Topics for Conversation: Random Acts of Publicity


Random Acts of Publicity: Word of Mouth


Today’s task is Word of Mouth: Tell one person about a friend’s book

You want to tell someone about a friend’s book. Great!
What will you say?

The Message and The Conversation

There are two things to think about when we talk about books and using word-of-mouth to help promote a book.

First is the message, or what we tell people about a book, or the message that advertisers try to get across to an audience. Second is the conversation that people have about a book. Oddly enough, these are not always the same.

In his book, The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited, Emanuel Rosen discusses an example of this. When Proctor & Gamble wanted to promote their new Clairol Herbal Essences hair dye, they found a difference in the message and the conversation. In the advertising–the message, women wanted to know that the dye produced vibrant colors, that it worked and that it smelled good. But when they went to friends to talk about the dye, when conversations occurred, it was about getting reassurance about the color choice.

When we do reviews of books (tomorrow’s topic), we’re giving information, the message. But when we tell someone about a book, we’re often talking about how it felt to read the book, what were our impressions and emotions.

Example: Suzanne Collin’s new book, Mockingjay is just out and here’s a bit of the current conversation about it. I chose this blog because it asked questions and got responses from readers – a conversation. Also read some of the (at the time of writing) 392 reviews on Amazon. Some of these are giving information or a message; others are entering the conversation. Both are important in word-of-mouth, but they can be very different.

Finding Topics for Word of Mouth

So, I think it’s worth thinking about what topics we can talk about when we discuss a certain book. Giving people a topic to talk about is important. Here are some ideas, illustrated with my friend’s book, In Defiance of Hitler by Carla McClafferty.
IN Defiance of Hitler

  • Portable Ideas
    What you say about a friend’s book needs to be portable. Can you pass it along easily? This could be conversations, email to forward to a friend or to like on Facebook.
    This is a Holocaust book that ends in triumph.
  • Clear Ideas
    Clarity trumps everything in messages about books. What is the one thing you want to tell someone about a friend’s book? Express it in the clearest way possible.
    Harvard-educated journalist helps Jews escape from Nazi-occupied Germany
  • Repeatable Ideas
    Phrases that are catchy in some way are easily repeated. Add a rhyme. Alliterate. Condense into a catchy phrase. Reference some common cultural icon and make a comparison.
    “This is the story of the American Oscar Schindler.”
  • Emotional Ideas (Humor)
    OK, this one isn’t about Carla’s book. It’s from GuysRead and it illustrates how jokes spread like wildfire.
    Probably 90% of you will click on this, when you didn’t click on the American Oscar Schindler story. Go back and click on Carla’s book, please. Then watch the joke.

Today’s task is Word of Mouth: Tell one person about a friend’s book

  • Stasia Kehoe
    September 7, 2010

    Thanks for the tips about HOW to share word-of-mouth. I’ll remember them as I work to promote my own book next year. Today, I spread word-of-mouth about 2 friends picture books. RANDOM ACTS is an awesome idea and I’m delighted to be taking part.

  • Peggy Archer
    September 7, 2010

    Found a computer here on vacation and sent an email to friends recommending “Fair Cow”–great, fun pb!