I have seen other writers have a great deal of success with word-of-mouth promotion. Essentially, one person tells two people (or more) about a new book who in turn tell two people (or more) about the new book and so on. This is known as viral marketing or having a street team and it is easily one of the best ways I have seen to grow book sales.
So, how does one go about making this happen? That is a question I (and I suspect, many others) have asked. I have come to the conclusion that all the planning in the world will not cause this to happen. I truly believe that the only way it will ever come to pass is to: (a) write a very good book and (b) have people who are interested in you enough that they want to help you out.
So, assuming for a moment that you have already done (a) and you are fortunate enough to have a core group that fall into (b), what can they do?
Well, book reviews are a wonderful place to start. I have actually had a number of people, when I’ve told them about Mik Murdoch, go and check it out on Amazon. I know this because I almost immediately get a comment back to the effect of, “Wow, you’ve got some really great reviews!” Those reviews have driven a few sales that I know of, which has proven their importance to me. What I am hoping for is, all of those people who used the review to make their purchasing decision will in turn put up reviews of their own. I would like nothing better than to share each and every one of those with everyone I know.
I also had business cards printed out with all of the book information(including the cover image) and my contact information. I have been handing those out both individually and in groups to people. I originally had them made for those people who, when learning about the book, asked me where they could purchase it. Because Five Rivers is not a major publishing house (yet), it is not widely distributed in book stores. But it IS distributed through most, if not all, online channels.
So, for those people, I can now give them a card to help them find my book online.
I am also using the cards for those people who know other people who might be interested. I give them a handful of the cards and encourage them to hand them to people they know. That could be friends, family or even business acquaintances. For example, one person I know has already given the card to a local bookstore and told them about me. That is looking to maybe result in a reading and signing opportunity. They knew the person and now I have that introduction. It is also a great introduction for me to use too.
I, of course, use my own podcasting and podcasting connections to spread the word. If I can’t talk about my own book on my own podcast about writing, where can I talk about it? Oh yeah, and this blog is a great communication vehicle too. All I can hope is that one of you, either listening or reading about my book might know someone who would enjoy it. Pass on what you know or put me in touch with them. I would love to tell them about the book (no hard sell, I promise).
And, the method I mentioned at the beginning of this post: Word of Mouth. If you read something and like/love it, tell people you know. Whatever age we are, we know people with children who might enjoy the book. Or, we know someone in a professional capacity (teacher, librarian, bookstore clerk, etc.) who might be looking for something just this my book. All I ask is don’t be shy.
So, is it your job as the reader to promote my book(s)?
In a word, NO! It is my job to write books that tell a good story. It is my job to tell you I have written a book that tells a good story. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to read said book and judge for yourself whether it is a good story or not.
That’s it. Our contract is that simple. I write, you read. If I do my job, you enjoy it and want to read more of my books. If you don’t like what I write, you move on to someone else.
Still, if you DO like it, then spreading the word will ensure that more books are written for you to enjoy.