Category Archives: word of mouth

New Promotion

So, I’m sure this has been done before by somebody somewhere, but, frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered it before, so I’m going to call this my idea.

I’m working on a new promotional project that I like to call “Passalong Books”!  I’m very excited.  Basically I bought a bunch of copies of my first book, Awfully Appetizing.  On the inside if the front cover I’m writing out instructions that go more or less like this:

“Hello Reader!  You’ve just received a ‘Passalong Book;’ the rules are simple, as soon as you get it, write your name, and the city and state you are in on the top available line below.  Then, read a chapter.  If you like what you’ve read, keep going! If not, no harm done.  Whenever you’ve finished, pass the book to somebody you think might enjoy it!”

Fingers crossed, the books will get passed around a bit.  I figure that if the average passalong book gets handed off and read ten times before it finds a final resting place, I should get a conservative two or three people who otherwise would never have read the book who are interested in the sequel.

Perhaps that’s just me being optimistic.  I don’t know, but to be frank, it’s one of the few ideas that I’ve had that seems both plausible and reasonable to me.  So many promotional techniques just feel awful.  Either like I’m lying, or like I’m forcing myself down other people’s throats.  I figure, if somebody doesn’t like my book after the first chapter, making them read anymore is just a waste.  The problem is, people don’t generally feel like they can read the first chapter without buying the book… or rather, I often feel that way.

Anyhow, that’s my plan!  I’m excited, and I’m sending out my first round of Passalong books tomorrow!  I’ve got one going to California, two going to Texas, one going to Colorado, and one going to Washington.  I’m hoping that in round two, which may take me a month or two to arrange, I’ll be able to hit five or six other states.  Fingers crossed!


Delayed Reaction

Woo!  Sorry about that last post.  As  rule I should avoid blogging when I’ve been up for more than twenty hours at a stretch.  I know people who can function after a couple of days without sleep, but let’s face it, I need eight hours a day or I’m delirious.

Anyway, after finding out a couple of days ago that I’ve sold all of seven copies of my book over the last three weeks (SEVEN?!?), I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time over the next couple of days focusing on promotion.

But one of the problems I have with promotions is that the best forms generally take a lot of time, and are incredibly hard to attribute directly to the source.

For example, the form of promotion I think is most effective is word of mouth.  If somebody reads your book and loves it so much that they start telling everybody about it, that is probably the single most effective method of reaching a wide audience that you will ever find.  Now, it’s true that if the person who read it and loves it has a platform, it’s even more effective, for example, if Oprah Winfrey loves your book, that’ll get you more sales than if Ms. Bennett from apartment 3A loves your book, but either way, if you can make somebody a fan for life, then you’ve got an advertisement that will keep on working for you for years to come.  Not to mention the fact that an endorsement from someone who is obviously not being paid to endorse your work will carry more weight than any paid advertisement.  Oh, and by the way, you also have somebody who wants to know when your next book comes out.

But getting word of mouth going requires time.  After all, you have to get the book into the reader’s hand and wait for them to actually read it.  Plus, who remembers the name of a book recommended to them in a casual conversation?  You have to tell it to them half a dozen times before they remember that it was Storm Front by Jim Butcher, not the Butcher Store by Jimmy Front.

And attribution is a bitch as well.  Promoting is a lot like putting on a blindfold and throwing darts at the board.  When you finally take the blindfold off and see that one of the darts got you fifty points, how the hell are you supposed to know which throw it came from?

So even if you find the perfect way to promote your book, once you’ve done it, how the hell do you figure out which of the techniques is actually responsible?

I’m sending review requests to a bunch of book reviewers over the next couple of days.  I’ve done this before, when I was promoting a book under another name.  I sent out reviews to about a dozen bloggers and exactly zero of them replied.  But hey, maybe this time…