I have always been fascinated by word-of-mouth marketing because it’s not something you can buy. Instead, it usually happens naturally when we like a product or service and want to tell others about it.
Perhaps like me, you heard about the online game Wordle through social media. Thanks to word of mouth across social media platforms, this daily word puzzle rapidly gained popularity. As a result, it was acquired by The New York Times for seven figures.
I’m betting you’ve recommended to a friend or two a Netflix show you enjoyed, a restaurant you visited, or a book you loved. This is what we naturally want to do when we enjoy something and want others to do the same.
Recently, a new restaurant opened near my home and for weeks I’ve seen various neighbors posting about it on social media. It turns out that after each meal served, the owner personally visits diners at their tables, inquiring about their meals and overall experience. She explains that her business is new and she needs all the community support she can get. Then she suggests customers take a photo in front of the large backdrop that features the restaurant name and share their rave reviews on social media. This simple effort has created a tremendous amount of local buzz.
With a little effort, you can inspire word of mouth for your books. Following are some ways to get the party started.
Be Recommendation-Worthy – When we recommend a book to a friend, peer, or our social media followers, we are usually inspired to do so because the book moved us in some way. When I think about the books I’ve recommended to friends, it’s because I found them especially impactful.
- James Clear’s Atomic Habits was well-written and incredibly motivating. He made it seem like we can accomplish any goal we set our minds to and laid out the steps to make it happen.
- I purchased copies of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron to give as gifts because I’ve never read another book that had such an impact on my own creativity. It includes exercises and steps to follow—a format I hadn’t seen anywhere else.
- Though I’m not a reader of horror fiction, I fell in love with Stephen King’s memoir On Writing. It is a fascinating inside look at the journey of a wildly successful author. Revealing both his challenges and victories, King inspires readers to believe that anything is possible when you remain persistent.
Think about the last time you recommended a book. What made the book worthy of your recommendation? How did it impact your life? Why did you want to share it with others?
Now look at your own book and ask yourself these questions:
- How is my book different or better than other books in my genre?
- Does my book enhance readers’ lives in some way? This can be through education, inspiration, or entertainment.
If you can’t answer these questions, you may need to revisit and even rewrite your book so that it shines. For a book to be worthy of a spontaneous recommendation, it must stand out against competitors and move the reader in some way.
Share Your Story – If you have a powerful personal story, share it far and wide. Put it on your website, share it on social, sprinkle it into any pitches you make.
As humans we are attracted to vulnerability and to others with whom we share commonalities. The more you can connect through your story, the better the results you will get with all your marketing efforts. You story can be especially powerful when asking for support from anyone. It helps greatly when you can inspire a personal connection.
Determine Who is Most Likely to Recommend Your Book – Let’s say you’ve authored a memoir chronicling your recovery from alcoholism. Your target readers would likely be people seeking recovery. Now consider this: Who is recommending books to them?
The answer: Therapists, addiction counselors, and staff at treatment centers are the ones most likely to tell many people about your book. (Provided they found it enjoyable and inspiring.) Knowing this, your mission would be to get your book in the hands of as many of these potential referrers as possible.
This exercise can be applied to all kinds of books. Here are examples:
- Book about college planning that has a target audience of parents of high schoolers. Who would recommend to the parents? ->> High school counselors and consultants specializing in college admissions assistance for families.
- Book about leadership for corporate executives. Who would recommend to the executives? ->> Executive coaches and human resources professionals.
- Book about healthy recipes for people on the Keto diet. Who would recommend it to the dieters? ->> Personal trainers and weight loss consultants.
Who reaches your target audience? Get your books in their hands and watch the word-of-mouth recommendations grow!
Connect with Beta Readers – You can give early access to your manuscript prior to publication to volunteers known as beta readers. Your beta readers should be comprised of people who actively read books in your genre so they can immediately connect to your work and be inspired to share with others.
You can have as many beta readers as you like. I enrolled 400 people for my last book launch and greatly appreciated their support in recommending the book to their peers, clients, and friends.
Ask Readers to Share – Sometimes all we need to do is ask. When a manuscript goes into typesetting, inevitably there are blank pages in the book due to chapters starting on the right. While it’s acceptable to leave those pages blank, I consider this valuable real estate. Ask your book typesetter or publisher if you can insert content on the empty pages. You might include bonus graphics or tips, which I call “blank page fillers.”
Here are some notes I recommend adding somewhere in your book:
Did you know the best way to thank an author is to post a review on Amazon? If you’re enjoying this book, your honest review is greatly appreciated.
If you’re enjoying this book, please consider recommending it to friends, peers, or anyone else who would find it valuable. Authors rely on readers to help spread the word. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Top 5 Ways to Thank an Author
- Write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or another retailer.
- Take a photo of you reading the book and share on social media. Be sure to tag the author!
- Request the book at your local library. This can prompt the library to purchase one or more copies.
- Request to buy the book at your local bookstore, then give the extra copy to a friend.
- Recommend the book to at least three people you know who would enjoy it as much as you.
Invite Subscribers to Share – Hopefully you are building an email list of readers because this is one of the best business assets you can have. And when you maintain a relationship with your readers, you will naturally build loyalty over time, which can assist in spurring word-of-mouth.
In addition, you should simply ask your subscribers to help. Perhaps you share your back story about why you wrote the book and how you want it to make a difference in the world. Then ask recipients to tell three friends about the book or share on their own social media networks. You can make it easy by providing social media graphics and a link to your book’s page.
You could take this a step further and designate a unique hashtag for sharing and then reward those who post to social media by sending them a free download or giving them access to a special event.
Ask Your Tribe of Influence – You know a lot of people, likely more than you realize. And some of those people can likely help spread the word about your book.
Think back to people you went to school with, past coworkers, those you know from committees, religious groups, nonprofits, and anyone else you’ve connected with over the past thirty years. (Yes, really!) Do any of them host podcasts or blogs that reach your target audience? Do they work for companies that could give away copies of your book or invite you to speak? Could they introduce you to someone influential in your field?
This is a powerful exercise that can net big rewards. Take time to note who you know and how they can help. You just might find the results surprising.
Host a Social Media Contest – A contest can be a fun way to encourage readers to post about your book on social media. You can create a unique hashtag and then challenge your readers to share a post on social media like this:
“Annie Author’s book ‘Must Read Business Tips’ gave me some fun ideas for marketing my business. Grab a copy for yourself: <link> #MustReadBusinessTips”
Run the contest for two to four weeks and promote it to as many people as possible. Don’t forget to share the hashtag yourself, along with details about the contest and a link to the contest details that also show how to buy the book.
Each day, make note of those who’ve shared and at the end of the promotion, select one or more winners for one or more special prizes such as a private coaching session with you or a gift card.
Important: Check into current guidelines for hosting contests on social media since rules change frequently. Most ask that you post a statement on a contest web page indicating that your contest is not directly affiliated with Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Other social network.
Thank The People Who Review Your Book – When you see reviews on your book’s Amazon page, you can click on each reviewer’s name and view their public profile. Some will share a website and/or email address. When you’re able to locate contact information, send a note of gratitude to the reviewer. Authors don’t do this often enough and this simple gesture is sure to help you stand out. Reviewers are some of our most valuable connections so cultivating relationships can be valuable for years to come.
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