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

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)

Lost! One Hour — Please Return! $$ Reward!

Missing: One Hour

Description: 60 minutes, 3600 seconds, 1/24 day, looks a little shorter while having fun and a little longer when bored

Last seen: 2 a.m. Sunday morning, March 10, 2013

If seen, please contact the owner.

$$ REWARD $$

TV Golf Tactics

So you’re closely monitoring the scorecard of your favorite golfer online hole-by-hole while you wait for golf to come on t.v. You’re very anxious because he’s in the top 10.

When it finally comes on t.v., it doesn’t. Nope, there’s a basketball or football game going on instead. Golf will finally come on when the other sport finishes.

But that’s okay because there is only 2 minutes left. Except for the fact that the last 2 minutes of basketball or football takes more like 15 minutes.

They even call a time-out if they’re down by 50 points with 1 minute to go! What’s the point of that time-out? To prolong your misery? If it’s a close game, then I would understand.

But then if it’s so close that it ends with a tie, it goes on for another 15 minutes, which of course means a half hour.

Eventually, golf actually comes on. When it does, what’s the first thing they do? Come on, guess. I’ll even give you a few reasonable choices:

(A) Show highlights of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson

(B) Discuss the weather and how it will impact the course.

(C) Immediately begin by showing the golf.

(D) Do something totally unrelated.

Yep, you guessed it, (D) is the correct answer: The first thing they do is take a sports break to tell you what wonderful things are going on in the world of basketball, football, or hockey.

Wait a minute! Didn’t I just turn on the golf? Is this the wrong channel?

Attention, golf announcers: We turned on the golf to watch golf (as difficult as this may be to believe). If we wanted to know who won a basketball, football, or hockey game, here’s a thought: Maybe we have already watched it!

I can’t remember the last time I was watching basketball, football, or hockey and they took a 10-minute break to tell me what was going on in golf earlier that day.

So when golf finally begins, the player you were watching – who was doing really well when you were following the scorecard online – has since made a few double bogeys and is now totally out of the competition.

Now that the golf is finally on, you don’t even want to watch it.

But I guess this works, otherwise why would they do it?

Maybe if I included 20 pages about baseketball in the beginning of my books (which have absolutely nothing to do with basketball), I will start selling more books. 🙂

With this in mind, I may as well include information about one of my books after my name, even though that book has absolutely nothing to do with golf (nor any other sport). What better way to symbolize the irony, huh?

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers