Word-of-Mouth In Action

Word-of-mouth is the only thing that ever really sells books.

While a glowing review in the New York Times will undoubtedly shift some copies, if the limited amount of people that actually read the reviews (and then purchase the book), don’t then spread the word, the sales bump will be temporary.

The 21st century world-weary reader is a hard person to reach. Our environment has become so saturated with advertisements that we tend to tune them out. Broadcasters need to resort to tricks like raising the volume levels of the ads to force us to pay attention.

We ignore ads because we don’t trust them. Exaggerated claims of the merits of one brand over another have been with us for so long that our automatic disposition seems to be skeptical towards the alleged virtues of any advertised product.

However, we still trust each other. If your neighbor tells you about a new detergent that actually does get wine stains out of a white shirt, or an insurance company that really will be there for you when things go wrong, that carries more weight than anything the cleverest advertising company can come up with.

Books are more subjective than most products, and a recommendation from someone only really carries weight if you know they have similar tastes to you. I have friends who are voracious readers but like very different books, and I’m slow to act on their tips. I know others who read less, but when they recommend something I invariably pick it up.

A glowing review from one particular writer for the New York Times is enough to make me avoid the book in question. And an ad in the same paper just makes me think that a publisher is spending a lot of money trying to keep that author happy.

Ads don’t really sell books. When you see the billboards for Dan Brown, they are just announcing to his existing fans that the book is out; they don’t aim to convert new readers.

What converts new readers is a recommendation from a trusted source. Word-of-mouth. This could be a friend, a family member, Oprah, a reviewer whose tastes are in sync with yours, your book club, your writing group, or the helpful bookseller in that independent store who has an eye for interesting reads.

The #1 reason readers always give for purchasing a book is having read and enjoyed something by the author before. The #2 reason is a trusted recommendation. Everything else (bookstore placement, cover, blurb etc.) is far in the distance. These two are what really shift books in big numbers.

Unless you have already had a bestseller on your hands (and your next book will essentially market itself), word-of-mouth is your only chance of breaking out.

We have all seen it in action. A friend presses a book into your hand – with a fevered look in their eye – and says you have to read this. Or someone gifts you a book on Amazon because they are so determined for you to read it, they don’t want to take the chance that you won’t act on their tip. I remember a friend refusing to talk to me until I read a particular book. It was that important to him.

When you get someone that passionate, they will recommend it to everyone they know. A book really takes off when all those people then become equally passionate and recommend it to everyone they know. Then word spreads exponentially.

I can see this on a very small scale in my own sales figures. For example, I sell maybe 3 copies a day of Let’s Get Digital in the UK. But then sometimes it goes crazy for a couple of days, and I might sell 20 copies.

Often there is a clear reason for the burst. I have all sorts of Google Alerts set up which will usually catch any reviews, blog/forum mentions, and I check Twitter every few days to see if anything pops up there.

But sometimes there is no reason, or at least none I can trace on the internet, and I can only assume that some passionate reader has convinced lots of others to purchase it.

I’m seeing the benefit of word-of-mouth in the US too. I sell anything between 5 to 15 copies of Let’s Get Digital a day. And I’m not promoting it anymore, aside from the ads on this blog, which only tend to reach the same people anyway (who have all probably made their decision to purchase or not at this point, given that it’s been out nearly a month).

I gave it a big push at the start, I sent advance copies to 20 reviewers, lots of people helped get the word out on Twitter, I had a launch party on Facebook, my contributors made some noise, and I did a couple of guest posts and interviews. But most of that was done in July.

I’ve sold more copies in August, and we are only just passed the half-way point. Even if I don’t sell another book this month, I have already sold more and made more than I did in July, and that’s without the benefit of any new release. This book cost me over $1,000 to publish and I have made over 80% of that back in less than a month.

Some of the sales bumps this month were easy to trace. I got a five star review from Big Al’s Books and Pals which was especially gratifying given that he’s a tough reviewer and I hadn’t submitted it for review. I also got lots and lots of blog mentions – too many to list here – for which I am very grateful.

However, the biggest bump was from Pixel of Ink, who highlighted the book on the 7th. It sold over 70 copies that day, which boosted it to #1,327 in the US.

Being in the top spots of a couple of genre charts is enough to guarantee some sales, but it’s not exclusively self-sustaining; you will gradually slip back unless something else is driving sales.

