. These days with technology making it so easy for readers to get in touch with authors, there's nowhere to hide either, which is why I make it a point to be accessible either through this blog, through social media, or with my public e-mail address.

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