The Power of Word of Mouth
Word of mouth marketing or buzz is one of those intangibles to establish or orchestrate. Many people would like to initiate word of mouth marketing. As people are talking about your book, it can lead to book sales and eventually getting on the bestseller list. Some people take months to build this word of mouth experience. It’s why some books have been in print for several years before they show up on a bestseller list. Some books have sold substantial copies and been in print for years—but have never been on any bestseller list. The bestseller list isn’t the only indicator of the book sales—but it is one indicator.
Buzz or word of mouth interest doesn’t necessarily translate into book sales. Over the last few days, I was talking with an editor in another publishing house. I inquired about the sales of a particular author. Across the blogsphere, this author has been much touted for their visibility. During a single day in recent months, the book was near the top of Technorati beating out some other popular best-selling books. Yet I’ve never seen this author nor his book on any bestseller list. Is the book selling? It’s where the rubber meets the road for the author and the publisher. This editor friend admitted the sales numbers for this book were lack luster—nothing to talk about or tout. So what made the difference? You had a great deal of buzz or word of mouth about a book yet few book sales. It looks like everyone spun their wheels if it didn’t translate into sales.
As I’ve talked with a few people about this situation, here’s my conclusion—the difference is in the craft of storytelling and writing a good book. Now some books beat this difference too. You get the book, read it and wonder how it managed to get published—yet there was huge buzz and word of mouth talk about the book. In the long run, I believe it comes down to craft and quality of writing. The authors who can communicate, tell good stories and write good books, will last—provided they get the right marketing push and other factors. It isn’t just one thing that makes a book successful but a number of factors working in harmony.
During the last week, I’ve learned about the Word of Mouth Marketing Association or womma. (Thank you, Vicki) I’ve looked around this site a bit and noticed that some companies like Zondervan Publishing House are members. They have some interesting material and pages to download from their members. I’ve added their newsletters to some material that I read on a regular basis in hopes to learn something interesting. Here’s what I did not find in this material—how to translate the word of mouth buzz about a product into actual sales. I suspect there isn’t a single answer to this question—just more learning ahead.