I have done little to promote the book this month. In fact, I have barely been online for the last week. My parents flew into town for my birthday and stayed for several enjoyable days. And yet I still sold a solid 12 to 13 copies a day, with a few shorts here and there for good measure.

Essentially, the book is selling itself; the numbers are holding at a nice level with little or no input from me.

I could probably put my shoulder to the promo wheel and drum up a few extra sales, but I am happy to keep a lower profile and let word-of-mouth do its job. I’ll be making more noise with my next release (probably October), and maybe it’s not a bad idea to give people a break.

Plus, it gives me more time to write. Instead of focusing on how many sales I could squeeze out of that one title, I am looking ahead to having five titles selling like that. Or ten. Or twenty.

It’s going to take me some time (and a hell of a lot of work) to get to that point, and I’m not assuming that sales will always remain this good. But I know that if I keep producing the best work I can, and I keep doing it regularly, I’m giving myself a chance.

If you are looking for a lesson to apply to your own efforts, I would suggest this: give your book a healthy push on release, then get out of its way. Get back to your real job: writing.

Your promo time should be limited to whatever time is spare after you hit your writing targets. If that leaves you no promo time, don’t sweat it. The greatest promotional tool is new work. If you do have time for promo, evaluate your efforts carefully.

You should always ask yourself a simple question: how many readers will this get me. And also: how will this get the conversation started about my books. There is no point reaching 1,000 people who don’t care for your book. You are far better off reaching one passionate reader – someone who will then sell the book on your behalf.

For this reason, I am skeptical about the value of something like a Goodreads ad. Aside from the money involved, the time would be far better spent taking the time to write a proper response to an email from a reader.

John Locke has tried every promotional trick in the book, but he said that the only thing that really sold books was engaging with his readers.

There is a lot in his “system” that won’t suit everyone (me included). However, you can always find bits you can use. One change I made was to make my email address very visible both here and in my books, and I invite them to drop me a line.

In short, if you genuinely value your readers, if you open a line of communication with them, they are far more likely to spread the word about your books.

And while they are doing that, you can write.


I have a new column over at IndieReader.com where I will be spouting off once a week or so. Come over and say hello!

When you are done with that, you should check out the rest of the site. They have some interesting stuff, such as a weekly Indie bestseller list that is compiled from lots of sources – not just Amazon.

You will notice that Rick Murcer holds the top two spots, and the site have an interview with him here.

44 Replies to “Word-of-Mouth In Action”

  1. Great post. My hard drive got fried last week, so I’ve been spending less time on the internet because I have to borrow my husband’s computer. My sales are slightly better in the last week. So, I’ve come to a similar conclusion as you – promote heavy for the first couple weeks of a new release and then move on.

    1. Hey Stacey – I think you will get a lot more return for your efforts in that period too – especially when you don’t have a ton of titles out for readers to purchase once they like the first.

  2. I think you’ve really mirrored a lot of my own thoughts here. While it’s tempting to market heavily because it makes you feel like you’re *doing* something, I’m not sure it’s more effective than it is annoying. Also, networking and following other writers can be really informative and a lot of fun, but I’ve been making more of an effort lately to do exactly what you’re talking about, connect with *readers.*

    Also, thanks for the link to IndieReader! That site looks great and I’ll be sure to give it a nod on my blog after I’m off my blog-cation. Looks like a great resource for writers and readers!

    Hope you had a great visit with your folks!


    1. Writing is a very solitary profession, and engaging with other writers can be great for promo tips, venting, and just generally learning more about the craft and the business, but I’m starting to look at networking as more like “socializing time” rather than “work time” or “promo time”. It’s enjoyable and useful in and of itself, and if you sell any books because of it, that’s a happy bonus. I think that might be a useful way to approach readers’ forums too.

  3. “There is no point reaching 1,000 people who don’t care for your book. You are far better off reaching one passionate reader – someone who will then sell the book on your behalf.”

    I recently read an interview with Karen McQuestion where she echoed this same sentiment, crediting early readers of A Scattered Life for promoting her book — and her — on the message boards. She mentioned one passionate reader in particular. “The word of mouth played a critical role in putting my books on the Kindle bestseller list.”

    Great post, David.

    1. Other people are certainly doing the heavy lifting for me with my latest book. I haven’t seen quite the same effect for the short stories – but they will always be a smaller market, and I really don’t have enough of them up for sale yet to really judge – but I will certainly be hoping to generate something similar for my next novel. Tougher for fiction, though.

