Selling books online can be a rewarding business. There are a few major pitfalls in starting a business selling books online. I wanted to share some that I have made in order to help out others and I would love to hear from others about some of the mistakes you have made. Outlined below are some mistakes I have made in the course of starting my online bookselling business:
o Too vague in my book descriptions – call a tear on the dust jacket a “tear” and not something else such as “light wear”.
o Not being careful enough in examining books for underlining/highlighting then listing and selling them as having “clean text”.
o Attach the mailing label to the wrong package – make sure what you print comes out in the right order.
o Losing inventory – I have sold a few books then torn up my office looking for it because god knows where it is. I end up with a refund and a lost book
o Entering an ISBN and for some reason it is recognized as a title different than the book I have. ISBNs are sometimes misprinted on the back of a book or on the copyright page. The mistake here is I don’t catch the mix-up until after I have listed the wrong title and sold it.
o Listing a really heavy book and accidentally allowing expedited shipping or international shipping. You can lose a lot of money shipping really heavy books or have your refund rate increase.
o Not updating the price info on my scanner. I try to do this every week but sometimes I forget and I scan books that seem like winners only to list them and find out their prices have dropped. Prices can drop quickly on books that have great sales ranks.
o Taking feedback to personally. If a customer is not happy with the book it is their privilege to comment. Do not respond to negative feedback when you first read it and are upset. Contact the buyer and try to work it out but be professional. Do not post a response until you contact the buyer directly. Empathize, apologize and offer a refund if you feel their complaint is legitimate. I try to recognize that they are upset and then gently prod them that it is more productive for them to contact you directly rather than post negative feedback. These situations can be uncomfortable so be calm and do not make it personal.
o Not re-pricing my books. Many of my books are high value and high sales rank which means they do not sell frequently but there is a lot of profit. I do not ever get wed to the idea of how much my inventory should sell for. This is a market and prices fluctuate.
o Using cheap, unpadded mailers – I had a stack of cheap unpadded mailers that my wife had left-over from something she did. I thought I could use them for my smaller paperbacks and save money (and make some more profit on the shipping). I had to refund two buyers because the books got damaged in the mail. Don’t get so driven to make a profit that you skimp where you should not.
o Procrastinating – working from home takes discipline. I will find myself sidetracked checking sports scores or the news instead of listing books. There is no money in having books that people want to buy and not selling them. You need to map out your day and stick to it.