How to Kill Your Book Sales

Kill Sales

The Problem

Sales are going along steadily. Then you get a sudden urge to limit your income.

  • Maybe your spouse is spending too much money, and this will provide a valuable lesson.
  • Perhaps you’re worried about paying too much in taxes.
  • It might be that you want to eliminate the headache of what to do with all that extra cash.

Whatever the reason—and I bet it’s a good one—you want to kill your sales.

If you’re an author or publisher, you came to the right place to learn how to do it.

Following are several possible solutions.

(1) Naked Cover

No, not naked people, a naked cover. (Though if you wrote a book on conservative Christian values, naked people on your cover might work, too.)

What’s a naked cover? It’s a plain white cover with the title and author name written on a tiny font so that you can barely see them—like the one below.

Thirty years from now naked covers will become the new trend, and you’ll be complaining, “Hey! That was my idea!”

Naked Cover

(2) Toga Party

Edit your book so that customers think, “That’s Greek to me.” Literally: Pay a translation service to rewrite your book in Greek, then upload the Greek file in place of the English one.

However, if a large portion of your target audience actually speaks Greek, maybe you should try Egyptian hieroglyphics instead.

(3) Pure Jibberish

Change your blurb so that it’s completely unintelligible. For example, you might rewrite it in Morse code, using burps and hiccups in place of dits and dahs. For example, it might start out something like this:

Burp hiccup hiccup. Burp burp burp burp. Hiccup burp hiccup hiccup.

Hiccup burp burp. Burp burp. Hiccup burp burp.

Hiccup burp hiccup hiccup. Hiccup hiccup hiccup. Burp burp hiccup.

Hiccup burp burp burp. Hiccup hiccup hiccup. Hiccup! Burp burp burp burp. Burp! Burp hiccup burp?

On the downside, your blurb might make perfect sense to drunk or buzzed shoppers. But there is always the hope that they will return their books after they recover from their hangovers.

(4) Insult to Injury

Insult your reviewers. Of course, you have to sign on with an account where you use your real name so that everyone knows that you are, indeed, the author.

Unfortunately, you can’t just drop F-bombs in the comments. Otherwise, Amazon may remove your comments and this will lose its effectiveness.

No, you must be clever. Insult your customers in such a way that they feel, “Why, I never!” But do it in such a way that your comments don’t appear to violate the review guidelines.

Perhaps something like, “Thank you for taking the time to leave that glowing, five-star review. I’m surprised that someone with a pea-sized brain was able to comprehend my literary genius.”

Some people don’t read the comments, so you have to go all out. Comment on every review, from one to five stars. Leave 300 or so comments after each review. When customers see that each review has hundreds of comments, that may draw their interest.

Go to every customer discussion forum you can, make it crystal clear who you are and how to find your book, and insult the daylights out of everybody there. That will attract more interest in your reviews, and, hopefully, add hundreds of one-star reviews to your product page.

Though some customers may feel pity for you and buy your book anyway.

(5) Haywire

Create a formatting nightmare as follows:

  • Place your cursor in the middle of a paragraph and encourage your toddler to play with the keyboard for a few minutes.
  • Indent your paragraphs from the right side.
  • Align your text so that it’s ragged left. (See the image below.)
  • Rotate an occasional page 90 degrees. Don’t worry if part of the text gets cut off.
  • Double space every other page.
  • Use italics, boldface, underline, and strikethrough (all four at once) on an entire chapter. Preferably Chapter 1, so it shows on the Look Inside.
  • Add dialog tags to every word of dialog. For example: John said, “Good,” then said, “morning,” and added, “Jane.” Then John said, “How,” to which he added, “are,” and finally, “you?” Jane began her reply, “I’m,” and ended it with, “miserable.”
  • Insert a random watermark, like the word REJECTED, onto every page of the book. (Find an example below.)
  • Hold down the Shift key and press Enter after every heading so it expands to fill the margins.
  • Cut your pictures in half horizontally. Paste the top half on one page and the bottom half on the following page.
  • Vomit on the floor, take a high-resolution picture of it, scan the image, and insert it in your book immediately following the copyright page. (If you receive an invitation to post that page of your book on the wall of an art museum… well, then, maybe your book was just destined to sell after all. Stop fighting fate.)

Kill Sales 2



Good Luck!