  4. Agreed. The problem with word of mouth is that it usually comes from something one is passionate about. I can see one being passionate about Let’s Get Digital or The Shock Doctrine for instance (one of my favorites and a masterpiece by Naomi) but can take time with fiction. In our line of work, patience is a virtue.

    1. Fiction is harder. Especially just to target the readers. If you are really writing in a niche, that can help you, but for more general fiction, it’s quite tricky to target your readers. With non-fiction, you know who the audience is as you are writing it. Now, John Locke approaches fiction the same way, but I don’t know if most writers could do that, or would want to. Interestingly, Stephen King always says he has an Ideal Reader in mind every time he writes a book. Perhaps that is similar in a sense, but less overt.

  5. I so so agree.

    After getting too caught up in promotion, I decided, about three weeks after releasing my first short, that I wouldn’t do anymore promotion until I released something else. I also decided to try out Bob Mayer’s advice and really not push promotion that hard until I had at least three books out. That advice feels even more valuable to someone like me, who is writing in a series.

    Point being, sales did decline when I stopped promoting. I topped out around #12,000 in the paid kindle store when I was pushing the story and now hang out anywhere between #100,000 and #200,000 (selling a few copies one day, nothing for a couple of days, then another couple sales). At this point, it’s all word of mouth. I get emails from readers telling me they recommended the story to friends.

    I’ve also noticed a change in reader response. When I was selling 10 copies a day, I *might* hear from someone how much they liked the story, but not usually. The people who are buying now, people whose friends recognized they’d love the story and recommended it to them, are emailing me to say they’d like a novel with these characters, tweeting to ask when the next story is coming out, and following one or more of the blogs I work on. I’m remembering what John Locke said about really hitting his target audience and doing better with 20,000 of them than with 100,000 people who just read his stuff in passing and maybe thought it was *okay*.

    1. A lot of this stuff is so nebulous; it’s tricky. And Bob really does have a point. I think that, unless you catch a lucky break, there really is diminishing returns on all promo efforts the further you get from release date. I think I sell an average of 2 shorts a day at the moment. I think I could double that with a little promo. But really, that wouldn’t compare to using that time to write something else which will result in sales for the new title and increased sales for the existing titles.

      To be honest, I don’t think I’m going to promote shorts at all really, aside from the odd giveaway and submitting to a few blogs for review. When I have five out – and a collection at $2.99 – then it will be worth doing so, but not before. And when I have my novel out, promoting that will lift the sales of the stories. If readers like your work, they will check out the rest. The more titles you have out, the greater return you will get from promoting.

  6. This is very true. I’m tired of advertisements and they don’t work on me. I turn away from them automatically.

    I am starting to form the opinion that if you have to spend a lot of time advertising, then there is a problem with the book. So the more a person shouts or asks for reviews, the more skeptical I am of them and whatever they’re pushing.

    1. I always think of the summer blockbuster movies and the huge marketing campaigns behind them. They cost so much to make that the studio has to promote the hell out of them to stand any chance of recouping the cost. But when people hear of a “sleeper hit”, they flock to it, because they know that it’s getting press on the back of word-of-mouth rather than billboards.

      1. Yes, but the most highly promoted movies are almost always the highest grossing movies. They may not have “legs”, but after 2-3 weeks of big grosses, they’ve made their cash and the producers move on to the next one. I’d say that self-publishers in genre fiction have a lot in common with those types of movies, too–it’s why you see sequel after sequel, and why even a sequel to a popular movie gets hyper-promoted. It’s a cash machine, not an art machine. I think Konrath and Locke would agree with that, too–creating a cash machine is essentially why they write and promote the way they do.

  7. Have to echo everything said in the post and afterwards. It’s essential to get the message out that the new book exists, but hard-sell promotion rarely works long term.

    Interacting with readers and other writers is far more rewarding in terms of sales, and far more satisfying at a personal level.

  8. I’m new to promoting books, but what you said makes 100% sense.
    Originally, I was going to hit promotion hard, but as John Locke said, one of the worst things an author can do in this age of instant downloads is to come out with their first book and not have another ready to sell.

    People love novelty. Remember the first time you discovered a favorite writer or musician? You know, that special one that you thought — YES, THIS SPEAKS TO ME! And how awesome was it when you saw an extensive back catalog of stuff to discover?

    You’re only “discovered” by someone once. After that, they either stick around and buy your other stuff or they forget about you and move on to the next New Writer. Like you said, if you can’t do proper promotion, get back to writing. It IS the best promotional effort you can engage in until the time is right.

