The Power of Word of Mouth Marketing

People love to talk about what is important to them. Spend a few minutes asking someone a few questions, and you will soon learn what is important to that person.

Most individuals are natural sales people when it comes to things they like. Your friends will sell you on a new toothpaste they have discovered, a restaurant they love, or a great book they recently read.

I, for one, am extremely grateful for my friends’ recommendations. I have discovered a number of restaurants, products, movies, and books from listening to my friends rave about something new they have discovered.

Word of mouth is a very powerful marketing tool. Unfortunately, publishers and authors have no control over this valuable marketing venue.

However, if you write or publish books that address a need in people’s lives, word of mouth promotion will come from the people who have been touched by your book. And social media is a powerful vehicle for these word of mouth recommendations.

Recently, one reader who stopped by the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award’s website to vote for the 2011 Book of the Year left the following comment:

“Too bad Multnomah isn’t a small publisher, because Radical by David Platt was the best book I’ve read since Crazy Love.”

That’s a reader who is passionate about a book he recently read. He just could not keep quiet about it. Even knowing that Multnomah is not a small publisher, so the book could not be included in the award, he felt compelled to let us know what the best book he recently read was.

I don’t know this individual. This individual does not know me. However, he took the time to use social media tools to leave a comment on the website to promote a book that has touched his life.

Don’t underestimate the power of social media and word of mouth. People whose lives are touched by the books you write and publish will let others know.

Remember, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17 NIV

How about you? Are you spreading the word about books that have touched your life on social media? Talking about Christian books that touch our lives helps share the word of God so people can have faith?

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Mobile Trends

The March issue of the CSPA Circular (Christian Small Publishers Association’s monthly newsletter) will feature on article on the growth of Mobile. The article covers how to harness this trend to promote books.

I have some friends who are missionaries in Papua New Guinea. While on furlough recently, they told me that many people in the jungles of New Guinea have cell phones. I was astonished. Many of these people don’t have running water or reliable electricity, yet they have cell phones.

My missionary friend waxed eloquent about how cell phones are improving these jungle people’s lives. He talked about how cell phones allow them to get in contact with relatives in nearby villages to coordinate trips to the city to purchase items and get their needs met.

I had no clue that over 70% of the world’s population now has a mobile phone until I watched this video showcasing statistics on the growth of mobile.

I invite you to watch this video and consider how mobile phones may impact the way we market to reach people with our books in the coming years.

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Will eBooks Kill Print Books?

There are people in the book business on both sides of the death of the print book issue. Some say that ebooks will kill the print book. Others maintain that the print book will be around for years to come.

Amazon recently reported that Kindle books have now “overtaken paperback books as the most popular format,” even as paperback sales have continued to grow. Amazon reports they are selling 115 Kindle books for every 100 paperbacks.

While I admit that ebook sales are growing rapidly, I am a little suspicious of Amazon’s statement. Since Amazon offers millions of free public-domain titles as free Kindle downloads, I wonder whether they are counting these downloads as “sales” in their Kindle store. I question how many of those 115 Kindle books are the free public-domain titles for the Kindle and not really “money” sales.

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson, a Christian publishing house, recently stated, “I have no doubt that we are in the midst of a digital transition. It is here to stay and is proving disruptive—especially to brick-and-mortar booksellers. The only question is: How fast will the migration to digital happen? In my opinion, not as fast as the majority of my colleagues in the industry think. I do not believe that by 2014, 50% of all books sold will be digital. I believe the number will be closer to 25%. That is, in fact, the planning assumption we are using at Thomas Nelson.”

Interestingly, a recent survey found that e-reader owners are buying nearly as many print books as e-books. On average, e-reader owners in the survey planned to buy identical amounts of print and e-books: 7.2.

It appears there is no overt evidence of ebooks cannibalizing print books in the near future. I believe that a hybrid market of print and ebooks is here, and that it will persist for some years to come.

In the meantime, until the actual death of print books, publishers and self-published authors should make sure that they are offering their books in both print and digital forms to remain viable and maximize their sales.

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The Fount of Fonts

There are literally thousands of different types of fonts. 1001 Free Fonts offers over a thousand fonts free for users to download. 1001 Fonts offers over two thousand fonts also for free. That is a lot of fonts.

With so many to choose from, how do you decide which font to use in each book that you publish?

Ever wonder which fonts are most commonly used in books?

The Font Feed recently compiled a list of the most popular fonts for books based on the fonts used in books that won design awards. The top five most popular fonts used in books are Minion, ITC New Baskerville, FF Scala, FF Scala Sans, and Adobe Garamond.

Personally, I am surprised that Minion was number one. On the other hand, I do rather like ITC New Baskerville.

What’s your favorite font to read?

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Save Publishing Campaign

I have been seeing some interesting statistics lately. Depending on the statistic, I either get discouraged or encouraged. Here are two opposite statistics. One encourages me, the other discourages me.

  1. Americans bought 751,729,000 books in 2010, down from 2009 and 2008, but up from the 650 million purchased in 2005.
  2. Children are more likely to own a mobile phone than a book—85% own a phone while 73% own a book.

The decline of reading and a growing illiteracy rate in the United States often makes the news. Authors and publishers should get involved in literacy efforts to boost reading. After all, readers buy books, and making and selling books is our business.

I recently read about one author’s (Sean Cummings) efforts in this area. Sean has started a campaign to increase reading and save publishing. The name of his campaign is:

Save Publishing! Read a Book at Bedtime.

This Save Publishing campaign is issuing a 10 minute challenge. It is encouraging people to unplug at bedtime and read for 10 minutes before going to sleep.

I think Sean’s idea is brilliant because it is simple and easily executed.

To promote this 10 minute bedtime reading campaign, Sean has created a website and a Facebook page. The website, www.savepublishing.org, has ideas for how to promote reading as well as free downloads such as web badges, postcards, and a poster to encourage people to take the 10 minute reading challenge.

Save Publishing’s Facebook page has over 800 fans and continues to grow as the challenge gets promoted.

If you want to continue to thrive as an author or a publisher, I encourage you to join the Save Publishing! Read a Book at Bedtime challenge. Do it yourself. Then, become a fan of the Facebook page, and help spread the word about this simple campaign to increase reading.

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