If you’re just beginning your research into publishing companies, don’t be surprised if you stumble across a number of unfamiliar words or concepts.

Initially, you may be put off by these terms. But, please – for the sake of your book – don’t be!

Now that writers have become self-publishers, it’s important to learn some of the vocabulary of traditional publishers.

Today’s publishing word? Returnability. What does it mean? And why should you care?

In layman’s terms, returnability means “whether or not a bookstore can return books to a publisher that they cannot sell.”

Now, let’s pretend for a moment that instead of writing books, you sell books in a lovely little neighborhood bookshop. Every writer in your town dreams of walking into your store and finding her book inside.

Needless to say, you’re inundated on a daily basis with requests from publishers to stock their writers’ books.

How do you, the bookstore owner, decide which books to carry? Since you don’t have time to read all of the books yourself to judge their quality, you have to come up with another criterion.

A good one to use would be returnability, because the financial future of your little bookshop depends on it.

If a publisher whose books you like offers full returnability, your bookstore won’t assume any financial risk by choosing to stock those books.

If the books don’t sell, you simply return them to the publisher at the publisher’s expense.

You – the bookstore owner who’s interested in staying in business – would be wise to choose only to stock books that come with full returnability attached to them by their publisher.

So what does this mean to you, the writer?

Quite simply, it means that you must make sure your publishing company offers full returnability on your book.

Without returnability, your book won’t make it onto shelves – and how will your readers find it then?