Tag Archives: sales

Sniff the chocolate, buy the book

Phil: According to a study by Belgian researchers published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, releasing the smell of chocolate into the air in a book shop will make customers 40% more likely to buy romance novels and cookbooks, and about 22% more likely to buy books in other genres.

The researchers, led by Lieve Douce of Belgium’s Hasselt University, spent 10 days observing customers in a Belgian bookstore and found that they would spend more time browsing if the aroma was present.

This is terrific news for anyone working in a book shop. Science has said that if they stuff themselves with chocolate and waft the smell (obviously you can’t breathe aggressively on customers at the moment) around, sales will soar. I’d be up for that!

So, sit back and imagine the scent of your favourite bar. Let your imagination fill your nostrils with the heavenly aroma. Now all you need is a book to read where a chocolate machine takes a major role in the plot. Hold, on, What about this one?

Please note: Candice and Phil do not recommend using bars of chocolate as bookmarks. They will go all melty and ruin the pages. Gobble then down with a nice cup of tea instead. 

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Selling to blokes

mancoverPhil: I was chatting to friends about The Book a few days ago and was keen to find out why they hadn’t bought a copy, even though I’d been banging on about it on Facebook and Twitter for over 48 hours.

The problem, it transpired, is the cover.

A big red high-heel shoe appeals to women and a small number of men. For blokey blokes who drink brown beer and posses a full set of spanners in both metric and imperial sizes, it’s a turn off. They thought it wasn’t for them.

When I explained the contents – commenting that there was a lot of Tom Sharpe style humour (this was very popular) and buckets of cynicism about modern work, they were a lot more interested.

Fortunately, if you read the e-book version (available for a bargain £1.99), the cover is on the screen for a few seconds before you delve into the contents. Since your e-book reader is probably fitted in a manly camouflage colour case, no-one will know what you are reading.

But the print edition is still an issue. A similar one that the Harry Potter series suffered. Adults might like to read children’s books, just not ones that look like they came from the junior library.

The publishers solved it by simply issuing adult and children’s versions of the cover. On that basis, all I’ve done is produce a suitably macho version featuring elements of the story that will appear to the hairier gender.

OK, it’s not as good as Kari’s version but I think I’m getting there. All my ideas were stolen inspired by best selling man-books.

  • Explosion – Check
  • Roarty macho vehicle – Check
  • Pretty lady – Check
  • Macho lettering – Check

I’d have put some guns it it expect we don’t have any of those in the story, you’ll have to wait for Book 2 for this, and my search for “Brussel Sprout hand grenade” has so far defeated Google.

So, if you need to read your book in public and want it to bland in with your Andy McNabb collection, just print out the picture above and stick it over the cover. Camouflage – that’s the trick!

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Now the hard part: Selling the book

BuyNowPhil: On Tuesday, Candice was wondering what to do next once we’d finally pitched the book out into the big, wide, world. I feel the same way. We’ve been talking about this for years and now it’s done.

Trouble is that writing novels is full of hardest jobs.

  • Stitching enough words together to tell a story – Check
  • Polishing those words so the readers can enjoy them – Check
  • Publishing the words so others can read them – Check
  • Persuading people to buy the book – THAT’S the next job

Writing a book is a very personal experience. You live with your characters and story for years. Eventually, you decide they are ready for other people to see. At this point the project is massively important to you.

To everyone else, it’s just another book vying for attention on the ever crowded shelves of your local electronic book store.

We’ve pushed this on Facebook and Twitter. People have said nice things but the challenge is to turn those nice thoughts into sales. For example, one of my Facebook posts showing the cover quickly picked up 20 “likes”, but if everyone who liked it had bought a copy then our sales would be greater than they are.

I understand the problem and can sympathise. Hitting the Like button is easy. Going through the purchase process is fiddlier and time-consuming even if you are minded to hand over a couple of quid to your friends to find out what they’ve been talking about all this time.

Advertising people talk about OTS – “opportunities to see”, a count of the number of times someone is exposed to an advert. 5 exposures are (apparently) required for reasonable impact on the average person. Another 2 and you have a chance of changing behaviour, in this case making a sale.

So all we need to do is keep beating people over the head with the book and it will sell?

Possibly, but as we are both pretty selective about our social media contacts, at least on Facebook, there is the dilemma that the more aggressive you become, the greater the chance of spending your life lonely and living with cats rather than people.

