Archive for May 2, 2011

How not to sell 10,000 eBooks in one month

I was taken aback, when my article, “J Carson Black sells 10,000 eBooks in April …How did she do it?”, created controversy on kindle boards, in the writers’ cafe forum. The moderator deleted a number of member’s posts. I just wonder if some of those with deleted comments should have read my previous article on, ‘The mysterious ways of Amazon and kindle forums’, as well as the kindle-board forum rules, before diving in feet first and baiting, or rising to the bait of others in full view of readers and buyers of eBooks. The original article has proved to be very successful from the support I have received with private messages from new authors considering self-publishing and the articles intended audience. J Carson Black’s honesty in revealing the reasons for her success to new authors starting out in self-publishing and featured in this week’s Creating a Buzz on my blog, is to be applauded

Some comments on the forum made me step back and think about what I said and for those who misinterpreted what I had to say, or should I say, took from the article what they chose to use as an axe to grind, I decided the turn the article on its head. Hence the title … “How not to sell 10,000 eBooks in one month.” But first let me tell you a story, because that is what I do best … It won’t win any literary prizes, as it only took me ten minutes to knock together, but maybe what it says puts the point across a little differently than the original article.

Read it here, and feel free to comment.


The Secret.

Declan took up a position as the manager of a television rental shop. He loved the notion of renting goods, which involved building a customer base, with plenty of repeat business to secure his long-term future. He set about doing what he was trained to do by Maggie, a tutor on a retail business course he attended and organised the shop accordingly. It came as a surprise, when the area manager contacted him and gave him the good news that his shop had rented more televisions in a particular month than any other shop and he asked Declan to reveal his secret. Of course he didn’t have a secret, he was just doing the job in the way he been taught and put it down to good luck. The area manager continued to press for the secret of his success, which he honestly didn’t know. The shop was full of customers that needed attention and to get him off the phone, he told him he liked to throw open the doors and play loud music to attract the customers inside to buy. It seemed to satisfy him and off he went. The rest of the day, Declan kept dwelling on the area manager’s question and he was desperate to find out the answer for his own good.

After a few days, Declan was inundated with angry calls from other managers. Apparently, a memo had been sent to all the other shops to open their doors and play loud music. With winter setting in and most of the shops located in high streets, well, you can imagine their displeasure, especially as their sales failed to increase.

The area manager moved on to new pastures and Declan was elated when he was promoted to take over the area manager duties. He set off on a tour of his new empire, full of hope.

The first shop he arrived at, he looked for the hot spot in the window as he approached in the manner of a customer passing by, to see if the display attracted his eye. There wasn’t a hot spot; it looked more like something representing his ten-year-old daughter’s redesigned bedroom after a sleepover. At the next shop, he listened into a sales person going through his routine sales pitch with a customer. His opening was to say the least, uninteresting and not thought out to grab and hold the customer’s attention. The customer gave his excuses and left. At the third shop, he was more encouraged. The window display was attractive and his eyes were drawn to the television in the hotspot. A sales person was holding the attention of a customer and was almost at the point of closing the sale, when Declan’s heart sank and he followed the customer’s eye line to the source of her apparent displeasure. She frowned, turned and left.

The reason for the customer’s displeasure was clear. The display she had glanced at, revealed a television with a picture that was rolling. Another television had a picture that was dull. Even worse, the hand written advertising caption over the television read “Bargin of the Day.” When Declan confronted the manager about the state of the goods on display and pointed to the television with the dull screen with the misspelt caption, all the manager could say was, “Well … it is a bargain price.”

With time to inspect one more shop, he crossed his fingers and headed for the location. Everything seemed to be perfect, from the hot spot to the display. There were not many customers, but the sales people seemed to be alert to their needs. As he approached the manager, all hell let loose as the manager started to argue with one of his staff in full view of the customers. The few customers that were there, made their excuses and left. Declan’s face flamed and he interrupted the argument and demanded he talk to the manager in his office. A customer, paying their account at the cashier’s desk grabbed Declan by the arm.

“He’s always arguing in front of customers, I’m thinking of taking my account elsewhere, you should sack him.”

After he reprimanded the manager for the altercation he had witnessed and made it clear that what he had heard would not be tolerated, it was down to business, Declan took out a spreadsheet of the sales figures and laid them out on the desk.

“Your shop is perfect, other than curtailing your arguing in front of customers, is there anything else you can tell me why think your sales are so poor and what you can do you increase them?”

“Competition. The other outlets in town have been going longer than my shop and have a much bigger customer base, so I can’t see how I can increase sales to their levels.”

“Have you looked at the competition and thought about what made them successful in the first place?” Declan Asked.”Maybe you could pick up some ideas. I’m not expecting overnight success, but we need to set out a plan to up the sales.”

“I’m not sure, I know some of the names, but I never get chance to leave the shop to find out what they are doing that makes them successful.”

“What are you doing with your local advertising budget?”

“I advertise in the local monthly upmarket magazines. It saves time having to prepare copy for the daily newspapers.”

“Really. Do you think people with disposable income to buy televisions are likely to be your target market for renting televisions? Then there’s the question of the frequency of the publications? I think we need to change that towards your target market in the daily newspapers.”


Declan sat in his car and made a list of his findings and the steps he would need to put in place to make things right. He knew it wouldn’t be easy and it would take time to rectify, but with determination, hard work and a will to succeed. He knew what had to be done.


Twelve months later and Declan sat at his general manager’s desk, reflecting on the attention to basic details that had gained him his success from the simple advice given by Maggie during his training. He opened his mail, surprised to see an application for a management position and a C.V. from his old area manager. He recalled the phone call when the area manager asked for his secret of his sales success and considered what would have happened if he could have given him the answers that he now knew… as simple as they were.

Declan sighed and reached out to put the application in his IN tray. He wrote out a note thanking his old area manager for writing to him, but declining his application and moved the file to his OUT tray. A moment’s hesitation and he retrieved the application, having decided he owed him the truth of the secret he had asked for and gave him details of Maggie’s training course.

“God bless you Maggie and thank you,” said Declan as he placed the application in his OUT tray and prepared for another hard day of work.


Please send editing suggestions on a post card C/O … CIA listening post, Alaska.

If you need to know what this story has to do with the price of potatoes, then we are reading from a different page. lol.

Copyright notice … This story is fictional and any inference taken that Maggie is portrayed as the author, J Conran Black, I can assure you is entirely intentional.

Creating a Buzz page, featuring J Carson Black, Simon Swift and Black Shadows and Joanne Ellis of Spoilt fame.