The Power of Word of Mouth

So before on this site, I’ve spoken about how studies have found that the most effective way to get people to check out a book (and buy it) is not reviews from websites (though those are some of the most effective, hence why so many sell reviews), and not advertising on web-pages and other places, but word of mouth.

Well, yesterday there was a chance to put that idea to the test. If you swung by the site yesterday, you saw a blog post asking readers to swing by a Reddit subreddit discussion looking for good indie Sci-Fi authors and books. I brought it to the site’s attention and asked readers who enjoyed my work to head on over and say something.

Some of you did, and all I can say is THANK YOU.

Okay, I can actually say more than that. Because I can also tell you how impactful that was. See, I can see sales in near real-time. Within an hour of a few of you dedicated, awesome fans posting recommending Colony, sales for the day quintupled.

That’s right, they went up by a factor of five.

That, readers, is the power of word of mouth. Of someone telling someone else about a book. Word of mouth is quite literally the most powerful way to get a book out there.

Advertising? It’s expensive, and worse, gauged so that the return is just barely worth it (look for a full post on that soon). If you want to make $100 in book sales, you’re going to need to spend at least $50, often closer to $90, ending with a net gain of $10. This isn’t an exaggeration, by the way.

Reviews? They might bring in viewers, but a lot of places charge for the privilege (despite it being against a lot of terms of service with booksellers) and people know that on some level. Reviews from big outlets help, but at the end of the day?

It’s people talking about a book that really make it work. We’re surrounded by advertising of all forms, and we’ve gotten really good at tuning it out. Paid commercial for something? We shrug and move on.

But someone else talking about something and how they liked it? That’s not a paid ad: That’s another person talking about something they enjoyed. The more casual the interaction is, the more weight we put behind their words. They’re not being paid to tell us about something. They’re telling us because they enjoyed it.

That’s the power of word of mouth. That’s why yesterday, when a few of you headed on over to the subreddit and posted (three that I could see), sales quintupled over their daily average for this week, and within hours.

That’s the power you readers have, simply by talking to people about books. On social media. On forums. In person.

Word of mouth is the most powerful advertising there is.

I (and any other author) can pay for advertising. And it’ll show a small but simple return. We can beg places to review our books, or buckle under and pay them for one (I still refuse to do that). But at the end of the day, what has the biggest impact on whether or not we succeed or fail is you. The readers. If an author cannot make a big enough impact on their reading base that their readers talk about their work … they’re very likely doomed to failure.

So again, thank you to those of you who headed over and recommended my works. As I said, quintupling. Five times the daily normal. Within a few hours.

Readers, you hold a lot of power in your hands. The books you talk about, the books you choose to tell others about … It plays a heavy part in determining whether or not an author sinks or swims.

Please use it well.

Speaking of Word of Mouth …

This post is the kind of thing I’ve been talking about. Someone over on Reddit’s r/printsf (print speculative fiction, usually Scifi), after a discussion about how the subreddit almost always discusses the same few books, launched a post specifically to talk about indie Sci-Fi authors and people’s favorite indie Sci-Fi books.

This is word of mouth time. People in this post are discussing some of their favorite Sci-Fi books from Indie authors. Like myself.

Nudge nudge.

Look, the subreddit has rules against self-promotion, and I respect that. However, if I notify my fans and they head on over to mention, say, Colony, Jungle, or Shadow of an Empire, well, that’s cool of my fans, and violates no rules at all. Really cool. And some folks on the subreddit get a chance to try out some new books they very likely haven’t heard of but would very possibly love.

So yeah, if any of you feel like doing me a favor and helping out (which, in the spirit of your own interest I will point out that the better my sales become, the more time I can spend writing, which means faster, more frequent releases), head on over to the post here and give Colony or something a shout-out!

Please. Think of it as a Christmas gift.

 

EDIT: Thanks guys! Word of mouth like that really helps!

Being a Better Writer: The Path to Publication

Welcome back readers! In lieu of news, let’s just dive right into things! Over the weekend I ran into quite a few people who had writing questions for me, but one that kept coming up from a wide range of people (after the usual “What have you written”) was “What’s the process of publication like?”

In a nutshell. The questions were pretty varied from “How do you get a book ready for publication?” to “What’s the best avenue for publishing right now?”

Later, as I was thinking ahead to this week’s topic for Being a Better Writer, it occurred to me that I’ve not really talked too much about the process of making that happen after we’ve written our draft. I’ve talked about it with my own work, but usually in the context of “Here’s the part of the process I’m at now.” And not with regards to other options for getting one’s book published. After all, I’m indie, but that’s hardly the only venue available out there to up-and-coming authors (though it is an extremely attractive one … if difficult).

So, you’ve reached the end of your draft. The story is done. Let’s talk getting that book ready for the public.

Continue reading

Why You Should Read … The War on Normal People

Yes, I realize this is somewhat of a weird post. After all, Jungle came out just two weeks ago. If anything, I should be pushing you to read that.

And, well, I still am. Today’s post doesn’t really take away from that. The title I’m recommending today, for instance, is non-fiction. As opposed to Jungle, which is fiction. It does, however, discuss some issues that Jungle explores and even addresses, elements that were underlying themes even in Colony.

But before we get too into that, what is Why You Should Read …? Pretty simple, actually. It’s a recommendation post. Something I’ve always been a big proponent of, both on this site and in person, is that people should read more. Read as much as possible. It’s a vital part of being a good writer yourself, exposing yourself to other ideas and approaches. Even outside of writing, it’s good for the mind to introduce yourself to new concepts, ideas, or perspectives that you may not have thought about.

