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Discovering New Books: Word of Mouth

I have various means of discovering a new book to read, but today I want to concentrate on recommendations from friends, and see if the self-published author (SPA) can use this to get their books into the hands of those that want to read them.  I want to do this because I think this is a great opportunity for the SPA to break from the pack and get that word of mouth going instead of waiting for someone to discover their book among the hundreds of thousand other books.

I heard it from a friend:

On first look a book recommendation would seem fairly straightforward: a friend comes up and says “Hey, you should read this book.”  And I read it.  But it doesn’t always work that way.  I have some friends whose taste in books are so different from mine, that I will go out of my way NOT to read a book that they’ve recommended.  So it’s not enough simply to be recommended by a friend, it’s need to be a someone who likes the same types of books that I do.

Birds of a feather flock together

Fortunately for the SPA people that tend to like the same things tend to congregate and experience those things together.  And with the advent of the World Wide Web they can be easily found. This means that with  little effort and investment the SPA can micro-market their book and gain a large return both in money and feedback.

Micro-Market that Book:

To do this effectively, you’ll need to determine your audience.  This could be based on a number of different factors:

Genre:   The simplest and most generic group.  Target a book club or discussion group about whatever genre it is that you write.

Age:  If you’ve written the books towards a specific age group, then target that age group, otherwise a little more marketing investigation will have to go on before you can use this one.

Gender:  Does your book appeal more to one gender or another?  Find out where they hang out.

Location:  Did you know that Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series sells better in New Jersey than in any other part of the country?  Why?  Because it all takes place in New Jersey. If you’ve written a book that is set in a specific geographic area, then you can target the readers in that audience.

Other interests:  I once bought a book because it centered around a group of friends who quilted.  It appealed to me because I also quilt on occasion.  So if your book is set in a ski resort, or some such than target places where skiers hang out.

Similar authors:  If you write with a style or stories similar to more well-known author, then target their audience.  Find places where people are talking about their books.

What Now:

First off, what I wouldn’t do is start spamming the comments section with a link to your book.  What I would do is simply email the blog- or web-host and let them know that you have written a book that you think may interest (explain why) their readers.  Tell them that you are willing to give the first [insert number here] respondents a free copy in return for their feedback.  Or you may even work with the host in creating some kind of contest. If they turn you down, try another.  If they don’t great. 

One More Thing:

I just want to insert a comment about offering your books for free.  Personally, I think that giving away something free, when done smart, is a great marketing idea.  When I say smart I mean giving away something valued by your current customers as a way of showing your gratitude or to a new audience in order to increase your market share.  And normally, I would say that distributing your book through Barnes and Noble, or Amazon free would be a good idea if so many other people weren’t doing it already.  I’ll tell you, I get an email once a week from Kindle Nation and it lists all of the books that are currently being offered for free on Amazon.  I probably have forty of those books loaded on my Kindle, and since the list is updated every week I could probably get away with never buying another book again.  It might be different if I had read all of them, but so far I’ve only read a handful. 

To me that’s a very expensive ad campaign (I’ve heard some authors get as many as 2,000 downloads) for a SPA.  Think about it:  2,000 x $0.99 = $1,980 * 35% = $693.00 minimum or 2,000 x $2.99 = $5,980 * 70% = $4,186 minimum.  it’s especially pricey when you are not even certain if the book is going to be read by the people that downloaded it.  True, that technically wouldn’t be counted as a lost sale, but it’s also not a gain.  If that’s the case, then you are defeating your purpose which is to get the word out.

This post got a lot longer than I wanted, so I’m going to follow up on Tuesday with a post on how to use this give away to help you determine if your campaign is successful.

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Kudo’s to the Self-Published Author

I know that I previously said that I would normally just post on Monday’s, but as I was falling to sleep last night it struck me what a great contribution the self-published author is making to the reading world and I just wanted to give them kudos.

Fresh Perspectives:

That’s what they are bringing to the reading world.  This is what I’ve been seeing in the books that I have been reviewing.  It’s not the same old stories written in the same old tone.   I’ll tell you I actually stopped buying pop fiction a few years back because every book seemed to be the same.  I got so sick of it I boycotted them and decided to read all of the classics.  Yes, it’s true that the mainstream publishing houses will come out with something new and different every once in a while, but that doesn’t happen very often.  For the most part if they find something that sells, they bring in more authors to write more of those same stories.   But those days are changing.  The market is getting blown wide open to fresh perspectives.

  • The warmth and goodness that Rita Hestand brings to the romance novel in Chief Cook and Bottle Washer rather than that constant tension between protagonists that you find in most romance novels.
  • The great sense of humor portrayed by C. L. Bevill in Bubba and the Dead Woman.  I can count on one hand, and still have some fingers left over, the number of authors that made me laugh as much.
  • The history of and memorial to Torpedo Squadron 4.  What Gerald W. Thomas brought to this in Torpedo Squadron 4: A Cockpit View of World War II, because of his experience, was not only an extensive historical record, or a list of battles, but he added a level of humanity to it and, thereby, memorialized those who flew.
  • Robert Day in Demon Gates:  Book One of the Nexus Wars Saga (review upcoming) with his ability to portray all of his characters with their own stories.

Kudos to you all!