Word of mouth and book blurbs might be likened to a practice from the old days in corrupt politics of “walking around money.” The idea is to hire people who circulate in communities, into shops, businesses, and bars to talk up the candidate and talk down the opposition—all the while spreading cash to reinforce the appeal of the message.
Word of Mouth to Build Buzz
We book publishers and indie authors, even the relatively prosperous, don't have walking-around money for selling books and probably couldn't spend it effectively if we did. But the concept is powerful: getting friends, acquaintances, and professional contacts to speak out and about on an author's behalf. The more people you know, the more personal and professional connections you have, and the more connections they have, the more leverage in promoting your book.
The most obvious ways your contacts can help is through social media, especially Facebook and Twitter. You'll be doing that yourself too, of course, but those efforts take on greater credibility when some name other than the author's is associated with them.
The Value of Book Blurbs
If you know anyone with a reputation in the subject area you're writing about, ask them to write a book blurb. Book blurbs are those short quotes you often see on the backs and sometimes the fronts or inside of books, extolling the book or the author. The best source of book blurbs is from the media or celebrities. But if you have access to a quasi-celebrity or someone moderately well-known in your field, you can ask them to “blurb” (yes, it's a verb too) your book. They only need contribute a sentence or two.
Make sure that such testimonials are relevant to your particular book. Blogger, Joel Friedlander, for example, has written that, “A lot of the influence of testimonials comes through the persuasive effect of what's called 'social proof.' In an ambiguous situation, the influence of what other people are doing can determine how we react. For instance, in considering a book in which you might be interested, if you notice that every authority in the field has recommended the book, that's a powerful form of social proof in your decision about whether or not to buy the book. Testimonials also exercise another persuasive effect through the perceived authority of the person giving the quote. So if you have a book on how to throw the perfect pass in football, a testimonial from Aaron Rogers, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, reigning football champions, will carry a lot of influence.”
Reader Testimonials & Reviews
Other friends can help with online reviews, especially on Amazon, where authors are banned from reviewing their own work (and reviews from family members, if discovered, will be removed). Those reviews are highly valuable, (assuming they are favorable, or, in the case of Amazon, five-star reviews.) Those can push up Amazon ratings beyond what your sales may otherwise justify, making your book more visible. They can help with other venues as well, such as Goodreads, and readers' and authors' pages on Facebook. Just make sure such posts are permitted by the page owners.
Create a Demand
Having difficulty getting your book into bookstores and libraries? One strategy is to encourage your circle to contact their local stores and libraries and ask if your book is on their shelves. They do respond to inquiries from patrons and customers.
Cultivate word of mouth however you can. Many books are sold on the specific recommendation of another person.
Back to politics: Analysts found that the biggest technical advance in major political campaigns in 2012 was in the use of “hyper-local” organizing, person-to-person, neighborhood-level, organizing, where the focus was on one person talking to another, multiplied by the hundreds of thousands and millions. You may not have such a large campaign organization, but the same principle can help sell your book.
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