Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Books & Such Midwest Office, IL
In my grandparents’ day, news and information passed efficiently in “over the fence” conversations with a neighbor, in local groups, or at church. This contributed to a strong sense of community whether a person lived in a small town or an urban neighborhood.
Today, we’re witnessing continual advancements in technology, the explosion of social media, and more frequent travel for work, school, and pleasure multiplying our “community” exponentially. The potential benefits of these new cyber word-of-mouth marketing opportunities are clear. An author friend told me he sells more books through Twitter than anywhere else. And publishers will tell you that word-of-mouth marketing is still the most effective means to promote books, not to mention the most cost-efficient. It only makes sense then, to invest time, thought, and networking energy to put together a personalized word-of-mouth campaign—in time to include with your personal marketing plan in your book proposal.
From my perspective, though, there is an important component in the old over-the-fence word of mouth that these social media lack. Here is a familiar example. When I meet with an author at a writer’s conference, we’re interacting “live.” The benefits of this face-to-face communication can’t be underestimated. In our live conversation, much nonverbal information is being shared that social media simply can’t duplicate. The opportunity for an author and me to connect in person benefits both of us. I remember authors I’ve met in person and their projects, and I get an initial impression of what it might be like to work with him/her as a client. The author has my undivided attention to communicate the vision for the book and expand on information in the proposal.
This same in-person advantage translates to your word-of-mouth connections with potential buyers of your book. Make in-person contacts with local groups, churches, and media early in the process of writing your manuscript. Don’t simply call or send an e-mail to introduce yourself. When you tell them about your book and ask them some relevant questions, they’re bound to feel a personal connection to you and your book. When it’s about to be published, your personal connection is already established and you are ready to prime the pump for word-of-mouth buzz. That’s the point: In-person connections can be the component that jump starts and accelerates this marketing engine.
Suggestion: Start to put a little money away regularly for travel expenses. And I encourage you to take advantage of Library Insider, the new, one-of-a-kind service Books & Such offers to clients. When your book is about to be published, choose libraries in states you want to contact to set up a personal visit and offer to do a reading of your book. Once you get a commitment from a library, contact bookstores in the area and offer to do a reading and book signing. These efforts multiply your word-of-mouth potential for book sales through a targeted, cost-efficient plan.
Do you have stories to share in which your in-person interactions made a difference (they don’t have to be about promoting your book–personal interaction is beneficial in lots of situations)? Any tips you can share on what worked for you?