The buzz is quite simply, word of mouth advertising. Word of mouth is the holy grail of marketing, the most valuable currency in today’s advertising. I’m sure there are loads of books that have skyrocketed to the top of the best seller lists courtesy of the “buzz”. Three I can readily think of are: The Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, and more recently, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. We can probably agree the only thing these books have in common is their phenomenal sales, owed in large part to readers spreading the word about the book’s likeability to other readers.
So the question every writer should ask themselves is what sparks irrepressible enthusiasm about one book over another?
In general book lovers love to talk about what they like or dislike about any given book, almost as much as they like reading them. Considering the number of “good” books published each month, why then do such a slim few catapult to the top of the marketplace courtesy of the “buzz”? If writers knew they’d be writing blockbusters all the time. How does it work, and can you create it yourself?
You need to determine what about a certain book sends you out to buy a copy based on what other readers say. The commonality as I see it, the books must be edgy, yet have an earthy realism that heightens reader excitement and tension. Can anyone do that?
Andy Sernovitz, author of “Word Of Mouth Marketing” says yes if you understand how to employ the 5 T’s. Topics: give people a reason to talk. Talkers: Gather people who will talk about you. Tools: Determine what helps to spread the message faster and farther. Take Part: Join the conversation; reply to feedback. Tracking: Measure and understand what exactly people are saying in order to improve your product.
Okay, Andy is talking about how to sell a service, or widgets. Our products are books. But his ideas are sound. Nobody talks about a boring product, a boring ad, or a boring book. Recording labels developed the use of what they call “street teams” or super fans who help sell records. Dedicated fans spread the word about a singer or musician’s work. Digital media gives an artist quicker means of reaching fans. They employ “refer-a-friend” sections on social media, and suggest creating a fun name for your street team. Reward street team members with genuine thanks and sometimes little perks. While we can all strive to write a story worthy of being talked about, any author can use social media to help word-of-mouth along. That’s what we’re doing here with our blogs. We’re trying to create a buzz for Harlequin Heartwarming books by reaching readers who are talkers. Readers who like our stories, remember our names, and pass on what they like. We’re already building our street team, so thanks a lot.