So, with offering that mindset I also have to live it, and one thing I enjoy doing a lot of when I’m not working is reading. Usually Sci-Fi or Fantasy (you can learn from those too) or the occasional non-fiction book when I get curious about something. Occasionally, I’ll come across a book that I think is worth recommending for one reason or another, and so I’ll bring it up and do one of these posts on it.

Now, before we move on, I want to make something clear: I get nothing out of recommending this book. No compensation, no ad revenue, no under-the-table wads of dollar bills or public/private recognition. I found this book, read it, and decided there was something in it worth gaining that made it worth recommending. I don’t get any compensation from talking about this book.

The only exception being if you, as a wanderer of the web, wend your way over to my books page and buy one of my own titles. But that’s one of my own books, and not in any way affiliated with the title I’ll be discussing today. If you grab one of those, you’re just grabbing one of those. If you go out of your way to pick up a copy of The War on Normal people, I don’t see a penny, because that’s not the point of these posts. There’s no compensation anywhere for me talking about why you should read it.

That said, I’ve talked enough about what this post is. How about we dive right in and talk about why I believe you should read The War on Normal People, by Andrew Yang.

Oh, and no worries about spoilers. This isn’t the type of book to have a spoiler warning.

Continue reading

Jungle: The First Two Weeks

Jungle CoverHello readers! I’m back! Two posts in two days is cutting it a little close, but … We’ve got special circumstances here.

How so? Well, as of two weeks ago Jungle, the long-awaited sequel to Colony, launched at last.

That’s right! It’s been out two weeks already. Some of you might even be getting close to finishing its titanic 1500 or so page length!

And a few of you already have, and left delightful reviews and ratings.

So, let’s talk about it for a bit! What’s the reaction so far?

Positive. Very positive. After two weeks, Jungle is sitting at Five-stars. With only five-ratings and reviews across Goodreads and Amazon. But again, it’s a titan of a book, and only came out two weeks ago. So even in two weeks, that’s a pretty hefty, time-consuming read. Five ratings and reviews in that time is pretty good.

Though, if one goes off of the reviews so far, it’s pretty easy to see how some finished it that quickly. Jungle has a knack, it seems for sucking the reader in and taking them on a ride to the very end, a ride no one wants to put down. One of the reviews is titled “A Tour de Force” for this exact reason.

So, let’s take a peek at some of these accolades! Well, from the aforementioned “Tour de Force” review, we’ve got this praise:

Lush, wildly imaginative and painstakingly yet appropriately concisely detailed settings, interstellar in scope but with careful attention to individual characters and their human(-ish?) interactions, speculative science that was fantastic beyond my imagining yet internally consistent and satisfyingly believable, and most important to me, characters that I could care about – even several of the ones who were obnoxious or abrasive (much like the real humans in my circle).

Another reviewer noted that the story “… becomes a frenzied dash for survival” and summed up a lengthy (but concise and spoiler-free) review with—

Ultimately, Jungle is a slow-build thrill ride full of interesting characters, deadly stakes, and terrible threats looming around the corner. The threats here are far less human than the last story had to offer, but is no less engrossing for it. Fans of Colony will not be disappointed.

Both gave it five stars.

So yeah, Jungle is off to a very strong start, at least in the reactions from the public. Speaking of which, if you’re currently working your way through it, what are your thoughts so far? Predictions for the future? Where are you at? How are you liking it so far? Leave a comment! I’d be interested in knowing what you’re thinking!

So, Jungle is being received well critically. What about as far as sales go? Well, that’s proved interesting so far. Hit the jump for a discussion on sales and interesting trends on display.

Continue reading

Being a Better Writer: Tension

Welcome back readers! I hope you had a good Thanksgiving weekend! Or, if you’re from a place that doesn’t celebrate that fairly American holiday, a good weekend all the same.

Now, due to the holiday, there isn’t much news to speak of. The only thing I really want to bring up? That later this week (possibly tomorrow) you’re all going to get a post on the success of Jungle so far. And yes, it is a success. How much of one, I’ll leave to the later news post, but I will point out that it’s sitting at five stars on both Amazon and Goodreads so far, which is quite respectable. Given the size of the book, it’s not at all unlikely that more ratings and reviews will trickle in as more people finish it.

Oh, also, apparently you can leave ratings on Amazon now rather than a review? I don’t know what their criteria is for it, but apparently that’s a thing you can do now!

Anyway, Jungle is doing really well, and you’ll all find out how well later this week. For now, I want to talk about tension for this week’s Being a Better Writer, so let’s get right to it!

Continue reading

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey readers! I’m getting this post ready beforehand, because when this hits, I’ll be at my brothers place for Thanksgiving, hopefully getting stuffed with Turkey and making a big old bowl of garlic mashed potatoes.

I hope all of you that have the chance are doing something similar and getting ready for a Thanksgiving dinner. This site has global reach and audience (I see those hits coming in from all over) so I know it won’t be everyone, but I hope wherever you are, you’re having a great time.

Lastly, Thanksgiving is a day when, traditionally, we’re supposed to express thanks for what we have. Some people pick something to declare thankfullness for. It can be anything, as long as you’re thankful for it.

So I’m going to say two things. The first is that I’m really thankful I got Jungle out this year. It was a colossal amount of work and a gargantuan effort … but it’s finally out. Colony has the sequel it waited so long to see.

Second, I’m thankful for those readers of this site that have stuck around, shared links, bought books, supported on Patreon, and otherwise interacted with this site in a way that keeps me from being homeless. It’s been a tight year this year, with the only way I’ve made it through quite a few months entirely because of income from my writing. So to all those of you that share these articles on Facebook or Reddit, or enjoy buying and sharing my books, or supporting on Patreon: I am extremely thankful for you guys. I have a roof over my head only because of that aid.

Thank you, and have a great thanksgiving.

And … since you’re here … What are you all thankful for this year?