Sorry, satisfaction is not guaranteed. You should have read the fine print before you initiated action.

(Of course, if you want to be boring, you could just hit the button to unpublish your book, but that would be like cheating. Show some ingenuity!)

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

If Reading Were a Spectator Sport…

Just Read It

Imagine if reading were a big-time spectator sport like boxing or football:

  • Nerds would be the jocks.
  • The most popular slogan would be, “Just read it.”
  • Common advice would include, “Keep your eye on the text.”
  • Franchise teams would have names like the Chicago Verbs, Denver Hyphens, Los Angeles Chapters, Mississippi Twains, Dallas Texters, London Haiku, and Philadelphia Lyrical Wonders.
  • Fans would come to the big event shirtless and with words written across their chests and cheeks.
  • Every tail-gating party would feature poetry recitations.
  • The only injuries trainers would need to attend to would be eye soreness and backaches.
  • Close plays would be shown again in slow motion on Instant Readplay.
  • The umpire would shout, “Read Words,” at the beginning of every game.
  • The big game at the end of the season would be called the World Sentences.
  • Instead of people spending $100 to watch two guys beat their brains out for several minutes and 99 cents to read a book for many hours, thousands of spectators would pay hundreds of dollars to watch their favorite teams compete as readers for a few hours.
  • Participants would be called acathletes.
  • Acathletes would earn millions of dollars to show off their amazing reading skills.
  • Teens would dream of going on dates with the top acathletes.
  • Coaches would earn good money to teach valuable reading skills.
  • Publishers and bookstores would sponsor the teams, adding their logos to the jerseys.
  • Stores would sell expensive jerseys featuring authors, books, and acathletes.
  • At home people would watch the big event on giant e-reader screens.
  • Kids would spend their free time practicing their reading skills and would dream of becoming talented readers when they grow up.
  • People would think, “We sure have come a long way since the day of the gladiator.”

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Educators have permission to freely copy part or all of this list entitled “If Reading Were a Spectator Sport…” for non-commercial purposes in order to help promote the spirit of reading.

You Might Be a Writer if…


You might be a writer if…

  1. Some of your best ideas were originally written on napkins, Kleenex, or toilet paper.
  2. You wake up at three in the morning and sneak out of bed to spend a couple of hours alone with your computer.
  3. When people act like jerks, you appear to handle it maturely, then secretly fashion characters after them to exact your revenge.
  4. You pull over to the side of the road a few times each week to jot down ideas for your book.
  5. A family member interrupts your work to ask you a simple question and you turn into a screaming lunatic.
  6. The most fulfilling conversations you have are between you and your imaginary muse.
  7. When your lucky underwear really stinks, friends know you’ve been fortunate not to get any bad reviews for several weeks.
  8. You log into your publishing account while you’re eating lunch to check on your royalties.
  9. In the middle of the night, you wake up sweating with an irrational fear that some discovered your secret pen name.
  10. You routinely turn down invitations to parties in favor of working on your book.

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Is This a List of Stupid Questions?

Question 2

  1. What kind of fool would ever ask this question?
  2. Would anyone be foolish enough to answer this question?
  3. Why can’t you have your cake and eat it, too?
  4. Would you like some mustard for your ice-cream sundae?
  5. For crying out loud, how else would you cry?
  6. Which way did you go, George?
  7. What do you say after you ask, “Are we there yet?” and your father replies, “Yes,” although you clearly aren’t?
  8. Do you, answer, take this question to be your lawfully wedded partner, for better or for worse, till death do you part?—that is the question.
  9. You do realize that this isn’t a yes-no question, don’t you?
  10. Does a question really need to end with a question mark.
  11. This sentence, disguised as a question, is confusing, perhaps, to you.
  12. Are you you?
  13. Am I I?
  14. If a bus has 28 passengers, 6 get on and 3 get off, then 4 get on and 5 get off, then 2 get on and 9 get off, and you’re doing the math right now, why didn’t you wait to find out what the question would be before you bothered?
  15. How stupid would it be to ask this question twice?
  16. How stupid would it be to ask this question twice?
  17. What is the meaning of multiple question marks???????
  18. Is this question really loud?!!!!!!!
  19. Will you get upset if I tell you that this question really isn’t a question?
  20. Can you believe someone actually wrote this?
  21. How many more of these questions will you read?
  22. What makes a question smart?
  23. Why ask why?
  24. Why not ask why?
  25. Why ask, “Who cares?” when you don’t care who cares?
  26. When will this list be over?
  27. Did you really just waste your time reading this list of stupid question?
  28. If you leave a comment, will the reply be yet another stupid question?
  29. Is this work copyrighted © 2014 by Chris McMullen?
  30. Should we throw in another question just because?

