Word of Mouth: Random Acts of Publicity 2012

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Welcome to the 4th Annual Random Acts of Publicity, where we spend a week talking about a friend’s book or a favorite book.



Coming on Thursday, September 6: WIN A MARKETING CONSULT FOR A FRIEND!
Susan Raab of Raab Associates (http://raabassociates.com/) has kindly offered 10 FREE marketing consults.
The catch? You can’t enter.
You can only enter your friend’s name. See the posting at 12:01 a.m. September 6 for full details–you’ll have 24 hours to enter.


Today’s Buzz is all about social media and how authors must use social media in order to market books. But the basics of book marketing is a simple thing, Word of Mouth (WOM). All social media can do it amplify or simplify it. You still need to Talk about a book. This week’s Random Acts of Publicity focuses on that very task. How do you Talk about a book? Let’s talk about it. And to do that, I’ll talk about two books.

The classic book on buzz is The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited: Real-life Lessons in Word-of-Mouth Marketing by Emanual Rosen, Doubleday 2000, 2009.


It’s interesting to compare this classic with the social media specific book, The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace, by Ed Keller and Brad Fay, Free Press, 2012. Both books signal their stance with their titles: they believe in WOM. And I recommend them both, if you are interested in this topic.


It’s so easy–and sometimes, fun–to get sucked into learning a new social media platform. I particularly love learning the ins-and-outs of something like this, I want to be the expert, the one in the know. And I forget the reason to use social media.

No, it’s not to market books. That book-marketing-first attitude is exactly the wrong way to go. Instead, social media is a way to connect with people. I learned very early in my career that it was hard to find writing peers locally, that I had to find them online. Of course, while we are there–as small business people (the definition of every author)–we want to sell books, too. It is these competing goals that hold us all in tension. But there are ways to Talk about books in such a way as to encourage WOM.

In the modern book marketing campaign, we often “seed” the market with information about a book. Here are some ideas to think about.

  1. Scatter seeds widely. Social media is perfect for this mandate, because we often have friends in far-flung places. Friends have moved, you’ve made friends with other professionals online, you keep track of people you only met when you traveled to a conference. The wider the seeding the better.
  2. Strong seeds. The most fruitful harvest comes when you seed by putting a book in your friend’s hands. It’s why you should never discount the intensive mailings that your publisher does on your behalf. It’s why you should rejoice when your publisher hands out galleys at a conference.
  3. Stories. As book writers, we should understand this, yet I fear we don’t: people respond strongly to stories! When your book comes out, you should sit down and write a dozen stories to tell about the book, about writing it, about various topics in the book, about your inspiration, about heartaches in getting it published, about joys in getting it published–and so on. Write them down. Seed the blogosphere with the stories in the guise of guest posts.
  4. Talking points. Please don’t be boring when you talk about your book or someone else’s book. Instead, give surprising, different, interesting, outrageous, funny (especially funny!), or sad stories or pieces of information. Write out a list of the funniest scenes in the book, the saddest scenes, etc. How can you best tell someone about the book? What combinations of scenes would make it sound the most exciting? Or, create a list of 5 Talking Points: a tidbit about the author, the scene that made you laugh out loud, the place where you wanted to throw the book across the room, a memorable line, and a quote from someone about the topic of the book. In other words, be deliberate about Talking about the book.
  5. Be ready to Talk and share. Carry the book around. Copy an image of the book onto your desktop (or make it your screensaver for a while). Then, when you have an unexpected chance to share, you’re ready. Maybe there’s a coloring page that you can share, or some other Bling. Look for it, gather it, be ready.
  6. Think about who you are Talking to. Individualize the Talk you are planning for the audience. For my best friend, CM, I am aware that she doesn’t like profanity, so I’m careful to vet books I recommend for her. For teachers, you want to always think about what will help them in the classroom. There’s no reason not to make your Talk specific for your friend.
  7. The biggest word of mouth comes in social situations. When you eat at a restaurant, you talk about the food, other places you’ve eaten and gather info for later Talk. Social media can act that way, too, if you don’t shove a book down someone’s throat. Authors, let your Friends do that talking for you. Friends and Fans, step up and Talk.

When you BLLuRT about a book, be sure to post something about that on the Facebook page!

2 Comments
  • Natalie Aguirre
    September 4, 2012

    Thanks for organizing the Random Acts of Publicity week again. I’ll be participating tomorrow. And thanks for the tips on publicity. I’ll keep them in mind if I ever have a book to promote.

  • Gwendolyn Hooks
    September 4, 2012

    Thank you for the tips. I should know them already. But I will practice them, so I don’t have to think about it.