|Personalized romance book a novel experience
December 11, 1999
Mike Pocock: Man behind personalized romance novel is 38 and single.
Mike Pocock has a novel idea for Christmas.
His London, Ontario based company is publishing a 140-page romance titled
Love's Next Door, whose four main characters change according to each
Pocock says people order the books for their wives, husbands, significant
others, moms, friends, anyone who enjoys a mildly erotic fantasy whose hero
or heroine bears their name, features and habits.
Orders have been placed through his Web site (romancebyyou.com) from all
over North America. One customer wrote from Florida: "My husband jokes
about making love to Sharon Stone. I gave him Love's Next Door
for his birthday and included Sharon as the leading lady. He chased me
The original story was penned by Christine Elliott, who lives in Saint
John, N.B., and had never written a book before. "It turned out to be
a joint project," Pocock says. "An editor and I went over it, toned
down the sex scenes and put in more humour. We wanted to make the book so
you could give it to anyone."
It may be a novel but literature it is not. "We don't need a Pulitzer
prize-winning book. We can't have to many twists and turns in the plot
or a big surprise in the end because it would be too difficult to the
make the changes. We've looked at a number of manuscripts that would be
great as a book but not as a personalized book. Conventional
publishers wouldn't put a lot of cliches in, but we do. People talk like
The heroine of Love's Next Door is a magazine editor in a big city
who moves back to her home town and finds her old high school crush living
next door. He has a girlfriend but, of course, she's a nasty bit of business
and totally unsuitable. It's only a matter of time before the girl-friend is
toast and our heroine has the boy next door under her spell.
To order a copy, customers fill out a list of 30 specifications, including
the names of the four characters (hero, heroine, best friend, villain), hair
colour and style of heroine, pets, favourite restaurant and preferred
cocktails of the protagonists.
Most of the choices are limited to what's on a prepared checklist. "One
woman wanted us to give the heroine a pet snake but we only offer cats and
dogs because there's a scene where the heroine cuddles her pet."
The specifications translate into "more than 1,000" changes made by the
computer in the text for each customer. The glossy cover is
Pocock won't say how many copies he's sold since he put the novel on the
market four months ago. "Business is going very well for Christmas and we
are especially looking forward to Valentine's Day."
It's business is made possible by technology. Pocock worked on the
computer program himself, along with two other people. The books are printed
individually by an on-demand printer and they cost $29.95 each.
"Someone sent me an ad for a California publisher who does something similar
and they charge $240 (U.S.) for each book," he claims.
Pocock, 38 and single, says he sees himself as more of an inventor than a
publisher. "I have a number of U.S. patents in the interactive television
area. I'm a technology person."
Does he read romances? "I've had to, but I don't read them as a general
About half the orders for Love's Next Door are made through its Web site but
the book can also be ordered at selected Hallmark and Print Express stores.
The book can also be ordered through the Romance By You toll free
order line 1-877-659-4844.
Reprint courtesy of the Toronto Star.