Word-of-Mouth Still the Best Way to Sell

Social media may have exploded all over our laptops, iPads, smart phones, and frontal lobes. But there remains one sure way to spread the word, and that’s with the human mouth. When people like something, they’re going to tell somebody. And they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on and so on. [Reminds me of Heather Locklear from that 1980s shampoo commercial.]

Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey

Case in point: Hugh Howey just sold the rights to Simon & Schuster for the print version of  his originally self-published ebook bestseller Wool. Got that? It’s what you might call a bit backward, according to the standards the publishing industry has stubbornly set. It doesn’t necessarily mean that big publishing has evolved. They’re merely piggybacking on the sweat of digital authors who have macheted their way through the technology forest and found a community. It’s great news for self-pubbed and indy authors. But it still doesn’t mean that traditional publishing is going to be any more helpful in the future to authors than they haven’t already been. Major kudos to Howey. He self-published a digital novella called WOOL, sold over 300,000 copies, and now has a Big 6 publishing contract. –> Simon & Schuster Acquires Print Rights to Self-Publishing Ebook Hit Series Wool.

How did he sell 300,000 copies of Wool, you might ask. (Doesn’t hurt either that, as it is now, the novella is sometimes offered FREE on Amazon.) But, really, seems it all started with word-of-mouth. Granted, technology helped to spread the word as fast as a headcold on an airplane. But it took people talking about the book to fan the flame of success. Same thing happened with E.L. James and her captive-ating romance 50 Shades of Gray. James was writing fan fiction on Twilight message boards. She was already in her niche market; i.e. readers (primarily women) who loved Twilight and wanted more of the romance. Readers started asking for more and spreading the word, and so on and so on and so on. There’s a reason it’s called “going viral.” News that people share one to the other quickly spreads like a virus. Publishers can’t yet capture why it happens to a certain title. What authors can do though is expose themselves to the germs of interest. Put your book out there and see if it “catches.”

E.L. James started writing fan fiction on message boards.

E.L. James started writing fan fiction on message boards.

What’s the take-away? When you have something to sell, target a “boutique group”  to start with that is specific to your demographic. WordPress is a great community for doing that.  Also try your local community. If you have a Patch news outlet in your area, you can blog for them about things in your community. You can’t hawk your wares there, but people will become familiar with your name and check your links. In my case, since I write romances about genies, I look to paranormal romance readers and communities that are interested in the supernatural world of the jinn or just a good suspenseful read.

Where’s your community? Start mapping out your journey.

 Best Wishes,
Kellyann Zuzulo
Check out my novel THE GENIE IGNITES. Let’s see if we can start a fire.

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