How Word-of-Mouth Marketing Produces Greatest Results in Book Sales

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Often, authors are under the misguided impression that all they have to do is write a book and it will sell like hotcakes, flying off the shelves. Unfortunately, even the best-written books can produce discouraging sales numbers without the right publicity and marketing efforts. It takes a plan and a concerted effort, but no plan will work without one vital ingredient—word-of-mouth buzz.

In fact, a whopping 80% of book sales are attributed to word-of-mouth marketing. Even traditional high-profile publishers know that in order for a book to be successful, they have to build a buzz and get people talking about it. (Link to NPR Story) Endorsements, referrals are all benefits from building a buzz, and it’s well known that other marketing and  advertising efforts pale in comparison to recommendations from people who are satisfied or impressed with a product.

Getting that critical word-of-mouth marketing going is a balancing act. Whether you self publish or opt to work with a traditional publishing house, your book sales can suffer from a lack of buzz, just as well as too much buzz. Creating too much buzz about a book can make people tire of it before it comes out, and it can create a letdown if the book doesn’t meet expectations.

How do you get word-of-mouth marketing started? Here a few ways that have been very effective for some authors.

1. Before the book is released, give free advance copies to people who are willing to help you promote your book. Ask them to tell someone about it, write a book review or endorsement, and help spread the word. Consider all possibilities: bloggers, book reviewers, librarians, book sellers, the media, and even other people in the industry who are interested in your topic. Then, spread their reviews, articles, and endorsements with the outside world.

2. Attend writer guilds and clubs and share advance copies with fellow authors, who will appreciate a well-written manuscript and happily help a deserving author get recognition.

3. Join book clubs and give other members an advance copy. Then, take the floor and give a presentation or a reading, connecting with the audience and opening yourself and your book up for discussion.

4. Attend conventions and book fairs and expos, talking to groups and sharing copies of your book.

As has been said, success has secrets, which holds more truth in book sales than in any other market. But given the statistics, without word-of-mouth marketing, your book’s success is unlikely. If you want to tap into the 80% of sales attributed through word-of-mouth marketing, you absolutely must get people talking!

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