Tag Archives: media list

Word of mouth sells books

Sell books by word of mouth. Image by Kev Howlett.

What do you think sells books? Would a big full colour advertisement in The Age be worthwhile? It might be but you need to weigh up the return on investment. It’s been so long since I took an ad out of that calibre that I don’t even know what it costs. Possibly a couple of thousand dollars? How many books do you need to sell to break even, let alone make some serious sales?

I like to look at the way I find books in order to work out how to help others sell theirs. The last book I read was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. It’s not a current book. In fact, it was published in 1953 and the copy I have is a 50th anniversary edition that I bought at an opshop. Now don’t go yelling at me for buying a second hand book. The whole idea is that we get people reading books any way we can (second hand, friend of a friend, library, bookshop). If they love your books enough, they’ll go buy their own copies.

Why did I read Fahrenheit 451? Because I have heard that it’s a good read. A classic. Was it a good read? I’d say it was but not something that I’d gush about, mainly because it’s not the usual type of book that I love. But now I can tick it off my ‘to read’ list. And I don’t feel as though I am missing out because I haven’t read it.

Ever heard the acronym FOMO? Fear. Of. Missing. Out. This is something that we really need to take notice of. Why did Fifty Shades of Grey sell in the millions? Because people talked about the book and people wanted to grab a copy for fear of missing out. Nothing to do with quality of story or excellent writing but word of mouth.

Recently I was on the train. Three teenage girls were sitting behind me talking about a coffee shop. One of the girls hadn’t been there and was told, ‘You haven’t lived until you’ve been there!’ I can bet that the coffee shop isn’t that special but now that girl feels left out and she will make an effort to go there.

This is what we need to do to generate interest in our books. Problem is word of mouth is hard to control. And how do we generate it in the first place? Over the next few blogs, I’m going to explore this problem. I’m not sure if I have the answers but I might come up with a few strategies to create word of mouth.

First step is to make sure that your book is discoverable because once word of mouth starts if the book can’t be found then that momentum is going to stop as soon as it started. This means have it in as many places and on as many platforms as you possibly can so that when someone Googles it, there it is for sale.

Blaise the book chick

Why the media is important for your book

Media is important for your book
Media is important for your book

Digital technology has allowed the world to be so much smaller and for news to travel very quickly. Because of this many people think that all you need to do is put a few posts up on social media and readers will rush to buy your book.

Not everyone is on social media and not all on the same platforms either. And because there are streams of newsfeeds, your post can easily be missed. Social media platforms seem to change things frequently too, so just when you get the hang of what you’re doing, you find out that Facebook is doing something that means people aren’t seeing you.

The good old-fashioned media release is still a valid step in the marketing of your book for print, digital, television and radio media platforms. The more of these platforms that you can get onto, the more publicity you’ll get and the more likely bookshops will take on your book (because they may have heard of you). It doesn’t matter how brilliant your book is, if no one has heard of it no one will buy it.

Here are a few pointers for planning your media ‘attack’:

Create a media list. Make a list of each area of media that might be interested in your story. Start with your local paper, then magazines and journals (print and digital), TV shows, radio stations, bloggers, book reviewers and social media groups. Make sure they fit your book. It’s no use sending out information about a YA novel to outlets that deal with finance. Try to find out a contact name to send information to.

Write a media release to suit the outlet. There are two kinds of media releases you can use. One is an information sheet that outlines information about the book (sometimes called a ‘title release’) including a cover image, short synopsis, about the author, selling points and purchase details. This should only be one page and is usually sent out with the book once a media outlet has shown interest, or if someone has agreed to review a book.

The second media release is the more common form that is used to entice media to run a story. Don’t make this too salesy. You want to create a hook and some emotion around the story. If there is a theme or topic that is on trend in the media, use that as the hook. The media release should be written in third person and a quote from the author is worth adding. Include ideas for photo opportunities and contact details.

Send out media releases. Work through your list by sending out your media release to each of the outlets. Remember to use your hook in the subject line of emails to get the recipient to actually open it. If they are interested to know more, mail them a free copy of the book, with the title release.

The earlier that you start your media campaign the more chance you have for success. It’s all about momentum. Getting some media attention will alert bookshops to your story and they may stock it. Even small media attention can be used to convince bookshops to stock it, or you can brag about it on social media. As you add to your list of media appearances, more people will take notice and will want to talk to you (people are essentially sheep after all).

It takes time to create a media plan and implement it but it will sell books – they are no use to you in a box under the bed.

Blaise, the book chick