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.

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

Don’t Forget Books on Black Friday!

Hey readers! Max here with a small note.

This Thursday is, for a good chunk of people, the Thanksgiving holiday. Me included! But right after it comes one of the biggest, most-hyped shopping days of the year: Black Friday. Or Black Thursday for a lot of places (seriously, Wal-mart is opening at 4 PM on Thursday? What madness is this?).

Anyway, as you wind down from your delicious turkey-induced coma and get ready to start your Christmas shopping, don’t forget about books! They make great Christmas gifts!

Is this a plug for you to think of my books this week while you start your Christmas shopping? Absolutely! It may not seem like much to you, but a gift purchase of one of my books matters a lot to me. And to whoever you give it to.

Plus, I do have a wide variety to peruse. Know someone who likes westerns? Get them Shadow of an Empire. Mystery with a sprinkle of horror or suspense? Dead Silver. Sci-Fi and space battles? Colony. Or Jungle if they already read that. Not a lot of time for reading or a varied interest? Unusual Events.

Fantasy? Shadow of an Empire or Dead Silver. Or Unusual Events. Science and alien worlds? Jungle. Love horses? Shadow of an Empire!

Books are a window into a world. When the last turkey leg has been consumed and the Christmas shopping starts … don’t forget about books for the readers (or would-be readers) in your life.

And if you’d start here, I’d greatly appreciate it.

The Countdown (A News Post)

Three Days to Jungle


Jungle CoverThree days, people. Not counting today, since it’s halfway gone for most already. Three. Days.

And then Jungle drops.

I mean … what else do I even say? At this point, it’s just waiting to see what happens. Watch the pre-orders tick up for those folks that want it ASAP, and then see what day-one sales look like. Wait for reviews to roll in. See what all of you make of the biggest Sci-Fi adventure I’ve ever pumped out.

No pressure, right?

Seriously though, it’s all over but the waiting, now. In three days, those of you that pre-ordered will have a copy in your hands, be it on your phone, tablet, laptop, kindle, or whatever other device you’ve decided to use for reading it. And it should probably be a device, too. At 457,000 words, an actual print copy of Jungle would probably weigh something like six or seven pounds. Good luck holding that one-handed.

Three days. It’s finally happening. Just so you guys know, work on Colony, the first book in this set, started five years ago, in late 2014. Colony released two years later, in 2016, and work on Jungle started almost immediately afterward. So the grand total of these two books? Five years of work and effort.

In three days you’ll all get to see where that’s led us, as well as the series’ starring trio of Jake, Anna, and Sweets.

While we wait for that release, if you’ve already locked in your pre-order and before we get to the rest of the news, I’d like to do a bit of an informal survey among you readers: Who’s your favorite of the three, and what do you expect is coming for them in Jungle? Got any theories?

While you ruminate on that, hit the jump for some more news!

Continue reading

The Jungle News Megapost: Release Details, Cover, and More!

That’s right! It’s time for news about Jungle! LOTS of it!

There’s not even any point to holding back or writing a preamble, so I’m just going to dive right in. Partially because I’m pretty tired, but also because this news is just exciting. So are you ready? Here goes.


Release Details

Jungle is currently on track to release in November of 2019. That’s right, next month. Likely before Thanksgiving. I do not have an exact date for you yet, but in the weeks ahead, there will be one, and Jungle will go up for pre-order.

Now, with this news out in the open, Alpha Readers and Beta Readers both! Feel free to talk about Jungle now. I would ask that you not spoil it for folks (please don’t be that person in Sitka, Alaska who got the first copy of The Half-Blood Prince and spoiled it for everyone) but other than that, feel free to talk about it! You’ve gotten the early look! Let people know what you thought!


Cover

Now, with the news that Jungle will be releasing in November, I’m sure some of you are wondering “Yes, but what will it look like?” Well, while the final cover isn’t done yet, I have a test work in progress to give you all a pretty close approximation. You ready? Here goes …

Continue reading

Invisible Censorship and Books

I made an interesting and alarming discovery a few weeks ago.

Like most authors, I happen to love reading books as well. Between my local library, the occasional purchase, and my Kindle, I go through a good number of them every year. I have my entire life. Sands, in my small-town library, if I happened to be around the librarians would sometimes ask me if I knew a book a patron was asking about. I read a lot.

So, naturally, I gravitate to places online that talk about books. Forums that offer book reviews, or book chats, etc etc.

It was on one of these forums that I discovered an extremely disturbing trend.

Let me catch you up. One of the book places I hung out at quite regularly—or did, before this discovery, which all but killed my interest in it—was a place for book recommendations. It was pretty simple and straightforward: One person posts what they’re looking for, be it a historical romance with specific traits, or just something like what they’d already read and enjoyed, like Dune. Then, participants could post replies listing, detailing, or talking about other books that the poster might be interested in.

Good idea, right? I sure thought so. And so I went to it. It was fun dredging my brain sometimes for lesser-known authors or books that someone might have missed, or thinking “Oh, what was the name of that book!” and digging back several years through my Goodreads list to find it.

It was pretty good … Or so I thought.

Continue reading