A Word-of-mouth Book Marketing Case Study

You wonder what’s going to sell your book, right?

Of all the books you have on your shelves, how many did you buy because you saw an ad for it? A book trailer?

Well, last week I saw, black-on-white what it is exactly that moves the most books from bookstore shelves. I’ll show you.

Chances are, you bought most of the books you own because someone recommended them to you, right? (Please, correct me if I’m wrong. That’s what the comments are for.)

The other day I got some first-hand, hard evidence of how word of mouth sells books. Sadly, it wasn’t something I’d written, but it was a book I wholeheartedly recommended and, through internet-trickery, had access to some behind-the-scenes sales numbers.

Case in point: The Library at Mount Char.

The Library at Mount Char

On October 26th, I recommended Scott Hawkins fantastic Library at Mount Char to a group I’m in on Facebook, a group dedicated to weird fiction. In the recommendation I described the book and said it was the best weird fiction book I’d read all year (it is). I said “It is a weird, excellent, terrifying and wonderful urban fantasy. And it’s on offer for the Kindle right now.”

To go with the description I added a link to the book on amazon. An affiliate link.

By putting up an affiliate link I was able to see how many people clicked and bought the book. What follows is an image to make you believe in the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 22.33.39

As is clear from the above snapshot of my reporting page on amazon, a total of 15 people have bought the book following that link. (Two people followed the link and bought something else, that’s why there’s a 17 there.) The group I posted this to numbers 250 people, of which I’d say about 20 are active.

The Bottom Line

The best advertising for your book is your book. If your write something great, people will recommend it to others. Think of how Wool and The Martian became huge sucesses.

Of course, having a publishing house’s PR machine behind a book is a great help to get sales started, but unless the book is good, unless readers are actively recommending it to each other, it’s dead in the water.

Hell, I’m about to start John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War because a friend brought it to my house and said “Dude, you should read this.”.

*Bonus: Read a great interview with Scott Hawins over at Victoria Fullard’s blog.
** All links to books in this post are affiliate links ;)

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7 thoughts on “A Word-of-mouth Book Marketing Case Study

  1. Good post, Johann. Writers with publishing contracts often say that you cannot rely on PR departments for marketing, even more important. 15/20 active members bought the book? 75 percent! Powerful indeed.

    Like

    1. Hey S. C.,

      No, the conversion is lower. You can actually see it on the graph; 60 clicks and 15 ordered books (2 people clicked and ordered something else). So actually a 25% conversion. Still, pretty impressive.

      It’s is a Facebook group for people who like weird fiction, so the high conversion is to be expected, perhaps. I mean, that’s smack-dab in the middle of the group that is likely to buy exactly these sorts of books.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Aditi.

      Apologies for the really late reply. Amazon have an affiliate program, where anyone can sign up and add affiliate links back to them. This means that if anyone clicks that link (which leads to the book in question on amazon) and then buys the book, you get a small commission of the book sold.

      You can hover over the links in any of my posts and see that they link back to amazon.

      Like

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