    Meanwhile, with some luck, you’ll build your own small audience who will help you spread the word in an organic way.

  9. Good thoughts.

    David wrote: “Our environment has become so saturated with advertisements that we tend to tune them out. Broadcasters need to resort to tricks like raising the volume levels of the ads to force us to pay attention.”

    …which ironically can lead to more mistrust of ads. I think a further breakdown of trust occurs when the hype does not match up with the end result/product.

    Perhaps advertisers should work on more “out-of-the-box” ideas, such as when Taco Bell was willing to offer free tacos to everyone in America if Mir crashed into a giant floating target in the South Pacific. Mir may not have hit the target, and I don’t know if sales increased, but the idea was memorable.

  10. On the last page, the one with the blog address, email, Twitter and Facebook links, I include a few sentences to the reader on the power of word of mouth. “Your recommendation is a very powerful thing — if you liked the book, please tell a friend.”

    The other thing mentioned here that I think is worth seconding is that you have to build a relationship with your readers. You’re selling yourself — if they like you, they’ll like your book.

    1. That’s a good idea. I think I have something like “reviews are essential for new authors, so if you liked this book, please leave a review where you purchased it, even if it’s only a line or two.”

      I think this is where indies have a real advantage over publishers. We have a direct connection with the readers. We often interact with them in forums, on Twitter, on Facebook, or wherever – sometimes before the purchase, sometimes after. That connection is golden. If you can hook them into your “universe” through following you or subscribing to your newsletter or blog, then there is a great chance that they will purchase your next book.

      But if you don’t develop those connections, not only will they not even know when you release your next, they may well have forgotten who you are.

  11. I totally agree, especially that the best promotion is writing the next book. Keep them flowing.

    But I should point out one fact. The numbers of “converted” readers for things like ads and some other promotional concepts are low compared to word of mouth, but it is really designed more to be a priming of the pump. In order to get word of mouth out there, you have to first get some people to read it before anyone has read it enough to give a word of mouth. So if an ad is effective in getting 2% of a million people, let’s say, to pick up the book and give it a read, that means you have 20,000 people read that book without a recommendation. Then it is encumbent upon the book being good enough to generate word of mouth buzz. So let’s say that book is good enough that each person who reads it, on the average, convinces three other people to read it. Now that ad is the source of 60,000 sales.

    I don’t know how accurate that percentage is to reality, but it illustrates my point. The low numbers from promotions aren’t just those numbers, but also include all the sales generated by the word of mouth because of those initial readers who saw the ad and decided to give the book a chance.

    IOW, for word of mouth to work, someone has to read it first. Whatever method is used to get those initial books into people’s hands. But if an ad or review creates and initial spike but then there are no sustained sales, it may say more about the quality of your story and characters than anything dealing with marketing.

    1. I agree with your general point – someone has to read the book first to spread the word. And whatever method that works for you to get the books into those all-important first readers’ hands who will then go on and convince others to purchase is fine. I think I only know one person who had reasonable results from a Goodreads ad, but she had spent a hell of a lot of time on the site in advance of the campaign, and was very active in all sorts of groups. The ad really served as an announcement that her book was out – just like those billboards do for Dan Brown – rather than converting strangers into readers.

      Some writers have had phenomenal results from ads in places like Kindle Nation Daily and Pixel of Ink, but I think most are disappointed with the results elsewhere in terms of sales versus cost (if anyone has had good results in another venue – please share). Now, the readers that purchased may go on to spread the word, but if you are starting from a base of a handful of converted readers (which is the result I hear most often from venues outside of KND and PoI) that’s not going to get you very far.

      From talking to successful self-publishers, most seem to achieve that all-important priming through free methods: competitions, giveaways, LibraryThing, Twitter, forums, blogging, Facebook etc. For them, sales seemed to build month-on-month and then one month they just exploded by several factors. While luck certainly has a part to play, they must have reached a critical mass of passionate readers spreading the word about their books to the point where the message just became amplified. I don’t think there is a single ad out there which can achieve that for you. I think it has to be a lot of things feeding into each other.

  12. I agree, word-of-mouth is probably best–especially for genre fiction. The trust relationship concept isn’t a new concept, of course–it’s used in every industry for every kind of product.