Basically, we need to market this so we keep all our friends but still sell some copies. Over to you Mrs Marketing…

Oh, and do go and buy the book from Amazon or Lulu.com

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Amazon Publishing – A few pointers for newbies

Our book in Kindle and iPad simulatorsPhil: It’s true, we are going to bring the book out using Amazon. That means someone has to get down’n’dirty with the mechanics of stuffing our words into their system so you can buy it. This sort of work is defined as “nerdy” so falls to me apparently.

I’m pleased to say, it’s remarkably easy, or at least appears to be so far.

Here are a few pointers to help anyone thinking of following the well-worn path we are currently walking:

Set all the text in your manuscript up using “Styles” rather than fiddling with the fonts. Define your own styles by all means but use them consistently.

For example, all our text is set up using “Body Text” style. This is currently 12pt Times New Roman but in truth it doesn’t matter. All the words in this style will be shown the same size, even if the reader makes the font bigger on their device.

(As an aside, e-readers are great news for those with poor eyesight. You can set the font size to massive, no need to search out large print books. Mahoosive fonts, especially with a high contract background, make reading a possibility for a huge number of people technically registered blind – accessibility needn’t mean special equipment, hooray!)

I’ve also got a chapter title style and one for e-mails shown on the page which we like to show using courier font.

If I’d set this up from the start, work at this end of the process would be reduced as the manuscript would be properly formatted already.

I’m hoping this also helps when we look at paperback print options. With large chunks of text defined by styles, I can alter the entire book with a few clicks.


Pay attention to the sign up process.

Even for non-US authors, there’s a load of American tax questions to answer. Mostly in the negative for us but it’s a bit of a bind doing them. Be prepared.


Amazon isn’t based in the UK. You’ll need the international versions of your bank account number.

I headed over to my banks’ website and after a little searching found a number generator that gave me the required information.

You can only pay royalties into a single account. Candice trusts me so it’s going into mine and I’ll transfer money to her. This is pretty safe. I’m only going to spend my cash on toy trains, old cars and unfashionable clothing. If I suddenly turn up in a flash car wearing designer labels, she’ll guess something is up and demand answers when I regain consciousness. If you are less trusting, set up a special account.


If the book is a joint effort, share the login details.

Seriously, if one of you drops dead, how frustrating would it be for the other not to be able to administer the book? I’m not sure it is strictly speaking allowed, but seems a sensible move.


Once your book is on sale, buy a copy.

This way, it will appear in the “People who bought this also bought this” bit of the page. The more people who buy, the more often you’ll appear. Don’t give copies to friends and relatives, make them buy it for added exposure.


You’re not going to get rich.

We’re going to sell at £1.99 or its equivalent in other countries. Amazon takes 86p of that for providing the service. Stop moaning, this is world-wide sales for a relatively small fee. Imagine the printing and shipping costs you are saving.

We are lucky to be realistic about this. Writing is very, very rarely a route to riches. However, if we do strike it rich, we are prepared to deal with this.


 I hope this helps. In a short while, once final polishing is complete, we’ll be doing it for real (I’ve tested everything so confidence is high). I’m genuinely surprised how easy all of this appears. Let’s hope I’m still saying this soon.

Then we only have the reviews to worry about!

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An offer for Black Friday

Candice: I’ve been thinking about clever marketing ploys both at work and for the launch of the book.

Yes, there is that word again ‘launch’.  As of a week Friday (ie not Black Friday but the week after) the book will be officially out there.  No pressure on me as I am only up to Chapter 14 on the proof reading, but Phil and I have set ourselves a date, and I have also told my work I want to do the business wide email on that day – and the topic of  my email is clever marketing ploys.

So what is my one for this blog post?  Picking up what is in the zeitgeist and putting it in your blog (or tweet or other form of social media).  So what is being talked about at the moment – well the big shopping phenomenon of Black Friday.

It only really hit the UK last year and it went so well/badly (depending on which retailer you are) that they are doing it again. I think the fights over cut price tellies have put people like Asda off but some are still going for it so I will be keeping my eyes peeled.  Martin Lewis was even talking about it on his money saving show tonight.

But how does that work in self promotion? Well, our SEO (ie what people use to find out site) is not that high. We don’t pay for it so its all about the words that we write about. By putting in a term that people are looking for then you might pop up on their google search and be of interest.

But then you might get alot of people going, “I was looking for discounts at John Lewis”  But to anyone who has navigated to our site – look out for a book called Kate vs the DirtBoffins – available on Amazon soon.

Right – best get back to the proof reading.

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Bad Book Marketing

Clients From HellPhil: I spotted this conversation between a new author and marketing man on the Clients From Hell Website.

You really can’t help some people can you ?

Remember kids; astroturfing won’t help your sales growth !

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