What Do You Do When It’s Freezing Cold? (Riddle)

Polar Vortex

Misproject font by Misprinted Type ( and

It has four letters, but it’s not a bad word.

It can get your mind off the weather and take you to another world.

It’s something to do all by yourself.

It’s fun for ages zero thru infinity.

It (probably) doesn’t require transportation.

It’s an activity that more people should do more often.

It’s about to be spoiled, so if you don’t want the answer yet, don’t look down.

It’s read and you should do it today. 🙂

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

Comma Chameleon


Comma, comma, comma, chameleon.

Such a subtle separator can disguise meaning.

“Let’s eat, everyone,” sounds rather inviting.

“Let’s eat everyone,” sounds cannibalistic.

, , , , ,

Comma, comma, comma, chameleon.

Such a subtle mark can affect the pace.

“The rabbit with broken legs limped home,” sounds quick.

“The rabbit, with broken legs, limped home,” sounds slow.

, , , , ,

Comma, comma, comma, chameleon.

Such a subtle mark can hold so much power.

“My mom said her husband is crazy,” means one thing.

“My mom, said her husband, is crazy,” means another.

, , , , ,

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen

, , , , ,

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New Electronic Stats Display 8000

Electronic Stats


Check out the new Electronic Stats Display 8000:

  • Instant real-time display.
  • Works 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week.
  • Includes international wireless connection.
  • Display multiple stats from any website.
  • Fully customizable display.
  • Programmable sound effects.
  • Translate to any of 36 different languages.
  • Built-in energy-saving AI circuit.
  • Online gaming provides odds and allows user to place bets.
  • Available as mounted wall unit or portable handheld device.
  • Optional holographic projector produces 3D images up to billboard size.

Features described for fully-loaded luxury model, and are optional upgrades on other models. Offer void everywhere and anywhere else prohibited by law. Please allow six to eight centuries for delivery.

When Amazon Buys Heaven

Heaven Pic


There you stand before the Pearly Gates,

Waiting in line, realizing where you are,

Trying to figure out how you got there.


When your turn comes, you’re amazed:

No St. Peter, not even a clerk to greet you;

Nothing but a touch-screen monitor.


You must search through millions of obituaries,

Looking for yours on Amazon’s new obit site.

After hours of searching, you finally find yourself.


Your obit page has a head shot of you,

A blurb about your life, even product info,

Like gender, height, eye color, and age.


A yellow button catches your eye: Apply now.

You click it. It takes you to a form to complete.

Apply to Heaven. Estimated delivery time: two weeks.


The fine print tells you it’s based on customer reviews.

Friend and family reviews don’t count.

You can’t beg for reviews; they must be volunteered.


In the meantime, you’re encouraged to leave reviews.

Will you stick it to people who rubbed you the wrong way?

What will be your basis for judgment?


So you browse through the obits looking for others.

You note glowing five-star reviews of obvious sinners,

And one-star complaints against peace activists and volunteers.


Celebrities have thousands of reviews, more good than bad.

Some of your acquaintances have no reviews at all.

You do them a favor, and hope someone reviews you.


Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

Beating a Dead Horse

Beating a Dead Horse

Artwork by Melissa Stevens @

“Beating a Dead Horse” is the follow-up to the original poem of clichés, “Once Upon a Time.”

Out of the gate, the detective was bored out of his mind.

Not a single person was even horsing around.

He couldn’t hold his horses for a case to work on.

It was a one-horse town, but it wasn’t his horse.

Then a damsel in distress strolled into his office.

She was a bombshell; a perfect ten; out of his league.

He was a silly goose to be daydreaming about her.

What chance did a loser like him have with a girl like her?

So he picked his eyeballs off the floor and stuttered like glue.

Turns out her horse had been murdered in the dead of winter.

Even worse, she caught someone beating the dead horse.

It was a knight in shining armor beating the poor beast like a drum.