    But time and again, publishing’s shown that people buy books for irrational reasons–the cover, the first page of a book, its location on a bookshelf. In the e-book world, people are lazy; I’d say only a fraction of readers truly engage with social networking tools like Goodreads to find something to read. And those sales figures don’t reflect what books are read, just what was sold. It’s a long-standing truism in publishing that people read only a fraction of what they buy.

    That “word-of-mouth” isn’t always a trust relationship, either–it can be as simple as a book gets mentioned in a local newspaper or website, and the reader says “ooh, that’s my kind of topic”. They don’t even have to trust the columnist or the website writer–they just like the topic or genre or description. Then, they go buy it or check it out at the library.

    All that to say–I think traditional marketing, social networking marketing, and word-of-mouth are *all* overrated. Like you’ve described in your post, nobody ever really knows what leads to a purchasing decision–it just appears one day.

    The most certain factor in book sales? Luck. And self-publishers are going to be no better than the previous four centuries of traditional publishing at figuring out how to triangulate on that.

    1. Publishers are set up to sell to their customers: bookstores. They really aren’t very good at marketing to readers (and in a lot of cases don’t really try). The savvy self-publisher gears their marketing towards readers almost exclusively. While the exact formula of how to jump-start word-of-mouth will probably remain out of reach (as it always has), I do think that you will continue to see self-publishers trying much more progressive things to get it going. I know one author who had huge success after giving away hundreds of books through Library Thing. I know another who did very well after making the first book in a series free. Publishers are generally loathe to take either of those approaches, but a self-publisher won’t have the same concerns, and will try anything really if it results in sales.

      It might only be a tiny percentage of readers using a site like, say, Goodreads. But if you can use that site to find your little army of passionate readers, they will then go on and spread the message for you in every venue – online and offline.

      Sales figures may not reflect which books are read or not – only companies like Amazon will truly know that – but readers have no chance of reading your book if they don’t buy it.

      And while word-of-mouth isn’t always about trust, it’s more powerful when it is. I may see a mention of a book in a newspaper and think it’s my cup of tea. But the compulsion to purchase won’t be as strong as a friend with similar tastes emailing me a link to a book and saying you have to read this right now.

      There is no doubt that luck is a huge factor. But I can’t help noticing that the guys who strike it lucky tend to be those who are writing great books, writing lots of them, and pushing every promo angle. What sells books and what doesn’t? I don’t know if anyone can say with any exactness. But I know what doesn’t sell books. Doing nothing. If you just write a book and put it up on Amazon and never tell anyone it’s there, I would bet anything it will sink like a stone.

  13. “But I can’t help noticing that the guys who strike it lucky tend to be those who are writing great books, writing lots of them, and pushing every promo angle.”

    I agree with the last two part of that, but “great book” is very subjective, unless you mean “great selling”. Does John Locke write great books? I don’t know–I read one, and that was enough for me.

    “But I know what doesn’t sell books. Doing nothing.”
    Except for a bit of work asking for blog reviews, that’s what Amanda Hocking did–and ended up selling almost a million e-books. I don’t know her stuff well, but I think seeking out reviews constitutes almost the entirety of her marketing efforts.

    “But the compulsion to purchase won’t be as strong as a friend with similar tastes emailing me a link to a book and saying you have to read this right now.”

    I totally agree with that–more and more, that’s how I get my best reading recommendations.

    1. I mean a great book in the sense that lots of people buy them, read them, and enjoy them. I’ve never read one of John Locke’s books – it’s not my genre. But I don’t doubt that there are tens and tens of thousands of people that think he has written great books because they have bought everything he has written.

      I don’t know Amanda Hocking’s story intimately, but she was active on Kindle Boards, she blogged, she had (if I remember correctly) a Facebook page, and was on Twitter. I’m trying to remember, but I think she said that the thing that really did it for her was building up a relationship with the book bloggers, which is a bit more than just submitting for reviews. I think she was also quite active on reader’s forums for her genre, so people knew who she was before she even released a book – although someone who is more familiar with her story may correct me.

  14. And by the way, I think your blog is a fantastic example of a writer establishing that “trust relationship”.

  15. Fantastic post. Kristin Lamb blogged on the same subject today, but you carry it one step further–pointing out that “The greatest promotional tool is new work.”

