Is Word of Mouth Enough to Sell a Book?
According to this article by Lynn Neary on NPR, word of mouth is the most effective way to sell books. Neary uses as an example a novel called Room, which is being released by Little, Brown and Co. in the United States today (it was released in the UK last month).
Neary quotes Little Brown marketing director Heather Fain, who explains that first, someone has to get the buzz going about a book, which in Room‘s case was Little Brown’s executive editor, Judy Clain. From there, talk about the book builds within the company, then spreads outward to those who receive an ARC (6,000 in this case), then to events like BookExpo, and so on.
I think word of mouth may be effective with a book like Room, which is obviously generating interest apart from whatever buzz Little Brown has created — and it can’t hurt when the executive editor really likes your book — but there is one item in the piece that can work for nearly any author.
Neary says in addition to book stores (really? I hadn’t thought of going to a book store to buy a book), book clubs are another way to sell books.
If you have a book that’s just come out or even if it’s been out for a while, find out if there are any book clubs in your area or ask at your local bookseller. If you already know someone in a book club, even better. It seems to me that if you give a copy of your book to someone who is in a book club, and suggest that the club discuss your book, you can be effective at creating interest and producing sales.