A Word-of-mouth Book Marketing Case Study

The Library at Mount Char

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 ;)