    It’s also really important to remember that engaging with readers is primary. I recently got interested in the work of a new writer who left comments on a lot of blogs–all of which were a little pushy with the marketing, but I liked the sound of the book. But then I went to the author’s blog. The comments were turned off. So was I. Changed my mind about buying the book. John Locke’s quote says it: engage with readers–that’s how you sell books. Don’t engage and you lose the sale, no matter how many ads you buy

  16. Hi David,

    Can’t recall how I stumbled upon your blog, but I’m really chuffed I did. You (& your readers above) speak a helluva lot of sense. Since I’m fairly new to the e-publishing scene (I’ve dragged my feet somewhat to be honest, preferring the printed book in hand), it fascinating hearing people discuss it so frankly.

    Word of mouth has always been THE surefire way of getting sales. I’d guess, too, that if the book (or author) isn’t up to much, then word of mouth will have the adverse effect.

    Just to let you know that also, ‘People buy people’, as someone touched on above, and I’ll be checking your book out now, with a purchase in mind. Confirming the above sentiments are true!

    I’ll be tuning in a lot more here.

    Kind Regards,

  17. Another great post David. There is no question that it’s all about word of mouth which = WRITE A GOOD BOOK!! Ridan’s success is directly related to picking high quality titles. If you don’t start there you have nothing to build on.

  18. So true. For some reason, this made me think of my favourite bands/musicians. Word-of-mouth magic works pretty well in producing successful bands/singers, and I think writers can learn a lot from looking at how musicians do it. The artists who build up slow and steady almost always focus on producing more and more of the music they love. They might promote their work, but their FOCUS is on continously exercising their craft and getting more music out so that there’s a greater chance their audience will find them. It’s this process of persistence that ultimately pays off. At some point, the word of mouth increases enough to propel an album into mega-stardom, after which the work pretty much sells itself by word of mouth all over again. Cool system:)

    Those who focus mostly on promotional blips fade away if there’s no genuine follow-through. So many successful groups – the Kings of Leon, the Black Eyed Peas, etc etc were clearly in it for the long haul. We might assume it took a short time for them to ‘succeed’. But it didn’t. That kind of success only seems quick in retrospect. The truth is, they were here for a long time, plying their trade, before their persistence paid off. And even those who succeeded pretty quickly, they only STAYED successful because they continued to produce more work.

    This is one of the reasons the availability of ebooks is so exciting to me! That’s a ‘forever’ kind of shelf space. If a writer is dedicated to honing their craft and producing a constant flow of work, they’re bound to find a passionate audience to spread the word at some point:)

  19. Word-of-Mouth is always the key. Most of the ebooks on my Kindle are there due to word-of-mouth. I have a friend the built a very successful wallpapering business – all by word-of-mouth alone. He has never advertised. When the quality and value are there, people WILL talk about it and WILL recommend it and this will, as John Locke states, will ultimately lead to success.

    Here’s to your continued successes

  20. I really took this post to heart. I released an art book yesterday. Something I’ve wanted to do for probably the past 5 years or so haha and sales have been rather miniscule. But, at the same time I’ve been so busy with other paying work and multiple projects that I’ve been… shall we say absent from the internet.

    I find in order to stay fresh in people’s minds you REALLY do have to be out there engaging people. At least until you’ve built up that proper fanbase network. One day I can imagine the machine doing the work for me behind the scenes. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

  21. This is a great post David, and one thing I certainly agree with you on is the level of promotion you give your book when its first released. I went absolutely crazy for the first month but now I’m glad to say I’ve settled down a lot more with my writing.
    The issue with promotion is you cannot force anyone to buy your book – they’ll only buy it if they absolutely want to. As long as people know about it, the book will sell itself. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got 100 books out or just one. People will buy it if they want to.

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  23. I saw Michael Connelly talk at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. He was worried about the decline of bookstores because it would kill his word-of-mouth. We all hate to see bookstores in trouble but I was gobsmacked that he didn’t get the online world at all. Bookstores are great for word-of-mouth but they can’t compete with what can be done in the digital realm.

    It’s not a good time to be a bookseller but it’s a wonderful time to be writing. You’ve only got to understand properly Amazon’s Before You Go… feature, for example, to understand that. It takes word-of-mouth and gives it rocket fuel.

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  25. thank you so much for this post and all the comments, I’m about to publish my debut novel with Unbound and have been told their marketing is poor. i’ve spent three weeks panicking as I’m a psychologist not a marketing specialist but i’ve been told that my book is great and different so now i can chill. interestingly by novel is called Surviving Me and at the moment that seems to be the hardest challenge with all the ups and downs of editing and fears about it being an epic flop! Thanks loads for the group reassurance!

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