A knight living in 2013? Sounded like an open and shut case.

It would have been a challenge if the knight had had some horse sense.

What kind of fool would linger at the scene of the crime like that?

He told the damsel that he would take care of the matter.

The next morning he went to see the horse with his own eyes.

It was an absolute nightmare; the horse was literally black and blue.

Now that was a horse of a different color.

Her story fit: The horse had been struck by the broad end of a sword.

The detective went to the station to call in a favor.

They gave him the address to the only castle within a hundred miles.

Sure enough, he found the culprit just where he thought he would be.

The detective asked the knight to confess to his sins.

He had no doubt, but wanted to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

But it was no use: The knight wouldn’t say a word.

It was like putting the cart before the horse, without first having proof.

So the detective went outside to dig up the buried hatchet.

Of course, it was a sword, not a hatchet, but you get the idea.

The sword had the knight’s fingerprints all over it.

However, the knight still denied it. He pleaded innocent.

Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

There was one thing the detective needed to make his case: Motive.

What he had was only close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades.

The detective pried into the knight’s life like a crowbar.

Turns out that the knight was up to his ears in debt.

He had been sued for food that turned out to be horse meat.

So the knight had bet all of his money on a long shot.

He was hoping it would be a dark horse that would make his day.

But the damsel’s horse edged it out by a nose.

The knight begged the damsel for mercy.

He lost his cool when the damsel got on her high horse.

That’s when the knight plotted his revenge.

The knight showed up at her house with a box of chocolates.

She had been hungry enough to eat a horse.

So she looked the gift horse straight in the mouth.

That candy had a sedative that knocked her out like a light.

The knight slipped into the stable to do his dirty work.

But he was too late: The horse was already stone dead.

The horse’s heart just couldn’t take it anymore.

The knight couldn’t even do a simple thing like kill a horse.

So he took his frustrations out on the poor horse’s corpse.

The case was solved; it was a done deal; finis.

He reported his findings to the damsel. She was impressed.

What the heck? He got up the courage to ask her out.

The worst she could do was crush his heart like a bug.

Yet that didn’t happen: She took him up on his offer.

They got married and lived happily ever after.

He never could figure out what she saw in him.

Not that he minded one little bit.

He would have given an arm and a leg to be with her.

And that’s exactly what she saw in him: chivalry.

In the end, it didn’t take armor to be a knight.

Click here to see the original poem of clichés, “Once Upon a Time.”

Copyright © 2013 Chris McMullen. Educators and parents may use this poem for free for non-commercial, instructional purposes.

Your Muse and Murphy’s Law

Muse Murphy Pic

Murphy and your muse are surely conspiring with one another. At least, that’s the case with my muse. The evidence is in.

I didn’t have any writing ideas all morning. One minute after driving away from the house, my muse gave me a great idea for a poem. (I’ll probably butcher the idea when I try to write the poem, but that’s beside the point.)

Fortunately, I have a pen in the car. (Learned from experience.) But not paper. (Perhaps I didn’t learn my lesson well enough.) But we writers are resourceful; I have plenty of napkins.

Now I just need to wait for a red light, traffic jam, funeral procession (now there’s a poor soul whose problem is much greater than my own), train, road construction, or one of the many delays that I ordinarily encounter virtually every time I drive anywhere.

But this wasn’t any ordinary drive. I wanted a red light. I just needed a few seconds to scribble down some words.

Green light. Green light. Green light. Ah, finally a red light. Where’s that napkin? Hey, it’s green already!

Meanwhile, my muse is feeding me more and more ideas for the poem. Then I get an idea for my blog. Then I get another idea for my blog. I know if I don’t write these down, it will anger my muse. She doesn’t like to repeat herself.

Where are all the red lights? How is it possible not to get a red light when you want one? I once drove 70 miles, getting every one of several lights red in two different cities. Oh, but that day I had been in a hurry.

I did manage to reach my destination and jot down some notes on a napkin. Then I went into the restaurant, only to think of yet another idea, with my napkin and pen back in the car.

Very funny, muse. We all know that muses have a great sense of humor. They really put the muse in amusement.

Of course, this isn’t the only evidence. We have storage rooms full of it.

Your muse and Murphy’s law: They’re definitely in on it together.

What has your muse done to you lately?

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)